A new class of psychobiotics refer to mood probiotics that may support mood and occasional feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Studies continue to prove and expand upon our understanding of how interconnected the gut is to our brain’s function, including our mental well-being.
As many as 80-90% of the fibers in the vagus nerve are linked to the gut, providing a physical communication link between our gut and brain.
The “psychobiome” refers to the totality of interactions between the gut microbiome, brain function, and our mood. Mood probiotics support these functions.
As our understanding of brain-gut interactions expands, we’re learning how microbiome diversity, as well as strain-specific effects, may have more influence on our mood and sense of well-being than we ever believed was possible!
Foremost, the communication pathways from the gut to the brain are over eight times more prevalent than pathways traveling top-down from the brain (1).
The gut has been referred to famously as the “second brain”. The enteric nervous system is controlled primarily by the vagus nerve – named for its web-like fanning out over the digestive system.
Because more messages come from the gut to the brain, the gut has separate and distinct functions that occur outside of conscious thought. It turns out these functions are modulated significantly by the diversity of the microbiome and the interaction of specific probiotic strains.
Your “gut feeling” has real underpinnings in the interactions of gut bacteria, inflammation, leaky gut, and neurotransmitters, immune cells, and other messengers being shuttled back and forth along the vagus nerve. Inflammation in the gut does not stay in the gut – and often influences the integrity of the blood-brain barrier as well.
While overall microbiome diversity is the goal, specific bacteria strains can modulate or stimulate specific responses. I have written previously on the ways that Bacillus spores may help with depression and brain inflammation.
Bifidobacterium longum 1714 is another very promising psychobiotic that is being studied as playing an integral role in this gut-mood connection.
Mood Probiotics for Anxiety, Depression, and Stress
Most gut bacteria reside in the large intestine – after processing in the mouth and small intestine. Each stage of digestion from top to bottom optimizes the role of the subsequent region of the gut.
It turns out that as a general rule, Bifidobacteria species predominate the large intestine and make up the bulk of flora species in the gut. I’ve discussed the many benefits of bifidobacteria (article lnk) in the past. They are considered keystone species for a healthy gut microbiome.
I use Bifidobacterium Probiotic alongside Megasporebiotic as first-line probiotics as I simultaneously support small intestine and large intestine health. Often using prebiotics like SunFiber (FloraStart), or FloraSpectrum Prebiotic to support colonization as individual tolerance allows and a gut restoration protocol progresses.
Spore probiotics have been clinically shown to increase short-chain fatty acid production, reduce inflammation, heal leaky gut, and promote diversity of other strains of bacteria including Bifidobacteria.
These findings may be why The use of Bacillus coagulans has been correlated with improvements in depression, quality of life, and sleep. This is why spore probiotics can be categorized as psychobiotics or mood probiotics.
Yet, specific strains of Bifidobacteria such as B. longum 1714 have demonstrated particular expertise when it comes to supporting the gut-brain axis and mood.
This specific strain has been clinically shown to support anxiety, stress, depression, and stress-induced sleep behaviors.
Let’s take a look at some of the findings…
- A study with mice clearly showed the modulatory benefits of B. longum 1714 in behavior and cognition – particularly for memory and learning. Researchers observed a decrease in anxious behavior and improvement in cognitive outcomes in mice with pronounced anxiety symptoms (2).
- B. longum 1714 has also shown potential for stress modulation during periods of increased stress. One example of cognitive and physical stress is college students preparing for an important exam.
- A study done on college students showed improved sleep quality and duration during a high-stress exam time (3).
- Additionally, one study showed an increase in antidepressant-like behavior in a mouse model in addition to a reduction of anxiety and other stress-induced behavior (4).
- A number of other studies have also revealed the power of B. longum 1714 to dampen the effects of stress and improve memory and cognitive function.
Using B. longum 1714
A promising duo of psychobiotics created by Microbiome Labs put the potential of B. longum to use in their Zenbiome line.
- Zenbiome Cope combines B. longum 1714 with B vitamins and a saffron extract, providing periodic support for brain health, stress, and mood.
- Zenbiome Sleep combines B. longum with L-theanine and herbal extracts regarded to support relaxation and restful sleep.