Depression ruins lives. It can affect a person’s performance at work and it interferes with relationships. In some cases it even results in suicide. Millions of people worldwide are chronically depressed, and pharmaceutical antidepressants are not always the answer. They may not work, be unavailable, or cost too much. And they can have terrible side effects.
While drug companies search for a better drug, researchers in Canada and the UK have found a natural, inexpensive solution. It’s something that people have used for ages to heal the digestive tract and boost immunity. And you can find it in most health food stores. You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that this solution is a friendly probiotic.
According to a new study, one particular strain of probiotics, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, calmed down anxiety in laboratory animals. It also reduced depression. Let me explain how it works.
The vagus nerve is a long nerve that carries signals from various parts of your body to your brain. There’s a three-way communication system that exists between this nerve, your brain, and the bacteria in your intestines. You need enough friendly bacteria before your body can make the neurotransmitters, like GABA, that fight depression. And now we know that Lactobacillus rhamnosus affects mood and anxiety. This strain also lowered levels of cortisol – a hormone produced when we’re under stress. High cortisol can contribute to bone loss, diabetes, and weight gain.
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This news is huge. It’s the very first time that researchers have shown that friendly bacteria directly affect brain chemistry.
It’s possible that other probiotic strains may have a similar effect on mood, but I’d use the one in this study. If you’re taking Advanced Bionutritionals Advanced Probiotic Formula, you’re already taking this strain. If you need to treat depression, you may want to take more of this particular strain. Culturelle® contains the highest amounts of Lactobacillus rhamnosus (10 billion CFUs). You can find it in some stores and through Klaire Labs (888-488-2488).
I’d suggest taking one capsule two to three times a day for a month or two. See what effect it has on your depression. You can safely take it with or without any medications. But please don’t stop any meds without the assistance of your doctor or a pharmacist to avoid side effects.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand