Probiotics + An Antidepressant = Gut-Brain Axis ReliefAre you taking an antidepressant to help you better manage your emotions, but finding that drug you’ve been prescribed isn’t working as well as it should? That’s not unusual at all given that some 60 percent of patients with a major depressive disorder (MDD) experience some issues with first-line medicines, and about a third of patients continue to have problems after more treatments. This may be a sign that your gut brain axis — the proven connection that links your brain, intestines and emotions — may need some extra help, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with an MDD. Scientists at King’s College London came to a similar gut-based conclusion after conducting a pilot study that monitored the mental and physical health of MDD patients appearing in JAMA Psychiatry.
Multi-Strain Probiotics To The RescueA small group of 46 adult patients (primarily women ages 18-55) completed a trial that compared taking an antidepressant (mainly an SSRI drug) with a multi-strain probiotic or a placebo every day for eight weeks. Interestingly, both probiotic and placebo groups experienced improvements in their symptoms, but the probiotic enjoyed even better results from week four to the end of the trial. “The gut-brain axis is a truly fascinating and rapidly evolving area of microbiome research,” says study author Dr. Viktoiya Nikolova. “The findings of this pilot study are an important step forward in our understanding of the role of probiotics in mood and mental health.” This isn’t the first time we’ve shared how effective multi-strain probiotics can be in relieving symptoms of depression, but it’s among the first to use them alongside antidepressants. Interestingly, all but one of the strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic were ingredients contained in the probiotic used in this study. So, if you’re struggling with a MMD and are concerned it’s not working as it should, consider giving your gut-brain axis a gentle boost with the help of EndoMune.
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IBS and Your Gut-Brain Axis in Conflict
A good argument can be made for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) being not only the most common condition gastroenterologists diagnose — it affects an estimated 15 percent of all Americans — but one of the most challenging ones too.
But familiarity doesn’t guarantee clarity, considering IBS comes in three different subtypes: IBS-D (diarrhea), IBS-C (constipation) and IBS-A (a mix of diarrhea and constipation).
An aspect of IBS that’s rarely explored: its potential impact on your gut-brain axis, the connection that links your brain, intestines and emotions.
So, it should come as no surprise that mental health issues are much more prevalent among IBS patients than those who aren’t, based on an analysis of data conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri.
Mental Health Challenges and IBS
Scientists collected mental health data on more than 1.2 million IBS patients hospitalized in 4,000 U.S. hospitals over a three-year period from a national database, according to the study appearing in the Irish Journal of Medical Science.
More than 800,000 IBS patients in a hospital setting experienced symptoms of anxiety (38 percent overall) or depression (27 percent overall) at rates more than double the norm compared to people without IBS.
Overall, the prevalence of those problems plus bipolar disorder, suicidal attempts/ideation and eating disorders was significantly higher than the general adult population.
This is where the gut-brain axis comes into play, says Dr. Zahid Ijaz Tarar, lead researcher and assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Missouri. “Medical professionals need to treat both ends of the axis.”
“I frequently tell my patients who have IBS that, if they have any type of psychologic stress, it will get expressed in some form or another,” says Yezaz Ghouri, senior author and assistant professor of clinical medicine and gastroenterology at the University of Missouri.
Given that at least 90 percent serotonin your body produces is generated in the gut and specific bacteria play key roles in producing it, disruptions from IBS or other gut health issues do matter.
Solutions For Treating IBS and Gut-Brain Axis
If you suffer from IBS and have emotional challenges because your gut-brain axis is out of balance, plenty of good options are available that help out on both fronts.
For example, cleaning up your diet, devoting some time each week to exercise and paying attention to your sleep can do a lot of good.
If managing your stress becomes a challenge, your physician may want to prescribe an antidepressant drug like a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like fluvoxamine or an older tricyclic drug like amitriptyline.
You’ll also want to consider taking a probiotic, a proven and effective non-drug solution that helps your gut and brain at the same time. But not just any probiotic will do…
A probiotic formulated with proven strains from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus families, like those contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, can go a long way toward relieving your IBS and rebalancing your gut-brain axis safely and effectively.
The Probiotic Benefit For Gastric Bypass Patients
With greater numbers of people struggling with a myriad of health issues surrounding obesity, the popularity of gastric bypass procedures that help patients shed extra pounds has grown exponentially over the past three decades.
Although gastric bypass isn’t for everyone who suffers from severe weight-related health problems, this procedure can be an important catalyst toward better health outcomes.
Losing the weight with the help of gastric bypass is merely the first step. It takes a great deal of work and mental determination to follow a healthier diet plan rather than a nutrient-poor Western diet which is often the reason many patients consider gastric bypass in the first place.
However, taking a probiotic formulated with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains may be a very safe, gut-friendly solution that eases some of the issues gastric bypass patients face, according to a recent study.
The Gut-Brain Connection At Work
A team of Brazilian researchers conducted a clinical trial with 101 gastric bypass patients to assess the gut-brain benefits of prescribing a probiotic containing Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus, targeting symptoms of binge eating and food addictions.
(These strains of beneficial bacteria are among the 10 formulated in every bottle of EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.)
Patients received a multi-strain probiotic or placebo for three months, starting seven days after their gastric bypass surgeries, then were evaluated at the 90-day and 1-year marks to assess outcomes.
Both patient groups experienced decreases in symptoms at three months. But, the real benefit of taking a multi-strain probiotic showed up a year later as patients still experienced significant gut-brain relief from binging and food addictions.
What If Gastric Bypass Isn’t An Option?
For many people, gastric bypass may not be the best option to lose weight. You may not be keen on weight-loss surgery, especially if the amount of weight you need to lose is a much more manageable number that can be aided by eating nutrient-dense foods and increasing your exercise.
If you want to lose weight safely and more slowly but need some extra help, you may want to consider EndoMune Metabolic Rescue, a probiotic that can help you maintain the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and jumpstart your weight loss plan.
EndoMune Metabolic Rescue contains a proven blend of Bifidobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS (Xylooligosaccharides) that stimulates the release of hormones in your gut that reduce your appetite naturally by promoting a greater sense of fullness.
If gastric bypass isn’t in your future, it’s good to know you have gut-healthy options in the EndoMune family of probiotics that can make your weight-loss journey a good experience.
Enhance Mental Health With Multi-Strain Probiotics, Antidepressants
Modern medicine has really warmed up over the years to acknowledging the existence of the gut-brain axis, the vital connection that links your brain, emotions and intestines.
This relationship has become so familiar and accepted, modern medicine has begun to explore how probiotics may become an important tool in support of standard treatments for major depressive disorder (MDD), better known as depression.
That’s important, considering two-thirds of all patients don’t respond well initially to antidepressants, and nearly 30 percent of treatment-resistant patients experience additional symptoms when receiving specialized treatments.
Scientists at the University of Basel cited those downbeat numbers when sharing the very positive results of their study appearing in Translational Psychiatry that showed how multi-strain probiotics can make a real impact of the mental health of patients grappling with depression.
The Gut-Brain Axis Difference
Forty-seven patients completed the trial that compared mental health scores based on taking a multi-strain probiotic or a placebo in addition to their usual treatments for 31 days.
(Four of the eight strains of bacteria in the multi-strain probiotic used in this study are contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, including ones from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families.)
Although symptoms of depression decreased among all patients, researchers observed a greater 55 percent improvement among those taking a multi-strain probiotic, not only in mental health scores but maintaining an abundance of good gut bacteria.
What’s more, the beneficial effect of taking a probiotic was observed in a reduction of neural activity in the portion of the brain that influences some motor behaviors and modes of learning known as the putamen.
One caveat to these good positive findings that most would expect: Levels of those health-promoting bacteria dropped four weeks after the end of the study, making scientists wonder if roughly a month was time enough to stabilize a patient’s gut and their gut-brain axis.
Taking a probiotic is a great non-drug solution for treating persistent health problems ranging from depression to irritable bowel syndrome.
The way to get the most out of any probiotic, like EndoMune, is to take it every day, and if you need some tips on taking one, check out our recently updated how-to basics for all age groups and the four good reasons why probiotics make such an important impact on your health.
Your Baby’s Developing Gut-Brain Axis
As adults, we know our gut-brain axis — the connection that links our brain, intestines and emotions — is working and when it isn’t.
When those signals between the brain and gut get scrambled, something as simple as eating a highly processed, fast-food diet creates disruptions in the delicate balance of bacteria in our guts that can soon lead to obesity and lots more stress in our lives.
You may be surprised to learn that the gut-brain axis is at work even at the beginning of our lives as infants, and it’s noticeable when it isn’t.
If you’re a new mom who wonders why her newborn may be more fearful and fussier than you expected, it may be linked to the diversity of your baby’s gut and how it may shape their developing gut-brain axis.
The Fear Factor
Looking for new ways to support healthy neurological development, researchers at Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina teamed up for a study to compare fearful reactions experienced by infants to the balance of bacteria in their developing microbiomes.
Reacting to fearful things is a normal part of infant development. But, when those responses continue even in safe situations, that could signal an elevated risk of your baby developing anxiety and depression later on in life, says Dr. Rebecca Knickmeyer of Michigan State, leader of the study published in Nature Communications.
To learn how infant gut microbiomes were connected to the fear response, investigators conducted a year-long study with 30 infants who were breastfeeding and hadn’t been prescribed antibiotics.
Scientists evaluated the mix of gut bacteria based on stool samples taken from infants at 1 month and 12 months and assessed their fear responses with a simple test: Watching how each baby reacted when a stranger entered a room wearing a Halloween mask.
Parents were with their babies the whole time and they could jump in whenever they wanted, Knickmeyer says. “These are really the kinds of experiences infants would have in their everyday lives.”
No surprise, newborns who were more fearful at age 1 had very noticeable imbalances in gut bacteria at 1 month compared to those whose microbiomes remained stable. But that’s not all.
Using MRI imaging of those children’s brains, researchers discovered the diversity or lack of it in their developing guts was linked to the size of their amygdala, the sector of the brain responsible for making quick decisions about potential threats.
The Future Of Your Baby’s Gut
The results of this report highlight how important it is to protect the balance of bacteria in your baby’s gut, even when they breastfeed, and avoid antibiotics, for the sake of their developing gut-brain axis.
This may be a good time to talk to your pediatrician about giving your baby’s gut some extra help in the form of a probiotic
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use probiotic with the right mix of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families plus a prebiotic that feeds the good guys in their gut, we hope you’ll consider EndoMune Jr. Powder.
Just a half-teaspoon of EndoMune Jr. sprinkled in your baby’s formula or added to soft foods (when your baby is ready) once a day can make a healthy difference.
Mild Cognitive Impairment: Your Gut, Your Brain and Probiotics
Given our existing knowledge of the gut-brain axis — the connection that links your intestines, emotions, and brain — it was only time before modern science would examine how the microbiome and human mind work together in other ways.
Lately, a growing number of researchers are studying the effect of the microbiome on mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a stage between the typical cognitive decline due to normal aging and dementia.
Nearly a fifth of people age 60 or older live with MCI, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Generally, the cognitive shifts associated with MCI are noticeable, but don’t limit a patient’s ability to do daily tasks.
Fortunately, MCI doesn’t always lead to Alzheimer’s and cognitive changes may improve in time and, occasionally, it can be misdiagnosed due to a drug side effect.
Based on what we’ve learned from a pair of recent studies, the health of the human gut may provide some clues about MCI and a possible treatment with the help of probiotics.
The Bad News: Gut Bacteria Imbalances
One of the first signs of trouble with gut health are imbalances in the microbiome. Based on a comparative analysis of fecal samples, a group of Chinese researchers spotted noticeable differences in gut bacteria between healthy patients and those with MCI in a study appearing in the Journal of Immunology Research.
On the plus side, MCI patients had significantly more of some strains from the Staphylococcus genus than the healthy controls. That may be problematic, given that another Staphylococcus strain has been linked to neurodegeneration, a deterioration of neuronal structures leading to cognitive problems and dementia.
On the minus side, those with MCI had reduced levels of Bacteroides strains, in line with previous research connecting them to Alzheimer’s. In fact, Chinese scientists recommended that these Bacteroides strains could be used as potential microbiome markers for MCI or Alzheimer’s.
The Good News: Probiotics
Fortunately, there may be a silver lining to all of this bad gut bacteria news with the help of a probiotic.
Japanese researchers compared the effect of a probiotic formulated with a proprietary strain of Bifidobacterium breve to a placebo on 80 healthy older MCI patients in a Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease report.
(Bifidobacterium breve is one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.)
After both MCI groups took a probiotic or placebo for 16 weeks, researchers measured cognitive functions with a battery of standard tests.
No surprise, patients who took a probiotic achieved significantly higher scores in relation to immediate memory, visuospatial functioning (tasks like buttoning a shirt, assembling furniture or making a bed), and delayed memory.
These studies are merely the beginning of many as science looks to stem the tide of memory issues that surface with MCI and measure how well non-drug therapies like probiotics will perform in the real world.
One thing is certain: Taking a daily probiotic, especially a multi-species product like EndoMune supports your gut-brain axis, improves your mood, alleviates stress and helps you get the restful sleep your body needs naturally, safely, and without a drug.
IBS 101: The Origins
Some of the most popular articles on our website feature irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the most common condition gastroenterologists diagnose.
As many as 15 percent of all Americans may experience IBS symptoms during their lifetime, yet only a small portion of people are diagnosed and treated for it.
That’s really not surprising given the three IBS subtypes, depending on whether the main symptoms are constipation (IBS-C), diarrhea (IBS-D) or a mix of both (IBS-A), that can create a lot of confusion.
A recent European study conducted by the Dutch university, KU Leuven, has shed some new light on the real mystery: What triggers IBS.
Food Allergy Or No Food Allergy?
This team of Dutch researchers had already demonstrated how blocking histamine (a chemical released when the immune system is fighting a potential allergen) improved the health of IBS patients.
The real question: If the immune systems of healthy patients don’t react to foods, what would change to trigger IBS? This same European research team conducted tests on mice and IBS patients to find out.
Knowing that patients experience IBS symptoms after a GI problem like food poisoning, scientists infected mice with a stomach bug while feeding them a protein found in egg whites that’s commonly used as a food antigen (any molecule that provokes an immune response).
After the infections cleared up, mice that were fed the same food antigen a second time became sensitive to it, evidenced by the release of more histamine in their bodies and signs of abdominal pain.
What’s more, this immune response was localized in the part of the intestine infected by the gut bug but didn’t produce more generalized symptoms of a food allergy.
When researchers conducted a similar test on 12 IBS patients (injecting their intestines with a mix of cow’s milk, wheat, soy and gluten), the results mirrored the same ones seen in mice to at least one food antigen.
More Work To Be Done
Although scientists have identified one trigger for IBS, there’s still a lot of research ahead before a reliable solution ever comes. But you don’t have to wait to treat IBS dependably and safely.
We already know that following a more balanced diet with more fiber and fewer carbohydrates eases symptoms. A registered dietician may also recommend a FODMAP diet, a restrictive but temporary eating plan to help you target problem foods that could trigger IBS symptoms.
Your doctor may also recommend medications, but changes in a patient’s IBS subtype can make that a tricky proposition. Also, if stress is a factor in your IBS challenges, your physician may prescribe an antidepressant drug too.
However, if you’re wary about taking a drug, there are good non-drug options for easing symptoms, like probiotics that handle the key symptoms of each IBS subtype.
Probiotics do a great job of treating diarrhea and shortening its duration. Maintaining the motility in your intestines with help from probiotics eases constipation. And, when stress becomes a factor, probiotics work well to keep your gut-brain axis in balance.
The reputation of probiotics has become so rock-solid that professional organizations like the British Society of Gastroenterology recommend them as a frontline treatment for IBS.
When you’re looking for a good probiotic, be sure it’s formulated with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria that support the healthy microbial diversity of your gut.
Any probiotic you consider should also include a prebiotic, the unsung heroes of gut health that feed the bacteria living in your gut.
You can enjoy the best of both worlds with EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, formulated with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families plus the proven prebiotic FOS.
The Gut’s Connection To Psoriasis
We’re getting more evidence by the day about the harmful effects of the Western diet, a nutrient-poor mix of highly processed foods full of fats, refined grains and sugars, and its relation to the gut.
It doesn’t take much to create unhealthy imbalances in the gut that lead to newly discovered problems, as researchers from the University of California Davis have recently discovered.
The reduction of microbial diversity and the loss of beneficial bacteria, better known as the dysbiosis of the human gut, is so harmful that it can leave you vulnerable to inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and more serious related problems such as psoriatic arthritis.
As many as 30 percent of patients who have psoriasis also suffer from psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes painful, swollen joints. (This could be the first or only symptom of psoriasis.)
How Processed Foods Affect Psoriasis
To study the harm poor diets can do to the gut, scientists worked with mice, starting off by feeding them a Western diet for six weeks then injecting them with Interleukin-23 (IL-23), a chemical that drives inflammation, to induce a response that mimics psoriasis.
After that first six-week period, the mice were divided randomly into two groups, with half of them maintaining a Western diet while the rest eating a more balanced diet for an additional four weeks.
No surprise, mice that were fed a Western diet for the entire 10 weeks experienced skin and joint inflammation which wasn’t a surprise. In fact, test animals that were switched to a balanced diet had fewer skin problems and reduced ear thickness.
“It was quite surprising that a simple diet modification of less sugar and fat may have significant effects on psoriasis,” said Zhenrui Shi, a visiting assistant researcher in the University of California Davis’ department of dermatology and lead author on the study.
But that’s only part of the solution…
We’ve shared a lot of research with you recently about the benefits of maintaining a healthy gut to treat common skin conditions like acne and prevent bone loss by taking a probiotic with beneficial bacteria.
Any probiotic you take to protect your gut should contain multiple strains of beneficial bacteria to make a healthy difference, like the 10 proven strains from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families found in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.
EndoMune also features a prebiotic (FOS) made of digestible plant fibers and carbohydrates that do important work behind the scenes to feed the bacteria in your gut and stimulate their growth.
Gut-Brain Axis 101: The Gutsy Link to Your Emotions
How often do you make decisions based on a gut feeling during the day? And, do you notice butterflies in your stomach when you do make them?
We’re not exactly sure about the origins of those sayings but it seems as if we have known about the gut-brain axis — the connection that links the brain, intestines and emotions — for a very long time.
Although its existence had been debated in the past, that became impossible once modern medicine proved some 90 percent of serotonin (a neurotransmitter chemical that governs mood) in the body originates in the human gut, and specific bacteria play important roles in producing it.
The gut and brain are linked by the enteric nervous system (ENS), a network of 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus down to the rectum. Although the ENS doesn’t “think,” it transmits signals between the gut and brain.
Unfortunately, we begin to notice the gut-brain axis in our lives when these two-way signals become scrambled due to disruptions in the healthy balance of gut bacteria due to variables like a poor diet that lead to more stress and less restful sleep.
The good news: There are safe and effective tools you can use to bring balance to your gut and calm your brain.
Protecting Your Gut-Brain Axis At Work
The world of information technology (IT) — encompassing everything from information processing to building computers and websites like this one — is known for the high-pressure, 24/7 demands it places on its workforce.
Given those many stressors, a team of Chinese scientists investigated how to create more emotional stability to IT workers via the gut-brain axis with the help of a daily probiotic.
Out of 90 recruits, 36 IT workers (ages 20-60) met the criteria to participate in an eight-week trial, largely based on high initial stress test scores.
During the trial, workers took a probiotic containing a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus plantarum (one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic).
After the testing period, stress test scores dropped significantly in terms of self-perceived stress, depression and overall negative emotions as well as gastrointestinal problems.
Additionally, scientists also noted a decrease in cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone) with a coordinated increase in positive emotions with IT workers taking a probiotic.
The Gut-Brain Health Solution
You can tell the popularity of the gut-brain axis has grown by leaps and bounds given all of the new attention by medical experts looking for alternatives for the alarming rise of prescription drugs to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia just during the coronavirus pandemic.
Making lifestyle changes in the form of eating healthier diets full of nutrient-dense foods rich in dietary fiber and getting more sleep really do matter, but those aren’t the only tools at your disposal if you want to keep your gut-brain axis working as it should.
Taking one more precaution — a probiotic — gives your gut-brain axis the extra protection you need, especially on those extra-long workdays from home or at the office.
Make sure that any probiotic you select contains proven, lab-tested strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic, made from non-digestible plant fibers and carbohydrates that feed the good guys in your gut (they may help you fight cancer too).
It really takes a community of beneficial bacteria and prebiotics to protect your gut-brain axis. That why EndoMune Advanced Probiotic is formulated with 10 strains and 30 BILLION CFUs of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families, plus the prebiotic FOS.