Your Brain’s Best Friends: Psychobiotics….The microbial secret to better mood and more

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When it comes to mood and mental health, friendly bacteria—aka probiotics—may just be your new BFF (best friends forever). Research continues to link your gut microbiome—the trillions of microbes that reside in your GI tract—directly to your mental and emotional health…and beyond. 

The gut has often been called the “second brain” by researchers studying the gut-brain axis—the vast network of biochemical signaling pathways that connects your GI and neurological systems. Now, numerous studies are showing how the microbiome plays key roles within this network, influencing neurological health in numerous ways.  And when it comes to mood and mental health, the findings are particularly significant.  

The truth is, the right balance of healthy microbes in your gut can boost your mood and help manage anxiety, depression, and other common mood disorders. 1  

Welcome to the groundbreaking field of psychobiotics.  

Microbiome, Mood and Brain  

Trillions of microbes—both good and bad—reside in your gut. When your microbiome is healthy, diverse and balanced, beneficial bacteria work around the clock to keep you healthy— physically, mentally and emotionally. But when pathogenic (unhealthy microbes) take over and outnumber the good ones, your inner ecosystem becomes imbalanced, with potentially serious impacts to every area of health…including mental health.2,3 

When pathogenic microbes outnumber good ones, it creates a condition called dysbiosis. Research has linked dysbiosis to numerous mental health and neurological concerns including:4,5 

  • Anxiety6 
  • Clinical depression7 
  • Bipolar disorder8 
  • Autism spectrum disorder9 
  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)10 
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease11 
  • Parkinson’s disease 

There’s good news though. Research also shows that certain probiotics can rebalance gut microbiome diversity and eliminate dysbiosis, with clear, noticeable benefits for your mood and brain.13 

5 Ways Probiotics Improve Your Mood 

Good bacteria perform numerous supportive actions in the gut, with far-reaching benefits. In terms of mood and mental health, friendly flora address several key areas: 

  1. Neurotransmitters: A healthy, balanced microbiome produces a large percentage of your “happy neurotransmitters”— brain chemicals that regulate mood and emotions, including:,14,15 
  • Serotonin—the primary anti-depressant chemical 
  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)—supports a feeling of calm and relaxation 
  • Dopamine—gives the “reward” feeling and boosts pleasure and motivation 
  1. B vitamins: Probiotics manufacture B vitamins which are essential for mood, cognition and neurological health.16  
  1. Short chain fatty acids (SCFA): Probiotics also manufacture SCFAs which are essential nutrients (such as butyrate) that support mental health and reduce depression,  among other benefits.17  
  1. Cortisol management: Probiotics are shown to reduce stress hormone cortisol by as much as 20%.18 
  1. Melatonin: Probiotics also help produce the master sleep hormone melatonin, for optimal sleep/wake cycles and circadian rhythm balance.19

These benefits represent just some of the ways we know probiotics can boost mental and emotional health—with comprehensive benefits for overall vitality and total-body wellness. 

Psychobiotics for Mood and More… 

The body of research into the field of psychobiotics is growing fast. With the potential to effectively address mental and neurological health in such a profound way, a number of clinical studies are currently underway to explore this exciting area.  

What we know so far is that specific strains of probiotics show a significant positive impact on mood and mental health. In fact, in some cases probiotics are being recommended to enhance the benefits of Rx antidepressants and related medications.  

Eight clinically studied probiotic strains have shown psychobiotics effects: 

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus 
  2. Lactobacillus casei 
  3. Lactococcus lactis 
  4. Lactobacillus salivarius 
  5. Bifidobacterium longum 
  6. Lactobacillus rhamnosus 
  7. Bifidobacterium lactis 
  8. Streptococcus thermophiles 

Clinical results on these strains continue to show promise. For example:  

Women who took a probiotic formula of B. lactis, S, thermophiles, and L. lactis showed calmer reactions when exposed to stress triggers, compared to women who didn’t take those strains.20 

A mix of L. acidophilus, B. lactis, and B. longum decreased anxiety and depression in 75 dialysis patients.21 

A mix of L. acidophilus and L. casei decreased anxiety and depression in overweight patients also and helped them lose weight.22 

In students facing exam stress, a blend containing L. rhamnosus and B. lactis reduced cortisol levels and relieved stress, depression, and anxiety.23 

Adults who received a formula with B. lactis, L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. salivarius, and L. lactis showed a reduction in negative thinking patterns.24 

Formula for Success 

Balancing your gut bacteria, and supporting overall digestive health, can offer tremendous benefits for your brain and mood: 

  • Raise levels of feel-good brain chemicals  
  • Calm anxiety 
  • Lift your mood 
  • Support optimal cognitive health and function 

For optimal microbiome balance, I recommend a specialized probiotic formula that works like no other formula I’ve used in my practice. The truth is, most probiotics don’t work for a large portion of the population—up to 40% of people—because the formulas lack the key components that allow probiotics to flourish and colonize your GI tract.  

To solve this problem, my team and I formulated a powerful microbiome elixir with 8 clinically studied strains, as well as pre-biotic superfood to nourish good bacteria, together with 19 digestive herbs—fermented in an organic liquid delivery system. This formula delivers fast-acting support for long-term microbiome health, and for many of my patients, has been the only probiotic to successfully address long-standing GI issues.  

The truth is, your gut/microbiome-brain axis is a two-way street—so when your friendly bacteria are flourishing and happy, you can be too.  


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  1. Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clin Pract. 2017;7(4):987. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.4081/cp.2017.987 
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  1. Boonchooduang N, Louthrenoo O, Chattipakorn N, Chattipakorn SC. Possible links between gut-microbiota and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders in children and adolescents. Eur J Nutr. 2020 Dec;59(8):3391-3403. doi: 10.1007/s00394-020-02383-1. Epub 2020 Sep 11. PMID: 32918136. 
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  1. Stadlbauer V, Engertsberger L, Komarova I, Feldbacher N, Leber B, Pichler G, Fink N, Scarpatetti M, Schippinger W, Schmidt R, Horvath A. Dysbiosis, gut barrier dysfunction and inflammation in dementia: a pilot study. BMC Geriatr. 2020 Jul 20;20(1):248.  
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  1. Yong SJ, Tong T, Chew J, Lim WL. Antidepressive Mechanisms of Probiotics and Their Therapeutic Potential. Front Neurosci. 2020;13:1361.  
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