The human intestine is home to trillions of bacteria called the intestinal microbiome, which play a crucial role in digestion. An increasing number of evidence suggests that these microbes also affect our brain and behavior. Now, in a new systematic review, researchers believe that changing our intestinal flora can help ease anxiety symptoms.
Researchers at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine analyzed 21 studies focusing on intestinal bacterial interventions for the treatment of anxiety. The review, which involved 1,503 professionals, showed that certain approaches may help alleviate the condition. The study is published in the journal General Psychiatry.
Two main methods were used to manipulate intestinal bacteria in the participants, which the team called "interventions to regulate intestinal flora" (IRIF). In seven of the studies, the patient's diet was changed, while the other 1
For all studies in the systematic study, the researchers found a modest positive effect. They say that 11 of the studies (52 percent) showed a marked improvement in anxiety symptoms after IRIF – five from probiotic approach and six from the diet method. The review also provided an insight into the combination of traditional anxiety drugs with the regulation of intestinal bacteria. The researchers found that only those studies that used the diet method (non-probiotic) paired with anxiety medications showed improvements.
Taken on their properties had an effect of 86 percent. This could possibly be related to the more effective growth of various types of bacteria after a change in diet. Alternatively, the problem may be with probiotics themselves, as the bacteria in the dietary supplements could compete against each other and not provide the necessary changes to the intestinal microbiome. It is also possible that only certain types of bacteria make a difference that the researchers did not check in this review. Another limitation is the length of the studies – they have all happened in just a few months. The authors are cautious about claiming the effects of diet or probiotics in managing anxiety. They argue that several studies are needed as this research does not indicate causal relationships between them.
"There are two types of interventions (probiotic and non-probiotic interventions) for the regulation of intestinal microbiota, and it should be emphasized that non-probiotic interventions were more effective than the probiotic interventions. Several studies are needed to clarify this conclusion. because we still cannot run meta-analyzes so far, "the authors conclude.