Medical researchers are finding connections between the bacteria that support a healthy gut and many aspects of human well-being. Most studies have focused on the physical benefits of probiotics. As scientists have researched further, however, they are finding a connection between probiotics and mental health that affect anxiety, depression, and mood.
Recent studies indicate that about 12% of people experience an anxiety disorder each year, and 5-30 % experience it sometime in their lives. The U.S. and Europe have higher anxiety rates than other countries.
Anxiety disorders can cause sufferers to experience a rapid heart rate, chest tightness, shakiness, suicidal thoughts, physical disabilities, and an overall lower quality of life.
The Science of Probiotics for Anxiety and Mood Support
The medical community is talking about probiotics that positively affect anxiety and mood as psychobiotics. Several studies have revealed that the most effective probiotics for mood and anxiety are a combination of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
In one study on badminton players, probiotics consumption improved anxiety and stress levels by 16%, a significant amount. A scientific article says there is a strong connection between the gut and the central nervous system and that having a healthy gut is critical for the brain and emotions.
The gut and the brain communicate through the vagus nerve, a central nervous system component. This connection controls anxiety and stress. The gut can even send serotonin, which regulates mood, and dopamine, which helps us experience pleasure.
When the gut biome is out of balance, this communication is interrupted; when this happens, you can experience mood changes and anxiety. Anxiety is a common symptom of IBS or other uncomfortable gut conditions. You may not have physical symptoms like bloating or cramping, but you can still have gut dysbiosis.
Maximizing the Effects of Probiotics
Read the label on your probiotic supplement to understand the manufacturer’s recommendations. Different strains of probiotics do better with food, and others when taken without food. But consistency is more important than timing.
Studies have shown that meal composition can boost probiotics’ survival rates. Taking a probiotic supplement with oatmeal or low-fat milk increased survival rates over water or apple juice, and a small amount of fat, sugar, or carb also helped.
Choosing a Probiotics Supplement for Anxiety
Choosing a probiotic supplement for anxiety and mood doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is crucial to choose wisely. Although one strain hasn’t been proven more effective at helping with anxiety, most studies on this topic used a Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium supplement containing multiple strains.
No matter what you’re taking a probiotic for, there are several general qualities to consider when deciding which to use.
- Multiple strains of diverse bacteria
- Survivability through the stomach and into the intestines
- Shelf stability
- Presence of probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics
- No chemicals, additives, or preservatives
- Non-GMO and vegetarian
Are there any side effects of taking probiotics?
Probiotics are considered safe for healthy people, and most consumers do not report side effects. The few people who report symptoms experience bloating and increased thirst. Start with a small dose to avoid symptoms and work your way up over a few weeks. If the symptoms continue for over 14 days, talk with your doctor.
Make sure you choose a high-quality probiotic that does not contain ingredients you may be allergic to, such as lactose. The extra ingredients could cause digestive symptoms, rather than the probiotic.
If you are immune-compromised, have been in the hospital for a long time, or have had a recent surgery, talk with your doctor before starting a probiotic.
Where to Purchase Probiotic Supplements
Many stores now carry probiotic supplements, and ordering online is always an option. All have lists of probiotic strains and “other ingredients” on the bottle, and often more information is available online. Consider these options:
- Health food stores
- Online retailers
Best Probiotics for Anxiety and Mood Support
When it comes to mood and anxiety, probiotics offer great possibilities for solving one of the greatest medical crises of the 21st century. Dr. Ohhira’s products from Essential Formulas are scientifically created based on ancient Japanese wisdom. They contain prebiotics, 12 probiotic strains, and more than 500 postbiotic metabolites.
These probiotics contain no artificial additives or “other ingredients” on the label that you won’t understand. They’re created with all-natural, wild-harvested ingredients and do not contain dairy, gluten, chemicals, or preservatives. Learn more about how Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics can help with anxiety, stress, and mood.
Here are a few of the top probiotic supplements on the market today.
1. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics by Essential Formulas
Essential Formulas creates this pure probiotic through three years of fermentation using current research and ancient Japanese techniques
- Contains prebiotics
- Contains more than 500 postbiotic metabolites
- Free of allergens and chemicals
- Contains multiple proprietary probiotic strains
- Formulated to survive through the digestive tract
- Talk to your doctor if you are immune compromised, had an extended hospital stay, or had a recent surgery
- Best For
2. Mood Probiotics and Prebiotics Drinkable Powder by Biolever
Biolever® focuses on evidence-based supplements that are bioavailable and precisely targeted
- Lowers levels of free cortisol
- No gluten, GMOs, artificial preservatives, or colors
- Contains a prebiotic
- The powder may be inconvenient to consume
- Contains maltodextrin
- The powder may not survive the digestive journey to the intestines
- Best For
- Work-related stress
3. PRO-Mood by Hyperbiotics
Hyperbiotics develops probiotics leveraging current research to aid people on their health journey
- Contains multiple strains
- Long release time to survive the digestive journey
- Free of dairy, gluten, soy, nuts, and active yeast; does not contain GMOs, sugar, or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Other ingredients listed include Microcrystalline Cellulose, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, pectin, sodium carbonate, stearic acid, silicon dioxide, and turmeric
- Does not list prebiotics as an ingredient
- Best For
- Mood, focus, stress response, and memory
4. Daily Probiotic Time Release Pearls by Replenish the Good
Replenish the Good Daily Probiotic is intended to improve digestive health, protect the brain and immune system, and elevate energy and mood
- Free of sugar, lactose, and gluten
- Contains multiple probiotic strains
- Other ingredients listed include Microcrystalline Cellulose, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, pectin, sodium carbonate, stearic acid, guar gum, and turmeric
- Best For
- Energy and mood
5. Mood-Boosting Probiotic by Lifted Naturals
Lifted Naturals is a small family business that started by creating this mood-boosting probiotic
- Contains prebiotics
- Multiple strains
- 2-month supply
- Openable capsules
- Capsule contains methylcellulose
- Best For
- Mood and emotional health