Probiotics for Depression & Anxiety

By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN
Scientific Director, Essential Formulas


Depression is a big BIG problem. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disease worldwide.i

Results of a new meta-analysis of 34 controlled human clinical trials has reported that probiotics may exert potential antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.ii

The study reported that the administration of prebiotics – including galactooligosaccharides (GOS), fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and short-chain FOS – from 4 hours to 4 weeks did not lead to any difference from placebo for depression or anxiety. The failure of prebiotics in these trials is not surprising to me because, as noted above, they only focused on 3 types of fiber.

I have repeatedly emphasized in my presentations and articles that a healthy microbiome requires the ingestion of a wide diversity of different kinds of fiber. A diversity of fiber-rich foods supports the growth of a diverse range of probiotic bacteria, which in turn results in the bacterial production of a wide range of postbiotic metabolites.

In this meta-analysis, 23 clinical trials examined the effects of probiotics on depression and 22 clinical trials evaluated the effects of probiotics on anxiety. the administration of probiotics – including Bifidobacterium longum, Bacillus coagulans, and Lactobacillus alone or in combination with Bifidobacterium – from 8 to 45 weeks led to small but significant antidepressant and antianxiety effects.

An interesting finding was the fact that in trials where Lactobacillus was used alone, it did not confer any benefits on depression or anxiety. However, significant beneficial effects were observed when Lactobacillus was combined with other strains of probiotic bacteria.

In their conclusion, the authors state “the findings of this meta-analysis suggest that probiotics could be a promising therapeutic tool when managing depression and anxiety.”

At Essential Formulas, we emphasize the important role that postbiotic metabolites play in the overall regulation of health. Postbiotic metabolites are the compounds that your probiotic bacteria produce when they ferment and digest the fibers in the foods you eat. We now know that Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics contain 526 different postbiotic compounds.

Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics is a fermented food that delivers probiotics, prebiotics and most importantly, postbiotic metabolites. That’s the Dr. Ohhira’s Difference. For a comprehensive review of how postbiotic metabolites regulate your health, read Essential Formulas’ Scientific Director Dr. Ross Pelton’s article titled Postbiotic Metabolites: The Next Frontier In Microbiome Science, which was published in the June 2019 issue of the Townsend Letter.



i Lepine JP and Briley M. The increasing burden of depression. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011;7(Suppl 1):3-7.
ii Liu R, et al. Prebiotics and probiotics for depression and anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2019 July;102:13-23.