Probiotics Improve Bipolar Disorder
Probiotics have been shown to combat many ailments. Now we can add bipolar disorder to the list.
Bipolar disease is the relatively new naming convention for a condition whereby the patient suffers from bouts of depression and mania, often alternating or cyclical. In other words, bouts of high energy can alternate with periods of melancholy, sometimes depression.
This was called manic-depression reaction for some time in the 1950s, before the American Psychiatric Association decided to call the condition an illness: “manic-depressive illness.” Later, bipolar disorder became the typical naming convention for a condition that affects many people differently.
According to the U.S. National Mental Health Institute, bipolar disorder 1 may be afflicting up to 2.8 percent of the U.S. population. And 4.4 percent may have suffered from bipolar disorder at some point in their lives according to the research.
Bipolar disorder studied with probiotics
Dr. Faith Dickerson and research associates from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studied bipolar disorder at a Sheppard Pratt Health System hospital (Dickerson et al. 2018).
The researchers tested 66 bipolar patients who had come into the hospital with a manic episode. The patients were randomized, and half were given probiotics in a capsule for six months. The others were given a placebo during the same time.
The researchers found that about 50% of the placebo patients required hospitalization during the study.
But only a third of that number needed hospitalization in the probiotic group.
In other words, the probiotics significantly helped the bipolar patients, to the point where there were only a third of the hospitalizations.
Less treatment required
Those patients who took the probiotics also required less treatment. The placebo group required an average of 8.3 days of hospitalization per stay. Meanwhile, the probiotic group only required an average of 2.8 days of hospitalization.
Those who also suffered from systemic inflammation got a significant benefit from the probiotics according to the research results.
Which probiotic species help bipolar disorder?
The researchers used two strains of probiotics in the supplement. These were:
• Bifidobacterium lactis bb-12
• Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
This is important because not all species and strains will work the same. Both of these two species are found in breast milk. They also have been found to help mind-body issues in other studies, as I cover in my book on the topic (Adams, 2016).
We have discussed other studies that showed probiotics can significantly help depressive symptoms, as well as anxiety. Several studies were reviewed in this article. Several probiotic species produced positive results in these studies, including:
• Lactobacillus acidophilus
• L. salivarius
• L. brevis
• L. casei
• Bifidobacterium bifidum
• B. lactis
As we can see from the above study, there are common species showing positive results.
Other studies have shown that probiotics can significantly alter brain activity as well as emotional responses.
The absolute finding among these studies is that our gut’s probiotics affect our moods and our mental well-being.
It only makes sense for us to consider these findings carefully. Especially when so many in modern society are suffering from mental conditions.
Dickerson F, Adamos M, Katsafanas E, Khushalani S, Origoni A, Savage C, Schweinfurth L, Stallings C, Sweeney K, Goga J, Yolken RH. Adjunctive probiotic microorganisms to prevent rehospitalization in patients with acute mania: A randomized controlled trial. Bipolar Disord. 2018 Nov;20(7):614-621. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12652.
Adams C. Probiotics: Protection against Infection. Logical Books, 2016.