Currently, 12% of people are affected by anxiety related disorders each year. This can lead to various physical, mental and emotional symptoms and reduced quality of life. These may include tight chest, trouble breathing, heart palpitations, ‘butterflies’ in the abdomen, racing thoughts, negative thinking, feelings of despair and panic. There are many ways of reducing stress and anxiety related symptoms, from conventional medical approaches to psychological methods and particular natural treatments.
A recent meta-analysis looked at the use of probiotics for anxiety and stress related symptoms. Ten studies were included in the review and showed that probiotic use from as little as 4 and up to 12 weeks significantly decreased anxiety scores including Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS) values when compared to placebo (Huang et al, 2017). DASS values are a way of measuring the negative emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress in research studies.
Not all probiotics are the same, different strains have different effects on the body. And while potentially positive effects were seen in this review, further well designed research is required to specify exactly which strains are most beneficial and at which doses (Huang et al, 2017).
Reference: Huang R, Ning H, Yang L et al. (2017). Efficacy of probiotics on anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Neuropsychiatry, 7 (6), 862-871.