Genevieve Yellin, ERYT500, PYT1000
Integrative Yoga Therapist

Can probiotics reduce anxiety? That is what recent research suggests.  Early research on the gut-brain connection that was conducted on mice* found that mice fed probiotics had a significant increase in stress resistance. In other words they didn’t get stressed out as easily as the control group that were not fed probiotics when faced with a stressful situation.  More recent studies on humans have found that supplementing with probiotics (specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactococcus lactis, and Streptococcus thermophilus) for four weeks, demonstrated improved processing activity in the areas of the brain responsible for controlling emotion, sensation and anxiety.

What this means
Though the pathways are still unknown, there is strong evidence that the communication between the gut and the brain is a two way street.  It is well known that chronic stress and anxiety have a negative effect on one’s gastrointestinal system, and now it seems evident that a poor gastrointestinal environment may have a negative impact on one’s mental health as well.
How to create a healthy internal environment 
There is a correlation between a healthy diet and healthy biota in the gut.  Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine (digestive diseases), physiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA makes the connection:

“what we eat can alter the composition and products of the gut flora – in particular, that people with high-vegetable, fiber-based diets have a different composition of their microbiota, or gut environment, than people who eat the more typical Western diet that is high in fat and carbohydrates,” Mayer said. “Now we know that this has an effect not only on the metabolism but also affects brain function.”   The full article that can be found HERE
Put it all together 
When dealing with chronic stress or battling anxiety, it is important to approach wellness from a holistic perspective, taking into account mind, body and spirit.  Daily exercise (asana, walking, TaiQi, swimming), practicing meditation and breathwork, eating a healthy diet and possibly supplementing with a good probiotic to take care of the internal flora, getting enough rest and cultivating spirit each day is the best all-inclusive prescription for good health of the mind, body & spirit.

*Please note: I am strongly opposed to animal testing!              

“Psychology is physiology above the collar button”  ~

Martin H. Fischer