In a recent study conducted at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, scientists have revealed the benefits of probiotics – good bacteria – and their positive influence on individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. To date, the most prevalent form of treatment is via psychotherapy and prescription medications such as mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.
In the United States, around 3 million individuals are diagnosed each year with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is identified by severe changes in mood ranging from a state of depression to mania. In a recent publication, researchers discuss the emerging field of probiotic research and how it can impact the outcome of patients with bipolar disorder. Probiotics are non-pathogenic bacteria residing in the gut flora. Probiotics have been shown to increase the overall health of their host.
The study, led by Faith Dickerson in collaboration with colleagues at Baltimore Maryland’s Sheppard Pratt Health System, provides data supporting reduced inflammation of the gut after probiotic supplementations are administered. Inflammation of the intestine is a known trigger that exacerbates the effects of bipolar disorder.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract and its function are strongly linked to the central nervous system; the relationship is known as the GBA or the gut-brain axis. This axis is the main terminal for communications between the endocrine, immune, and autonomic nervous systems. Studies have provided evidence that the GBA is highly influenced when the gut microbiome and the GI tract are off balance. Additionally, data exists revealing that allergies, autoimmune disorders, and psychiatric disorders are linked to the health of the bacteria residing in the gut.
Due to the swelling evidence of how inflammation impacts the effectiveness of the GBA, the researchers created a probiotic supplement to mitigate the inflammation caused by microbial imbalances in the gut. An experimental group of patients was observed over six months to determine the effects of the supplement. The patients were from a group of individuals recently hospitalized for mania. The scientists recorded changes in the patient’s mood and immune system over the duration.
Patients, given either the placebo supplement or the active probiotic, were monitored for baseline changes in their health and mood. The results display those receiving the developed probiotic supplement, on average, had fewer return visits to the hospital than those taking the placebo. The patients receiving the probiotics also did not require as much in-patient treatment. The scientists record that those with the best results were patients who, at first, had the highest inflammation. The team hopes that these results will begin to influence physicians’ decisions to incorporate the use of probiotics when treating individuals with bipolar disorder.