Probiotics may help patients suffering from bipolar disorder

Washington: Probiotics–often thought of as good bacteria-can act as a potential avenue for treatment of bipolar and other psychiatric mood disorders.

Currently, the standard treatment for bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition characterised by dramatic shifts in mood from depression to mania, includes a combination of psychotherapy and prescription medications such as mood stabilisers and antipsychotics.

However, a new study from Baltimore’s Sheppard Pratt Health System found that a probiotic supplement may reduce inflammation of the gut, which is known to exacerbate bipolar disorder.

Probiotic organisms are non-pathogenic bacteria that, when present in the gut flora, are known to improve the overall health of the host.

The research demonstrated a strong link between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. This connection, named the ‘gut-brain axis’ (GBA), allows for crosstalk between the endocrine, immune, and autonomic nervous systems. The GI tract is also home to the intestinal microbiome, a complex population of roughly 100 trillion microorganisms that interact with the mucosal lining of the GI tract.

Researchers also found mounting evidence, linking imbalances in the microbial species that make up the gut microbiome to a number of health problems including allergies, autoimmune disorders, and psychiatric mood disorders.

Overall, the results indicated that changes in intestinal inflammation can alter the trajectory of psychiatric mood disorders.