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Alzheimer's patients may benefit from probiotics

Harold Mandel's picture

Researchers have determined that probiotics may improve cognition in people suffering from Alzheimer’s.


Alzheimer’s is a devastating condition which develops slowly and gets progressively worse over time. There are problems with memory, thinking and behavior with this disorder which eventually makes it hard for sufferers to perform daily tasks. New research shows that this condition may be improved with probiotics.

Cognition may be improved with probiotics in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s

Neuroscience News reports cognition may be improved with probiotics in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. It is the first time it has been shown that probiotics can improve cognitive function in people. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts which are taken as dietary supplements and which are beneficial.

Scientists have shown in a clinical trial that a dose of probiotic Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria daily over a course of 12 weeks may result in a moderate but nevertheless significant improvement in the score of Alzheimer’s patients on the Mini-Mental State Examination scale. This test is a standard measure of impairment of cognition.

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There is communication between the intestinal microflora and the brain via the nervous system

It has been known that probiotics help to protect people from infectious colds, allergies, diarrheas, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, eczema, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Scientists have hypothesized that probiotics might also improve cognition because there is communication between the intestinal microflora and the brain via the nervous system. However prior to this study there was only limited evidence of any cognitive benefits for people.

Scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination were increased in the participants who were given probiotics

This study was done by researchers from Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, and Islamic Azad University, in Tehran, Iran. The subjects included 52 women and men with Alzheimer’s between the ages of 60 and 95 years old. The average score on the Mini-Mental State Examination was significantly increased in the participants who were given probiotics.

Walter Lukiw, who is a Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience and Ophthalmology and Professor of Alzheimer’s disease at Louisiana State University, reviewed this study but he was not involved in this research. He has commented this is an interesting and significant study because it gives evidence that gastrointestinal tract microbiome components play a role in neurological function. The study implies that in principle probiotics can improve cognition in people.

This study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. There is an association between serious cognitive impairments with Alzheimer's disease. This study has demonstrated cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients is positively affected by probiotic consumption for 12 weeks. This association has the potential to have a dramatic impact on the treatment of these patients.