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Yogurt holds promise to help treat depression

Harold Mandel's picture
Delicious, nutritious yogurt

Researchers say a probiotic called lactobacillus which is found in yogurt can help to reverse symptoms of depression in mice. They are now planning to investigate if lactobacillus can help treat depression in people.


Depression is a horribly painful state of being which can be very costly for your life and which can even lead to suicide. There have been increasing press reports about the myriad of potentially very dangerous side effects associated with the use of psychiatric drugs to treat depression and therefore alternative means to prevent and treat depression are preferable.

Healthy lifestyles which include good overall nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise have been found to often be very helpful in preventing and treating depression. Avoidance of excessive alcohol and illicit drugs is also suggested.

The probiotic lactobacillus which is found in yogurt has been found to reverse symptoms of depression in mice

The University of Virginia Health System reports the probiotic lactobacillus which is found in yogurt has been found to reverse symptoms of depression in mice. Investigations are now underway to determine if this also helps treat depression in people.

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This should also be true to people

University of Virginia researchers say they have discovered depression-like behavior and anxiety in mice can be reversed with lactobacillus. It is their belief this should also be true to people. This finding offers the remarkable consideration that alterations in your intake of bacteria could help stabilize your mood naturally.

Alban Gaultier, PhD and his associates studied the gut microbiome before and after mice were subjected to stress. They observed a major change was the loss of lactobacillus. Depressive symptoms began to appear with the loss of lactobacillus. The mood in the mice was returned to almost normal when they were fed lactobacillus with their food. Gaultier says mood can be influenced by a single strain of lactobacillus.

In the mice the level of a metabolite in the blood which is called kynurenine is affected by the amount of lactobacillus which is in the gut. Kynurenine has been shown to influence depression. When lactobacillus was low in the gut, the levels of kynurenine went up and symptoms of depression set in. Kynurenine levels seem to also influence behavior in people. And so investigations are underway to determine if lactobacillus can effectively help treat depression in people via the same mechanism seen in mice.

The journal Scientific Reports has published this study. It appears that along with a genetic component the microbiome may serve as a causative agent for depression. It appears possible manipulation of lactobacillus levels may be used to treat depression. These levels of lactobacillus can be positively manipulated by enjoying eating delicious yogurt.