In this November 2016 article, “How ‘Psychobiotics’ Use Gut Bacteria to Treat Mental Illness” by Carolyn Gregoire in The Huffington Post, you’ll read about a recently published paper in the journal Trends in Neuroscience. The paper discusses how Oxford psychiatrists are encouraging the use of a new term “psychobiotics” to include “any intervention that has an effect on mental health by way of changes in the gut microbiome.”
While natural medicine practitioners have been using probiotics for prevention and treatment of disease for decades, the spotlight is now turning to its function with mental health issues. Alternative health practitioners, such as Dr. David Pulmetter, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, Deepak Chopra and Sayer Ji, are focusing more attention on protocols involving a healthy microbiome. For centuries, traditional diets included fermented foods – clearly they were onto something long before science began to prove it.
“The larger question here, in medical, scientific, and legal terms, is that psychobiotics are not currently classified as a treatment,” as Dr. Philip Burnet, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Oxford and one of the study’s authors points out. Burnet said “At most they are a dietary supplement. The answer to how and whether they should be regulated will emerge as we learn more about the effects of these substances on the central nervous system.”
Will future regulation reduce your access to probiotics and other things that affect the microbiome which are currently commercially available, such as fermented foods and probiotic supplements? As Burnet points out, “We have suggested than any intervention that has a psychological effect through changes in the gut microbiome, is potentially a psychobiotic.” and “This may include diet and exercise, both of which affect the bacterial communities in the gut, and both influence mood and cognition.”
The article goes on to say “Regulation would allow people to access psychobiotic treatments with proper guidelines for use and dosage, based on their particular needs.”