Ever since the discovery of the Gut-Brain Axis within this decade, researchers are in a race to explore new treatments for psychiatric conditions. Over the past years, a lot of research was successful in shining a light on the effect of gut microbiome on mood and memory. Most of these covered the use of probiotics, which are basically bacteria used as a food supplement. At first, research on the role of gut microbiome appeared to be limited to its use as a supplement, however, a new study from Oxford University suggests that gut microbiomes can have a bigger role other than solely as probiotics.
In the study, researchers are urging the scientific community to consider live bacteria as a new form of psychiatric treatment. This new drug class of “psychobiotics” may hold the key to safer and more effective treatments for mental disorders.
The concept of using probiotics as an alternative to hard drugs may not seem as far-fetched as it sounds. Numerous studies have pointed out that probiotic activity can improve inflammation, reduce depression and even control social anxiety much like typical drug store formulations. Although most of the studies are still in its early stages, it certainly warrants serious consideration. Given how most psychiatric medications have innumerable side effects, a safe and accessible alternative is definitely welcome in the field of mental health.
For now, as the push to make psychobiotics a legitimate treatment for mental disorders is just gaining momentum, we can still enjoy the benefits of a healthy gut-brain axis by consuming foods that are rich in probiotics. It may take a long time before we see psychobiotics written on a prescription pad, but the researchers are optimistic that this is eventually the next step in psychopharmacology.
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