Probiotics for Anxiety

Probiotics for anxiety can help with a root of the problem, as research shows that gut microbiota play a role in increasing or alleviating anxiety through a gut-brain connection. Let's start decreasing your anxiety by learning about the gut-brain connection and what you can do.

Anxiety disorders include conditions such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety disorder and specific phobias. The US National Institutes of Health estimates that over 31% of US adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

The causes of anxiety disorders aren't fully understood. Life experiences such as traumatic events appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Genetic SNP's may make a person more susceptible.

According to WebMD, medical problems may be linked to anxiety due to an underlying health issue such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems, such as hyperthyroidism
  • Respiratory disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma
  • Drug misuse or withdrawal
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) or other medications
  • Chronic pain or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Rare tumors that produce certain fight-or-flight hormones

Sometimes anxiety can be a side effect of certain medications or a first indicator of an illness. 

People with the labeled disorders present with excessive anxiety and related behavioral abnormalities, but you do not have to suffer with a diagnosed condition to be affected by some level of anxiety.

Feelings of worry, nervousness or apprehension can arise from many circumstances: dysfunctional family dynamics, financial struggles, aloneness, doctor or dentist visits, social commitments, dietary restrictions, travel fears, performance reviews, job interviews, and many others.

People may try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, and may be on prescription medications such as benzodiazepines, buspirone, antidepressants and even beta-blockers. Common benzodiazepines are alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium) and iorazepam (Ativan).  These medications are powerful and come with recognizable side effects. These medications commonly target the GABA-A receptor in the brain. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that counteracts anxiety.

Common antidepressants are SSRI’s like escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft), tricyclics such as clomipramine (Anafranil) and imipramine (Tofranil), and MAO inhibitors such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Emsam) and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

While medications may help, they do not come without side effects and periods of building up dosages and weaning off dosages. Probiotics for anxiety do not have those limitations and may get to the root of the problem rather than just treating the symptoms, but please talk to your doctor before changing any prescription medication dosages.

How Can Probiotics for Anxiety Help?

Probiotics for anxiety help by improving your gut health and microbiome because there is a gut-brain connection. Your gut microbiota CAN induce feelings of anxiety. It is the harmful and/or opportunistic microbes that contribute to anxiety problems via leaky gut and inflammatory molecules. Stress associated with anxiety can tip the balance of gut microbes to favor pathogenic and/or opportunistic ones. For example, a September, 2018 study by H-M Jang et al. in mice showed that stress led to anxiety, increased Proteobacteria and E. coli populations in the gut, increased fecal and blood LPS (lipopolysaccharide, a bacterial toxin) levels, decreased probiotic Lactobacillus populations, and increased blood, brain, and gastrointestinal inflammation. Transplanting fecal matter from anxious mice into specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice resulted in the SPF mice experiencing anxiety.

When the anxious mice were fed Lactobacillus johnsonii and Lactobacillus plantarum isolated from mouse feces, the anxiety-like behaviors and inflammatory molecules in the brain hippocampus decreased, and beneficial factors like BDNF (bone-derived neurotrophic factor, which is involved in nervous system development including neurogenesis) increased.

The results suggested that Lactobacillus may decrease anxiety through the suppression of gastrointestinal inflammation by restoring disrupted gut microbiota (dysbiosis) and inhibiting excessive gut bacterial LPS production and inflammatory chemicals.

Probiotics, in general, have multiple functions that affect not only digestive system health, such as intestinal permeability (leaky gut), but also the health of every system in the body, including the nervous system. Learn more from "Probiotics: How to Use Them to Your Advantage."

Where Can You Find Probiotics for Anxiety?

Probiotics for anxiety from the research include multiple Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. Some of these are found in a product such as:

Designs for Health ProbioMed 50 has 50 billion CFU with 10 strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Find this supplement in my dispensary.

Other Ideas to Complement Probiotics for Anxiety

Lavender essential oil, both used aromatically and internally, has much published research to support its use for anxiety and sleep. It,too, affects GABA. Don’t buy questionable oils; find out how lavender essential oil can help, what essential oils I trust, and what dosage is most effective on this page.


Magnolia Touch. Magnolia flower essential oil also is very high, even higher than lavender, in linalool, which is one of the constituents that make lavender essential oil so calming, as I described on the lavender page. The smell, ladies, is divine (and I hardly ever use that word!) Roll on this product, smell subtly wonderful, and feel stress and anxiety slip away.

There are no known hazards nor contraindications of magnolia oil according to "Essential Oil Safety" by Tisserand and Young.

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