Psychobiotics: A new approach for treating mental illness?

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(8):1230-1236. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2017.1399860. Epub 2017 Nov 30.


Gut microbiomes may have a significant impact on mood and cognition, which is leading experts towards a new frontier in neuroscience. Studies have shown that increase in the amount of good bacteria in the gut can curb inflammation and cortisol level, reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, lowers stress reactivity, improves memory and even lessens neuroticism and social anxiety. This shows that, probably the beneficial gut bacteria or probiotics function mechanistically as delivery vehicles for neuroactive compounds. Thus, a psychobiotic is a live organism, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness. Study of these novel class of probiotics may open up the possibility of rearrangement of intestinal microbiota for effective management of various psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: Gut microbes; mental illness; psychobiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Brain
  • Cognition
  • Depression / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Neuropsychology
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*