Probiotics in digestive, emotional, and pain-related disorders

Behav Pharmacol. 2018 Apr;29(2 and 3-Spec Issue):103-119. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000385.


In recent years, interest in the relationship between gut microbiota and disease states has grown considerably. Indeed, several strategies have been employed to modify the microbiome through the administration of different diets, by the administration of antibiotics or probiotics, or even by transplantation of feces. In the present manuscript, we focus specifically on the potential application of probiotics, which seem to be a safe strategy, in the management of digestive, pain, and emotional disorders. We present evidence from animal models and human studies, notwithstanding that translation to clinic still deserves further investigation. The microbiome influences gut functions as well as neurological activity by a variety of mechanisms, which are also discussed. The design and performance of larger trials is urgently needed to verify whether these new strategies might be useful not only for the treatment of disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract but also in the management of emotional and pain disorders not directly related to the gut.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Digestive System / drug effects
  • Emotions / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Pain / diet therapy
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Probiotics / pharmacology*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*