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Mass. General Studies Probiotics For Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Depression

Irritable Bowel Syndrome seems like an obvious target for a study of probiotics; the "benevolent" bacteria are known to affect the chemistry of the gut.

But depression? Does this fit into the thinking that the gut is kind of a second brain??

Anyway, this from MGH:

BOSTON (November 23, 2010) —A new clinical trial is underway at the Massachusetts General Hospital to assess the safety and efficacy of the probiotic bacteria GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) in outpatients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and major depressive disorder (MDD). This research is believed to be the first of its kind to examine common factors underlying both gut and psychiatric disorders and the use of probiotics as an intervention in depression.

Details and the rationale behind the study are here. The study's lead researcher notes that there's such a huge overlap between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and psychiatric disorders that "it is perhaps more than just coincidental."

Probiotics are certainly trendy. They're showing up in everything from yoghurt to supplement powders. Some studies show some benefits — this review found that probiotics shortened the duration of diarrhea. But this assessment of yoghurt claims by the Center for Science in the Public Interest suggests that some of the benefits — at least as touted in food ads and labeling — may be overstated.

This program aired on November 24, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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