Literature about the use of live microorganisms to treat ‘melancholia’, how depression was referred to in days of old, dates back to the 1910s, Dr. Tompkins told NutraIngredients-USA at the IPA World Congress + Probiota Americas 2017 last week in San Francisco.
“Up through the 1970s, and more recently the 1990s… people were anecdotally mentioning that they’re feeling less aggressive, having better sleep when they’re taking probiotics,” he added. “This led us to the concept that we can maybe intervene into anxiety and depressive behavior just by giving them probiotics.”
Lallemand Health Solutions conducted a study looking at chronically depressed individuals, but there wasn’t a sound conclusion to what role probiotics played that could be drawn from the study. Dr. Tompkins noted that this sample in the pilot study have failed multiple depression therapies.
“So we decided to redesign the study to look at treatment naïve individuals,” he added. The company is currently preparing for a study with a larger cohort, paving a way to find out if probiotics may compete with conventional drugs in improving depression symptoms.
“What we understand now is individuals who have long-term chronic depressive disorder—we really won’t have an impact on them,” he added. “But we have an opportunity with those who are newly diagnosed.”