A Novel Approach to Treating Depression – How Probiotics Can Shift Mood by Modulating Cytokines


Allergy Research Group/house journal

Michael E. Ash

From our early days in utero until we die, the ability of the GI tract to renew and replenish itself and maintain a stable relationship with trillions of bacteria is astounding. On a typical day the innate immune system of our gastrointestinal tract will process more immunological information than the rest of our body in its entire lifetime. It’s an absolute immunological miracle we can consume antigenic particles of food and not drop down dead every time we do so.

In fact, the joy of modifying the gut mucosal immune system is that we can at the same time treat urinary, respiratory, inner ear and oral tissue. Gut originating immune molecules migrate out through the lymphatic tissue, circulatory system and influence the vagal nerve to deliver information systemically. Mucosal immunity is the key to gut health, overall immune balance, and even brain function and mood. It’s this last I am reporting on in this article, for gut immunity and neuro-immunity are intimately bound, sharing the same receptors and the same signals. Information that initiates in the gut ends up in the brain and vice versa, providing a comprehensive cross talk between the two sets of tissues.

I have discovered that tweaking the immune system through very careful use of targeted, strain specific probiotics is a novel and effective treatment for atypical depression—the most common subtype of depression and the form most commonly seen in women today. I have arrived at this unusual approach after 26 years of practice as an osteopath, naturopath and clinical nutritionist treating over 10,000 patients. I believe many clinicians today consider probiotics in the same manner that medicine looked at antibiotics back in the 1950’s: with little regard for strain specificity, timing and dose. Here I report on the very specific reasons why probiotics can treat depression, how to stage their successive application, and why timing, dosing, and delivery mechanisms of probiotics are key to their effective use.

September 2009




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