Can a probiotic help you think if you have fibromyalgia, a disorder known for its cognitive issues? Perhaps so says a new study.

As probiotics continue to gain their deserved recognition in helping to alleviate and mitigate various issues originating in the GI tract, they are now also being considered for therapeutic use for a range of other conditions. It appears that this enteric system with a "brain" of its own has more influence over brain processes – which include thinking – than previously believed. For instance much of our neurotransmitters are manufactured in the GI tract. This fact alone means your GI health is linked to the health of your brain and nervous system.

With this knowledge in mind, a team of researchers in Spain hypothesized that fibromyalgia (FM) may benefit from probiotics, stating their use "might be a new treatment that could improve the physical, psychological and cognitive state in FM."

The results of their double-blind, randomized controlled trial are impressive, given the low dose of probiotics taken and the short study period.

Participants took 6 million count probiotics before breakfast and dinner for 8 weeks. Researchers tested thinking with pre and post computerized cognitive tasks to assess impulsive choice (ability to reason) in making decisions. Those on probiotics showed "significantly fewer impulsive choices than the placebo group" even though both had similar performance at baseline (beginning of the study).

Previous studies show probiotics have the ability to modulate and release neurotransmitters GABA, serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine, as well influence inflammatory cytokines. The probiotic Lactobacillus for one triggers serotonin and dopamine production. Given the neurotransmitter dysregulation in fibromyalgia, we agree with the researchers when they recommend larger and more comprehensive studies need to be done.

The World Health Organization has defined probiotics as 'live organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host'. There are several species of probiotics that dominate and populate the GI tract while billions of other friendly bacteria assist. One is L. acidophilus in the small intestines which produces powerful compounds that can inhibit 23 known disease causing pathogens. It’s also the primary beneficial bacteria in the vagina to control yeast overgrowth. Bifidobacteria are the good guys of the large intestines which support elimination and removal of toxins that form tumors and/or lead to chronic degenerative diseases. Although a major probiotic that helps with oral, vaginal, immune and bone health in addition to its work in the GI tract, few recognize Acidophilus as a probiotic. Most advertising simply uses the term probiotics and not individual strains. Thus we’ve decided to change the name of TyH's Acidophilus ES™ to Probiotic Blend™ for that reason. Look for our new label in the near future!

How much probiotics do you need? In Acidophilus, Benefits Beyond the GI Tract, we give you suggestions. In general, at least 4 billion count with the two major players listed above as found in TyH's Acidophilus ES™ is a good choice for a daily dose. For those with compromised GI systems, consider a higher organism count found in David's Probiotics™. Are probiotics safe? Probiotics have been consumed by humans in one form or another for over 100 years, with a good safety record.

Source: Roman P et al, Sci Rep 7/18.

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