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Researchers at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton have found that a type of probiotic bacteria named JB-1 can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and inflammation.

This study tested the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus Rhamnosus JB-1 in animal models – showing that the probiotic was able to protect mice against anxiety, social stress and inflammation caused by changes in the immune system.

“Interestingly, the probiotic only had an effect in mice that showed symptoms of anxiety. Those without anxiety were not affected,” says Dr. Paul Forsythe, the study’s senior author and researcher at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University. “This suggests that if this probiotic were to act the same way in humans, you wouldn’t expect to see changes in mood or behavior in those without anxiety symptoms.”

The study was published in BioMed Central Medicine and was funded by the US Office of Naval Research.

“The US Navy is interested in this research as it shows promise for improving resistance to chronic stress and potentially preventing PTSD,” says Dr. Forsythe. “As scientists, we’re interested in learning more about the mechanisms that make these probiotics function the way that they do.”

Learning more about JB-1 will allow the research team to determine how to best test this probiotic in studies involving humans.

This study revealed that the bacteria works by interacting directly with the host organism, rather than affecting the other bacteria present in its gut. Future research will strive to uncover how JB-1 directly interacts with the nervous system and the immune system.

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