Whole-system relief for depression

Chronic pain and depression are often common companions. A new survey out of Columbia University confirms the correlation.

The researchers interviewed more than 5,000 adults with anxiety or a mood disorder including depression. The survey indicated that about half of the participants also suffered from chronic pain.

The researchers call it the “dual burden” of physical and mental illness. And it highlights the need to treat depression and other mood disorders.

Not with pharmaceutical antidepressants though. Those are rife with risks. Instead, I look to natural remedies to help my patients with mood disorders. I often recommend just 30 minutes of daily exercise, omega-3s (I recommend a fish oil supplement of 3,000 mg of combined EPA and EHA per day), and vitamin D3 (2,000 – 10,000 IUs daily) to my patients battling depression.

Now, after reading a new study published in the journal GOV, I’m adding probiotics to that list.

The study found that probiotics improved depression in people who also had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The reason? Because the microbiome and the brain are inextricably linked.

There’s a reason the microbiome is called the “second brain.” So it makes sense that getting the microbiome in balance doesn’t just help your gastrointestinal system, it also helps mental health.

If you’re experiencing depression—whether or not it’s occurring alongside IBS or back pain—it might be a good idea to take a high-quality probiotic. (In fact, it’s a good idea for everyone.)

This study used Bifidobacterium longum. But I’m personally a fan of Dr. Ohhira’s, which delivers 12 strains of live probiotics and is backed by 25 years of research.

The takeaway here is that natural remedies can help treat both depression and chronic pain, rather than jumping on a dangerous merry-go-round of antidepressants and painkillers.



“Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: a Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” Gastroenterology 2017;153(2): 448-459.e8.