Why is this important?
The term ‘psychobiotics’ has recently been coined to refer to treatments for mental and neurological conditions that act via the gut microbiome. Specifically, these could be probiotics, prebiotics, a combination of the two (synbiotics) or other food/supplements that impact on the gut and the brain. While psychobiotics show great promise for the future of mental health treatment, most of the studies are still in animals. Before being able to recommend psychobiotics in humans, gold-standard randomised controlled trials, such as Gut Feelings, are needed.
How are we doing this study?
We are collaborating with colleagues at the University of Melbourne and The Melbourne Clinic on the Gut Feelings Study, a randomised controlled trial of three different psychobiotics: probiotic supplements, prebiotic foods and a combination of the two (synbiotics). Participants with low meed are being randomised to placebo or one of these three treatment groups for 8 weeks. Their mood, stress, quality of life, physical activity, bowel health and microbiota will be measured at the start and end of the study. We will see how participants are going again once the interventions have finished, 20 weeks after the start of the study.
What are we hoping to find?
The study will evaluate the efficacy of these treatments for improving low mood, and we will be taking a close look at the gut microbiome. We hope to be able to answer questions such as:
– Does the gut microbiome at baseline predict type or severity of low mood?
– In what ways do the treatments affect the gut microbiome?
– Could we ultimately be able to predict treatment response from baseline gut microbiome properties?