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Probiotics for Anxiety


Tension. Worry. Fear. Heart palpitations. Problems sleeping. Sound familiar? If so, these are all signs and symptoms of anxiety (1). Keep reading to learn more about how probiotics for anxiety is one of several ways to improve these feelings naturally.

If you suffer from anxiety, chances are you have experienced one or all of these symptoms. Sometimes, when symptoms have gone unchecked far too long, anti-anxiety medications are necessary and provide tremendous relief. 

You may find it helpful to know that being self-aware and mindful of your body may help you improve these symptoms before medications become necessary.

However, you may get to the point of needing anti-anxiety medications first, and that’s OK. Once you become stabilized on medications, you may want to then consider trying probiotics for anxiety. This is not recommended to try without the advice of your medical provider.

My Story

Can I be a little vulnerable with you, because I think it helps to hear another persons struggles and successes? Although my story is different now, for many years, I did not listen to the signs my body was giving me. Therefore, my body eventually turned on the “help needed” light and I had to respond.

After my anti-anxiety medications brought me back down to planet earth, I started to learn about and implement natural solutions for anxiety, because the thought of staying on anxiety medications longterm didn’t sound appealing. 

Prevalence of Anxiety

It may be comforting to know that anxiety disorders are one of the most common forms of mental illness, affecting up to 30% of American adults at some point in their lives. A worldwide study in 2020 found that 1 in 9 people suffered from anxiety in the previous year (1).

Symptoms of Anxiety
Symptoms of Anxiety

Symptoms of Anxiety

Common symptoms of anxiety include pervasive worry, fear, tension, and other physical changes such as heart palpitations, tremors, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues (1).

Unfortunately, when anxiety is excessive and uncontrolled, it can lead to serious adverse health concerns, such as sleep disorders, increased risk of heart disease, and substance abuse (5). 

The Microbiome & Gut Brain Axis

Let’s dive a little deeper into the gut brain connection, which will help explain how probiotics for anxiety can be helpful. If this doesn’t float your boat, so to speak, feel free to skip down to the next sections of Probiotics.

This is fascinating to me. The gut-brain-axis (GBX) is a bidirectional pathway that exists between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain (3). I like to think of this path as an interstate highway that is transporting essential information back and forth between two very important destinations. 

The microbiome, which weighs nearly four pounds and lives mostly in our gastrointestinal tract, is composed of trillions of microorganisms and genes. Maintaining a healthy and balanced microbiome is essential for optimal function of our central nervous system (CNS) (2, 5).

The CNS can alter our mood, behavior, and stress response, either positively or negatively, depending on the health of our microbiome (2, 4). 

Leaky Gut

This is important to understand. When the gut is in an unbalanced state, also known as gut dysbiosis, a host of issues may arise. Furthermore, the blood brain barrier, a semipermeable lining that separates the CNS from the peripheral blood in your body, becomes compromised.  When this happens, the gut lining loses its protective ability (5). 

This is also called leaky gut and where problems come into play. With leaky gut, food and food-derived substances cross over the blood brain barrier and create a state of inflammation throughout the body (5).

This often leads to many of the psychological symptoms previously noted, including anxiety. More information about leaky gut can be found in this comprehensive blog post by The Waistline Dietitian, Laura Krauza. 

Probiotics and Anxiety

It comes as somewhat of a relief that diet is one of the most significant, controllable influences on maintaining gut health (3, 5). Consuming a diet rich in both probiotic and prebiotic foods has a potentially therapeutic effect against mood disorders, such as anxiety. 

Currently, human studies are available but limited on the topic of probiotic effects on anxiety. However, when combining all of the studies in the past 10 years on both humans and animals (specifically mice), probiotics appear to have a positive effect on improving CNS function, including anti-anxiety effects (1, 2, 4). 

What Are Probiotics

You may be wondering what exactly probiotics are. Probiotics, found in both food and supplement form, offer your body good bacteria that improves the health of the microbiome (3). Remember, earlier we learned that the microbiome has been shown to effect our mood, therefore if probiotics improve the health of our microbiome then…

…you guessed it! Probiotics may help with improving anxiety as well!

This may sound a bit confusing, but prebiotics work together with probiotics to help the healthy bacteria multiply (3). To learn more about foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics, check out this blog post, The Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics

Proven Probiotics for Anxiety List
Proven Probiotics for Anxiety

Proven Probiotics for Anxiety Reduction

A 2016 study reviewed the effects of probiotics on the CNS in randomized controlled trials of both animals and humans, finding probiotics to be effective in improving CNS function, including anxiety, depression, mood, stress response and memory (4):

  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium helveticus
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus casei

Probiotic Blends

*Items marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. If you purchase through this link, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Use code 32844 for $10 off Amare Global products*

Studies show that *probiotic blends containing multiple strains of compatible probiotics are more effective than single strain doses, especially when combining such probiotic blends and prebiotics together (3).

Colony Forming Units (CFU’s)

Ok, I know this is getting sciency again, but just hang in there with me! When you go to purchase probiotics, you will most certainly see Colony forming units (CFU’s) on the package. If you don’t see it right off, look for it.

CFU’s represent the number of active microbial cells in one serving of a probiotic supplement.  However, when it comes to CFU’s in probiotics, bigger isn’t necessarily better. It’s important to consider quality, efficacy, and most importantly, what your body needs. 

When starting a new probiotic, it’s important to not only choose the right probiotic but also the right strength (ie. CFU). Most probiotics contain on average between 1 billion and 10 billion CFU’s per serving.  

It may come as a surprise, but even if it’s a “good” bacteria, introducing a new bacteria to your gut too quickly may cause negative side effects, such as bloating, diarrhea or abdominal discomfort. Therefore, while you may see probiotics with as few as 1-3 million CFU’s and as high as 200 billion, a safe starting place for most individuals is between 3 and 10 billion CFU’s daily.

The maintenance dose of CFU’s depends on several variables, including your individual needs. Therefore, it may be best to seek advice from a provider that is knowledgeable on the topic, although probiotic supplementation is generally recognized as safe, for most individuals.  

My Top 4 Probiotics for Anxiety Relief

*Items marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. If you purchase through this link, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Use code 32844 for $10 off Amare Global products*

  1. *Mentabiotics by Amare Global
  2. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics by Essential Formulas
  3. Optimal Biotics by Optimal Living Dynamics
  4. Probiotic & Prebiotic by Earth’s Pearl


Friends, no one should have to live with pervasive worry, fear, tension or the cascade of other physical symptoms that are common with anxiety. Sometimes natural solutions are not quite enough to tackle severe symptoms of anxiety, but many time they do provide substantial relief to anxiety sufferers.

You can try probiotics for anxiety alone or in addition to prescription medications, depending on what works best for your individual situation. Here’s to an anxiety-free life!

The purpose of this information is to inform and empower the reader to make positive lifestyle changes. The intent is not to replace medical advice or instructions given by your doctor or healthcare provider.

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