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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Schmidt 2015.

Prebiotics reduces waking cortisol response

updated
Schmidt K, Cowen PJ, Harmer CJ, Tzortzis G, Errington S, Burnet PW. Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 May;232(10):1793–801. PubMed #25449699.
Tags: random, mind, nutrition, self-treatment, treatment

PainSci summary of Schmidt 2015?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Prebiotics are basically food for the bacteria in your guts, which have a strange-but-true relationship with your nervous system (the gut-brain axis). This is the first human test of prebiotics for anxiety and stress, with promising but only preliminary results. In this test, the prebiotic product Bimuno®-galactooligosaccharides (B-GOS) appeared to be effective (while another product did not). Specifically, “The salivary cortisol awakening response was significantly lower after B-GOS intake compared with placebo. Participants also showed decreased attentional vigilance to negative versus positive information in a dot-probe task after B-GOS compared to placebo intake.”

There are many caveats, of course. A detailed analysis of the paper by Examine.com (ERD #6, April 2015) explains that it’s not clear that the observed effects are clinically relevant, “especially since only one out of the many emotion-related variables tested was affected by a prebiotic. Assuming that prebiotic fibers could be used to ‘treat’ anxiety or depression is a premature conclusion.” The Patient.co.uk page on pro/pre-biotics notes the “bewildering array” of products available and concludes “there is much work to be done before specific clinical guidelines and recommendations can be made.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract

RATIONALE: There is now compelling evidence for a link between enteric microbiota and brain function. The ingestion of probiotics modulates the processing of information that is strongly linked to anxiety and depression, and influences the neuroendocrine stress response. We have recently demonstrated that prebiotics (soluble fibres that augment the growth of indigenous microbiota) have significant neurobiological effects in rats, but their action in humans has not been reported.

OBJECTIVES: The present study explored the effects of two prebiotics on the secretion of the stress hormone, cortisol and emotional processing in healthy volunteers.

METHODS: Forty-five healthy volunteers received one of two prebiotics (fructooligosaccharides, FOS, or Bimuno®-galactooligosaccharides, B-GOS) or a placebo (maltodextrin) daily for 3 weeks. The salivary cortisol awakening response was sampled before and after prebiotic/placebo administration. On the final day of treatment, participants completed a computerised task battery assessing the processing of emotionally salient information.

RESULTS: The salivary cortisol awakening response was significantly lower after B-GOS intake compared with placebo. Participants also showed decreased attentional vigilance to negative versus positive information in a dot-probe task after B-GOS compared to placebo intake. No effects were found after the administration of FOS.

CONCLUSION: The suppression of the neuroendocrine stress response and the increase in the processing of positive versus negative attentional vigilance in subjects supplemented with B-GOS are consistent with previous findings of endocrine and anxiolytic effects of microbiota proliferation. Further studies are therefore needed to test the utility of B-GOS supplementation in the treatment of stress-related disorders.

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This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: