HealthDay News — Regulation of the intestinal microbiota appears to be effective for improving anxiety symptoms, with nonprobiotic interventions performing better than probiotic interventions, according to a review published online May 17 in General Psychiatry.

Beibei Yang, from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of randomized controlled trials to examine evidence to support treatment of anxiety by regulating intestinal microbiota. Data were included for 21 studies with 1,503 individuals. Fourteen of the studies included probiotics as interventions to regulate intestinal microbiota and the others included nonprobiotic methods such as diet adjustment.

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The researchers found that 11 studies showed a positive effect on anxiety symptoms by regulation of intestinal microbiota, including five studies that used probiotic supplements as interventions and six that used nonprobiotic interventions. Of the 14 studies that used probiotics as the intervention, 36 percent were effective, while six of the seven studies that used nonprobiotics as interventions were effective (rate of efficacy, 86 percent). In five studies that used treatment as usual plus interventions regulating intestinal flora, only two were effective; these studies both used nonprobiotic interventions.

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“In the clinical treatment of anxiety symptoms, in addition to the use of psychiatric drugs for treatment, we can also consider regulating intestinal flora to alleviate anxiety symptoms,” the authors write.

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