TREATMENT BRIEF: A Brain-Gut Connection? Probiotics are getting a lot of attention as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS). Some doctors use them in their experimental treatment protocols, they come up frequently in forums and chat rooms, and now we have a few studies on them as well.
Evidence for Probiotics
A recent study out of Toronto shows that probiotics simultaneously improved intestinal levels of beneficial bacteria and lowered anxiety levels in people with ME/CFS. The researchers say this provides evidence of a gut-brain interface that may involve microbes in the intestinal tract. This kind of interface could help explain why so many people have both ME/CFS and irritable bowel syndrome. A small Swedish study showed that regularly eating probiotic-containing yogurt improved cognitive function in nearly half of participants, and researchers describe the improvement in a few as "dramatic." However, it didn't change intestinal bacteria levels or improve fatigue or physical function.
As with everything else, probiotics seem to work to some degree in some people with ME/CFS. It's another thing to research and talk to your doctor about.
It's certainly easy to eat a probiotic-containing yogurt or to take supplements, such as acidophilus. Just make sure you track any treatments and dietary changes so you can see whether they're making you better or worse.
Have you tried probiotics? Did it work for you? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!
- Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Drugs for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Supplements for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Tom Le Goff/Getty Images