Best Probiotics for Anxiety and OCD: Strains and Brands

Research shows that the best probiotics for anxiety are usually a combination of multiple types of probiotics. Higher doses such as 50-100 billion CFUs per day are also more effective than lower doses. This is true unless you are using spore-based forms where lower doses are beneficial. 

Additionally, some single strains of probiotics are also proving to be effective to reduce stress too. 

There is a fair amount of overlap between anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). So probiotics for OCD are reviewed here as well. 

In this post, learn about how to choose the best probiotic strains for anxiety and brands that meet quality criteria for effectiveness. 

Do Probiotics Help Anxiety? Overview

Mental health problems aren’t confined to the brain. Much attention is being focused on the gut-brain axis in new research. The gut-brain axis is the close network that the gut and brain have together. Because of this focus, there is hope for many people struggling with mental health.

Healing the gut with probiotics and other strategies can have the potential to help heal many brain conditions. These types of probiotics now have their own name and are called psychobiotics.

According to the journal General Psychiatry, over 52% of all probiotics and anxiety research studies show that probiotics reduce anxiety symptoms. This means that over 11 studies have confirmed that probiotics have the benefit of reducing stress. 

What is more, probiotics showed an 86% effectiveness rate for helping anxiety. 

These are pretty impressive results considering how burdensome anxiety is and how difficult it is to treat.

And if you consider that conventional medications for anxiety often have a lot of side effects to achieve a benefit, this is also a pretty good statistic. 

If you had any doubt about how your gut affects mental health, stress feelings are also almost always felt in the gut. The gut is where a large amount of your body’s nerves are located.  Additionally, research shows that probiotics may even be helpful in managing major depressive disorder. 

Multi-Strain Probiotics are the Best Probiotics for Anxiety

The best probiotics for anxiety and stress are clearly ones that contain multiple probiotic strains according to 4 research studies. 

Probiotic supplements work better in most health conditions if you include multiple probiotic strains. Using multiple psychobiotics for anxiety is no exception. 

Multi-Strains are the Best Probiotics for Anxiety Overall: The Proof

A lot of positive research shows that multi-strain probiotics reduce anxiety. Here are the study results.

Study 1

People with generalized anxiety disorder used a combination of Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus probiotic strains for 8 weeks.

In this study, the probiotics were given alongside standard antidepressant treatment. 

This combination of probiotics plus antidepressants reduced symptoms of anxiety. The placebo plus antidepressants group had less reduction in anxiety.

Study 2

Another study in healthy women found that probiotics reduced their stress response. A multi-strain combination of Bifidobacterium animalis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactococcus lactis was given.

After receiving these probiotics for 4 weeks, they had a reduction in altered neurological activity in response to stressful images. This was determined by MRI scans of the brain.

Study 3

A third study showed that a multi-strain probiotic reduced ruminating thoughts as well as aggressive thoughts. These traits are both common in people who have anxiety or mood disorders.

Strains of probiotics included in this study were Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus salivarius, and Lactococcus lactis.  Doses of 25 billion CFUs were used in this study. 

Study 4

Impressively, the fourth and newest study found that multi-strain probiotics reduced anxiety symptoms while also reducing IBS symptoms and inflammatory markers

Not bad for a little old probiotic. 

Best Probiotics for Anxiety: Brands

One of the best probiotics for mood health contains all of the beneficial strains mentioned above and is called Amy Myers MD Probiotic Capsules 100 Billion

Another good option is Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+ brand.

The Dose Matters When Taking The Best Probiotics for Anxiety

Perhaps just as important as taking multiple strains of probiotics is the amount of probiotics that each supplement contains.  

For example, one study published in The Journal of Affective Disorders found that probiotics helped many symptoms of anxiety but worked better at higher doses.

Anxiety symptoms that changed by using high-dose probiotics are:

  • Less panic anxiety
  • Fewer physical symptoms of anxiety
  • Reduction in negative behavior
  • Decline in worry
  • Improved mood regulation

Surprisingly, people with higher levels of distress had more benefits from the probiotics than those with lower levels of distress in this study. 

Best Probiotics for Anxiety-Single Strains

While it usually makes sense to get probiotics with multi-strains, some human studies confirm that individual strains also help.

The following studies help inform the probiotics that you should focus on using for mood. 

Bifidobacterium longum 1714

Bifidobacterium longum 1714 is a type of probiotic that makes compounds that reduce inflammation in the body.  These compounds help reduce gut-brain axis issues because they provide calming signals to the brain via the vagus nerve

Interestingly, this probiotic also reduces inflammation in the body generally while supporting healthy immunity. 

Using Bifidobacterium longum 1714 also triggered brain wave changes that helped improve memory while also reducing stress. This study was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. 

Impressively, this strain also improves sleep efficiency and reduces cortisol as well.

In yet another study, very large doses of Bifidobacterium longum helped to reduce anxiety symptoms as well as help improve cognitive function. This study was done in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. 

While more research is still needed to confirm these benefits for all people, Bifidobacterium longum is a common probiotic that benefits many aspects of health.

In other words, it is worth a try if you suffer from anxiety. 

ZenBiome Cope and ZenBiome Sleep are the two brands that carry this exact strain. They are considered among the best probiotics for mood. 

Soil-Based Probiotics

There is a strong connection between anxiety and depression. Soil-based probiotics are an appealing option because they survive stomach acid better than any other probiotic. This type of probiotic is also called spore-based probiotics. 

You can identify spore-based probiotics on the market easily because they are all types of Bacillus.

Some probiotics can help reduce depressive symptoms, including soil-based probiotic strains like Bacillus coagulans. Early research shows that they help keep stress at bay as well.

For example, Bacillus coagulans significantly reduced depression in people who have irritable bowel syndrome.

Impressively, these people also had a reduction in blood inflammatory markers as well, indicating that these probiotics provide a large range of health benefits. 

The spore-based probiotics also protect from toxins in the body as well, including lipopolysaccharide. If you have anxiety, this is important because lipopolysaccharide in the body drives up the stress hormone cortisol. An impressive 42 percent reduction in this cortisol-producing toxin was seen in another study using spore-based probiotics. 

Soil-Based Probiotics are the Most Stable

Spore-based probiotics are very appealing because they don’t get digested by stomach acid and help to increase the microbiome diversity better than many probiotic strains. They even help increase the production of a very beneficial gut probiotic called Akkermansia mucinophilia

And unlike other probiotics, you can use low doses, so they are often the best-tolerated probiotics.

Using Bacillus strains of probiotics is extra helpful for healing the gut lining too, which in turn helps protect the body and calm the brain

Soil-based probiotics serve double duty in helping protect from harmful bacteria. They do this by creating a robust innate immune response in the gut.

One of the best probiotics for stress include Megaspore Probiotic. It is a fully spore-based probiotic supplement. This is a personal favorite that has many clinical research studies showing its effectiveness. 

Related post: 

Best Soil Based Probiotics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and SIBO (thehealthyrd.com)

Lactobacillus plantarum

There is no question that anxiety is related to gut imbalances. So the potential for many probiotic strains to help with anxiety is strong. 

For example, using a potent strain of probiotic called Lactobacillus plantarum helped to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms in adults with high levels of stress.

In this study, they used 20 billion colony-forming units (CFU) of probiotics over a period of 12 weeks. 

Lactobacillus plantarum brand

Thorne Flora Pro LP is a pharmaceutical-grade probiotic with Lactobacillus plantarum and is among the best probiotics for anxiety and stress. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus

Another psychobiotic strain that may help anxiety is called Lactobacillus rhamnosus. This strain was able to reduce anxiety while improving memory in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus helps to heal the gut while balancing neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA in the brain according to animal research. 

As mentioned above, Dr. Amy Myers Probiotic 100 billion contains many beneficial strains including this one.  That is why it is considered the best probiotic brand for anxiety. 

Lactobacillus Casei Shirota

Competitive sports are stressful on the brain of athletes. Research is now looking at how probiotics can help athletes perform better mentally and physically. 

A strain of probiotics called Lactobacillus Casei Shirota was given to competitive football players. The results were impressive. Better mental speed and increases in brain waves related to relaxation called theta and delta waves were the results of taking the probiotics for 4 weeks. They took 30 billion CFU of Lactobacillus Casei Shirota throughout the study.  

Stress related to academics is often burdensome and causes poor sleep and focus. A recent study found that Lactobacillus Casei Shirota was able to help improve sleep quality while the placebo group had worsened sleep approaching exam time. 

Yet another study found that Lactobacillus Casei Shirota helped reduce anxiety symptoms in people who struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome

This strain impressively also showed a reduction in OCD behaviors in an animal study. It worked by helping change the gene expression of serotonin receptors. This probiotic also decreased inflammation compounds.  

Lactobacillus casei shirota is available in a type of probiotic yogurt called Yakult. You can find Lactobacillus casei in many probiotic supplements like Amy Myers MD Probiotic Capsules

Saccharomyces boulardii

Saccharomyces boulardii is a well-research type of probiotic that helps improve many aspects of health.  It helps reduce irritable bowel syndrome, reduces inflammation, and helps fight infectious bacteria.  When antibiotics are used, S. boulardii helps reduce the chance of diarrhea and also helps fight inflammatory bowel diseases.  

New research also suggests that this strain of probiotics may improve the central nervous system tone. Not surprisingly it also reduces anxiety and may reduce OCD behaviors. 

For example, a case report of a child with autism had a dramatic reduction in OCD behavior with probiotics. After using high doses of S. boulardii, the 16-year-old had major reductions in self-injuring. The probiotic was used along with activated charcoal to reduce healing reactions.

While this study is preliminary, it points to the fact that probiotics may one day be used for many mental health benefits.  

This strain of probiotics reduced the toxic load of a compound called lipopolysaccharides in the blood and also reduced anxiety behaviors in animals. Many reviewers claim that this strain is very helpful for their anxiety symptoms too as we will review below. 

A reputable brand of Saccharomyces boulardii is called Florastor

Lactobacillus helveticus

Yet another strain combination is proving useful in combatting stress and mood issues in early research. 

The combination of Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum was able to reduce psychological stress in healthy people after using this combination for 30 days. This combination may be one of the best probiotic supplements for anxiety and depression for this reason. 

Impressively, Lactobacillus helveticus was able to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms as well or better than anti-depressant medications in a rat study. This strain may work in part by increasing an enzyme that is required in making serotonin in the body

Among the best probiotics for serotonin is Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+ because it contains Lactobacillus helveticus. 

Best Probiotics for OCD

While all research related to probiotics and OCD remains preliminary, there is a lot of overlap between OCD and anxiety.

The relationship between altered gut bacteria and OCD suggests that restoring the gut microbiome with probiotics may one day be a useful treatment for this condition.

And one study showed that multi-strain probiotics clearly reduces ruminating thoughts, which are common in OCD.

As reviewed above, many probiotic strains may reduce OCD behaviors, such as Lactobacillus Casei Shirota and Saccharomyces boulardii.

The use of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus also reduced OCD-like behaviors in animals according to a study in Behavioral Pharmacology journal.

Until we know more, probiotics are certainly worth a try if you suffer from OCD, but more proof is needed.

Why Probiotics May Reduce Anxiety

Image of the word stress being erased for the Best Probiotics for Anxiety post by The Healthy RD

When you are feeling stressed and anxious, your body releases more cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. 

If you are stressed often, your cortisol levels are continually high

As a result, your gut lining becomes more permeable or leaky.  This is also referred to as a leaky gut. A leaky gut ramps up inflammatory compounds that get in the body, which is also known as the stress-induced inflammatory response. 

Inflammation from stress is a threat signal in the body and makes you feel like you are in a constant state of anxiousness. A vicious cycle is created because the inflammation further drives the stress hormone cortisol higher. 

So this is where probiotics come in. 

Probiotics are able to reduce the body’s stress-related inflammation pathway by helping to heal the gut and by scavenging inflammatory compounds. They help restore a state of calm in the body after a stressful situation.  

But, not all probiotics work for everybody and every situation.  This is because your gut is very unique to you and an ideal microbiome for you isn’t always the same ideal microbiome for someone else. 

Still, probiotics are safe and provide benefits for most people. Research shows that you stand a good chance of gaining some benefit from them. 

Related post: The Best Probiotics for Acid Reflux

Antibiotics Worsen Anxiety: More Proof That Probiotics Help

The gut-brain connection is very real. It is shown further by the fact that the use of antibiotics destroy your healthy probiotics and may worsen anxiety symptoms

Multiple studies show that antibiotic use may aggravate or initiate mental health issues. The reason this is the case is that they may deplete your gut’s own microbiome bacteria.

For example, a 30% increased risk of psychiatric issues was seen in people receiving high-dose antibiotics in newly diagnosed cancer patients. Another found a 40% increase in mental health issues among men receiving antibiotics during primary care visits. 

More research is needed to determine if probiotic use along with antibiotics may lessen the risk of anxiety and mood issues among antibiotic users. 

Probiotic Foods

Many of the best probiotics for mental health should come from your diet.  You should try to have some of these foods in your diet multiple times a week. 

Probiotic-rich foods include:

Best Probiotics for Anxiety: Reviews

Some probiotics on the market today have very positive reviews for helping people with mental health disorders. 

It seems probiotics for mood are here to stay. 

Amy Myers Probiotic 100 Billion Reviews

Star rating

Best Probiotics.

I can actually tell a positive difference when I take these, to the point I can tell when I forget.

Star rating

Better Health-I can really feel the difference after taking these capsules. I was already taking probiotics, so It’s amazing to feel a difference but I really can. I’ll definitely be ordering them again.

Star rating

I have special medical conditions, and I’ve tried a variety of other probiotics. This is the only brand that does not give me any adverse reactions. I’m grateful I found this product.

Star rating

Great Quality

These probiotics are the best! No bloating, no stomachache, only good things in the belly. I trust this brand and recommend it to anyone looking for some strong probióticos.

    Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+Reviews

    Star rating

    I struggle with OCD, and asking with that comes intrusive thoughts. I took probiotics before, but they weren’t specialized for food, specifically. They helped a lot. I ran out and after a couple weeks my mental health was…. not good, to say the least. Intrusive thoughts were so bad. Anyway, I started taking this and I can’t express how much it helps. It is remarkable how connected you’re gut health is to your brain. Just wow. Love, will continue to use (2 pills each day).

    I’m Happier

    Star rating

    My doctor recommended this product for my anxiety & it seems to help. It is said that many ailments begin in the gut. It may be true for anxiety as well.

     Best value for money probiotic I have found so far!

    Star rating

    Like the title- love these. They really help to regulate my mood and I notice a difference when I am not taking them for sure.

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