How to Fight Alzheimer's Disease with Intranasal Insulin

A woman spraying insulin up her cose with an intranasal bottle.

Today I want to discuss "intranasal insulin", a cutting-edge therapy that could help a lot of people. 

Neurologists and psychiatrists tend to undervalue the impact of hormones originating outside the brain.

Until modern medicine treats the entire body as one unified system – like functional medicine practitioners do – people will continue to lose faith in conventional practitioners and look elsewhere for solutions to their chronic brain and mental health problems. 

As Dr. Suzanne Craft, Ph.D, Professor of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, explains:

People are now starting to understand the critical interaction between the brain and the body and that many of the peptides and hormones produced in the body have very substantial roles to play in the brain. I think we’re at the beginning of a very exciting era in which we’re going to be able to start putting together these systems to understand Alzheimer’s disease, which is clearly a disease of the entire organism, not just of the brain.

Insulin is one of the hormones that significantly affects brain function.

It's been shown to pass the blood-brain barrier and act on insulin receptors directly within the brain (3, 4). 

Not only does our body produce and release it, but it can also be taken as a medication, particularly for the treatment of diabetes (1, 2). 

Researchers have found that insulin has “neurotrophic, neuromodulatory, and neuroprotective effects” by:

  • Promoting neuronal growth;

  • Regulating the levels of certain neurotransmitters;

  • Increasing brain energy levels (ATP in your mitochondria);

  • Increasing blood flow in the brain;

  • Preventing dopaminergic neuron loss;

  • Reducing inflammation in the brain; and

  • Protecting against oxidative stress in the brain by restoring antioxidants and energy metabolism (5-13).

Insulin in the dictionary.
In the brain, insulin has a number of roles to play. It promotes glucose uptake in the neurons of the hippocampal formation and the frontal lobes, areas that are involved in memory. Insulin also strengthens the synaptic connections between brain cells, helping to form new memories. In addition, insulin regulates the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays an important role in learning and memory.
— Dr. Suzanne Craft, Ph.D

So, it clearly does a lot in the brain, and research shows that it can be therapeutic for a number of mental health conditions, particularly Alzheimer’s disease

In a new therapeutic approach, commercially-available insulin (Novalin R) is prepared and added to nasal spray bottleslike this one – and sprayed and inhaled through the nose to support brain and mental health. 

Dr. William Banks, Professor of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, says there are more than 100 different intranasal compounds that are being tested for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

“Intranasal insulin” is just one of them, and it’s one of the more promising ones, as it’s been reported to significantly enhance memory, increase mental energy, reduce brain fog, improve mood, and lower anxiety and stress levels

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The Link Between Alzheimer’s Disease, Insulin and Diabetes

Many of the brain health experts I’ve talked to are convinced that Alzheimer’s disease should actually be called "Type 3 diabetes".

This is because diabetes and insulin are closely linked to cognitive decline and dementia

Many studies show that diabetes is associated with an increased risk of cognitive dysfunction, and people with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment than non-diabetics (14-21). 

Researchers have also found that insulin declines in the brain as people age, and patients with Alzheimer’s disease often have insulin resistance and reduced levels of insulin in their brains (25-30)

But what if insulin deficiency is detected in the brain, and then insulin is supplied to the brain, could neurodegeneration and the development of dementia be prevented? And could the progression of existing Alzheimer’s disease be halted?

The answers to these questions appears to be yes:

  • Diabetic patients who take insulin have improved memory and reduced rates of Alzheimer’s disease;

  • Elderly diabetics who take insulin have less severe Alzheimer’s disease compared with non-diabetics;

  • Insulin improves cognition and memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease; and

  • Insulin prevents and reverses brain degeneration and cognitive impairment in diabetic animals (22-24).

Check out the below video to learn more from one of the leading researchers in the field: 

Cutting-Edge Research Shows That Intranasal Insulin Improves Cognition and Memory

The intranasal route of insulin administration provides direct access to the cerebrospinal fluid and brain.

This allows insulin to directly enter the brain from the nose, and bind to receptors within specific areas of the brain that are involved in memory and cognition (42). 

Insulin receptors in the brain are found in high densities in the hippocampus, a region that is fundamentally involved in the acquisition, consolidation, and recollection of new information.

An increasing amount of research has been published over the last ten years, demonstrating that intranasal insulin can significantly improve cognition, attention, memory and overall brain function in people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease (31-33, 38-39, 43-45). 

In fact, there are over 30 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials showing that it’s effective at improving memory, learning and cognitive performance in humans (34-37). 

Illustration of how intranasal insulin works.

Yet most people aren’t aware of it, and doctors aren’t prescribing it, while millions of people suffer from dementia

One study found that it improved objective biomarkers of neurodegeneration, including amyloid deposits and tau pathology, in people with Alzheimer’s disease within a few months. In the group of patients that didn’t receive intranasal insulin, brain function continued to deteriorate (40). 

In another study, researchers gave intranasal insulin to 104 adults with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. At the end of the 4-month study, the participants who received insulin had significantly better memory and cognitive function compared to the group who didn’t receive insulin (41). 

The researchers also found that the improvements in cognition were correlated with improvements in objective biomarkers, and concluded that “intranasal insulin therapy can help to stabilize, slow, or possibly even reverse the course of Alzheimer’s disease (41). 

Because of the promising research so far, the US government is currently funding a two-year long clinical trial to see if intranasal insulin will help 240 people with Alzheimer’s disease. Results from the Study of Nasal Insulin in the Fight Against Forgetfulness (SNIFF) are expected to be released in 2017. 

And intranasal insulin doesn’t just help elderly people with dementia. It’s also been shown to improve memory in younger, healthy individuals (46-51). 

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Intranasal Insulin and Other Brain and Mental Health Disorders

Alzheimer’s disease isn’t the only brain and mental health condition that can benefit from intranasal insulin. 

Here are some others:

  • ADHD and drug addiction – Insulin affects dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter linked to both these conditions (52).

  • Depression, anxiety and anger – In one study, 38 healthy people took intranasal insulin for 8 weeks and experienced enhanced mood, increased self-confidence and reduced anger. Another study found that it affected heart-rate variability (53, 59).

  • Stroke – Researchers point out that “intranasally administered insulin possesses many of the ideal properties for acute stroke neuroprotection” (54, 62).

  • Bipolar disorder – One study found that intranasal insulin significantly improved executive function in patients with bipolar disorder (55).

  • Neurodevelopmental disorder – Two studies have found that intranasal insulin improves cognition, autonomy, motor activity, nonverbal communication, social skills and developmental functioning of children and adults with a rare neurodevelopmental disorder (Phelan-McDermid syndrome) (57, 58).

  • Overall brain function – “Intranasal insulin appears to restore complex neural networking in the direction of normalization”. In other words, it seems to “reboot” the brain (56).

  • Parkinson’s disease and Down Syndrome – There is no evidence for this yet but there are ongoing trials looking into whether intranasal insulin could help people with these conditions (60, 61).

Safety of Intranasal Insulin and How to Try It Yourself

Numerous studies show that intranasal insulin is incredibly safe and does not cause any significant adverse side effects. The only minor side effects I came across were dizziness, nose bleeding and mild rhinitis, but these were rare (63-65). 

This is because unlike regular insulin administration, intranasal insulin only affects the nose and brain. It doesn’t enter the bloodstream, change insulin levels throughout the entire body, or cause low blood sugar (66-83). 

Overall, I believe the benefits outweigh the risks and it’s worth trying, especially if you’re struggling with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer’s disease. It may be another decade or more until the research trickles down and reaches your doctor’s office. Research shows that it takes about 17 years for new scientific evidence to be implemented in clinical practice

However, I’m not a doctor and you should definitely talk to your doctor about this if you’re considering trying it. If you have an open-minded doctor, perhaps they will support you in trying it. Don’t be surprised if they dismiss the idea entirely though. 

With that said, you can easily and legally buy insulin yourself. It’s available over the counter without a prescription at any pharmacy (in the US and Canada). Pharmacists hold it behind the counter and you just have to walk up and ask for “Novolin R.” In Canada, it’s called “Novolin Toronto.”

It’s that simple. You don’t need to provide personal identification or sign anything. It costs about $30.

After that, you can get a nasal spray bottle - like this one or this one

Then, use pliers to carefully remove the rubber cap from the insulin vial, and pour the insulin into the spray bottle. 

At this point, you’re ready to use it. Make sure to keep it in the fridge when you're not using it. 

Again, I’m not a doctor. So talk to your doctor about this before trying it. But I feel this is worth sharing and writing about considering it has massive potential to help many people who are struggling day-to-day. 

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Dosage

Each spray from the nasal bottle is 0.1mL or 10IU of insulin. 

Dosages in human studies range from 10IU to 160IU (1 to 16 sprays) daily. 

In the longest lasting study, participants took either 20 IU (2 sprays) or 40IU (4 sprays) of insulin daily for four months (86). 

So, if you’re going to try it, I wouldn’t take more than 40IU (4 sprays) for longer than 4 months.

However, participants in the ongoing SNIFF trial have been taking intranasal insulin for more than one year, so once the results from that study are released in 2017, my recommendation may change. 

Overall, self-experimentation is necessary to find the correct dosage that works best for you. 

Conclusion

Intranasal insulin is a very impressive and exciting substance, and the lack of side effects is encouraging. 

If you’re looking to improve your memory and brain function and avoid Alzheimer’s disease, it’s definitely worth considering and talking to your doctor about it. 

An elderly man sprays intranasal insulin up his nose.

All that’s needed is:

I’m aware that this might be little bit “out there” for some people, but I think it has the potential to help a lot of people reach optimal brain and mental health. 

Please share with anyone who is struggling with cognitive impairment or the early signs of dementia because it isn't a very well known treatment. 

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Jordan Fallis

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References:

(1) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-003-1153-1

(2) http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/31/11/957.short

(3) http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/edrv-13-3-387

(4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26401706

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15750214/

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4191295/

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15750214/

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22586589

(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18348871

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23907764

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26040423

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26777890

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391678/

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4191295/

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22201977/

(16) http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/54/5/1264?ijkey=3186b318b004c253abda2b3f67535508da9fa50a&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

(17) http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/63/7/2253?ijkey=5cc5fc39ea0a601c551a668d0829247222ae292e&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

(18) http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/20/3/438

(19) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11678970

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10647755

(21) http://www.alzheimersanddementia.com/article/S1552-5260(13)02918-X/abstract

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15750215/

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23565496/

(24) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22201977/

(25) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17049785?dopt=Abstract

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(28) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743662/

(29) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18549783

(30) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15750215

(31) http://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/106378

(32) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40263-013-0076-8

(33) http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/1107947

(34) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25008180/

(35) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16266773

(36) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3260944/

(37) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21883804

(38) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22710630?dopt=Abstract

(39) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911655?dopt=Abstract

(40) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743662/

(41) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/219116/

(42) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3443484/

(43) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804944/

(44) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17942819/

(45) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23507773

(46) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20719831/

(47) http://www.psyneuen-journal.com/article/S0306-4530(04)00052-6/abstract

(48) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15288712

(49) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15288712?dopt=Abstract

(50) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19091002?dopt=Abstract

(51) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391678/

(52) http://www.news-medical.net/news/2007/10/18/31385.aspx

(53) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15288712

(54) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828994/

(55) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23107220

(56) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25249577

(57) http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v24/n12/full/ejhg2016109a.html

(58) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18948358

(59) http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/63/12/4083.long

(60) https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02064166

(61) https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02432716

(62) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26040423

(63) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25374101

(64) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18948358

(65) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25374101

(66) http://press.endocrine.org/doi/pdf/10.1210/jc.2007-2606

(67) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743662/

(68) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743662/

(69) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23719722?dopt=Abstract

(70) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15288712?dopt=Abstract

(71) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19091002?dopt=Abstract

(72) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26777890

(73) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15288712

(74) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11992114

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(81) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24101698

(82) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25337926

(83) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25374101

(84) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20876713

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(86) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911655

Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

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The Best Amino Acid for Depression, Anxiety and Pain

An illustration of a woman worrying and ruminating.

Today I want to talk to you about one of the best amino acids that has really helped me manage feelings of depression, anxiety and trauma.

I write about many different helpful nutrients and supplements, and I know it can be overwhelming. 

So I want to dedicate this post to one amino acid, because I feel like it’s helped me more than any other (even more than n-acetyl-cysteine). 

As soon as I realize I'm running low and have just a few capsules left, I order it immediately because it gives me so many benefits.

Even though I can live without it, I’d rather not.

A man sitting on the edge of a cliff, depressed and worrying. Clouds are above him and raining down on him.

Taking it every so often helps my mood and significantly improves the quality of my life. 

A subtle sense of “impending doom” starts to creep in when I’ve gone too long without it. 

If you struggle with chronic anxiety and depression, you probably know what I’m talking about.

This feeling used to be a lot worse for me. 

It felt like a dark cloud was following me around all day, and I just couldn’t shake it.

It’s now gone.

And thankfully, I know exactly how to keep it away.

But life can be tough at times, and things happen.

And that’s why I’m glad I have access to DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) whenever I need it.

It helps me get through stressful times.

It can get me out of a deep hole like nothing else.

And if you struggle with feelings of trauma, anxiety and depression on a regular basis, it may help you too. 

What is DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) and How Does It Work?

I first learned about phenylalanine in the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. 

It’s an essential amino acid that plays a key role in the proper functioning of your nervous system.

If you're deficient in phenylalanine, you can have the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue

  • Confusion

  • Memory problems

  • Decreased alertness

  • Loss of appetite

DL-Phenylalanine, or DLPA for short, is a combination of two different forms of phenylalanine – D-Phenylalanine and L- Phenylalanine.

The D and L forms of phenylalanine have different beneficial effects on your body and brain. 

L-Phenylalanine is used as a building block by your body to create a number of important proteins, hormones and neurotransmitters. 

This includes dopamine, norepinephrine and thyroid hormone – all of which are necessary for optimal brain and mental function.

Dopamine in particular is very important as it’s the main neurotransmitter that supports your attention and motivation, and plays a key role in the “reward system” of your brain.

D-Phenylalanine, on the other hand, inhibits the breakdown of endorphins.

Endorphins are pain-relieving compounds that originate within your body. 

Your brain produces and releases these natural painkillers during times of strenuous exercise, emotional stress and pain. 

But D-Phenylalanine has been shown to slow the action of enzymes that destroy these morphine-like substances. By doing this, it can prolong the activity of your endorphins within your nervous system, allowing you feel better for longer (1-6). 

How It Can Help You

Together, D and L-Phenylalanine can support your brain and mental health by increasing both dopamine and endorphins levels.

My research and personal experience suggest it can help treat a number of different conditions, including:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Drug withdrawal, including alcohol, opiates and psychiatric medication (antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics). If you struggle with any sort of addiction and cravings, I recommend the book End Your Addiction Now by Dr. Charles Gant, MD.

Personally, it helped me the most with depression and anxiety, and there are several studies that show it can improve your mood.

In one study, 20 depressed patients took 200 mg of DLPA everyday. At the end of the 3-week study, 12 patients no longer had depression, and 4 patients experienced mild to moderate improvements in their mood (8). 

This makes sense considering that researchers have found that people struggling with depression often have low levels of phenylalanine, and supplementation significantly elevates their mood (9). 

In fact, one study found that DLPA is just as effective as standard antidepressants (but without side effects), and another found that people who don’t respond to common antidepressants often get significantly better when they take DLPA (10, 11). 

And even if you take medication, research shows that combining DLPA with antidepressants leads to greater increases in mood than simply taking an antidepressant alone (12).

Yet unlike antidepressants, you can feel the effects of DLPA quickly (within a few hours) and in some cases, it can “terminate depression within 2 to 3 days” (13).

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My Experience

By building up your natural endorphin production, DLPA doesn’t just help reduce physical pain – but mental pain as well.

I'm currently taking this DLPA.

I'm currently taking this DLPA.

When I first started taking DLPA, it was such a relief. I was so glad I had found it. 

I notice it makes me:

  • More comfortable, happy and satisfied with my life;

  • More relaxed and calmer every time I take it;

  • Less moody and irritable;

  • Less likely to take things so seriously; and

  • Less reactive to negative events and situations.

Overall, it lifts my mood and reduces emotional sensitivity. Life becomes less intense. I’m not as sensitive to the world around me. I would definitely recommend it to others who also have “sensory processing sensitivity”. 

And eventually, DLPA helped me successfully wean off multiple psychiatric medications. Along with some other supplements, it played a critical role in making the withdrawal process as smooth as possible. 

I used to take 500 mg every day. Currently, I only need 500 mg once or twice each week, mainly because neurofeedback, low-level laser therapy and EMDR have helped me so much.

Other Success Stories

I understand that you might be thinking that perhaps DLPA won’t help you like it helped me.

And I can't guarantee that it will. 

But I did some digging and found a number of other people online who say that DLPA has also helped them manage or overcome their mental health issues. 

I’ve gathered their comments below and bolded anything that I can personally relate to or I have experienced while taking it:

  • “Suffering from severe post-traumatic stress, I've tried any number of natural products as the chemical cocktails handed out by conventional medicine are simply not acceptable to me. After my first dose of 1000mg DLPA, my depression lifted and trauma reactions (flashbacks and hyperviligence) significantly reduced. I've been taking this for a couple months now and there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. It has almost completely reversed my suicidal tendencies which were increasing regularly; they are now practically nonexistent. This product has truly saved my life.”

  • “My brain finally feels at rest and the anxiety has greatly decreased, and I can get on with my life. DLPA is my lifesaver. I will be taking this for as long as I need to.”

  • DLPA has been a huge help to me. I have type 1 bipolar and this has helped me more than anything I have ever tried. I will buy more and I also take more than 1. I take 2 to 3 a day and it calms my mind like nothing else ever has.”

  • “My husband is mildly bipolar. We've decided to try to treat him naturally and phenylalanine is one of the treatments. He only takes this on an "as needed" basis, which turns out to be at least two days per week. He has other regular supplements he takes daily. This is only for "extra support" on bad days. And it really works.”

  • DLPA is a key factor in improving my anxiety, depression and ADHD more than any of the several medications I have taken over the last 10 years.”

  • “I take DLPA first thing in the morning and it literally helps me get out of bed, get focused and get the day going with a positive attitude.”

  • “I honestly felt a difference right away. I was suddenly happy and smiling non-stop. I truly had a sparkle in my eye and I felt talkative and social. After a few hours the feeling wore off but I still felt an inner sense of content. It has helped with feelings of anxiety as well which is a plus.”

  • “Wow, what a difference! I have been so relieved from all those false moods that I can honestly say I am happy, alive and free.”

  • “I use this daily for the treatment of mild depression. I do notice a difference while on it. I went off of it briefly and felt as if someone had let some air out of my balloon, just kind of deflated.”

  • “I have suffered with extreme depression and anxiety since I was 13 (I’m now 42). I have gone through many different prescription/herbal/clinical therapies, and this product has been life-changing in a very short time. This has given me energy and focus I never had, a zest for life, an ability to handle stresses. I tell my husband (who keeps mentioning what a huge difference he has noticed) that this must be how "normal" people live.”

It absolutely blows my mind that more people aren’t aware of DLPA’s incredible and diverse benefits.

Clearly, it should be a first-line treatment for depression and anxiety. 

Yet I was never told about it, and it took me years to finally discover it.

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Where to Get It and How to Take It

I currently take this DL-Phenylalanine

I've also taken this one at one point.

I've also taken this DLPA and it works. It's currently less expensive than others through Amazon.

I've also taken this DLPA and it works. It's currently less expensive than others through Amazon.

Both work very well in my experience.

There are a number of other brands with good reviews, but I personally can’t vouch for them.

Make sure you get a combination of both D and L-Phenylalanine. I tried L-Phenylalanine alone once and it didn’t help me as much. 

In theory, it’s also a good idea to take it alongside Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C because they help with the conversion of phenylalanine to dopamine.

You should start with 500-750 mg each day and monitor how you feel. You will have to experiment and figure out your ideal DLPA dosage. The DLPA dosage for depression, pain or anxiety can vary. You may even need up to 1,500 mg daily.

But the benefits seem to increase over the time. The more you take it, the more you can feel it’s effects. 

Also, make sure you take it on an empty stomach. Do not take it with high-protein foods. Other amino acids (such as tryptophan) can compete with phenylalanine, and reduce its absorption and transportation across the blood-brain barrier.

Lastly, this anti-anxiety supplement includes several other natural compounds and amino acids that have helped me manage my anxiety over the years. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety, along with DL-Phenylalanine

Conclusion

Antidepressants and benzodiazepines are not your only options for depression and anxiety. 

Unfortunately, much of the so-called “science” behind mainstream psychiatric drugs is untrustworthy and fraudulent, and other safe and effective treatment options are often ignored by conventional medicine. 

A person’s hand and it says “I am stronger than depression.”

DL-Phenylalanine is one of these other options.

I can’t promise it will work for everyone, but since it’s easily accessible through Amazon, it’s worth a try if you suffer from depression and anxiety. Experiment with it and listen to how you feel. 

And like I have, I encourage you to use as many tools as you can to help yourself, including nutrition, supplements, exercise, neurofeedback, light therapy, etc. The list goes on and on. 

None of them have to work completely.

But all together, they can make a huge difference and change the course of your life like they have mine.

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health!

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Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

Connect with me

How to Improve Your Brain Function with An Oxygen Concentrator

Insufficient oxygen means insufficient biological energy that can result in anything from mild fatigue to life threatening disease. The link between insufficient oxygen and disease has now been firmly established.
— Dr. W. Spencer Way, Journal of the American Association of Physicians

Oxygen is absolutely essential for life, and your brain depends it more than any other part of your body.

Your brain weighs about 2% of your body weight.

But it consumes about 20% of the oxygen you breathe.

Your brain cells need to get enough oxygen to produce energy and function optimally.

If they don’t, they can start to deteriorate, leading to poor memory and concentration, low mood, lack of energy and drive. 

I personally use oxygen therapy with an oxygen concentrator to support and optimize my brain function. 

This post discusses oxygen therapy, the benefits, how I use it, and how it could help you. 

It’s a great way to boost cognitive function, memory and energy.

Read on to learn more. 

Types of Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy is the use of supplemental oxygen to treat a variety of medical conditions.

Air is typically 21% oxygen by volume, but oxygen therapy increases the amount.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the most well-known type of oxygen therapy, and it allows patients to inhale 100% pure oxygen in a total body chamber.

Tube plugged into oxygen tank

HBOT is often used by professional athletes for recovery and performance.

But it’s expensive and not available to most people. 

Luckily, it’s not the only option available to you. 

Normobaric oxygen therapy (NBOT) is much less expensive, and it’s easily accessible and non-invasive. I personally use NBOT at home. 

Similar to HBOT, NBOT brings a higher percentage of oxygen into the body and can bring major benefits to your brain and cognition.

Researchers have found that both normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the blood and brain (1-2). 

With normobaric therapy, oxygen can be delivered via an oxygen concentrator

An oxygen concentrator is a machine that separates oxygen from room air, and then delivers the concentrated oxygen through a nasal cannula or mask.

I use this oxygen concentrator. You can get it here or here.  

Make sure you read the “My Experience” section below where I discuss how to use it. .

Why You Might Need Oxygen Therapy and How It Works

Hypoxia is a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

If this happens to you, you can end up with mitochondria dysfunction and poor brain function. 

But how do you know?

You can use an oxygen saturation monitor to measure and monitor your blood oxygenation levels. I use this monitor. It’s the best and most accurate oxygen saturation monitor that is often used by medical professionals, and freely available to the public.

Your blood oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) should measure 99-100% if you want to feel optimal.  

An illustration of the benefits of oxygen therapy.

There are a number of reasons why your body and brain might not be getting enough oxygen:

  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise

  • Shallow breathing – Most people today don’t breathe well and are shallow breathers.

  • Chronic stressStress and anxiety can also affect your breathing. If you're stressed and anxious, you end up taking more shallow breaths. Your sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system is chronically active, and this reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your brain.

  • Abnormal blood pressure – Both high and low blood pressure can be problematic and may suggest that blood is not optimally flowing to your brain. If blood flow to your brain is poor, oxygen levels in your brain will also be suboptimal.

Normobaric oxygen therapy can help you if you’re struggling with any of these problems.

It can also help if you’re recovering from a concussion or brain injury or some sort of toxic exposure (e.g. mold). 

Neuroplasticity and neurogenesis require oxygen, and increasing the delivery of oxygen to the body and brain supports the healing process of damaged tissue.

Normobaric oxygen therapy has been shown to work by increasing brain blood flow, reducing permeability of the blood-brain barrier, and it may even have cholinergic properties (3-8). 

Researchers have concluded that the “neuroprotective role of normobaric oxygen therapy is extremely promising” (9). 

They have also found that it can lead to a number of positive cognitive outcomes, which I'll explore below. 

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1. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Improves Memory and Recall

In their book Advances in Natural Medicines, Nutraceuticals, and Neurocognition, Dr. Andrew Scholey and Dr. Con Stough state that normobaric oxygen therapy is an effective memory enhancer

Research has shown that oxygen administration leads to improved long-term memory compared to a control group of normal air-breathing.

Several clinical studies also show that concentrated oxygen significantly enhances memory formation and recall in adults (10-11, 16-17). 

In one study, inhalation of oxygen immediately prior to learning a word list resulted in a significant increase in the average number of words recalled 10 minutes later (14). 

In other studies, subjects who received oxygen remembered shopping lists and faces better than subjects that didn’t receive oxygen (12-13, 18). 

Researchers have also found significant positive correlations between changes in oxygen saturation and memory performance (15). 

2. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Improves Cognitive Performance

Research shows that concentrated oxygen significantly enhances cognitive performance (19-20, 29). 

And it doesn’t just improve cognitive function in the elderly; it also enhances cognitive processing in young adults (21-23). 

In one study, students that inhaled oxygen while playing a computer game performed much better compared to students who didn’t inhale any additional oxygen (26). 

In two other studies, researchers found that the inhalation of 30% oxygen improved cognitive functioning and performance by activating several brain areas (24-25). 

Oxygen administration appears to facilitate cognition most effectively for tasks with a higher cognitive load.
— Advances in Natural Medicines, Nutraceuticals, and Neurocognition

They concluded that breathing a higher concentration of oxygen increases blood oxygen levels in the brain, which then supports cognition (24-25). 

And other researchers have found significant correlations between blood oxygen levels and cognitive performance (27-28). 

3. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Enhances Accuracy

Several studies have found that normobaric oxygen therapy can also increase your accuracy when doing tasks. 

Two studies found that 30% and 40% oxygen administration significantly enhanced accuracy rates compared to 21% oxygen (normal air). It did this by increasing oxygen levels in the blood, which then stimulated activity in the brain (31-32). 

As the difficulty of the task increased, the difference in the accuracy rate between 40% and 21% oxygen administration also increased (33-34). 

And researchers found a positive correlation between task performance and oxygen levels in the brain (33-34). 

Other research has found that 30% oxygen administration enhances accuracy rates during verbal tasks by activating specific areas of the brain (35-36). 

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4. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Reduces Reaction Time

People who receive normobaric oxygen therapy also have faster reaction times (37-38). 

In one study, participants performed visual matching tasks under 43% oxygen or 21% oxygen (normal air).

Researchers reported a significant decrease in reaction time in the presence of 43% oxygen (39).

The researchers hypothesized that normobaric oxygen therapy increases oxygen levels in the blood, which then leads to more available oxygen in the brain (39). 

Another follow-up study confirmed that response time decreases during normobaric oxygen therapy due to the increase in blood oxygen levels (40). 

Normobaric oxygen therapy has even been shown to reduce reaction time in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (41). 

5. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Increases Energy

Despite comprising only 2 percent of the body’s weight, the brain gobbles up more than 20 percent of daily energy intake.

All cells within your body need oxygen, particularly your brain cells.

They require a lot of oxygen to produce energy. 

In fact, your energy levels depend on how much oxygen you have and how well your mitochondria utilize it.

If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it simply won’t function properly, and you’ll end up feeling tired. 

But normobaric oxygen therapy can increase energy.

Research shows that it "decreases fatigue and reduces feelings of sleepiness" (51). 

6. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Improves Neurological Function After Stroke

Researchers say that normobaric oxygen therapy is a promising therapy for stroke patients. 

It’s been shown to reduce brain swelling and blood-brain barrier permeability and increase brain blood flow after stroke (42-43). 

One study found that normobaric oxygen therapy significantly improved neurological functions in patients with acute ischemic stroke (44). 

Other researchers have found that normobaric oxygen therapy increases oxygen supply to damaged tissues and improves outcomes after stroke, in both animals and humans (45-46). 

As a non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive treatment, normobaric oxygen therapy is “worthy of notice” (47). 

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7. Oxygen Therapy May Help Reverse Brain Damage After Traumatic Brain Injury

Researchers found that a combination of normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy reversed brain damage in 2-year-old girl who nearly drowned in a swimming pool.

She received normobaric oxygen treatment (twice daily for 45 minutes by nasal cannula), and doctors witnessed significant improvements in her neurological function (48-49). 

Normobaric oxygen therapy alone improved the girl’s neurological function before she started hyperbaric oxygen therapy (48-49). 

She eventually made a full recovery with both types of oxygen therapy. 

Researchers have also said that the “neuroprotective role of normobaric oxygen therapy is extremely promising” for traumatic brain injury (50). 

I’ve also seen multiple studies with rats and mice showing that normobaric oxygen therapy reduces brain swelling and brain damage.

8. Other Possible Benefits (with Less Research Behind Them)

  • Increases attention and vigilance – Oxygen administration significantly improved performance on several measures of attention and vigilance (52).

  • Reduces inflammation – Oxygen levels play a critical role in determining the severity of the inflammatory response and ultimately the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs (53-54).

  • Improves hand-eye coordination (55).

  • Increases positive sense of wellbeing (56).

My Experience with Normobaric Oxygen Therapy

If you use oxygen for 20 minutes, muscles become loosened, headaches and stress seem to disappear, there is a renewed energy and a feeling of relaxation.
— Dr. Richard de Andrea

 

I was first introduced to oxygen therapy through an integrative doctor I know.

At the end of each appointment with him, I would use his oxygen concentrator for about 15-20 minutes. He used this oxygen concentrator

I eventually decided to buy my own oxygen concentrator and now regularly use it at home. 

There is a dial for adjusting the flow of oxygen and the port is located on the upper right of the machine.

There is a dial for adjusting the flow of oxygen and the port is located on the upper right of the machine.

I bought this oxygen concentrator. You can get it here or through Amazon. I'll discuss how it has helped me below.

The oxygen from the concentrator is supplied through an nasal canula. It’s completely non-invasive and painless, and it’s become one of my favourite tools for supporting my brain.

I use it for about 20 to 30 minutes, a few times each week. I often do this while exercising on this indoor stationary bike. Sometimes I use it without exercising on the bike. 

I also use it for about 3 to 5 minutes as needed, usually when doing work. 

During a session, I use this oxygen saturation monitor to measure my blood oxygenation levels. 

Your blood oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) should measure 99-100%. I see mine increase and max out while using the concentrator

My oxygen concentrator delivers up to 5 litres of oxygen per minute. I usually set mine somewhere between 3 and 5 litres per minute. 

But I would recommend starting lower and working your way up. 

Similar to low-level laser/light therapy, oxygen therapy is somewhat experimental. You need to find the right “dosage” for yourself.

Benefits and What I’ve Noticed

Jordan Fallis using oxygen concentrator.

I've had good results with concentrated oxygen therapy and it has surprisingly increased the quality of my life. 

One of the main things I notice is that it feels like it puts energy back into my body every time I use it.

One of my clients uses it whenever she gets brain fog, and it clears it up. Another client uses it when she gets a headache and the headache disappears within 10 minutes.

It also does an incredible job of getting rid of hangovers. They essentially go away if you use the concentrator the morning after drinking. You just immediately feel like a completely new person.

Here are some other benefits I’ve experienced:

Keep in mind that this is my personal experience (and the experiences of a couple of clients). There really is no guarantee that you’ll experience the same results, but it’s worth a try if you’re sick and other therapies aren’t improving your brain function. 

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Combining Oxygen Therapy with Other Therapies

I also combine oxygen therapy with other therapies and supplements for their synergistic effects. 

Researchers have found that combining normobaric oxygen therapy with the following therapies leads to better results (57-59):

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References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23317164

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5234199/

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023418/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110143/

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28931617

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25804925

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27177548

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9600580/

(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19922270

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9600580/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10604851/

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9600580

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8740047

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18322865/

(16) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9600580/

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9694523/

(18) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9862412

(19) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10604851/

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9694523/

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(24) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15522765

(25) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15684544

(26) https://goo.gl/h9o5Aj

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(28) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10604851/

(29) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17662686/

(30) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(31) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17053947/

(32) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17395994/

(33) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18569150/

(34) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20080151

(35) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16678926

(36) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15929498

(37) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15627418/

(38) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10604851/

(39) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19429029/

(40) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(41) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22285726

(42) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26416428

(43) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25804925

(44) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28931617

(45) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110139/

(46) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4146175/

(47) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110139/

(48) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510296/

(49) https://goo.gl/m2CbrR

(50) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19922270

(51) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15627418/

(52) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9694523/

(53) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202121536.htm

(54) https://jlb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1189/jlb.0912462

(55) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11258587

(56) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11258587

(57) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27458543

(58) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27177548

(59) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26416428

Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

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The 9 Most Promising Psychobiotics for Anxiety

I used to walk around ruminating, struggling with inner turmoil and nervousness all the time. 

It never went away.

It was impossible to shake. 

It wore me down and ruined the quality of my life. 

There’s no doubt that fear and vigilance are helpful when you’re faced with an actual threat. 

But an unnecessarily high state of worry and arousal when there is nothing threatening you? That's a nightmare. 

It doesn’t have to be that way though. 

If you have chronic anxiety, there are ways to manage and reverse it, like I have.

And psychobiotics are one way to do that.

Psychobiotics are probiotics and prebiotics that can improve your mental health by changing the mixture of bacteria in your gut (46-47). 

It is estimated that 100 trillion bacteria, and 500 to 1,000 species of bacteria, live in the human gut. These gut bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiome, help with digestion. But an increasing amount of research suggests that they also communicate with your brain through the microbiome-gut-brain axis, affecting your thoughts, feelings and behaviour (48-49). 

Gut is playing chess with Brain. Gut says “Gutsy move for a brain…”.

A dysfunctional gut microbiome has been linked to a number of mental health problems and psychiatric conditions, including anxiety.

In fact, anxiety and gut health are very tightly linked. 

Research shows that people who have digestive disorders are more likely to have anxiety, and those with anxiety have higher rates of gastrointestinal disease (50-52).

And studies show that when digestive disorders improve, anxiety improves as well (53). 

Unfortunately, a lot of people have poor gut health today because of the widespread use of antibiotics, medications, herbicides, stress, infections, poor diet, etc. 

But don’t worry. You can improve your gut health and anxiety at the same time with the use of psychobiotics. 

Studies show that psychobiotics can improve anxiety by (54-55):

Here are the nine best psychobiotics that have been shown in human and animal studies to decrease stress and help treat anxiety disorders. 

They are truly the best probiotics for anxiety.

The word psychobiotic.

1. Lactobacillus rhamnosus

Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a bacterium found in the human gut. It is one of the most popular probiotic species found in supplements.

Preliminary research suggests that supplementing with lactobacillus rhamnosus can lower anxiety in humans (3). 

GABA is the main inhibitory and relaxing neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and studies suggest that lactobacillus rhamnosus may reduce anxiety by changing the expression of GABA receptors (1-2, 4). 

In one study, researchers gave lactobacillus rhamnosus to mice, and it reduced their anxiety-like behaviours. But when researchers removed part of their vagus nerve, lactobacillus rhamnosus did not reduce their anxiety, suggesting that psychobiotics communicate with the brain and improve mental health through the vagus nerve (1-2). 

The mice [given lactobacillus rhamnosus] were more chilled out.
— Dr. John Cryan, researcher and pharmacologist with the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center at University College Cork, Ireland

Other studies have found that lactobacillus rhamnosus decreases stress-induced anxiety-like behaviour, and researchers have concluded that it can protect against anxiety (5, 7). 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus has also been shown to reduce obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)-like behaviour in mice. In fact, researchers found it was just as effective as fluoxetine, an SSRI antidepressant commonly used to treat OCD (6). 

So if you struggle with OCD or obsessive-compulsive tendencies, it’s worth trying this psychobiotic.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus can be found in some yogurt and dairy products, such as fermented and unpasteurized milk and semi-hard cheese. But I typically don’t recommend eating these foods unless you’re sure you can tolerate them.

2. Bifidobacterium longum

Bifidobacterium longum is another bacterium present in the human gut. It is often added to food as it can help prevent the growth of pathogenic organisms.

I previously wrote about how it’s been proven to help treat depression.

Bacteria. Bacteria can affect the mind through the gut-brain axis.

But it can also reduce anxiety. 

Researchers have concluded that bifidobacterium longum can reduce cortisol and alleviate psychological distress in humans (including obsessions, compulsions, paranoia, anxiety) (28-30). 

Lots of animal research also shows that bifidobacterium longum can significantly reduce anxiety-like behaviour (31-34). 

One study found that a chronic infection in mice increased inflammation and caused anxiety-like behaviour, but bifidobacterium longum reduced anxiety and normalized behaviour (35-36). 

Researchers have even figured out that it works by acting through the vagus nerve (27). 

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3. Lactobacillus plantarum

Lactobacillus plantarum is another probiotic species that can reduce anxiety. 

In one study, researchers gave lactobacillus plantarum to patients with irritable bowel syndrome and it significantly reduced their anxiety and improved their quality of life (8). 

Animal studies also show that lactobacillus plantarum can cause positive changes in emotional behaviours and significantly reduce anxiety-like behaviours. It does this by increasing dopamine and serotonin, lowering stress hormone levels, and reducing inflammation (9-11). 

As a result, researchers have concluded that lactobacillus plantarum has psychotropic properties without physical side effects, and has great potential for treating neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety (9-11). 

Lactobacillus plantarum is also commonly found in many fermented vegetables including sauerkraut, pickles, brined olives, kimchi.

4. Lactobacillus helveticus

Lactobacillus helveticus is a probiotic strain that has been shown to reduce cortisol and have anti-anxiety effects in humans (37, 39, 44).

One study found that it can even reduce paranoid and obsessive-compulsive thoughts (38). 

Blue bacteria. Bacteria can influence our anxiety levels.

Animal research shows that a Western-style diet can negatively change the gut microbiome, increase brain inflammation, and contribute to anxiety. But lactobacillus helveticus can protect against this, reducing both neuroinflammation and anxiety (40-42).

One study even found that lactobacillus helveticus works better than citalopram, a common SSRI antidepressant, at reducing anxiety-like behaviour in rats. It also reduced their stress hormone levels and increased their serotonin levels (43). 

Lactobacillus helveticus is also commonly found in American Swiss cheese and Emmental cheese, and sometimes other cheeses, such as Cheddar, Parmesan, Romano, provolone, and mozzarella.

I’m very sensitive to dairy so I can’t eat cheese regularly. But if you’re not and can tolerate them, you could try adding some of these cheeses into your diet. 

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5. Lactobacillus reuteri

Lactobacillus reuteri is a bacterium with anti-inflammatory effects that scientists first discovered in the 1980s. 

It is usually found in the human gut. However, not all humans have it, and some people simply have very low levels of it. Therefore, you may need to supplement with it to introduce and maintain high levels of it.

Research shows that Lactobacillus reuteri can reduce anxiety-like behaviours in animals by reducing stress hormone levels and altering the expression of GABA receptors (13-14).

And one study found that the absence of lactobacillus reuteri causes social deficits in animals.

We found that treatment with this single bacterial strain was able to rescue their social behavior.
— Shelly Buffington, neuroscience researcher at Baylor College of Medicine

By adding it back in to the guts of the animals, the researchers were able to reverse some of their behavioural deficits, which were similar to symptoms of social anxiety and autism in humans (15-16). 

Therefore, lactobacillus reuteri is definitely the psychobiotic strain worth trying if you struggle with social anxiety or symptoms of autism.

It's also found in breast milk, and some meat and dairy products.

6. Lactobacillus casei

Lactobacillus casei is another bacterium found in the human gut. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and digestive problems took Lactobacillus casei as a daily supplement for two months. At the end of the study, they had a significant decrease in their anxiety symptoms (17-19). 

So this is a good psychobiotic to try if you struggle with a mixture of fatigue, digestive problems and anxiety.

Lactobacillus casei is the dominant species in naturally fermented Sicilian green olives, and can also be found in other fermented vegetables and dairy products. 

7. Lactobacillus fermentum

Lactobacillus fermentum is another species that is part of the human microbiome and commonly found in fermented vegetables.

It hasn’t been studied as much as other lactobacillus probiotic species.

Bacteria. Psychobiotics are bacteria that affect our psychological state of mind.

But there still is some evidence that is may be able to help treat anxiety, especially if you have a long history of antibiotic treatment. 

Research shows that antibiotics can trigger anxiety in animals by disturbing the microbiome.

But by giving animals lactobacillus fermentum, researchers can reduce the inflammation and reverse the psychological problems brought on by antibiotics, including anxiety-like behaviour (12).

So if you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics over the years, or noticed that your anxiety got worse after taking a course of antibiotics, taking a psychobiotic supplement with lactobacillus fermentum is worth a try. 

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8. Bifidobacterium breve

Bifidobacterium breve is a beneficial bacterium found in human breast milk and the human gut. The amount in your gut declines as you get older (20). 

Research shows that bifidobacterium breve can reduce anxiety-like behaviour in animals (21). 

Anxious animals also perform better on cognitive tests after being given it (22). 

This makes bifidobacterium breve a great psychobiotic option if your anxiety impairs your cognition and interferes with your ability to complete tasks. 

Bifidobacterium breve can be found naturally in some fermented foods.

9. Galacto-oligosaccharides

Not all psychobiotics are simply probiotics.

Psychobiotics can also include “prebiotics,” which are non-digestible soluble fibres that stimulate the growth of good gut bacteria, and therefore improve mental health and reduce anxiety.

Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are a type of prebiotic that have been shown to do just that. 

Picture of intestines. Our intestinal health can significantly affect our mental health.

In one study, GOS significantly decreased the secretion of cortisol, and participants paid more attention to positive information rather than negative information (23).

People who are anxious tend to have high levels of cortisol and often get caught up in negative thinking. So this study suggests that GOS has anti-anxiety effects. 

Other research has demonstrated that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often have anxiety because of the lack of microbial diversity in their gut. However, when IBS sufferers supplement with a prebiotic mixture containing GOS, it significantly reduces their anxiety and improves the quality of their life (24-26). 

You can get GOS here.

What Psychobiotic Should You Take?

Ideally, you should buy and try one probiotic strain at a time to figure out how you respond to each one.

That's what I did over the span of several years. 

I would buy and try one probiotic species and strain, take it for at least one month, and then monitor how I felt during that time.

Sometimes I would stop taking it if I felt worse.

I was my own guinea pig and tested and experimented with so many different probiotic supplements to find the ones that helped. 

I usually recommend people follow the same process because many people like myself often experience a bad reaction to one strain, but a good reaction to another. 

But I understand doing that can be time-consuming and tedious. Plus, clinical studies often demonstrate that probiotic mixtures with multiple strains are better at improving the diversity of gut bacteria than single strains (45). 

So, to make it easier for you, I’ve now created my own psychobiotic supplement, called Optimal Biotics.

I created it because I want to give my clients and readers the very best psychobiotic supplement so that they can experience superior results.

I have found that many psychobiotic supplements on the market fall short and even cause side effects.

But Optimal Biotics doesn't, and it contains the 8 most well-researched and beneficial probiotic strains for your mental health.

I also recommend adding fermented foods into your diet and see how that goes. Fermented foods contain many strains of bacteria that have not been documented in the scientific literature.  That said, the downside is that the bacteria in fermented foods will vary depending on the batch, and there is sometimes the risk of them containing pathogenic bacteria.

Here are some other steps you can take to increase the good bacteria in your gut. 

And this anti-anxiety supplement also includes several other natural compounds that have helped me manage my anxiety over the years. It can help reduce stress and anxiety while you work to improve your gut health. You can use the coupon code FIVE$45496275 for a 5% discount.

Conclusion

The microbiome and psychobiotics are at the cutting-edge of neuroscience and mental health research and treatment. It hasn’t been that long since researchers first discovered that there is a gut-brain connection. 

Cartoon image of bacteria and psychobiotics.

When I first found out about it several years ago, I started consuming psychobiotics, and they have definitely helped me recover from chronic anxiety. 

But it’s important to point out that psychobiotics alone were never enough.

I also had to make changes to my diet, take key supplements, improve thyroid health, and overcome trauma. There really is no quick fix or magic bullet. 

Yet for some people, psychobiotics can be life changing, especially if you have digestive issues alongside your anxiety and worry. 

Overall, I think they are absolutely worth a try. 

I hope this article helps you, and please share it with anyone you think might benefit from it. 

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Jordan Fallis

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References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4370913/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21876150/

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(55) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27841940

Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

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