Psychobiotics show promising avenue for mood support and beyond

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Shidlovski
Getty Images / Shidlovski

Related tags gut-brain axis psychobiotics Gut health Probiotics

Emerging research suggests mental health and gut biology are intrinsically linked, presenting new opportunities in the gut-brain category.

One psychobiotic that has gained attention recently is Solace PS128, sold by Oryx Biomedical. Lactobacillus plantarum PS128​, the beneficial bacteria found in Solace, is a naturally derived daily probiotic that has been shown to support the digestive and immune systems and promote a balanced, healthy mood. 

The strain is isolated by Bened Biomedical and has been the focus of multiple research and clinical studies by scientist and professor Ying-Chieh Tsai, chief founder of Bened Biomedical.

The proprietary strain is a result of over 20 years of scientific exploration. David Lee, president of Oryx Biomedical, said that Solace PS128 bridges the gap between common probiotics and pharmaceuticals by differentiating psychobiotics from the more general varieties. 

“We get a lot of feedback where I think people are very confused. Probiotics, for example, are something people think of as a catch-all phrase that can cure everything. So our challenge is trying to distinguish and separate probiotics from specialized probiotics,”​ said Lee. 

Core concentrations 

“It is exciting that there is so much scientific research being conducted on PS128,” ​said Lee. “The active ingredient in Solace PS128 is backed by real science. Clinical studies have shown potential benefits not only for Parkinson's disease, but also for clinical depression, anxiety and children with autism.”

The PS128 bacteria in Solace have been shown to modulate levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are abnormal in people with Parkinson’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, and other neurological conditions. 

According to Bened Biomedical, the most common Parkinson's medication is Levodopa, which replenishes dopamine. However, its effectiveness decreases over time, and PS128 may help compensate for this decrease.

A recent study​ highlighted PS128's potential for alleviating on- and off-state symptoms and showed that PS128 could also be used without the side effects that often come from Parkinson's drugs.

One Parkinson's Disease symptom that is often disabling is akinesia, which is the loss of motor control. This side effect of Parkinson's may be caused by a neuroinflammatory molecule known as MPO. One of Benet’s studies showed MPO levels dropped after PS128 administration by disrupting neurotoxin transport at the pathway between the brain and intestinal system.

"Research into the causes of Parkinson's has shown the disease being related to what goes on in the gut, which led us to believe probiotics may be an effective intervention,"​ explained the study’s author, neurologist, Dr. Chin-Song Lu. 

Athletic performance 

With more insight on the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain, recent research has underscored how the cross-talk regulates inflammatory nociception, inflammatory responses, and immune homeostasis. Beyond mood support, Solace PS128 has also demonstrated benefits in athletic populations by highlighting interactions between the gut and the brain in inflammation-associated conditions. 

“With regards to sports performance, we have three randomized controlled trials that showed three different things. One was benefits to exercise recovery and athletic performance​ in athletes. One shows benefits to oxidative stress and serum BCAA levels​ in athletes and another proves split times and increased lower leg strength​ in recreational runners. So, with regards to the study on the exercise recovery and athletic performance, athletic performance, body composition, biochemistry blood cells microbiota, and associated metabolites were investigated in the study and showed that PS128 significantly increases the athletes endurance by about 130% as compared to the placebo group.” 

More research ahead 

Lee said looking ahead he expects more research and increased efforts to separate the category from the common probiotic. He added that there are currently a number of clinical trials underway by various research institutions utilizing PS128.

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