Can Yoghurt Cure Depression?

Depressive disorders often run in families, which, in addition to the genetic component, may point to the microbiome as a causative agent,” they said.

“In chronically stressed mice displaying despair behaviour, we found that the microbiota composition and the metabolic signature dramatically change. Specifically, we observed reduced lactobacillus and increased circulating kynurenine levels [a metabolite in the blood known to drive depression] as the most prominent changes in stressed mice.”

So they fed these mice lactobacillus and found it was enough to “improve the metabolic alterations and behavioral abnormalities”.

“The big hope for this kind of research is that we won’t need to bother with complex drugs and side effects when we can just play with the microbiome,” explained lead researcher Alban Gaultier. “It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health – and your mood.”

He added: “A single strain of Lactobacillus is able to influence mood.”

More than 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. If we could cure that with yoghurt it would indeed be magical.

Paul Bertrand, a senior lecturer at RMIT University and an expert on the neuronal control of the gut, finds the research interesting but says it hasn’t “gone that extra step” to show the human connection.