Psychobiotics ameliorate SARS-CoV-2 pandemic stress

By: Rabia Fatima

As the novel Coronavirus is highly contagious viral infection initiated from Wuhan of China on December 2019 and spread rapidly around the whole world due to onward transmission. This highly infectious disease caused by the intense respiratory syndrome Covid 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and is responsible for development of serious even lethal respiratory problems. Besides respiratory complications and potential danger of death; COVID-19 flare-up can likewise undermine the emotional well-being of the overall population, causing issues like stress, anxiety, sleep disturbance, restlessness, mental disorders, and even suicide.

Due to manifestation of infections and deaths of loved ones can be considered as stressful factors which lead to the feelings of loneliness and depression. Ultimately, it results short-term post traumatic distress. Likewise, the development of the pandemic has overloaded health frameworks i.e. decreasing the accessibility of beds in hospitals and lack of personal protective equipment (ventilators etc) making healthcare providers to experience the extreme mental as well as emotional stress. Similarly, an extreme rise in the number of deaths, fears of infection, the absence of sufficient supplies, lack of adequate information and elements of sorrow, sadness, fatigue, finance issues and a prolonged quarantine period can cause psychiatric problems in population.

Considering this stressful condition, there’s an urgent requirement for developing the strategies that intend to deal with the population’s psychological well-being. Thusly, the usage of psychotropic medications for treating depression during this pandemic is practically inescapable. Because, the utilization of such psychotropic medications as treatment choices for keeping up psychological wellness; is frequently connected with endocrine and metabolic side-effects such as diabetes, weight gain/loss, metabolic disorder and hypertension etc. Consequently, the appropriation of less violent treatments to the human body are significant and should be kept into consideration. In this specific circumstance, the utilization of microorganisms with psychobiotic properties has acquired a great consideration in the scientific community in the past few years.

Psychobiotics are termed as a class of probiotic (good/friendly bacteria) microbes along incredible remedial potential for the cure of mental disorders. Vaghef 2020 reported that numerous microorganisms are psychobiotics such as Streptococcus thermophiles, Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bacillus coagulans, Clostridium butyricum. Intake of satisfactory measures of such microorganisms can aid the creation of neuroactive substances such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (called as GABA; causes relaxation, reduce stress, a more calm, balance mood, alleviation of pain and a boost to sleep), nor-epinephrine (found to be effective in treating mood disorders like depression & anxiety), dopamine (it results feeling happy), serotonin (serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood and happiness). Several studies have suggested that the administration of psychobiotics can be effective in treating depression, stress, and anxiety.

Allen 2016 reported a clinical study led on 22 physically fit volunteers; showed that consuming strains of Bifidobacterium longum for about a month. As a result, it exerted a significant role in relieving the chronic stress. Similarly, Nishida 2019 reported that the utilization of tablets containing Lactobacillus gasseri for a prolonged period; improved mental as well as sleep disorders in individuals who were presented to constant anxiety. The principal benefits of utilizing psychobiotic microbes involve cure of mental disorders and insights in patients with Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s illnesses, enhance metabolism, reduce swelling as well as prompt the body’s natural defense system and most importantly it can ensure the mental health during the emergencies like SARS-CoV-2.

Therefore, taking SARS-CoV-2 pandemic into consideration, these psychobiotic microbes can be a great revolution for keeping up emotional, psychological and social well-being in a population which is already in grief. Supplementation of strains with psychobiotic properties will carry advantages to the host for sure. Yet, future clinical methodologies are required to discover their adequacy in improving the psychological problems arose due to COVID-19 flare-up.