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Probi study finds subjects’ brains worked better under stress with probioticProbi study finds subjects’ brains worked better under stress with probiotic

Probi has published a new study on its LPHEAL9 ingredient, which it plans to formally launch at the SupplySide West trade show.

Hank Schultz

September 29, 2023

3 Min Read

 Probi researchers found cognition improvements with a probiotic ingredient when given to moderately stressed adults. 

The new study was published recently in the journal Nutrients. It is part of an ongoing research effort to better understand the ingredient, which the company has designated as Lactiplantibacillus plantarum HEAL9, or LPHEAL9. Probi has branded the ingredient on its website as Defendum

The most recent study was the work of a Probi employee and researchers from the University of Lund in Sweden. 

Suite of studies backing ingredient 

The ongoing research effort is examining the effect of the ingredient via the gut-brain axis, which the researchers said “involves bidirectional communication via neural, endocrine and immune pathways.” 

Previous placebo-controlled studies have looked at subjects with high levels of stress or who suffered from depression. 

One study was a one-time intervention design that used a cohort of individuals with high overall stress who had been subjected to a validated research tool called the Trier Social Stress Test. This involves an interview before a panel, which is interrupted by a surprise arithmetic test that subjects must complete with the interviewers present and passively observing. 

That study found LPHEAL9 reduced blood markers of stress, although it didn’t alter direct measures, such as heart rate and blood pressure. 

Another study looked at 90 patients with mild to moderate depression who took a placebo or LPHEAL9 along with S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)for six weeks. The researchers found the combination “significantly improved symptoms of depression, anxiety, and cognitive and somatic components.”  

In addition, they found the effects were independent of the severity of the symptoms. In other words, subjects with milder depression reaped benefits, too, unlike most pharmaceuticals, which generally are ineffective for milder forms of depression and only serve to blunt the most severe symptoms. 

The most recent study was conducted by Atlantia Clinical Trials in Cork, Ireland, with a group of subjects who had only moderate stress. 

The subjects were men and women between 21 and 52 years of age who were judged to have moderate stress, as measured with the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale tool. After initially screening more than 300 potential participants, the pool was narrowed to 132 subjects, who were divided equally between test and placebo groups. In the end, 57 members of the placebo group and 56 members of the supplementation group completed the 12-week study. 

The supplementation group received a daily capsule with 10 billion CFU of the test probiotic, while the control group took an equivalent placebo. 

Learning, memory improved 

Subjects’ stress levels were measured via questionnaires and blood analyses, and their quality of sleep was assessed, too. 

To measure cognition and memory, the subjects completed several different commercially available tests at baseline and at the study conclusion. 

The researchers concluded that, for mildly stressed people (which could include a broad swath of potential consumers), the product provided distinct benefits. 

“The study showed a significant improvement in learning and working memory after the consumption of LPHEAL9 compared to placebo, potentially by ameliorating aspects of mood and improving sleep,” the authors concluded. “These effects may be linked to the stabilization of inflammatory biomarkers and to a significantly lower awakening level of cortisol in the probiotic group compared to the baseline.” 

Going to market 

The scientific substantiation is now strong enough to launch the product in the North American market, said Probi CEO Anita Johansen. 

“Mental health and wellness is a field with significant growth potential. This complementary study demonstrates that our strain HEAL9 has a strong clinically proven effect in the gut-brain area and boosts our confidence ahead of the official launch of our new product at SupplySide West in Las Vegas in October." Johansen said in a company statement

About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz is senior editor of Natural Products Insider. He is an experienced journalist with a long career in daily newspapers followed by more than a decade in the natural products industry. When he's not in front of a computer, Hank can be found on a bicycle, a mountain trail, the gym or at the helm of a sailboat.

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