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Lactic acid bacteria helps relieve depression: study

TAIPEI--Consuming lactic acid bacteria may help fight depression and increase production of chemicals that control emotions, according to a researcher at National Yang Ming University on Friday.

Tsai Ying-chieh, director of the university's Probiotics Research Center and chairman of the Taiwan Association for Lactic Acid Bacteria, found that a strain called PS128 helped improve negative emotions in mice during laboratory tests.

The finding is the result of three years of experiments funded by the economics ministry. Tsai subjected mice with depression to forced swimming, maze running and open field movement to monitor changes in neural transmitters such as dopamine and serotonin as well as the stress hormone cortisol.

Dopamine levels more than tripled in depressed mice fed PS128 for two weeks and doubled in regular mice, indicating higher levels of happiness and excitement in both groups, Tsai said.

Serotonin, which eases agitation, fatigue and chronic pain, increased 20 percent in mice with depression and doubled in mice without, he said.

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