What is the difference between psychobiotics and probiotics?


What is the difference between psychobiotics and probiotics?

Probiotics are far from new to the wellness space. These microorganisms have been lauded for years for their ability to benefit the gut microbiome. 


However, what is new is the idea that the benefits of probiotics run deeper than gut health and into the brain.


You have the continued research on the gut-brain connection to thank for that. The gut is commonly known as the “second brain,” which in the scientific community is called the “enteric nervous system” or ENS. 


This system is comprised of over 100 million different nerve cells that run all the way from your mouth to your anus along the gastrointestinal tract. It’s no surprise that the ENS communicates with and is responsible for key digestive functions including:


  • Nutrient absorption
  • Blood flow control
  • Swallowing
  • Releasing of enzymes
  • And more


But what may be a surprise is that the ENS also communicates with your brain. That’s why recent studies have shown that gut diseases can spread to the brain and result in mental health conditions


With that information, it should make sense that, if taking probiotics, your brain will feel the benefits of adding those microorganisms into your body, too. 


And that is what is now referred to as “psychobiotics.” 


Psychobiotics are not different than probiotics – it is simply a term used to talk about probiotics in relation to mental health specifically, rather than just gut health. 


What are probiotics?

Before we get deeper into this new application of probiotics, let’s start with the basics. Probiotics are consumed by about 4 million adults in the United States, so it’s important to understand more about them. 


Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed, are beneficial to the body. There are all different kinds of bacteria present in probiotics, and the types vary on which food or supplement you’re reaching for to get your probiotics. 


The most common bacteria you’ll find are part of either the Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium groups. 


You can find these probiotics in foods such as:


  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Sourdough bread
  • Tempeh 

Are probiotics the same as prebiotics?

Prebiotics are not the same as probiotics, but they are important to the optimal function of probiotics. 


Prebiotics refers to the dietary fiber that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. This fiber comes from food and can’t be digested by humans. Instead of being digested by your body, it is consumed by the good bacteria in your gut. 


So, in order to reach maximum health, you want to ensure that you’re consuming both probiotics and prebiotics either via food or supplementation. 


What are the benefits of probiotics?

Since 4 million people are consuming these things on a daily basis, we’re going to run through some of the benefits so that, in case you aren’t one of those 4 million now, you will be once you’ve finished reading this. 


  1. They help balance the good bacteria in your gut. It’s easy for the bacteria in your gut to become imbalanced, and probiotics help restore that balance. 
  2. They can help with diarrhea. Taking antibiotics can sometimes result in diarrhea and probiotics have been shown to help with that as well as help with diarrhea that isn’t caused by antibiotics. 
  3. They can help reduce bad cholesterol. Studies show that probiotics are helpful to use in reducing bad cholesterol which can help keep your heart healthy. 
  4. They may boost your immune system. Scientists have found that probiotics may be able to stop the growth of bad gut bacteria while also boosting your immune system. 
  5. They may be able to help with symptoms of ulcerative colitis. If you suffer from mild ulcerative colitis, probiotics may be able to help alleviate some of your symptoms. 


The above is not a comprehensive list of the benefits of probiotics but gives you an idea of some of their key benefits. 


However, recent studies have shed light on a new, and arguably the most exciting benefit of probiotics: their ability to help with mental health conditions.


What are psychobiotics?

As mentioned above, this mental health viewpoint on probiotics has brought with it the coining of the term “psychobiotics.” 


Any type of probiotic consumed either via food or supplementation that benefits mental health is called a psychobiotic. 


So how does your brain benefit from taking probiotics/psychobiotics?


A recent study showed that taking probiotics helps alleviate the symptoms associated with depression. This was a major finding, but not the only one. 


When thinking about the gut-brain axis, it’s important to note that 70% of your immune system resides in your gut. That’s why sometimes nerves can cause you to feel nauseous. 


In addition to that, studies show that a gut bacteria imbalance can cause the enteric nervous system to trigger anxiety in people who suffer from IBS, bloating, constipation, stomach pain, and more. 


All of this evidence and more shows that psychobiotics that help to balance your mental health should be a part of your mental hygiene routine. 


You want to ensure that the psychobiotics you’re consuming are a mix of prebiotics and probiotics to get the most out of them and that they contain the specific strains that have been shown to improve your gut and your mood.


Here are the strains that benefit your gut and brain the most:



PYM’s Mood Biotics are the ideal psychobiotics that provide you with the physical and mental health benefits of probiotics. 



Probiotics play an important role in your gut health. And recent studies have shown that a healthy gut promotes a healthy brain due to the gut-brain axis.


So, if you’re looking to improve your mental health, you may want to consider adding probiotics to your life. The term for probiotics related to mental benefits is called “psychobiotics,” but these psychobiotics are simply a type of probiotic. 


The best way to get these psychobiotics is via your food and supplementation. If you’re opting for the supplement route, you want to take probiotics that are high-quality and contain the right strains to support a balanced mood.