Psychobiotics have shown positive results on both IBS and anxiety, writes the author of 'The Kefir Solution: Natural Healing for IBS, Depression and Anxiety'.

So there’s good news and bad news.

First, the bad news: If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, you have an increased chance of also having to deal with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

"Kefir has been around for millennia but it’s poised to become a major player in a new frontier in neuroscience."

You may start out with IBS, and end up with depression/ anxiety. Or - you may begin with a mood disorder, which then leads to IBS. Gut issues can be the cause or the result of anxiety and/ or depression. Either way, the two are inextricably linked.

And now, the good news: the same science that has shown us the problem, has also given us the answer. It’s called the Kefir Solution, and it will work to resolve your IBS, depression and anxiety - together!

What’s the connection between your brain and your gut?

The connection between IBS, depression and anxiety is due to something called the Gut-Brain Axis, or GBA. The GBA works both ways - from brain to gut, and gut to brain.

Why is this? Well, you have 100 billion neurons in your brain. And you have 100 million neurons in your gut. Your brain neurons and your gut neurons work exactly the same way, and communicate using exactly the same neurotransmitter, called serotonin.

You may be familiar with serotonin as the “happy molecule” in your brain. But inside your gut, serotonin is also responsible for the smooth and painless processing of food through your system.

And that’s not all; serotonin is also a communication molecule, that enables one neuron to speak to the next neuron, in both your gut and your brain. If you imagine your neurons like birds inside your internal ecosystem, then serotonin is the bird song, that they use to pass necessary information to one another.

So serotonin is pretty important stuff!

What can go wrong inside your gut?

Picture your gut microbiome like a beautiful Amazon rainforest, full of little life forms. Two percent of those cells are very special, rare cells - like Birds of Paradise. These cells are called EC (enterochromaffin) cells and their job is to produce 95 percent of all the serotonin in your body.

Like any natural ecosystem, the one inside your gut is fragile, and can be damaged. The things that damage it are what I like to call the Four Horsemen of the Gut Apocalypse: antibiotics, stress, sugar and environmental toxins.

If your delicate, endangered EC cells get wiped out by The Four Horsemen, then you stop producing serotonin. Your internal forest goes silent; there is no communication between neurons in the gut, or the brain. This means no happiness in your brain - and no smooth, pain-free processing of food inside your system! In a nutshell - that’s going to feel like IBS and depression/anxiety.

What’s the solution?

Luckily, there is now a solution, for both your IBS and the anxiety/depression that so often goes along with it. It’s a traditional natural probiotic called kefir.

Kefir has been around for millennia, but today it’s poised to become a major player in a new frontier in neuroscience because of its actions as a ‘psychobiotic’. This is a new term for a combination of live organisms that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produce mental health benefits.

Psychobiotics have been largely studied in groups of IBS patients, and positive results were seen on both their IBS and their depression/anxiety. And there’s more good news: you don’t need to be clinically depressed to benefit from psychobiotics. The latest research shows that anyone suffering from chronic stress, low mood or anxiety-like symptoms can benefit from them as well.

Kefir actually restores the EC cells inside your microbiome, so that they can begin to produce serotonin - and your internal ecosystem will start to sing once more!

The best kefir to use as a psychobiotic is live, active, traditional-style kefir, rather than a supermarket probiotic, which may be pasteurised after production. Look for kefir that is made with real kefir grains and goats milk, as cow's milk is an allergen that can cause additional inflammation inside the gut. Avoid flavoured or sweetened kefir, as sugar and sweeteners can further damage your microbiome. If you wish to flavour your kefir at home, use 100 percent pure stevia and fruit, blending and consuming immediately to avoid degradation of the probiotics.

How does this story make you feel? Join our Twitter chat on psychobiotics and psychedelics - diet and drugs - this Wednesday June 27 at 12pm UK time using #MHTchat.

Kefir suitable for use as a psychobiotic can be sourced and delivered to your door, without shipping charge, from

Shann Nix Jones is the author of The Kefir Solution: Natural Healing for IBS, Depression and Anxiety, due to be published by Hay House in June 2017. This book contains additional tips, supplements and recipes to help heal your gut and your brain, and is available to order, here.