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Research-Backed Ingredients to Support Mood Balance

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Love Your Happy Place

The human microbiota consists of trillions of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and others. The vast majority, around 70%, of these microbes reside in the gut and are vital to immune and metabolic health. The gut microbiota also affects your cognitive function and mood through a sophisticated bi-directional communication network called the gut-brain axis.

That Gut Feeling
In the gut-brain axis, the microbiota engages locally with intestinal cells and communicates directly with the central nervous system through neuroendocrine, immune, and metabolic pathways.1 Gut bacteria also produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and glutamate that affect memory, learning, attention, and emotion.

In the other half of the bidirectional gut-brain axis, the brain communicates and influences the gut via the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis, a bidirectional neuroendocrine network. The HPA axis is a system of pathways and feedback loops that function to maintain physiological balance, including your rest and stressed states. It also helps regulate memory and emotional responses.

Your resident microbes continuously interact with the HPA axis through several mediators that cross the blood-brain barrier. These include microbial antigens, cytokines, and prostaglandins. There is also evidence that various microbial species can affect ileal corticosterone production, which may impact the activity of the HPA axis.2 Conversely, prolonged HPA axis activation during periods of stress can directly alter the gut microbiota composition causing elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 and monocyte chemotactic protein in the blood.3

Supporting a Healthy Stress Response
Busy and demanding lifestyles can create chronic, long-term stress that may tax the HPA axis and negatively affect the stress-response system. Lifestyle interventions that support a healthy stress response and optimal HPA axis function are vital to overall health and well-being. These interventions have been shown to provide support to help manage the negative effects of stress on the body: 4,5,6
• Reducing stress when possible, utilizing relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy when appropriate.
• Participating in regular moderate exercise.
• Optimizing sleep quality and quantity.
• Eating a healthful, plant-forward diet based on whole, low-glycemic foods.

In addition to these holistic strategies, new research into gut-brain mechanisms has spearheaded the development of targeted probiotics and botanical formulations to support healthy HPA axis function. Research suggests that these specific ingredients may promote a more optimal response to everyday stressors.

Research-Backed Probiotics for Mood Support
Probiotics can improve and restore intestinal barrier function in diverse ways. The effects are thought to be species and strain specific. Probiotic strains have been specifically selected for their pronounced synergistic influence on the gut-brain axis, as demonstrated by human and animal studies.

This formulation, termed Ecologic BARRIER was specifically designed to influence the gut-brain axis through defined mechanisms, including:
• Strengthening the gut barrier function
• Modulating cytokine production and inflammatory response
• Producing potentially neuroprotective metabolites
• Regulating the HPA axis 7

Ecologic BARRIER, a 5 billion CFU probiotic blend, is the first probiotic formula clinically shown to support a healthy mood.†

Learn More.

Natural HPA Axis Optimization
During times of severe and repetitive stress, individuals can benefit from adaptogenic herbs and specific nutrients that help dampen HPA axis activation and support healthy cortisol balance.

Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) provides a soothing effect during periods of stress. In part, this may be due to the herb’s activation of GABA receptors, which curtail the initial activation of the HPA axis.8 Another adaptogenic herb shown to improve resistance to frequent or ongoing stress is ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). Ashwagandha can modulate stress hormones, typically lowering prolonged high cortisol elevations.9

Supplemental Support
Two patented ingredients, Relora® and Sensoril®, have been clinically shown to support a healthy stress response.† Relora® is a combination of botanical extracts, Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense. These have been used historically for supporting a healthy stress response and have been clinically shown to decrease stress, lower salivary cortisol, and improve mood scores.10†
Sensoril® is a proprietary extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), a botanical adaptogen shown in multiple clinical trials to support healthy energy levels, stress relief, and mood.11†

Many patients can benefit from a more balanced stress response. It’s vital for clinicians to take an individualized approach based on symptoms and triggers. Combining the nutrients discussed above with healthy lifestyle changes that include diet, exercise, sleep, and mindfulness can often effectively help them cope with current and future stressors, thus improving overall health and well-being.

Learn More.

[1] Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr-Jun; 28(2): 203–209.
2 Misiak B, Łoniewski I, Marlicz W, et al. The HPA axis dysregulation in severe mental illness: Can we shift the blame to gut microbiota?. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2020;102:109951.
3 Bailey MT, Dowd SE, Galley JD, Hufnagle AR, Allen RG, Lyte M. Exposure to a social stressor alters the structure of the intestinal microbiota: Implications for stressor-induced immunomodulation. Brain Behav Immun. 2011;25:397–407
4 Esch T, Fricchione GL, Stefano GB. The therapeutic use of the relaxation response in stress-related diseases. Med Sci Monit. 2003;9(2):RA23-RA34.
5 Ghigo E, Lanfranco F, Strasburger CJ, eds. Hormone Use and Abuse by Athletes.12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Springer; 2011.
6 Duong M, Cohen JI, Convit A. High cortisol levels are associated with low quality food choice in Type 2 Diabetes. Endocrine. 2012;41(1):76-81.
7 Van Hemert et al. Influence of the multispecies probiotic Ecologic Barrier on parameters of intestinal barrier function. Food Nutr Sci. 2014;5:1739-45.
8 Ai J, Wang X, Nielsen M. Honokiol and magnolol selectively interact with GABA receptor subtypes in vitro. Pharmacology. 2001;63(1):34-41.
10Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262.
11 Talbott SM, Talbott JA, Pugh M. Effect of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug;10(1):37.
[1]2 Steenbergen L, Sellaro R, van Hemert S, Bosch JA, Colzato LS. A randomized, controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain Behav Immun. 2015 Aug;48:258-64.


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