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A growing number of scientists now believe that gut bacteria can influence mental health.


“Thank you, you’ve never even met me and yet you’ve changed my life.” That was the sign-off in an e-mail from a man named Mike that arrived at the office of Dr. James Greenblatt, a psychiatrist and the chief medical officer of Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham, on July 24. Greenblatt is not unused to such effusive gratitude, but usually it comes from his patients.

Mike, though, lives in Colorado, where he had read an article online about how Greenblatt had treated a young woman with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder using traditional psychotherapy and medication coupled, less traditionally, with probiotics — capsules filled with live “good” bacteria. Within six months, her symptoms were gone. Mike also had issues with anxiety — he’d started obsessively pulling his hair out 15 years earlier — but no one had been able to help him. Mike began treating himself by taking the strongest over-the-counter probiotics he could find and after a couple months, he noticed the urge to pull had disappeared. “IT WORKED!” Mike later wrote in a blog post.


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