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Psychobiotic “Lactobacillus plantarum” (JYLP-326) for Test Anxiety in Students (2023 Study)

Test anxiety among college students is a significant concern, affecting their mental and physical well-being.

A new study suggests that a probiotic/psychobiotic intervention (Lactobacillus plantarum) could significantly alleviate anxiety, depression, and insomnia, with changes observed in the gut microbiota and fecal metabolites.


  • Prevalence of Test Anxiety: 20%-40% of college students experience test anxiety, often leading to depression and insomnia.
  • Probiotic Intervention: Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326 showed significant potential in alleviating symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia among students.
  • Gut Microbiota and Mental Health: The study highlights a connection between gut microbiota diversity and mental health, influenced by probiotics.
  • Biomarkers for Anxiety and Depression: Changes in fecal metabolites and gut microbiota composition could serve as biomarkers for diagnosing and treating stress-related disorders.

Source: Frontiers in Immunology (2023)

Causes & Symptoms of Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is a prevalent issue among students globally.

Studies estimate that 20%-40% of students experience some form of test anxiety, with variations depending on the educational system and cultural contexts.

Test anxiety is a multifaceted issue influenced by various factors:

  • Psychological Factors: High personal expectations, fear of failure, and a lack of preparation can contribute significantly to test anxiety.
  • Environmental Influences: Pressure from family, peers, and educators, as well as the highly competitive academic environment, can exacerbate anxiety levels.
  • Previous Experiences: Negative past experiences with tests or assessments can lead to a heightened state of anxiety in future testing situations.

Test anxiety manifests both physically and psychologically:

  • Physical Symptoms: These include sweating, nausea, rapid heartbeat, headaches, and dizziness. Some students may also experience panic attacks.
  • Emotional and Cognitive Symptoms: Feelings of fear, disappointment, anger, or helplessness are common. Cognitive symptoms include negative self-talk, difficulty concentrating, and blanking out during tests.

Psychobiotics & Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326

What are Psychobiotics?

Psychobiotics are a class of probiotics believed to have a beneficial impact on mental health.

 These are specific strains of bacteria that can potentially influence the gut-brain axis, a complex communication network between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain.

The gut-brain axis is increasingly recognized for its role in various psychological conditions, including anxiety and depression.

Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326

In this study, Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326, isolated from fermented sticky rice, was used.

This particular strain has been previously noted for its ability to adhere to intestinal cells and improve sleep disorders in animal models.

Its selection for the study was based on these earlier findings, suggesting its potential in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Lactobacillus plantarum (JYLP-326) for Test Anxiety in College Students (2023 Study)

The primary aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326 in alleviating symptoms of test anxiety, depression, and insomnia among college students.


  • Participants: The study involved 60 students experiencing test anxiety and 30 control subjects.
  • Design: A randomized, placebo-controlled design was used. Participants were divided into groups receiving either the probiotic or a placebo.
  • Duration: The intervention lasted for three weeks.
  • Assessments: Psychological questionnaires and biological measures (16S rRNA sequencing and untargeted metabolomics) were used to assess mental health and gut microbiota composition.

What were the results?

Mental Health: Significant improvements in anxiety, depression, and insomnia symptoms were observed in the probiotic group compared to the placebo group.

Gut Microbiota: Increased diversity and changes in specific bacterial populations were noted in the probiotic group.

Fecal Metabolites: Changes in certain fecal metabolites associated with mental health were identified.

What are the implications?

  • Non-pharmacological Intervention: The study suggests that probiotics could be a viable non-pharmacological option for managing test anxiety and its related conditions.
  • Gut-Brain Axis: It reinforces the importance of the gut-brain axis in mental health and highlights the potential of targeting this axis in therapy.
  • Personalized Medicine: The findings open avenues for more personalized approaches in treating psychological disorders based on gut microbiota composition.

Limitations to consider…

  • Sample Size and Diversity: The study’s sample size was relatively small and limited to a specific demographic, which may not be representative of the broader population.
  • Short Duration: The three-week duration of the study may not be sufficient to fully understand the long-term effects of the probiotic intervention.
  • Lack of Follow-Up: There was no follow-up to assess the sustainability of the benefits post-intervention.
  • Mechanistic Uncertainties: While the study proposes mechanisms by which the probiotic may work, these need further exploration and validation.

How Lactobacillus plantarum (JYLP-326) May Treat Anxiety (Mechanisms)

The mechanisms by which Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326 might alleviate symptoms of test anxiety are believed to involve:

Gut Microbiota Modulation: By altering the composition and diversity of the gut microbiota, this probiotic could impact the production of neurotransmitters and other bioactive molecules that influence mood and cognitive function.

Anti-inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation is often linked with mental health disorders. Probiotics like Lactobacillus plantarum can reduce gut inflammation, potentially impacting systemic inflammatory markers that affect brain health.

Neurotransmitter Production: Certain gut bacteria are known to produce neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin, which play crucial roles in mood regulation.

Current Treatments & Management for Test Anxiety

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy helps students identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with test anxiety.

Relaxation Techniques: Methods like deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help manage physical symptoms of anxiety.

Time Management and Study Skills: Enhancing study habits and time management can reduce anxiety by increasing preparedness.

Professional Counseling: For severe cases, professional counseling or therapy can provide personalized strategies and support.

Educational Interventions: Some institutions implement workshops or courses on test-taking strategies and anxiety management.

Future Research Directions for Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326

The promising findings from the study on Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326 open several avenues for future research:

  • Long-Term Efficacy and Safety: Future studies should explore the long-term effects and safety profile of L. plantarum JYLP-326. This includes assessing whether the probiotic’s benefits persist beyond the initial treatment period and evaluating any potential side effects over extended use.
  • Mechanistic Studies: While the study hypothesized about the mechanisms by which L. plantarum JYLP-326 might alleviate test anxiety symptoms, detailed mechanistic studies are needed. This could involve examining its effects on neurotransmitter production, inflammatory markers, and specific changes in gut microbiota composition.
  • Broader Population Samples: Research involving a more diverse sample population, including different age groups, ethnic backgrounds, and varying levels of anxiety severity, would provide a more comprehensive understanding of the probiotic’s efficacy.
  • Comparative Studies with Other Probiotics: Comparing the effectiveness of L. plantarum JYLP-326 with other known psychobiotics can offer insights into its relative strengths and potential unique benefits.
  • Integration with Other Therapies: Investigating how L. plantarum JYLP-326 works in conjunction with traditional therapies for anxiety, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or pharmacological treatments, could be beneficial. This would determine if the probiotic can enhance the effectiveness of existing treatments.
  • Personalized Medicine Approaches: Given the individual variability in gut microbiota, studies examining how personal microbiome profiles influence the efficacy of L. plantarum JYLP-326 would be valuable. This could pave the way for personalized probiotic treatments based on individual gut microbiota compositions.
  • Molecular and Genetic Studies: Exploring the genetic makeup and molecular pathways of L. plantarum JYLP-326 might provide deeper insights into its specific actions within the gut microbiome and the gut-brain axis.

Takeaway: L. plantarum (JYLP-326) for Anxiety

The study on Lactobacillus plantarum JYLP-326 marks a significant step forward in understanding the role of psychobiotics in managing test anxiety and related psychological conditions.

By demonstrating the potential of this probiotic to improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia, the research sheds light on the intricate connection between the gut microbiota and mental health.

The findings underscore the importance of exploring innovative and non-pharmacological approaches to mental health treatment, especially in academic settings where test anxiety is prevalent.

However, it’s important to recognize that this is just the beginning.

Future research is essential to fully unravel the mechanisms of action, long-term effects, and broader applicability of L. plantarum JYLP-326.

As we continue to explore the complex dynamics of the microbiota-gut-brain axis, psychobiotics like L. plantarum JYLP-326 could potentially transform our approach to mental health care, offering more personalized and holistic treatment options.


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