Canadian study looks at links between bipolar disorder and gut bacteria

A doctor in Canada has started the world’s first study looking into whether bipolar disorder can be treated by changing a patient’s gut bacteria.

Dr Valerie Taylor says she decided to start this study after coming across two patients with severe bipolar disorder whose conditions improved while taking antibiotics.

Dr Taylor, who is head of psychiatry at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto is now looking into the world of bacteria yeast and fungi that live in our digestive system.

These organisms help in processing food and taking out toxins. They also help to regulate the immune system and inflammation in our body.

Dr Taylor will analyse 60 patients with bipolar disorder from across the world. Patients will have their gut bacteria flushed out. They will then receive faecal transplants from a healthy donor who has been screened for mental health.

The group will be monitored for two years.

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes a patient to experience intense emotional highs and lows. They feel invincible and are likely to engage in risky behaviour.

The most common treatments for bipolar disorder are antidepressant medications, counselling and, in some cases, electroconvulsive therapy, also known as ECT.

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