Child Anxiety and Microbiome

A reader with an autism child who has seen increasing anxiety asked for me to do an update on Anxiety. Given that it is a child, I raise my selection criteria to human studies, ideally on children. I have excluded Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Drug studies. My prior posts (often citing mice studies) are:

“Gut bacteria influence behavior, and both depression and anxiety symptoms are directly associated with alterations in the microbiota.” [Psychobiotics: Mechanisms of Action, Evaluation Methods and Effectiveness in Applications with Food Products 2020] It supplies a list of studies where depression or anxiety is reduced by probiotics. Probiotics that cites anxiety improvement include:

  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Lactobacillus casei Shirota (Yakult)
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Faecalibacterium prausnitzii


  • Vitamin D supplementation improves anxiety but not depression symptoms in patients with vitamin D deficiency [2020]
  • Tryptophan supplements lacks clinical human studies, but appears to be a low risk item, especially if serotonin levels are lower. [2017] [2020]
    • Note: Walnuts are a source for tryptophan and magnesium [WebMD] — Walnuts and Magnesiums are on this child suggestions list from Microbiome Prescription.
  • “Root of the Ayurvedic drug W. somnifera (Aswagandha) appears a promising safe and effective traditional medicine for management of schizophrenia, chronic stress, insomnia, anxiety, memory/cognitive enhancement, obsessive-compulsive disorder” [2020]
  • ” herbal combination containing St. John’s Wort, Valerian, and Passionflower….
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Herbal triplet in treatment of nervous agitation in children [2013]
  • “Exercise as an intervention for anxiety and depression has been demonstrated in both of the animal studies and human clinical trials. “[2020]

Bottom Line

Vitamin D supplement will not show short term improvement, it takes time to raise the level. (Lots of )Fresh walnuts and Aswagandha would be my first choice for my child. Then keeping Yakult handy, available on request, to the child. Lots of walks (since playground play is likely not viable in this age of Covid)

Yakult product information and nutrition facts | Yakult & Yakult Light |  Probiotic Drink

As with all medicines, natural or otherwise, please consult with experts who are experienced in their actions, interactions, contraindications and potential side effects before starting this or any other supplement program.