The active ingredient fucoidan, which is obtained from algae, could make a promising contribution to the treatment of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases that occur in connection with depression. The effect is obviously mediated via the so-called gut-brain axis.
In a recent study, a Chinese research team examined the therapeutic potential of fucoidan in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease with comorbid depression. The results are published in the “Journal of Functional Foods”.
Chronic intestinal inflammation & depression
Chronic inflammatory bowel disease is a relatively common complaint and has so far only been treated to a very limited extent. They also often occur together with depression, which can pose an additional challenge in treatment, the researchers explain.
The team has now used mice to investigate the extent to which the active ingredient fucoidan, obtained from Japanese leaf kelp (Laminaria japonica), can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
What effect does Fucoidan have?
According to the experts, the administration of Fucoidan to the animals showed a significant therapeutic effect. The disease activity has decreased and the time of immobility has decreased, which indicates a benefit against both chronic inflammatory bowel disease and depression.
In addition, Fucoidan caused noticeable changes in the intestinal flora, which were characterized by an increase in the abundance of Firmicutes and Lactobacillus.
Furthermore, the integrity of the colon barrier improved and colon inflammation was reduced, according to the research team. And Fucoidan also led to a reduction in peripheral inflammation and stress hormones in the mice.
Last but not least, fucoidan caused lower microglial activation and lower levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-1 beta, indicating a reduction in neuroinflammation, according to the research team.
Promising treatment option
In summary, the study shows that fucoidan can effectively alleviate chronic inflammatory bowel diseases associated with depression by modulating the gut-brain axis. Fucoidan appears to be a promising natural substance for the treatment of chronic inflammatory bowel disease and associated depressive symptoms. (fp)