A Vice article on a study at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine indicates that blueberries can be used to help combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Through multiple studies, this group has found that blueberries can decrease various drivers that lead to depression and suicidal tendencies, both of which are associated with PTSD.
In its most recent study, the researchers induced PTSD to rats by exposing them to cats. When shown an unknown object, the rats displayed signs of fear instead of interest. After observing their behavior, the researchers fed the rodents the human equivalent of two cups of blueberries.
The researchers compared the rats with PTSD-like symptoms to normal laboratory rats by focusing on a gene called SKA2. People who have committed suicide have abnormally low levels of SKA2.
After being fed blueberries, the rats expressing PTSD symptoms had improved levels of SKA2. This indicates that blueberries may have a beneficial effect. Thus, two cups of blueberries a day may help people with PTSD.
Blueberries have also been found to increase the amount of serotonin released in the brain. Since serotonin is associated with happiness and other good feelings, the berries can help alleviate depression, which is often associated with PTSD.
The LSU research group found the serotonin connection to blueberries in an earlier study. While more studies are needed, the researchers say that, “blueberries can’t hurt – and may help – in people with PTSD.”
This article was updated on 4/14/16 based on notes from the LSU researchers involved with this study.