Bacteria Good For the Gut?

Probiotic treatments relieve irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in recent study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The pain and inconvenience of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be made worse by not knowing how to prevent or treat a flare-up. Many doctors believe that IBS results from changes in bacteria in the colon. They also believe that managing this bacteria can help ease symptoms.

A recent small study investigates the use of a probiotic treatment to balance colon bacteria in patients with IBS.

The use of the probiotic treatment was shown to benefit the study participants with IBS.

"Ask your doctor about probiotic supplements and foods."

The probiotic treatment, a bifid triple viable capsule, contained Bifidobacterium longum and Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria.

Sixty participants with IBS were randomly assigned to either receive the probiotic treatment or a placebo in the double blind study conducted by Shusheng Cui of the Hunagpu District Center Hospital in Shanghai, China and Ying Hu of the Xinghua Hospital at the University of Jiaotong in Shangai, China.

The 37 participants in the probiotic group ingested two of the capsules three times a day and the 23 participants in the placebo group ingested 200 mg of placebo capsule a day. The participants ingested the capsules for a total of four weeks.

Study participants completed questionnaires to determine IBS symptoms at the beginning of the study and at the end of the study.

Both groups of participants were similar in age, gender, bowel habit, symptoms and IBS severity.

Fecal samples were collected from the probiotic group at the beginning and end of the study. The placebo group submitted a fecal sample at the beginning of the study only.

DNA was taken from the fecal samples and analyzed for microbial content.

At the end of the study, a significant difference was seen between the two groups in time, frequency of pain, abdominal bloating and bowel habit satisfaction.

The probiotic group showed an effective rate of 64.86 percent on symptom reduction. The placebo group showed an effective rate of 30.43 percent.

As expected, the presence of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacteria were significantly greater at the end of the study than at the beginning in the probiotic group.

Deborah Gordon, MD, and CEO of DrDeborahMD.com suggests IBS patients increase their ingestion of probiotics through food sources like aged cheese, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. Use of supplements is a valid option if the food sources are not viable for the individual.

“It has been well studied that people with inflammatory bowel disease have disordered gut flora and that treatment with varied probiotics and prebiotics can be helpful in disease management and treatment,” Dr. Gordon said.

The study suggest that future studies should focus on identifying the mechanisms that make probiotics successful.

The study was published in the June issue of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine.

The authors do not report any conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 6, 2012
Last Updated:
September 6, 2012