In November we covered a new study looking at the use of probiotics in treating depression. Today I ran across another article which shows significant benefits for IBS patients as well. This newest study is a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial which looked at the use of a multispecies probiotic supplement in patients with irritable bowel symptoms. A total of 49 patients were divided into two treatment groups. (25 received probiotics and 24 received only a placebo). Patients were surveyed on their symptoms and in addition, fecal microflora were analyzed in 34 patients (17 from each group) to determine if changes in intestinal flora were actually taking place following supplementation.
The authors conclude that "Multispecies probiotics are effective in IBS patients and induce the alterations in the composition of intestinal microbiota." At the end of 4 weeks, 68% of the treatment group was reporting substantial relief in terms of pain/discomfort, bloating, stool frequency/consistency... nearly twice the percentage of the placebo group.
The study is small but appears to be promising. Questions remain regarding which species of intestinal microflora may be most effective, but one thing seems increasingly clear. The notion of probiotic supplementation as an effective therapeutic measure seems here to stay. The challenge for professionals continues to be separating facts from hype as manufacturers rush to hawk the "unique" benefits of their own products.
Author: Mark R Payne DC
Link to Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23829297