Friday, March 30, 2012
Irritable bowel symptom, or IBS, is a common functional disorder of the
gastrointestinal tract characterized by abdominal symptoms such as
abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating and change of bowel habits
leading to either diarrhea or constipation. The exact cause of IBS is
not clear, but stress, gastrointerstinal infections or antibiotics use
are often triggers of the onset of IBS symptoms. One theory gaining
ground is that it may be due to a shift in the balance of billions of
bacteria which normally inhabit our intestine, towards those bacteria
that produce excess gas and could possibly initiate an inflammatory
response. The treatments of IBS include anti-diarrheals for diarrhea
predominant IBS, stool softeners for constipation-predominant IBS, and
antispasmodics for pain relief. However, these medications seem to only
be able to provide temporary relief.
In one study, 52 people diagnosed with IBS were divided into two groups.
One group was supplemented daily for 8 weeks with probiotic containing
25 billion live bacteria per daily dose. The second group received a
placebo capsule. None of the participants knew if they were taking the
probiotic or the placebo capsule. The following IBS symptoms were
assessed every two weeks during the study period an again at 10 weeks.
Two weeks after taking the probiotics, participants noticed decreased in
days with pain, decreased in abdominal pain, decreased bloating, and
improved quality of life.
The study suggested that supplementing large number of these beneficial
bacteria may have the effect of "crowding" out the bad bacteria in the
gut thereby helping to reduce gas production and pain.
Williams E.A., et al. Clinical trial: a
multi-strain probiotic preparation significantly reduces symptoms of
irritable bowel syndrome in a double-blind placebo-controlled study.
Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2009:29:27-103