Irritable bowel syndrome is a health problem that plagues society. And though the jury is still out to some extent, probiotics appear a good choice for quelling the irritable disturbance.
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. We know that intestinal bacteria can produce gas as well as consume gas. In theory, they can reduce gas and thus be beneficial in the treatment of IBS. Besides, probiotics may improve the immune function and gut motility and suppress the low-grade inflammation associated with IBS.
Because placebo is known to reduce symptoms itself, it’s tough to study any potential treatment for IBS. Therefore, it’s not surprising to find both positive and negative results. In a Finnish study, 103 IBS patients received either probiotics or placebo for half a year. In the probiotic group, abdominal pain, distension and flatulence were reduced by 42% as compared with just six percent in the placebo group.
Elsewhere, 362 female IBS patients received “Bifidobacterium” or placebo. Here, “Bifidobacterium” significantly reduced stomach pain, bloating, bowel dysfunction, incomplete evacuation, straining, and the passage of gas. In Israel, a study randomized 54 patients to take “Lactobacillus” or placebo. This one, however, didn’t find any benefit from probiotics treatment.
Overall, studies have shown the potential benefit of “Bifidobacteria” or “Lactobacilli” species alone or within a probiotics combination for IBS sufferers. Probiotics appear very promising for this very frustrating — and common — condition.
Here are some other options for irritable bowel that have some evidence behind them:
— Peppermint oil
— Traditional Chinese herbal medicine
— Proteolytic Enzymes
Read the first three parts of this series here: