Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
A recent expert review has emphasized the benefits of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This 2022 review paper was titled “Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review of Their Therapeutic Role.” This review paper was published in Cureus.
The experts noted that probiotics have specific functional effects on different types of IBS, including IBS with predominant constipation and IBS with predominant diarrhea. The benefits of probiotics include improvements in stool frequency, consistency, and transit time.
Further, the experts pointed out that probiotics are safe and effective in IBS, especially when they are used for shorter durations. They also acknowledged that a higher dosage of one probiotic strain appears to have greater benefits than using lower doses of many strains.
Additionally, the experts indicated that the side effects of probiotics are fewer in comparison to other available treatment options because using probiotics is a natural approach to IBS treatment. The experts recommended not only probiotic supplements but also promoted the intake of naturally occurring probiotics, like kefir, yogurt, and fermented foods.
Probiotics: Widely Used In Gastroenterology
The expert authors of this paper highlighted that probiotics have a major role in the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions. In addition to IBS, probiotics are used in the management of traveler’s diarrhea, rotavirus infection, inflammatory bowel diseases, colon cancer, pancreatitis, and HIV-associated diarrhea.
The broad application of probiotics in gastroenterology is due to their wide-ranging effects on the gut, as demonstrated in studies. Probiotics contribute to the production of essential nutrients, elimination of toxins, intestinal immunity development, strengthening the intestinal barrier to pathogens, and restoring disturbances in the gut mucosa.
A Strong Evidence-Base For Probiotics In IBS
The expert authors of this paper also summarized the clinical evidence in support of probiotics in IBS. They identified that as many as 10 trials have established the role of different probiotic strains in IBS between 2000 and 2018.
Many of these were double-blind randomized trials, which are considered the most rigorous test of clinical effectiveness. Moreover, almost all of them demonstrated prognostic significance of probiotics (improved outcomes) in IBS patients.
Many clinical trials reviewed in this paper included Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus strains. So, the most substantial evidence is in their favor in the case of IBS. Some trials included other probiotic strains, such as Bacillus, Streptococcus, Clostridium, or multispecies formulations.
What Are The Key Takeaways For IBS Patients?
Probiotics can relieve and alleviate symptoms of IBS, like flatulence, frequency of abdominal pain, as well as its severity, and abdominal bloating. Probiotics act by slowing down the colon transit time, reducing bowel movements, and improving stool consistency.
Probiotics can improve the quality of life in IBS. Patients with IBS can consider probiotic treatment in consultation with their health care providers.
Satish Kumar, L., Pugalenthi, L. S., Ahmad, M., Reddy, S., Barkhane, Z., & Elmadi, J. (2022). Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review of Their Therapeutic Role. Cureus, 14(4), e24240. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.24240