A new study from Sweden has found that some people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are helped by the use of probiotics but treatment outcomes were mixed.
Swedish researchers in Stockholm conducted a small study using a probiotic yoghurt, Cultura Dofilus Natural Yogurt, in patients suffering from CFS. The results are on the face of it confusing; some patients felt better with regular consumption of the yoghurt while others actually felt worse.
The study was conducted by Dr. Birgitta Evengard and colleagues at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and is published in Nutrition Journal.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex illness that researchers are only just beginning to understand. It is clear that immune system and nervous system dysfunction and the presence of various infections and allergies play an important role. A large number of patients also suffer digestive problems with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a form of gut dysbiosis, and 'leaky gut syndrome' being apparent in a significant number.
It has become apparent over recent decades that the normal bacteria and other micro-organisms that live in the human gut play a large role in immunity, and gut health is also connected to that of the nervous syetem. It is suggested therefore that disturbances in the microbial balance of the gut could lead to immune and nervous system dysfunction and contribute to the development of diseases such as CFS.
To test this theory, Dr. Evengard and colleagues first observed 10 female and 5 male chronic fatigue syndrome patients for 2 weeks without any treatment being administered. Then, the study participants were given 200ml of Cultura Dofilus Natural Yogurt, twice daily, for 4 weeks. The researchers monitored their response to the probiotic product over those 4 weeks and an additional 4 weeks after they stopped consuming the yoghurt.
The researchers report that six patients reported improvements in their symptoms, while one said symptoms got worse. Of those that improved, four of the women saw improvements in their physical health and two reported that their mental health had improved by the end of the study. One man said his physical health had improved and another reported improved mental health.
Dr. Evengard says that for some of the participants the response was dramatic. She says the challenge now is to find a way to determine which patients with chronic fatigue syndrome will benefit from probiotics and which will not.
"The wide range of response is not surprising, because of the complexity of chronic fatigue syndrome", Evengard noted. "Everything in this research is really going toward individualization of treatment, that's the trend of research in the chronic fatigue syndrome area today."
Dr. Evengard told Reuters Health she recommends her patients with chronic fatigue syndrome try Cultura Dofilus Natural Yogurt for 3 weeks to see if it might be of benefit, but to stop if they start feeling worse.
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