A new review of research into the use of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome finds that only one has been studied sufficiently to be proven effective.
Researchers from the University of Michigan, USA, conducted an analysis of randomized controlled trials evaluating probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Their review, concluded that the only probiotic currently able to demonstrate significant improvement in IBS symptoms based upon a properly designed research study was Bifantis® (Bifidobacterium infantis 35624). This probiotic bacteria is the sole ingredient in Align® which is manufactured by Procter & Gamble.
The goal of the review was to evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of probiotics in the treatment of IBS. Criteria for the study included randomized controlled trials testing adults with IBS symptoms using single or combination probiotics versus placebo for IBS symptoms and frequency of adverse events.
Of the published trials looking at probiotic use in IBS, only 13 trials met the selection criteria for the review with a further 11 deemed below the standard required to be included. The researchers say that the studies they didn't include demonstrated "sub-optimal study design". This means they had inadequate blinding, the trial was too short, had too few participants, and showed a lack of proper analysis.
Of the 13 studies that met selection criteria only three studies provided reliable data about any side-effects experienced by IBS patients given probiotic preperations.
The researchers concluded that the only probiotic to show significant improvement in IBS symptoms in well designed studies was Bifidobacterium infantis 35624. This probiotic bacteria was found to significantly improve abdominal pain, bloating, and difficulty having bowel movements when compared to placebo.
There is growing interest in medical and patient communities about the use of probiotics in IBS and lots of data has been published about this topic, but its helpful to know the quality of that data before making a treatment decision, said Darren Brenner, MD, lead researcher on the study. Our analysis showed that only this particular strain of probiotic, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, has valid data for successfully treating IBS symptoms. At this point, we just dont have enough valid data to determine if other probiotics are effective for IBS.
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