Can Probiotics Make a Difference with IBS?
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder that is recognizable by its characteristics of abdominal pain and bowel habit changes that not related to any abnormalities associated with routine clinical testing. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can range from acute diarrhea, to bloating, constipation, fever, and vomiting.
Even with medical treatment, irritable bowel syndrome can take a while to recover from.
There are few therapies that have proven effective in attempting to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Therefore, there has been a more active interest in developing a natural treatment that is both safe and effective. It is for this reason that probiotics, beneficial bacteria that are normally found in a person's large intestine, are being explored as an option.
The Case for Probiotics
Probiotics can be found is various forms: Probiotics are known as heterogeneous. These bacteria can work with multiple targets and mechanisms of action, which is an important trait when developing clinical trials. A few positive examples of these positive bacteria are found in some yogurts such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Continued research has shown that the use of probiotics can decrease the amount of gas, pain, and bloating that is commonly associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Certain probiotics can also reduce the time necessary for food to travel through the intestine, which can be useful in assisting people with constipation. In people with irritable bowel syndrome who suffer from diarrhea, probiotics may decrease the frequency of loose stools.
Continued Study of Probiotics
Probiotic therapy is an area of active medical research. Although probiotics are generally considered safe, more research is needed to determine what role probiotics may play in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Research has established that the intestines are a major proven source of immune competence. However, probiotics have been shown to benefit irritable bowel syndrome sufferers in the following ways:
- Assisting in decreasing aberrant inflammatory processes
- Reestablishment of correct gut motility
- Correct altered gut motility
- Decrease gaseous bloating due to infections
- Increase immune response to parasites (infections)
- Exclude parasites and pathogens
Probiotics provide a unique mode of detoxification of the gut both during and after healing. Not only can probiotics assist with the clearance of foreign matter, but it can also be used in a number of other important processes. These processes can include such tasks as reestablishing a correct bacterial population ratio between the various parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Continued studies are being done with the effects of probiotics on irritable bowel syndrome patients. While studies have shown that probiotics can help people with irritable bowel syndrome, some patients may not feel the effects. However, since the probiotics already tested in clinical trials have had no harmful side effects; doctors are recommending probiotics to some irritable bowel syndrome patients.
Check with a Doctor
Of course, before attempting to start a probiotic therapy, make sure to have a doctor's approval, and that its effects do not interfere with any current medication taken.