Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be debilitating condition consisting of cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS can affect and one’s work, sleep and relationships.

The gastrointestinal tract is considered to be the body’s ‘second brain,’ it is made up of a self-contained, complex network of neurons, neurotransmitters, and proteins embedded in the lining of the GI system. It is responsible for all aspects of the digestive process, from the esophagus to the stomach and small and large intestines.

A variety of factors have been associated with IBS such as genetic susceptibility, infections, small bowel intestinal overgrowth, deficiencies in tight junction proteins, intestinal abnormalities with bile acid metabolism, changes in GI motility, visceral hypersensitivity, dysregulation of the interaction between the CNS and enteric nervous system, as well as psychosocial factors.

According to a new published this week, researchers investigated the effects of probiotic supplements on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

Previous animal studies have demonstrated effects of gut microbiome on brain function and behavior as well as the influence of the brain on the composition of microbes in the gut.

This review included 11 random controlled trials within the last 5 years evaluating the effects of probiotic supplementation on IBS symptoms. As a result, seven studies demonstrated a significant improvement in IBS symptoms compared to the placebo and the other four studies did not. It is important to note that three of the studies used only a supplement containing only one strain compared to the other eight that used a multi-strain probiotic. In conclusion, the clinical benefits in IBS were seen in multi-species probiotics give over an 8-week period.

The two most common genus studied were Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Previous studies have reported both increased or decreased amount of Lactobacillus and reduced amounts of Bifodobacterium in IBS patients.

One may need a combination of botanicals, enzymes, fiber, and probiotics to optimize the gastrointestinal environment. Specific diets like the low-FODMAP diet should be considered. Certain diagnostic tests may also be beneficial, including stool testing as well as food antibody testing as certain diets and probiotics can be personalized based on an individual’s gut microbial profile.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS Source: Dale HF, Rasmussen SH, et al. Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Sept 2, 2019. Nutrients 2019, 11(9), 2048.

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