Probiotics May Help Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Probiotic products, which contain living microbes that aid digestion, may help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, according to Dr. Nourieh Hoveyda and colleagues from University of Oxford, UK.
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common disorder affecting up to 30 percent of the population by some estimates. Symptoms may include chronic abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
The causes of IBS are unclear and there has been debate whether it is mostly due to psychological factors or biological triggers, or perhaps a combination.
The evidence supporting the effectiveness of most treatments for IBS is weak, the authors of the current study explain in the journal BMC Gastroenterology. Hoveyda's team conducted an analysis of published studies to assess whether probiotics alleviate symptoms in patients with IBS.
Treatment duration ranged from four weeks in six studies to six weeks in two studies, eight weeks in three studies, and six months in two studies, plus one study of 20 weeks.
Combined data from the studies suggested a modest improvement in overall symptoms after a few weeks of treatment, the authors report.
As many as half of the trials reported significant improvements in abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, and quality of life.
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