By Maureen Williams, ND
Adults taking a mixture of six species of intestinal bacteria experienced reductions in abdominal pain, discomfort, and bloating. When things go wrong in the gut, the micro-organisms that live there are usually involved. Repopulating the gut with specific strains of friendly bacteria has been found to help some people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and there is growing evidence that a taking a mixture of probiotic species may also relieve symptoms.
A bacterial mixture helps IBS sufferers
The latest evidence comes from a study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in which 49 people with IBS were assigned to take either one 500 mg capsule of a mixed probiotic supplement or placebo twice a day for four weeks. Each capsule of the probiotic supplement had 5 billion bacterial cells and these were a mixture of six species of intestinal bacteria, including three Bifidobacterium species, two Lactobacillus species, and one Streptococcus species.
The participants filled out questionnaires about their IBS symptoms at the beginning and end of the trial. The following findings were drawn from the questionnaire responses:
Which bacteria made the difference?
Stool tests showed that numbers of three of the probiotic species increased after using the probiotic supplement. Those species were Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Streptococcus thermophilus—all of which are sometimes used to make yogurt. Only the number of Bifidobacterium lactis increased in the placebo group. The researchers surmised that the two species that increased only in the probiotic group were likely to be responsible for the improvements seen.
“Multi-species probiotics given to IBS patients are effective in the global relief of IBS symptoms as well as in alleviating abdominal pain, discomfort and bloating,” the study’s authors said. “Furthermore, the multi-species probiotic induced alterations of intestinal microbiota.”
Support your gut bacteria
If you suffer from IBS, you might be able to reduce your symptoms by taking the following steps to support your beneficial gut bacteria: