Probiotics may ease bloating for people with bowel disorders: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Probiotic Irritable bowel syndrome

30 million Americans may suffer from IBS and other bowel disorders
30 million Americans may suffer from IBS and other bowel disorders
Daily supplements of two probiotic strains may ease symptoms of bloating in people with bowel disorders, say researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Danisco USA.

A combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus​ NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis​ Bi-07, both supplied by Danisco, reduced abdominal bloating by 27 percent after eight weeks of supplementation, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology​.

“These data supports the role of intestinal bacteria in the pathophysiology of [functional bowel disorders] and the role for probiotic bacteria in the management of these disorders,”​ wrote the researchers.


According to the FAO/WHO, probiotics are defined as "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host"​.

Despite regulatory walls in Europe, the global market for probiotic and prebiotics is booming: A report from Packaged Facts pegged sales of probiotic/prebiotic foods and beverages at around $15 billion in 2008, and estimated an increase to $22 billion by 2013.

Talking to NutraIngredients-USA, Dr Arthur Ouwehand, group manager of Danisco Health & Nutrition, explained that this is the first human trial using these strains for these specific conditions. Dr Ouwehand was not directly involved in this study.

“Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common disorders,”​ he said, “and in Europe, it is one of the disorders EFSA has recognised can be used as a model for gut studies.”

The precise numbers of IBS suffers in the US are not known, as many people with mild symptoms do not consult a physician, but it is believed to be between 15 and 30 million.

The long-term condition, from which more women suffer than men, involves abdominal discomfort accompanied by diarrhea or constipation. Although it is not life threatening and does not lead to other, more serious health conditions, IBS is untreatable. At present, intervention involves management of symptoms.

Study details

The researchers recruited 60 people with functional bowel disorders but no constipation. The average age of the volunteers was 37, and 72 percent were women.

The volunteers were split into two groups, one to receive the combination of L-NCFM and Bi-07 at a dose of 200 billion colony forming units per day, the other to receive placebo, for eight weeks.

Volunteers completed questionnaires, and asked to rate their relief of GI symptoms on a seven-point scale from “substantially worse” to “substantially improved”.

After four weeks, people in the probiotic group rated their abdominal bloating as 4.10, compared to 6.17 in the placebo group. After eight weeks, these scores were 4.26 and 5.84, respectively.

Compared to results at the start and end of the study, bloating symptoms were reduced by 15 percent in the probiotic group.

Dr Ouwehand confirmed that Danisco would continue to look into this area.

Source: Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31820ca4d6
“Probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 versus placebo for the symptoms of bloating in patients with functional bowel disorders – a double-blind study”
Authors: Y. Ringel, T. Ringel-Kulka, D.P.A. Maier, I. Carroll, J.A. Galanko, G. Leyer, O. Palsson

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