Prepared Foods October 17, 2005 e-newsletter

A novel probiotic mixture has been shown to ameliorate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

"Irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder of unknown etiology," gastroenterologists in Finland explained.

"The effect of probiotics in this syndrome remains unclear," noted K. Kajander and colleagues at the Foundation for Nutrition Research in Helsinki, who conducted a study to determine "whether a probiotic mixture containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, L. rhamnosus LC705, Bifidobacterium breve Bb99 and Propionibacterium freudenreichii ssp. shermanii JS is effective in alleviating irritable bowel syndrome symptoms."

"A total of 103 patients fulfilling the Rome I or II criteria took part in this six-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial," the scientists wrote in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. "The patients received a probiotic capsule or a placebo capsule daily," and "gastrointestinal symptoms and bowel habits were recorded."

"At the end, the total symptom score (abdominal pain + distension + flatulence + borborygmi) was 7.7 (95% CI: -13.9 to -1.6) points lower in the probiotic group (p=0.015)," test results revealed. "This represents a median reduction of 42% in the symptom score of the probiotic group, compared with 6% in the placebo group."

"In individual symptoms, borborygmi was milder in the probiotic group (p=0.008), and for the rest of the symptoms, there was a non-significant trend," according to the report.

"The results indicate that this probiotic mixture is effective in alleviating irritable bowel syndrome symptoms," the researchers concluded. "Considering the high prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome and the lack of effective therapies, even a slight reduction in symptoms could have positive public health consequences."

Kajander and coauthors published their study in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics (“A Probiotic Mixture Alleviates Symptoms in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients: A Controlled 6-month Intervention.” Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 2005;22(5):387-394).

For additional information, contact R. Korpela, Foundation for Nutrition Research, POB 30, FIN-00039 Helsinki, Finland.

Source: Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics