Bugs and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Uday C Ghoshal; Hyojin Park; Kok-Ann Gwee


J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010;25(2):244-251. 

In This Article

The Good Bugs: Review of Asian Studies of Probiotics in IBS

Probiotics are live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the hosts. Several systematic reviews and meta-analyses have examined the effect of probiotics on patients with IBS.[7,94–97] A recent systematic review indicated that Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 has shown efficacy for improvement of IBS symptoms.[94] Several other authors have suggested that probiotics are effective in treatment of IBS.[96,97] However, the data available on the use of probiotics in IBS are still contradictory. This may be partly because studies have been carried out using different species, dosages, treatment durations and end-points to evaluate results.

Studies on the use of probiotics to treat IBS in Asia are scanty. In a single-blind follow-up study published from Japan,[68] patients with IBS were randomized to receive probiotics containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus, andBifidobacterium or placebo. After 6 weeks of treatment, significant improvements in pain and bloating were reported in the treatment group compared with the control.[98] A study from Korea showed probiotics (Bacillus subtilis and Streptococcus faecium) were effective in reducing the severity and frequency of abdominal pain compared with placebo in diarrhea-predominant or alternating type of IBS.[99] Another recent Korean study showed composite probiotics containing Bifidobacterium bifidum BGN4, Lactobacillus acidophilus AD031, and other species were safe and effective in the treatment of patients with IBS.[100] A third Korean study using Lactobacillus acidophilus for a small number of patients of IBS also showed potential efficacy.[101] A Chinese study showed that treatment with a probiotic preparation was effective in reducing the symptoms of abdominal pain, bowel movement frequency, urgency and distension in IBS-like patients with chronic diarrhea.[102]


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