A Guide to Using Probiotics for Treating the Symptoms of IBS
A Guide to Using Probiotics for Treating the Symptoms of IBS

Probiotics are ideal for resolving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. These symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, and bowel movements. Probiotics contain microorganisms that supplement the natural bacteria of the intestine.

What are probiotics and IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) refers to a common ailment of the intestine which is quite challenging to treat. It is characterized by diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both. Other symptoms include abdominal cramps, protruding belly, and excretion of abnormally hard stool.

Probiotics help in restoring the balance of the intestinal flora. The natural bacteria of the intestine are supplemented by microorganisms known as probiotics. These probiotics are available as supplements.

Probiotics with a strain of bacteria known as Bifidobacterium infantis seem to be the most effective when it comes to resolving symptoms of IBS.

Categories of probiotics for treating the symptoms of IBS
One cannot only depend on probiotics for treating IBS. They should use it in combination with regular medication before or after following a FODMAP diet. Probiotics are bacteria which are beneficial for our health.

There are bacteria in our gut or large intestine known as gut microbiota. These microbiota comprise numerous species of bacteria which are further made up of individual strains. Probiotics can contain a single species or strain or multiple species and strains. It is vital to understand the correlation between the species of bacteria present in your gut and the species that you are consuming.

As far as IBS is concerned, the best probiotics are:

  • Bifantis® (Bifidobacterium infantis 35624): This bacteria is supposed to be present in the intestine, and the strain required is 35624. A lot of people don’t have this strain of Bifidobacterium infantis in their large intestine.
  • VSL#3®: This probiotic mixture consists of eight strains including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium infantis, and Lactobacillus casei. Several clinical trials have proved its effectiveness.
  • Symprove: This water-based probiotic contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Enterococcus faecium.
  • Align: This probiotic has only a single species, namely Bifidobacterium 35624™.
  • Kijimea™ IBS: This is the only probiotic with the bacterial strain Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBB75.
  • Saccharomyces Boulardii: Saccharomyces is a type of yeast which is non-pathogenic.

Types of IBS
There are three types of IBS:

  • IBS accompanied by constipation: The symptoms are stomach pain, an inconsistent frequency of bowel movement, excretion of hard stool, and bloating.
  • IBS that causes diarrhea: A lot of stomach discomfort and pain are associated with this type of IBS. The frequent occurrence of bowel movements and excretion of stool that is watery or loose are the signs of this type of IBS.
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea IBS: It has a combination of both constipation and diarrhea.

History of probiotics and IBS
People have known about the beneficial effects of probiotics for a long time. According to studies, fermented milk products were used even back in the Egyptian era. Tibetans used fermented yak milk to preserve milk. Though scientists noticed the health benefits of consuming fermented milk in the 1800s, they did probe into the reasons for this.

In 1905, Elie Metchnikoff, who was associated with Louis Pasteur, believed that Bulgarian peasants lived longer because of the lactobacilli present in the yogurt that they consumed.

A year later, Henry Tissier discovered that Bifidobacterium taken from an infant could be a remedy against pathogenic bacteria in the large intestine. In 1922, Lactobacillus acidophilus was used successfully in 30 patients who were suffering from chronic constipation, eczema, and diarrhea.

In the 1930s, it was found that a strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus, when added to milk, could take control over the human colon.

The quality of the probiotic had a direct correlation with the concerned strain.

Lilley and Stillwell coined the term probiotic in 1965. It was used to describe a microbe which was acting as a stimulant for the growth of another microbe.

How do probiotics work?
When you use a probiotic supplement, there is an increase in the friendly bacteria present in the large intestine. IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is reduced in the following ways:

  • Removal of the bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine
  • The population of unfriendly bacteria is brought down
  • The lining of the intestine becomes stronger
  • Reduction in leaky gut syndrome.
  • The movement of the bowels is normalized
  • The visceral or abdominal organs become hypersensitive during contractions and distentions. Probiotics reduce this hypersensitivity.
  • It has a beneficial effect on the nerve receptors in the inner lining of the stomach, which in turn reduces pain.

How to use probiotics safely?
People might face some mild side effects like diarrhea, flatulence, upset stomach as well as bloating in the initial stages. Some may have an allergic reaction as well. In case of any discomfort, stop taking the probiotics and consult your doctor immediately.

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