High doses of probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that naturally lives in the intestinal tract, help control pouchitis, an inflammation of the small intestine common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, a new study reports. To summarize:
As many as 50% of patients who undergo surgery for ulcerative colitis, develop pouchitis afterwards
Symptoms of pouchitis include:
- frequent and urgent bowel movements
- abdominal cramping
Most cases of pouchitis respond well temporarily to treatment with antibiotics, but the condition recurs 2 out of 3 times.
Pouchitis has been linked to reduced levels of some bacteria normally found in the intestinal tract.
In the study, 20 patients with chronic pouchitis received high-dose probiotics, while a 'control' group of another 20 patients received a placebo.
Throughout the 9 months of treatment, 85% of the probiotic group remained symptom-free, as determined with endoscopies and histological testing every 2 months.
All 20 people in the placebo group relapsed.
The probiotic preparation used contained 500 billion organisms per gram including 4 strains of lactobacilli, 3 strains of bifidobacteria, and 1 strain of Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus
Patients each received 6 grams daily of the probiotic.
Fecal concentration of lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and S. thermophilus increased significantly in those taking the probiotics.
Benefits of the probiotics lasted only as long as patients continued taking them, with all patients relapsing within 4 months of discontinuation.
The researchers state that long-term use of the probiotics is safe. "Because it is a more natural therapy that enhances the body's normal protective factors, it has no side effects and can be administered for years."
Gastroenterology August 2000;119:305-309
I am not a big fan of nutritional supplementation the way it is currently practiced by most natural medicine clinicians. They tend to use vitamins, minerals and herbs as replacements for drugs. Certainly targeted nutritional interventions are safer and a far better choice than drugs in nearly every case. However, unless one is actively addressing the CAUSE of the problem they will likely require the supplements long-term.
Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) seem to be an exception. It is the ONLY supplement I recommend for ALL new patients (unless of course they are already on one). I don't believe that they need to stay on it the rest of their life, but 1-3 months is usually beneficial until they are able to get their diet improved.
Probiotics are incredible healing agents and they seem to work to resolve most cases of acute infectious diarrhea relatively quickly. I normally advise people to take a dose every 30-60 minutes until the diarrhea resolves. It is quite amazing how consistently effective this recommendation is. Check out my recommendation for high quality probiotics now.
<!-- #EndEditable -->