Which Probiotic? The latest hard evidence shows that only one brand actually seems to work...
The use of probiotics such as Symprove is not a cure and only a part of the more integrated and multi-faceted treatment of IBS. The patient with IBS needs to consider the range of probiotics on merit and this choice is almost invariably down to the results of properly designed and executed clinical trials. An experienced Gastroenterlogist with an interest in IBS will be of help. For many patients the 50-70% reduction in symptoms produced by the multi-strain probiotic will provide a significant respite.
- Proven Effectiveness of Four Strain Probiotic (Symprove)
- Respite from Symptoms of IBS
- Effective IBS Treatments
- Integrated Care for IBS
- Evidence for Efficacy
- Symprove - Evidence for Symptom Reduction
- Symprove and Ulcerative Colitis
- Symprove - A Probiotic that actually Works
50-70% reduction in symptoms will come as a significant restpite
Probiotic preparations are dietary supplements, which contain microorganisms that are thought to provide health benefits. Their purpose is to bolster the number and quality of micro-organisms symbiotically inhabiting the human intestine whose presence contribute to the healthy functioning of the digestive system and indeed some extra-intestinal functions. A change in bacterial flora in the gut has been causatively linked to a number of diseases not least IBS and IBD. IBS is an exceptionally common condition of varying severity affecting up to 20% of persons in developed countries and thereby accounting for about twelve million people in the UK. IBD on the other hand is an inflammatory gut disease with a further three hundred thousand affected. The wide prevalence of these illness along with the fact that current treatments for IBS are largely unsuccessful or unproven goes some way to explaining the enormous demand for probiotics that promise a natural and simple way of alleviating symptoms without significant side effects.
Currently licensed drugs for IBS have such limited efficacy that many of us have stopped using them. Additionally, any marginal benefit is often outweighed by side effects. For most patients, there is no effective treatment, and all we can do is offer management strategies and as much support as possible. An effective therapy would have an enormous impact on this frustrating situation.
Furthermore the presumed efficacy of many products have been linked without any evidence to the number of microorganisms ingested. The numbers of microscopic creatures in every dose of probiotic are measured in the billions, but it is not the number of these bugs ingested that matters. What really matters is the effect that they have on the patients' symptoms. This depends on the following factors:
- the numbers of bacteria surviving the digestive processes (including stomach acid) and
- then their ability to colonise the intestine, and
- possibly the amount of specific metabolic products which may be beneficial for gastrointestinal functions.
Even if we set aside the suitability of the various preparations it is clear that these popular remedies have attracted criticism for the perceived gap between what they claim to do and what they actually do, with many famous and leading brands coming in for flak. Indeed, the European Food Safety Agency have cast aspersions on the usefulness of probiotics, citing the paucity of scientific evidence in their favour. Thus, and supported by the UCL study, scepticism towards the usual probiotics seems well-founded.
Only a few probiotics have undergone rigorous clinical trial of efficacy to reduce symptoms of IBS. Symprove is one of those. Not only has it been shown to survive the simulated conditions of the stomach to the extent claimed by their marketers, where it passed all three criteria indicating usefulness in aiding digestion, but also an independent clinical trial at Kings College Hospital showed Symprove to be “associated with a statistically significant improvement in overall symptom severity in patients with IBS. It was well tolerated and without significant side effects. These results suggest this probiotic confers benefit in IBS and deserves further investigation”.
Associated with a statistically significant improvement in overall symptom severity in patients with IBS. It was well tolerated and without significant side effects. These results suggest this probiotic confers benefit in IBS and deserves further investigation
Professor Bjarnason emphases that the use of probiotics such as Symprove is only a part of the more integrated and multi faceted treatment of IBS. It is not a cure and indeed if anyone claims a cure in this disorder the patient should immediately take such claims as quackery. Rather the patient with IBS needs to consider the range of probiotics on merit and this is almost invariably down to the results of properly designed and executed clinical trials. This may not be easy, but an experienced Gastroenterlogist with an interest in IBS will be of help. No probiotic is at present prescribable by GPs so that the patients face the cost of the product in full. However for many the 50-70% reduction in symptoms will come as a significant restbite.
Symprove, a recently developed multi-strain probiotic drink containing 4 different live bacteria, has proven effective in treating the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and is now proposed that that it may also to be beneficial in cases of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).