Diarrhoea causes an imbalance in the gut microflora, increased gut permeability and inflammation of the intestine1. If beneficial live bacteria are able to adhere to the intestinal epithelium and colonise the gut, then it has been suggested they can be used to help manage or prevent diarrhoea. There are many studies suggesting that live bacteria supplements are effective for the treatment and prevention of different types of diarrhoea2. The mechanisms of action have been studied and one method is thought to be due to the beneficial live bacteria interfering with the invasion and adhesion of pathogens3. In addition to stopping bacteria infecting cells already exposed, beneficial live bacteria may help to protect the gut epithelium from further invasion.
When an infection passes to the intestine, the gut mucosa becomes irritated and secretion is increased. These fluids are produced to flush out the infectious agent and are also associated with increased gut motility. Live bacteria supplements help to reduce irritation and inflammation of the gut wall, which has the effect of reducing diarrhoea as a physiological response. Literature suggests that live bacteria reduce the symptoms and duration of diarrhoea4. Researchers have therefore concluded that probiotic supplements are a useful addition to rehydration therapy in managing acute infectious diarrhoea in both adults and children. Probiotic supplements are effective in the management of diarrhoea caused by bacteria pathogens and Rotavirus, having the greatest effect if given as soon as possible after the onset of diarrhoea.
- Salminen S., Isolauri E., Salminen E. (1996), “Clinical uses of probiotics for stabilizing the gut mucosal barrier: successful strains and future challenges”, Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 70:347-58.
- Shaoul (2-4) R. and Bamberger E. (2004), “An update on probiotics and prebiotics in children”, Harefuah, 143(5):377-81, 389
- Resta-Lenert S. and Barrett K.E. (2003), “Live probiotics protect intestinal epithelial cells from the effects of infection with enteroinvasive Escherichia coli (EIEC)”, Gut, 52(7):988-97.
- Allen S.J., Okoko B., Martinez E., Gregorio G., Dans L.F. (2004), “Probiotics for treating infectious diarrhoea”, Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2:CD003048.