A multi-strain live bacteria supplement has been shown to not only dramatically improve abdominal pain in IBS patients but reduce anxiety too.
In the largest-ever double-blind randomised controlled trial (the gold standard for medical research) of live bacteria supplements in IBS-diarrhoea type patients, dramatic improvements in symptoms have been reported.
In the study of 360 patients who had IBS with diarrhoea as their predominant symptom (IBS-D); those patients who took the live bacteria supplement reported a 69% decrease in abdominal pain, compared to 47% in a group who took a placebo.
The four-month study conducted by the University of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka, Bangladesh also found the number of patients who rated their symptoms as moderate to severe at the beginning of the study was reduced by 86% in the live bacteria supplement group, compared to only 52% in those who took a placebo.
Significantly though, as well as relieving IBS-D symptoms, the multi-strain supplement was also shown to markedly improve all aspects of Quality of Life (QoL) evaluated using a 34 point IBS-QoL questionnaire. These included psychological issues such as anxiety about health, depression, lack of enjoyment of life, and feelings of having to avoid stressful situations.
A total of 33.7% in the supplement group said all their symptoms had disappeared at the end of the 16 weeks compared to just 12.8% in the placebo group.
Leading experts say the findings are a significant breakthrough in understanding the role bacteria play in not only physical gut symptoms, but also psychological symptoms of IBS too.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Dr Philip Burnet, Associate Professor at Oxford University, a leading UK expert on the gut-brain axis, said:
'Although several symptoms within the IBS-QoL survey in the study were significantly improved after taking live bacteria supplements the reduction in dysphoria (unease or generalised dissatisfaction), and health worries were particularly noteworthy.'
'The influence of gut bacteria on the brain is a topical area of research in neuroscience and the microbiome-gut-brain-axis is considered a potential therapeutic pathway for brain disorders,' says Dr Burnet.' Using live bacteria supplements that influence brain function, or the so called "psychobiotics", may in the future help alleviate conditions such as depression and anxiety.
'Indeed, there is a strong link between depression and IBS, and some researchers have suggested that mood disorders themselves may arise from dysbiosis (a microbial imbalance within the body such as within the gut).'
'Another recent study by the University of Cork has demonstrated that a single-strain live bacteria supplement, B.Longum, reduced depression scores in 22 IBS patients,' says Dr Burnet.
'Importantly, the multi-strain formulation not only contains B.Longum, but also several other bacteria strains that have been reported to have psychotropic effects in both mouse models of anxiety and depressed mood, and in preliminary human studies.'
'Therefore, the current trial not only demonstrated the therapeutic effects of the multi-strain in IBS, but has also alluded to its possible anxiety-lowering effects by reducing the incidence of health worries, social reactions and body image issues in participants. '
Professor Glenn Gibson, professor of food microbiology at the University of Reading said:
'Few effective therapies for IBS exist and it was extremely encouraging to see the positive results of the study. The mechanism of action is likely to be positive influences of the live bacteria on gut microbiology - known to be both positive and negative for health. This user-friendly and safe approach offers new hope for millions of IBS patients worldwide'.
Study leader, Professor Shamsuddin Ishaque, said:
'Over a period of 16 weeks the multi-strain live bacteria supplement produced statistically significant improvements in all key symptoms of IBS-D compared to placebo; including the severity and frequency of abdominal pain. The magnitude of these changes with the supplement were also very impressive’.
Dr Ashton Harper, Head of Medical Affairs, ADM Protexin said:
'IBS is a significant problem that decreases quality of life and places an enormous economic burden on healthcare systems globally. In the UK alone as many as 8 million of us suffer with this chronic condition. A safe and convenient IBS treatment that is capable of reducing pain by nearly 70%, not to mention completely resolving symptoms in more than a third of patients, demonstrates a profound benefit and holds great promise for this major medical concern'.
You can view the full paper, published in the BMC Gastroenterology Journal here:A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of a multi-strain probiotic formulation