Doctors, people with gastrointestinal (GI) problems as well as the general public are becoming increasingly aware of the probiotics in general. However, with the increasingly broad range of products, it is difficult to choose which probiotics might be useful for a specific GI problem. For a number of lower GI symptoms in adults, an international guide now identifies, based on sound scientific evidence, which available probiotics are helpful. The guide will also be presented today at the United European Gastroenterology Week (UEG Week) in Berlin.
A new reference guide, written by a team of internationally renowned physicians, confirms the positive role of some specific probiotics in the prevention of diarrhoea which result from antibiotic treatment (antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, AAD), as well as in the reduction of the overall symptom burden of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), abdominal pain and bloating in IBS patients. There is also some proof that specific probiotics improve bowel movements in IBS patients, and the quality of life in GI patients. "Our guide informs primary care physicians about those probiotics which are beneficial in managing a number of lower GI symptoms in adults, provided the probiotic, the dose and formulation are carefully chosen with respect to the patient's symptoms," says Professor Pali Hungin (Durham University, UK) from the European Society for Primary Care Gastroenterology (ESPCG).
Making valuable information available
So far, it is not an easy task for doctors to choose which probiotics might be appropriate to recommend for which lower GI symptoms. This is due to the fact that "probiotics" is an umbrella term, covering a huge range of bacterial strains and other microorganisms which have to be applied to the appropriate symptoms and in the right formulation and dose in order to reach the desired effect. "We now provide primary care physicians with an informative and clearly structured overview, listing 32 different probiotics together with the formulations and the doses in relation to the condition they have been applied to. We are confident that our guide will be helpful for the physicians' daily practice, and that the patients will benefit considerably", says Prof. Hungin.
Improving management of GI troubles
To gather all this information, Prof. Hungin and the other experts scrutinised all existing trials within the field and selected only those which met the highest scientific standards. They finally extracted evidence-based information from 37 high-quality studies on the effects of probiotics on lower GI conditions in adults, mostly IBS and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. "All scientific results have been thoroughly evaluated before being included in our guide," says Prof. Hungin. The guide is an important step in improving the management of GI conditions and using the potential of available probiotics.