probiotics for ibs

A recent article on probiotics from the Wall Street Journal discusses the increasing popularity of the supplements in treating a wide range of medical conditions and the wide variety and quality of those available. 



The main issue with the current approach to probiotics is that many are treating them like a drug. Take these probiotics and they will work magic. Not true.

It makes more sense to determine who has a deficiency in these bacteria and see if using probiotics can reduce or eliminate that deficiency and observe how that changes and improves health.



Probiotics are not the next great medical discovery that are going to solve everyone’s problems. They are a useful tool. However, the fact is that only a tiny fraction of the number of species of good bacteria found in the digestive tract are even available in supplement form. We need to understand the consequences of our actions on this amazing ecosystem. Not just think that we can toss down a few bacteria and solve our problems.  That is a gross oversimplification of this issue.

Excerpt from WSJ.com:

Experts say taking a probiotic supplement with many bacterial strains isn’t necessarily better. The key is ensuring each strain in a product is active and has been clinically proven to work at a certain dosage, they say. Tests done by ConsumerLab.com have shown that the number of living organisms in probiotics doesn’t always reflect the label. Of 12 products tested this year, two delivered fewer organisms than listed.

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(Probiotic image thanks to fitfoodista.com)

The use of probiotics (acidophilus and bifidobacterium) in the treatment of medical conditions has increased dramatically in the past few years. In our last article, we discussed how the mix of microorganisms in our digestive tract is essential for good digestion. Now I want to address how to know when you should use probiotics.

The results of stool testing can reveal infection, imbalance, and/or a deficit of microorganisms (bacteria). When a problem is discovered a treatment can be designed that will address any of these situations. That treatment most often involves probiotics. Probiotics are the strains of bacteria that would normally be present in a healthy human digestive tract. They are needed for proper digestion.

Treatment with probiotics is done for three main reasons:

1. Having the right kind of bacteria in the digestive tract helps you properly digest your food and can reduce the amount of gas that you produce.

2. Having healthy colonies of good bacteria helps to prevent overgrowth of the digestive tract by other bacteria and yeast, which can cause diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and abdominal pain.

3. Good bacteria produce some vitamins that are essential to health.

It is important to note that the only way to know if you have a condition that can be treated with probiotics is to test to see if you have a condition that probiotics can improve. Many people take probiotics without noticing any improvements. Or they take them, but feel like they have to continuously take them in order to experience their benefits. Probiotics will be helpful when they are needed, but will not be if they are not needed, or if you have bacterial or yeast overgrowth that needs to be treated first.

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