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Daily Mail article: Probiotic drink that tames IBS symptoms

The following article is in press in the Daily Mail today, refers to King’s College IBS Study mentioned previously on this site:

In the study at King’s College London, 186 patients with IBS whose symptoms had not responded to conventional treatments were given the new probiotic in the form of a drink, at a dose of 1ml of drink per kilo of bodyweight. Two-thirds were given the drink every morning before breakfast for three months, while the remainder were given a placebo. The severity of the symptoms of IBS is normally plotted on a scale up to 500. ‘Before taking part, the average scores for our patients was about 300,’ says gastro-enterologist Professor Ingvar Bjarnason, who led the study at King’s. ‘At the end of the study, those taking the placebo went down to 270. ‘However, the average score for those taking the active drink dropped far more, to 220. ‘When you consider that with a score of 150 a patient would have no symptoms, it shows you how significant a reduction this was. ‘It did not work for everyone, but around 60 per cent of those on the active product showed an improvement.”


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The explosion in probiotic research

this is an original article from

The number of published studies investigating probiotics has increased 15 fold in as many years, and 2011 looks set to be a record year with more than 1300 publications anticipated.

An analysis of publications posted to the NIH PubMed database reveals strong growth in the number of publications featuring the keyword ‘probiotic’. In 1997 there were roughly 80 publications globally per year referencing probiotics, today that figure is over 1200 per year or 100 publications per month.

number of probiotic publications per year

What’s driving the growth in published research about probiotics?

This amount of research points to probiotics being more than a fad, it reveals a sustained significant commitment of resource to the therapy area. Any form of research has a cost associated with it, if we were to conservatively estimate the average cost of these studies at $50,000 a piece then the investment over the last decade is close to half a billion US dollars. Some of the studies, with large numbers of patients recruited will cost much more than this, some may run into millions of dollars for a single study.

What does this tell us?

This level of investment tells us a number of things:

1. The scientific and medical community take probiotics seriously; they would not commit more resource year on year to an area of research which they do not believe to be scientifically valid, and since the majority of these studies are investigator-initiated it is not simply that industry funding is driving the upward trend.

2. There is a hunger for data; consumers and regulators alike are demanding scientific rigor and proof of effect before they part with their cash or accept the health claims of probiotic manufacturers.

3. Probiotics are here to stay; not only are the number of published studies increasing year on year, but the scale of future studies is becoming more and more ambitious with academic institutes and manufacturers both announcing large, well designed studies which on paper look more like drug trials then investigations into a food supplement.

The good news

For the consumer, this move towards rigorous scientific appraisal of probiotics means that there will be more and better information available about probiotics and their potential to support heath. With time we should find that decisions about which probiotic supplement we use can be based more on fact than on marketing.

All the data used for this article came from the NIH PubMed database which is a publicly available service provided by the US National Library of Medicine.

You can access PubMed here

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Science Daily: Probiotics may lessen depression

This article on reviews a paper by Javier et al. which found that Lactobacillus rhamnosis can bring about changes in the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) GABA in mice which is associated with improvements in mood in humans.

It has long been know that there is a close interaction between the gut and brain in humans, consider the effect that nerves or anxiety can have on your digestion. This is refered to as the gut-brain axis.

You can read the full article here

The paper referenced is: Javier A. Bravo, Paul Forsythe, Marianne V. Chew, Emily Escaravage, Hélène M. Savignac, Timothy G. Dinan, John Bienenstock, John F. Cryan. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1102999108

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