Probiotics May Offer Relief for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

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Certain Strains Shown to Aid in Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease

administration of the yeast (S. boulardii) in combination or not with a antibiotic therapy has shown to decrease significantly the duration and the frequency of diarrhea

For the millions of Americans dealing with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, relief usually comes in the form of a prescription. With more and more people looking to think outside the Rx pill bottle today, relief may come from a natural source like probiotic supplements.

A recent study published in Current Issues in Molecular Biology found that the "administration of the yeast (S. boulardii) in combination or not with a antibiotic therapy has shown to decrease significantly the duration and the frequency of diarrhea," a common characteristic of IBD.

Probiotics like Saccharomyces boulardii (or S. boulardii) Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus GG and Bifidobacteria may help in the treatment of IBD.

Scientists are still unsure exactly how probiotics help to treat IBD, but several theories exist. The first is that probiotics fight off the pathogenic (or disease-causing) bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, much the same way as probiotics have been shown to fight off the harmful bacteria that causes intestinal issues related to food poisoning. Probiotics like the yeast-based S. boulardii have also been shown to strengthen the digestive tract's ability to help fight infection by stimulating the production of immunoglobulins (proteins that function as antibodies) and by releasing polyamines (organic compounds that stimulate cell growth) to help repair the mucous membranes of the intestinal walls.

A 2003 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found S. boulardii to be effective in managing ulcerative colitis. The patients, who were having a flare but unable to take steroids in the study took 250 mg of S. boulardii three times daily for four weeks, combined with mesalazine treatment. Of the 24 patients in the study, 17 attained clinical remission after the four week period. Another study published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences in July 2000 also found S. boulardii to be effective in reducing flares of Crohn's disease.

If you suffer from IBD, talk to your doctor about the possibility of adding a probiotic to your treatment, particularly S. boulardii.

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Christina Occhipinti
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