Finding a way to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) without drugs is a high priority for many sufferers. The idea of using probiotics, beneficial bacteria, to treat the condition would be ideal. One of the most interesting probiotic supplements being marketed for IBS is the Align probiotic. How effective is this probiotic anyway? This article outlines the latest clinical research.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by cramping, bloatingrad140 cycle and irregular bowel movements. Irritable bowel syndrome has several classifications based on the predominating symptom. Those with diarrhea have IBS-D; sufferers of constipation, IBS-C; and those with abdominal pain, IBS-A. The cause is unknown. However, brain-gut connections and/or changes in intestinal bacteria are likely important.
Drug treatment depends on the form of IBS. Options include anti-diarrheal drugs, laxatives, anti-spasmodics, antidepressants and neurotransmitter regulators.
Clinical Trials with the Align Probiotic
The Align probiotic supplement contains Bifantis, which is better known as Bifiobacterium infantis 35624. The department of Microbiology at the University College in Cork, Ireland isolated this strain from the human small intestine. Initial studies showing that it could survive the digestive tract and improve symptoms in models of colitis made it a candidate for further research.
An initial study in 2005 showed that daily supplementation with ten billion live bacteria for eight weeks could improve bloating, pain and bowel movements. However, this initial study was small with only 25 patients and, therefore, an additional study was done one year later. In this study, women with IBS were given either one million, 100 million or 10 billion bacteria for four weeks, and their improvements were compared with a placebo group. In this study, those with 100 million bacteria per day saw the best results with significant relief from abdominal pain, bloating, gas and irregular bowel movements. Even better, the patients felt like their symptoms were improving.
A final unpublished study found on the manufacturer’s website revealed that dosage may be critical. No improvements were noted for IBS symptoms after probiotic treatment with one billion bacteria per day.