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When Can Probiotics Help?

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Fighting the Risk of Pouchitis

Pouchitis is an inflammation that can occur after bowel surgery for severe ulcerative colitis. During the surgery, most of the colon is removed and a small pouch is created. Studies show that probiotics can prevent pouchitis. They appear to be less effective at treating pouchitis once it occurs, however.

Organisms that may be helpful: A combination of eight bacterial strains referred to as VSL#3, which includes Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve,Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, andLactobacillus bulgaricus

Preventing Eczema

Atopic eczema is an allergic reaction of the skin that affects many infants and children. The Yale University review panel gave an “A” grade to findings showing that probiotics can be effective for preventing or treating atopic eczema related to cow’s milk allergy.

Organisms that may be helpful: Lactobacillus GG, Bifidobacterium lactis

Probiotics to Ease Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which afflicts an estimated 58 million Americans, can cause bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. The underlying cause is not well understood. Some preliminary findings suggest the probiotics may help ease symptoms, although there are negative studies as well.

A 2010 study of children and teenagers found that the combination of eight probiotic organisms called VSL#3 significantly reduced symptoms of IBS.

Organisms that may be helpful: Bifidobacterium infantis, VSL#3

Probiotics for Ulcerative Colitis

In its 2008 recommendations, the Yale University panel found little convincing evidence that probiotics helped treat the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis.

Some recent findings are more promising. In 2010, researchers from China Medical University in Taiwan reviewed 13 trials. They concluded that probiotics were more effective than placebos in warding off flare-ups of ulcerative colitis.

Organisms that may be helpful: Bifidobacterium longum, VSL#3

Probiotics Help Fight Common Childhood Infections

By enhancing immune function, probiotics may help ward off childhood illnesses such as ear infections, colds, and infectious diarrhea. The Yale University panel gave a grade of “A” to evidence that probiotics improve immunity.

A Georgetown University study published in 2010 found that children who drank a yogurt drink containing the probiotic Lactobacillus casei were 19% less likely than those who didn’t to come down with a common infection.

Organisms that may be helpful: Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus LGG, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus johnsonii

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