The Effects of Probiotics on Symptoms and Immunoglobulin Levels of Patients with Irritable Bowel Syn-drome
The medicinal use of natural plant materials and food supplements is gaining in popularity. The Food Directorate of the Department of Health considers probiotics as a food supplement. In this double blind controlled pilot study the effects of probiotic treatment (Lactoba-cillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum and bifidum) were evaluated on the symptoms and immunoglobulin levels of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Twenty-four patients who fulfilled the Drossman criteria for the diagnosis of IBS were randomised to receive either probiotics or a placebo for 28 days. Immunoglobulins IgG, IgA and IgM were measured and symptoms were rated (according to a clinically recognised questionnaire serving as a rating scale for gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with IBS) before and after treatment. The improvement in symptoms was statistically highly significant in the probiotic group (p = 0.0001, paired t-test). Some patients treated with placebo decided that the treatment was ineffective and stopped taking it. The 7 who completed the trial showed an improvement in symptoms, but this was only marginally significant (p = 0.0473, paired t-test). Serum immunoglobulin levels did not differ significantly. Larger studies to confirm the beneficial effects of probiotic bacteria on the symptoms of patients with IBS are indicated.