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To better understand how probiotic dietary supplements affect ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and pouchitis, researchers considered 23 randomized controlled trials. Researchers combined the data from the 1,763 participants in these clinical trials, and looked at the connection between probiotics and inflammatory bowel disease management.
Compared with people assigned to take no probiotics (placebo), those assigned to use a probiotic supplement were:
When the researchers considered type (brand) of probiotic, only VSL#3 (a commercial product that contains 900 billion bacteria of eight different species) provided significant benefits for people with ulcerative colitis or pouchitis.
The study authors concluded that VSL#3 can provide a similar beneficial effect as 5-aminosalicylic acid—a medication used to treat inflammatory bowel disease—on maintaining remission of ulcerative colitis.
This study considered only controlled clinical trials—the gold standard of research—and found the probiotic VSL#3 helped people with ulcerative colitis and pouchitis stay in remission. With remission, the disease is not cured, but the person is not experiencing symptoms. Keeping people in remission as long as possible, and hopefully permanently, is the goal.
Use these tips to decide if and how probiotics may be a part of your plan to manage inflammatory bowel disease.
(Inflamm Bowel Dis 2014;20:21–35)