Scientists Test Probiotics for IBS, Cold/Flu


Two research groups independently collected data on branded probiotic strains and generated some interesting results.

First, several French researchers from the University of Lille, INSERM, CHU Lille, Biofortis-Merieux and Lesaffre Human Care conducted a study involving 179 people with irritable bowel syndrome. The volunteers took a placebo or  500 mg of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (as S. cerevisiae CNCM I-3856 from Lesaffre) daily for eight weeks; each group ended with a three-week washout period. Everyone was asked to follow certain dietary recommendations and to record any abdominal discomfort, bloating, bowel movements and more. They also visited a medical team five times during the study.

Four weeks into the study, the probiotic group reported a greater reduction in abdominal pain and discomfort than the placebo group (63% of the probiotics group versus 47% of the placebo group). Results also suggested a possible delayed action of S. cerevisiae to reduce abdominal pain of a couple of weeks. These data were published in Digestive and Liver Disease.

Meanwhile, a separate research group from the University of Florida and Lallemand Health Solutions published data in the British Journal of Nutrition suggesting that probiotics support immune health. Some 581 undergraduate students took either a probiotic (either Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071, Bifidobacterium infantis R0033 or Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 from Lallemand) or a placebo for six weeks and recorded the intensity of any cold/flu symptoms.

Those taking B. bifidum R0071 had more healthy days than placebo takers. The number of B. bifidum R0071 takers experiencing cold/flu symptoms during the study period was significantly lower than the placebo group. Those consuming B. infantis R0033 also reported fewer episodes of cold/flu. The authors conclude, “Daily intake of bifidobacteria provides benefits related to cold/flu outcomes during acute stress.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, April 2015