Lora Eddy, Coordinated Program Student
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, commonly known as IBS, is a gastrointestinal condition that affects up to 11% of the global population and results in a cluster of unfortunate symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and constipation. Although the prevalence varies according to country, IBS diagnoses are most common in Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America. Because the diagnosis of IBS is not confirmed with one single test, people can experience an array of symptoms and often report a negative effect on their quality of life. There is no cure for IBS, but some treatments include avoiding trigger foods and taking medications daily to relieve symptoms.
Anti-diarrheal medications and fiber supplements have remained in the toolkit of individuals with IBS for years, but a new age of treatment could be coming, probiotics! Probiotics are live bacteria found in fermented foods, supplements, and recently in tasty, carbonated drinks. These sources can contain a variety of different bacteria, each playing a role in important bodily functions, like digestion. When we supplement with probiotics, we are essentially supplying extra bacteria to support what already exists in our bodies. Patients with IBS often show an uneven ratio of bacterium types in the gut, so probiotics could potentially provide some help to these individuals!
A recent clinical study of 456 IBS patients with predominant constipation was conducted to determine the usefulness of a certain probiotic in the management of their symptoms. The probiotic used, Saccharomyces cerevisiae I-3856, has been shown to provide benefits for individuals with IBS, especially those with predominant constipation. The study aimed to test the probiotic’s effect on abdominal pain, bowel movement frequency, and quality of life. For 8 weeks, the patients took 1000 mg a day of a probiotic supplement or a placebo and completed daily evaluations of abdominal symptoms. What the study found from the probiotic group was lower reported abdominal pain and improvements in quality of life. They concluded that the use of S. cerevisiae I-3856 for pain management in IBS was confirmed, and it showed an association with improvements in quality of life related to IBS.
Dietary supplement with S.cerevisiae I-3856 proves to be a potential solution for IBS management in individuals with IBS with predominant constipation. Positive effects on abdominal pain and quality of life can result from supplementation in this population, however more research needs to be done to explore individual differences in responses to the treatment.