Probiotics beneficial for diarrhea

Bacterial overgrowth can result in chronic diarrhea, especially for people who have undergone surgery to the intestines or bowels. Researchers from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina looked at the effects of an oral probiotic treatment versus a placebo for patients with bacterial overgrowth-related chronic diarrhea. Twenty-two patients were sorted in a random, double-blind fashion and given either a probiotic supplement containing L. casei and L. Acidophilus strains, or a placebo for three weeks. At the end of each week, the participants underwent a full medical review.

By the end of the second week, the group taking the probiotic supplement had lessened the severity of their diarrhea while the placebo group had not. This benefit continued through to one week past the 21-day end point. From this trial, researchers concluded that probiotics were an effective treatment for bacterial overgrowth-related chronic diarrhea and suggested they be used on a regular basis during treatment.

Scientists at Cathay General Hospital in Taiwan conducted a similar study to determine the effect of L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium infantis on chronic diarrhea in hospitalized children. Altogether, 100 children between 6 months and 5 years old were given either a probiotic supplement or a placebo. The clinical course of diarrhea was followed during the treatment period.

The researchers found that, for the probiotic group, the frequency of diarrhea slowed on the first and second day after initial treatment. The duration of diarrhea was also decreased. Researchers conclude that a probiotic supplement could be safely given to children during an episode of acute diarrhea.

Sources: Medicina (B Aires) 2002;62(2):159-63; Acta Paediatr Taiwan 2001 Sept-Oct;42(5):301-5