Indigestion sucks; constantly passing gas and extended trips to the loo are not pleasant experiences. Unfortunately, IBS is actually quite prevalent, affecting 10% to 15% of the global population, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. About one in four people with IBS classify their condition as severe. One natural solution is taking a probiotic supplement. What exactly are the best probiotics for IBS?
Not All Probiotics Are Created Equal
If you have IBS or just tend to pass a lot of gas after a heavy meal, please read this post in its entirety before heading to Walgreens to pick up a probiotic supplement. Probiotic products differ widely in their application. Yes, most treat indigestion, but others may be more geared towards other ailments, such as vaginal tract infections or correcting poor immune health.
There are an estimated 500 probiotic strains, many of which have very little studies behind them and can be further broken down to sub-strains. A few, however, have shown tremendous promise for alleviating symptoms associated with IBS.
We’ll list some of the best probiotics for IBS based on verified independent research. First, though, let’s explore the connection between probiotics and IBS.
What’s the Connection?
According to one study, 84% of IBS patients had abnormally high concentrations of pathogenic bacteria in their small intestines. Furthermore, another study found that patients that had below-normal levels of the probiotic strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium also had higher levels of the harmful pathogens E. coli and Streptococcus.
Research also suggests these two probiotic strains attenuate the onset of colitis, which in turn reduces the release of inflammation-inducing cytokine proteins. Inflammation is a precursor of IBS.
While researchers are always hesitant to draw definitive conclusions, it does appear that IBS is largely influenced by the ratio of good to bad bacteria. Low probiotic levels weaken the gut’s protective mechanisms, enabling foreign bacterial invaders to penetrate the body’s weakened defense.
The Top IBS Probiotics
We don’t believe there is a single best probiotic for IBS. However, some strains are certainly more geared towards fighting bacteria that cause stomach upset.
We just identified Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium as two strains known for fighting indigestion. However, as we mentioned, strains are broken down into sub-strains, so we also have to look at these sub-classes and pinpoint which ones exhibit positive effects for IBS patients.
In one study, patients with IBS were given a multi-strain probiotic for 90 days. It should be noted that subjects had both IBS-C and IBS-D. This is IBS with constipation and IBS with diarrhea, respectively. After the trial, researchers estimated that 66% to 90% of the patients responded favorably to the supplementation. This contrasts with a 6% to 36% favorable response for the placebo group.
That’s not all; the probiotic group maintained a healthy good-to-bad bacteria ratio for 30 days after discontinuing the supplement.
What were the strains in the probiotic mixture? It included these sub-classes of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium:
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium animalis
Are These the Top Probiotics for IBS?
We believe the list is of the best IBS probiotics according to the research currently available. We must strongly emphasize, though, that probiotic research is still fairly limited. Remember that there are an estimated 500 strains, not counting the sub-strains. Many of these have received little to no clinical evaluation. In the future, the list may expand or be modified. For now, research suggests these are the strains to aim for.
Floracil50 has a profile strain very similar to the list above. Our researchers selected the strains based on studies like the ones we mentioned. We believe the formula is ideal for treating mild to severe IBS as well as improving general well-being.
We should also point out that the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains are also available in whole foods. They’re particularly found in high concentrations in yogurt and other cultured dairy products.
Single-Strain Vs. Multi-Strain Probiotics
Probiotic supplements may come with multiple strains, as is the case with Floracil50, or it may have a single probiotic strain. Are more strains better? Studies in this area are limited. One study, however, does compare the effects of a single strain formula vs a multi-strain mixture. The results showed that the multi-strain outperformed the singular strain in the areas of IBS, atopic diseases, and respiratory tract infections.
Does this show that multiple strains create a synergistic effect? Again, the researchers are hesitant to say so, though the evidence does point in that direction. With this in mind, perhaps it’s not about the top probiotic for IBS. Rather it’s about a series of proven probiotics that work at their peak when operating as a cohesive unit.
Improve Gut Health with the Best Probiotics for IBS
We recommend aiming for a multi-strain formula with at least some of the strains we listed, though it doesn’t have to be an exact match. A lot of probiotics, after all, do appear to overlap in function. If treating IBS is your aim, then bet on Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which incidentally also happen to be the more common strains readily available in food.