The Effects of Probiotics on Symptoms and Immunoglobulin Levels of Patients with Irritable Bowel Syn-drome

  • M. Viljoen Departement Fisiologie, Universiteit van Pretoria
  • A. Panzer
  • A. Koorts Departement Fisiologie, Universiteit van Pretoria
  • P. Henn Departement Fisiologie, Universiteit van Pretoria
  • J. B. van den Bogaerde Departement Fisiologie, Universiteit van Pretoria


The medicinal use of natural plant materials and food supplements is gaining in popularity. The Food Directorate of the Department of Health considers probiotics as a food supplement. In this double blind controlled pilot study the effects of probiotic treatment (Lactoba-cillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum and bifidum) were evaluated on the symptoms and immunoglobulin levels of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Twenty-four patients who fulfilled the Drossman criteria for the diagnosis of IBS were randomised to receive either probiotics or a placebo for 28 days. Immunoglobulins IgG, IgA and IgM were measured and symptoms were rated (according to a clinically recognised questionnaire serving as a rating scale for gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with IBS) before and after treatment. The improvement in symptoms was statistically highly significant in the probiotic group (p = 0.0001, paired t-test). Some patients treated with placebo decided that the treatment was ineffective and stopped taking it. The 7 who completed the trial showed an improvement in symptoms, but this was only marginally significant (p = 0.0473, paired t-test). Serum immunoglobulin levels did not differ significantly. Larger studies to confirm the beneficial effects of probiotic bacteria on the symptoms of patients with IBS are indicated.

Original Research