Probiotics as a treatment strategy for gastrointestinal diseases?Digestion 2005; 72(1):57-68D
Current interest in probiotics is motivated not only by the clinical data showing efficacy of some probiotic bacteria but also by the increasing antibiotic resistance of pathogenic bacteria (particularly in hospitals) and the rise of consumers' demand for natural substitutes of drugs. Only few randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled human trials are available, and some involved only small numbers of patients. They are difficult to compare because of differences in probiotic strains employed, doses and formulation. Among probiotic applications, reduction of diarrhea is probably the best-documented effect confirmed by recent meta-analyses. Literature on Helicobacter pylori indicates that probiotics are unable to eradicate the infection but could be useful in decreasing infection levels and as adjuvants of therapy-associated side effects. Studies performed in inflammatory bowel disease suggest that high doses of probiotics and most likely a combination of different lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are more effective in decreasing inflammatory score and maintaining patients in remission than a single probiotic strain. Probiotic studies evaluating amelioration of symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome would require more sustained patient numbers. However, accumulated data is encouraging and suggests that efficacy is strain-dependent. Finally, too few probiotic intervention trials have been reported on colon cancer to allow any firm conclusion.