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Irritable bowel syndrome symptom severity improves equally with probiotic and placebo

  • 2016
  • World Journal of Gastroenterology 22(48)
    • Anna Lyra
    • M. Hillilä
    • T. Huttunen
    • Sofia Männikkö
    • M. Taalikka
    • Julia Tennilä
    • A. Tarpila
    • S. Lahtinen
    • A. Ouwehand
    • L. Veijola


Aim: To determine the effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and quality of life (QoL).

Methods: In this randomized triple-blind trial, adult IBS volunteers who were recruited according to Rome III criteria received 109 or 1010 colony-forming units of NCFM or placebo daily for 12 wk. IBS Symptom Severity Score (IBS-SSS), which constituted the primary outcome, and secondary outcomes, including individual IBS symptoms, IBS-related QoL questionnaire, anxiety and depression, defecation frequency, and stool consistency, were assessed at baseline at the end of the 8-wk run-in period, after 4 and 12 wk of intervention, and after a 4-wk washout.

Results: A total of 340 of 391 randomized volunteers completed the trial. IBS-SSS improved over 12 wk of treatment in all treatment groups, decreasing by a mean ± SD of 44.0 ± 80.2, 50.8 ± 82.4, and 48.3 ± 72.2 in the placebo, active low-dose, and active high-dose groups, respectively. Similarly, secondary outcomes did not differ between treatment groups. However, in a post hoc analysis of volunteers with moderate to severe abdominal pain at baseline (VAS > 35/100), the treatment significantly reduced the sensation of abdominal pain. Pain scores fell by 20.8 ± 22.8, 29.4 ± 17.9, and 31.2 ± 21.9 in the placebo, active low-dose, and active high-dose groups, respectively (P value for placebo vs combined active doses = 0.0460).

Conclusion: NCFM alleviates moderate to severe abdominal pain, consistent with earlier observations of this strain mitigating visceral pain through increased analgesic receptor expression.

Keywords: Abdominal pain; Functional bowel disorder; Intervention; Irritable bowel syndrome; Lactobacillus acidophilus; Probiotic; Quality of life; Symptom questionnaire; Visceral pain.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFMImproved Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptom SeverityNeutral
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFMReduced Abdominal Pain SeverityBeneficial
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