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Can probiotics stop Crohn's flare-ups?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Can probiotics stop Crohn's disease relapse?

What do studies say about taking probiotics for Crohn's disease? Do living microorganisms help or are they a waste of money?


Some studies suggest people with Crohn's disease take probiotics to help manage the disease. But can probiotics stop flare-ups of Crohn's disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Probiotics no help for Crohn's

According to a study published August, 2013 from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), probiotics have shown promise for helping manage the disease, leading to a number of products on the market.

In their finding, published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers tested the effect of the the probiotic S. boulardii to see if there was any effect on Crohn's disease for people whose condition was already in remission.

Study participants with moderately severe Crohn's disease were given the probiotic and followed for one year. All had achieved remission from Crohn's disease after taking steroids or salicylate therapy.

The study included a placebo group as a control.

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At the end of one year, 47.5 percent of participants in the S. boulardii group and 53.2 percent in the placebo group experienced a relapse.

What about other forms of IBD?

The researchers concluded the probiotic might help other forms of inflammatory bowel disease such as pouchitis and ulcerative colitis, but more studies are needed.

Taking probiotics may be good for overall immunity, suggested by multiple studies. Taking capsules of the living microorganisms has also been shown to help treat diarrhea associated with antibiotic therapy. Finding natural ways to treat Crohn's disease is important for anyone who suffers from the disease that causes pain, nausea, hospitalizations and the need for medications with unwanted side effects.

According to the AGA the probiotics Bifidobacterium infantis, Sacchromyces boulardii, Lactobacillus plantarum or a combination may help regulate how often people with irritable bowel syndrome that differs from Crohn's disease have bowel movements.

The most recent finding showed S. boulardii that can be purchased in local stores and supermarkets to be of no help for preventing Crohn's disease flare-ups.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons