Probiotics stop this serious complication of liver failure

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Probiotics like those found in yogurt could help complication of liver failure

Researchers from Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital, New Delhi, India have found probiotics can help stop brain deterioration- hepatic encephalopathy - that is a serious complication of cirrhosis of the liver.

Liver failure can lead to a serious complication that affects the brain known as hepatic encephalopathy. Medications that prevent brain deterioration from liver failure can have side effects and some are costly.

According to the investigation, published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, probiotics offer a safe and inexpensive option for patients with liver cirrhosis that is just as effective as the drug lactulose that is given to keep ammonia levels from reaching toxic levels.

The study


In their study the researchers compared probiotics to placebo in patients who had not yet had an episode of hepatic encephalopathy that causes confusion, drowsiness and personality changes and other symptoms.

Patients given probiotics had lower incidence of the complication of liver disease than the group given placebo.

"By virtue of its size, study duration and design, as well as the thorough nature of the baseline and follow-up assessments, this study represents an important contribution to the hepatic encephalopathy literature," Dr. Victor, a practicing hepatologist in the Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center at Houston Methodist Hospital, TX said.

Sources of probiotics in food include yogurt, miso soup, sauerkraut, kefir, soft fermented cheeses and sourdough bread. Probiotics can also be purchased in supplement form.

The researchers say the finding is important for patients with liver disease. The most common causes of cirrhosis include chronic hepatitis C, alcoholism and fatty liver disease that can occur from obesity and diabetes. 45 percent of whom develop encephalopathy. Loss of brain function that accompanies liver disease carries a 58 percent mortality rate at one-year. Probiotics help alter microbes in the gut to prevent the complication of liver cirrhosis.