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Surprisingly Probiotics May Have a Positive Role for Multiple Sclerosis

probiotics for multiple sclerosis

Probiotics could have a positive role for people with multiple sclerosis. One probiotic in particular was explored in a small study to find out if could help with newly diagnosed MS.


Using probiotics for multiple sclerosis may sound like a crazy idea. Aren’t probiotics usually used for conditions that affect the intestinal tract? What possible help could beneficial bacteria be in a disease that is characterized by damage to the nerve cells?

Yes, probiotics are often associated with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and constipation but they also have been shown to be helpful in supporting the immune system. After all, MS is an autoimmune disease, so it is feasible for friendly bacteria to play a positive role in multiple sclerosis.

Probiotics and multiple sclerosis
Another possible relationship between probiotics and multiple sclerosis can be seen in recent research which suggests inflammatory bowel disease is like MS. One common characteristic of the two conditions is leaky gut, and probiotics can be beneficial in alleviating this problem since they help restore a healthy balance in the gut.

More evidence that beneficial bacteria could be helpful in multiple sclerosis comes from numerous research studies. One such report appeared recently in Brain, Behavior and Immunity. In it, the authors explained that the microorganisms (microbiome) in the gut “has the capacity to effect both local and distal sites within the host” and that these organisms have “played a crucial role in the bidirectional gut-brain axis that integrates the gut and central nervous system activities.”

In fact, the authors point out the relationship between the gut and MS in particular, saying that “the microbiome poises the peripheral immune homeostasis and predisposes host susceptibility to CNS autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.” The idea that probiotics can be effective in managing multiple sclerosis is also supported by other research.

For example, in a review appearing in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, the author noted three factors that can support development of autoimmune disease and thus also suggest probiotics can be helpful for prevention and treatment: an imbalance of microorganisms in the gut, leaky gut, and an altered immune system response in the intestinal tract.

This author says there is “fairly promising evidence to recommend” probiotics for autoimmune disorders, but also says they should not be recommended as the primary way to prevent or treat such conditions for now.

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A small phase I study looked at the use of a probiotic (Trichuris suis) in five individuals who had just been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). None of the patients had received any other treatments before entering the trial.

The volunteers were given the probiotic treatment orally every two weeks for three months. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed to check for the appearance of lesions. The mean number of new lesions dropped from 6.6 at the beginning of the trial to 2.0 at the end of treatment.

Two months after probiotic treatment ended, the mean number of lesions climbed to 5.8. This was the first human study to use this novel probiotic in RRMS, and the finding suggests the probiotic was beneficial in managing the disease.

Bottom line

For now, research into the risks and benefits of probiotics in the prevention and treatment of multiple sclerosis is in its infancy. However, several things indicate the use of probiotics for multiple sclerosis is something to consider seriously:


Fleming JO et al. Probiotic helminth administration in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a phase 1 study. Multiple Sclerosis 2011 Jun; 17(6): 743-54
Ozdemir O. Any role for probiotics in the therapy or prevention of autoimmune diseases? Up-to-date review. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 2013 Aug 6:10
Wang Y, Kasper LH. The role of microbiome in central nervous system disorders. Brain, Behavior and Immunity 2014 May; 38:1-2

Image: Pixabay



I have MS and I was told probiotics are good for yeast and I constantly get infections so I started yesterday on a probiotic and have more energy then Ive had in months. Don't take meds diagnosed last year April.
Helene, I'm so glad probiotics are helping you. I wish you continued success.
I too have MS (diagnosed January this year) and have been taking probiotics for 3 weeks and have noticed a steady increase in energy levels and much less tingling and aching in my feet. I don't take any other medication either, however I am taking vitamin D with Omega 3 (3000 IU daily).
I was diagnosed with MS in 2011 and need help loosing some weight. I can't exercise like I used to and have irritable bowels. I feel like trying the Pro biotics. And a more impressed by the words on it. I just need to know what to get and how much to take. I want to start now ;)
I have Ms prodably SPMS . What probiotic should take?
I have had MS since 2005. I fortunately am not on any meds but have bloating problems . My feet get pretty warm and it feels like im walking on balls under my toes. Fatique is constant so Im going to try probiotics . I eat lots of yogurt but this sound s better ..I take many vitamins as well...
The probiotics are making me sick any ideas ?
Dusty: I'm sorry to hear you are feeling sick. You didn't explain how you believe the probiotics are making you sick, what symptoms you are experiencing, or what symptoms you were having and how they have changed since taking the probiotics. However, even without that information, here's some general info on what happens to some people when they first take probiotics. It's called the Herxheimer Reaction, and it's a detox process that can make you feel worse before you feel better. If you experience nausea, headache, and mild flu-like symptoms, this could be what is happening. As toxins from bacteria, yeast, and other undesirable organisms in your gut are eliminated, you can feel ill for a few days. Typically the symptoms go away after about a week or so. One suggestion is to reduce the amount of probiotics you are taking or take them every other day for a while. Another is to take your probiotics after eating, even though it's typically recommended you take them on an empty stomach. It's also possible you are reacting to additives that may be in the probiotic supplements you choose. You may want to consult a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about probiotics. I hope you feel better soon!
Which probiotic is best for someone with MS?
I too would be interested in hearing probiotic brand options!
Which probiotic is best for someone with MS?
Which probiotic is best for MS, and how much to take..??
Hi Cindy and all who asked about which probiotics to take for MS. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that patients taking a combination of L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. fermentum, and B. bifidum experienced improvement in symptoms. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests 5 to 10 billion CFUs for MS patients. It's generally recommended you take at least 4 or more species of bacteria when choosing a probiotic supplement and start with a lower dose for several days until you see how you respond. You also may want to consult with a trusted medical professional.
Hi, I also have MS and IBS-C. Do you know of any specific names/brands of probiotics for these conditions. So many out there, very difficult to figure which one would be helpful. Thank you.
Thank you so much. I found a pro /Prebiotic combo. Really like the energy I get with both. Helps my gut flora ...!!
Thank you for getting back to me. Is 50 billion cfu's too high of a probiotic for people with MS, do you know?