Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease with Probiotics
A review published in February’s issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology may offer hope for the more than one million Americans affected by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition that causes chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract and often manifests as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Although the cause of IBD is not yet known, the disease has been linked to a heightened immune response related to a bacterial imbalance in the intestines. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever and weight loss, but long-term effects may also include inflammation of other organs in the body (including the eyes, mouth and skin) as well as joint pain and swelling.
In the Journal review, scientists identified butyric acid as a promising treatment option for IBD sufferers because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties and ability to help strengthen cells in the intestinal wall, and pointed out that certain species of probiotics actually produce butyric acid naturally. However, researchers saw a significant shortage of those healthy bacteria in patients with IBD.
Further studies are planned to determine exactly which probiotic strains are most effective, and from there scientists hope to formulate an effective probiotic treatment that they hope will provide a promising answer for IBD patients. For more information or to read the full text, visit the Journal of Medical Microbiology.