The signs of IBS are unmistakable—kneel-over-worthy abdominal pain, uncomfortable bloating, gurgling cramps—it can make anyone want to languish dolefully in bed. Because IBS is a chronic disorder that needs to be managed long-term, finding a solution to mitigate your symptoms can help to improve your quality of life.
That’s why many turn to probiotics to help relieve symptoms of IBS.
While the effectiveness of probiotics vary on a case-by-case basis, certain studies have found that the best probiotic for IBS contain strains of bacteria belonging to the genus Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces, and Bifidobacterium, which can help to ease abdominal and gastrointestinal discomfort.1 Read on to better understand how probiotics may help you find relief.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a series of disorders that lead to significant abdominal pain and discomfort.2 Rather than one specific ailment, IBS is used to describe a host of discomfort that causes intestinal discomfort. The symptoms that characterize IBS include:
- Abdominal pain
Actually, IBS is quite common. According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, as much as 10 to 15% of the world’s population may suffer from some form of IBS, and nearly 67% of IBS patients are female.3 Children may also suffer from this disorder as well.
However, the exact cause of IBS is still unknown, making it difficult for those with IBS to find a relief.
The paths to relief are vast, and the series of treatments medical professionals might recommend are largely dependent on your unique symptoms. To that end, your healthcare professional may recommend one or a combination of the following:
- Dietary changes, such as:
- More soluble fiber
- Test the lactose tolerance
- FODMAP diet adherence
- Lifestyle adjustments
- Mental health treatment
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep quality
Most often, it takes several tries to find a treatment regimen that works for you, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results.
How Do Probiotics Help IBS?
So, what are probiotics? Probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer health benefits the host.Probiotics may provide some relief to IBS symptoms.
In a normally functioning digestive system, probiotics may help balance the gut microbiota and take advantage on the harmful bacteria. When something is amiss, the unbalance gut microbiota may cause discomforts and other symptoms of IBS.
So, how do probiotics help IBS? Taking a probiotic may help balancing the gut microbiota and may have an impact on the gut barrier functions and favor compounds’ release implicated in the enteric nervous system helping to reduce hypersensibility and motility.
Most often, you’ll find three different genus of probiotics in digestive supplements:
- Lactobacillus – There are several different strains of Lactobacillus, which are typically involved in the food fermentation, since they are releasing lactic acid.4 They’re often included in probiotic supplements to promote immune support and reduce diarrheal episodes.
- Bifidobacterium – The various strains of Bifidobacterium in probiotic supplements are considered key fighters against infection5 like the Bifidobacterium infantis strain. Their primary role is to support the immune response and to restore gut health.
- Saccharomyces – Lastly, Saccharomyces is a type of yeast. The strains you’ll find in many probiotic supplements are known for their ability to break down sugar,6 like Saccharomyces boulardii. They may help ease different conditions.
In addition to providing immune and digestive support, probiotic supplements can also provide relief to those with IBS in four distinct ways.
#1 Probiotics May Support Healthy Digestion
Probiotics can support a healthy digestive system by helping to ease the pain and discomfort of intestinal issues. This is why a probiotic supplement must be chosen according to the studies made on the strains and the health condition that we want to relieve. As an example, to relieve IBS symptoms, a probiotic supplement must be backed with clinical studies showing its efficacy with specific strains. Some studies show that a probiotic containing more than one strain could be beneficial.
When you combine the benefits of different strains, the overall health of the digestive system may show improvement in:
- The balance of the microbiota
- Strength of the intestinal barrier
- Immune response
These are all components of a healthy, robust digestive system. Still, the combined strains need to work synergistically to confer benefits. That’s why it’s improtant to choose a probiotic that has demonstrated its effects in well-designed clinical studies.
#2 Probiotics May Help Eliminate Harmful Bacteria
Probiotics may also play a role in fighting against harmful bacteria. While the exact cause of IBS isn’t known, some observations hint that the bacteria in your gut may play a part in the pain and discomfort you feel throughout the day.8
However, your natural microbiota can be disrupted in a variety of ways, including:
- Antibiotic use
- Intestinal infections
Your microbiota may also be affected by a combination of hereditary, genetic, or environmental factors as well. But if you want to balance the gut microbiota, a probiotic supplement like the Bio-K+® ExtraCare Probiotic Capsules may be a good ally.
#3 Probiotics May Support a Strong Immune System
Probiotics are also an important immune support tool. The microorganisms in probiotics can help regulate inflammation in the body, which can cause a host of health problems, including gastrointestinal distress.
In fact, a link between inflammation, poor immune response, and IBS was reported in the “Journal of Inflammation Research.”9 Further studies are necessary to better understand how the immune system influences IBS flare-ups. However, supporting your immune system with beneficial probiotics like the Extra Drinkable Vegan Probiotic for Immune Health could help to reduce the severity of IBS symptoms.
#4 Probiotics May Help Control Bowel Movement Speed
As you probably know, the symptoms of IBS are vast and often conflicting—while some suffer from diarrhea, others experience trouble with constipation. And at other times, someone with IBS may experience alternating periods of both diarrhea and constipation.
Luckily, probiotics may be able to support bowel movements to relieve these symptoms. In fact, the journal, “Advances in Nutrition,” conducted several studies on animal and human subjects that concluded that probiotics could help support those with gastrointestinal disorders.10
More specifically, one study found that the microbiota of adults who suffered from constipation had low levels of:
As such, supplementing with probiotics containing these strains was shown to provide benefits for constipation relief in some individuals.10
How Quickly Might Probiotics Help You Find Relief from IBS Symptoms?
It’s hard to say exactly how long it might take for you to feel relief from your IBS symptoms after incorporating probiotics into your daily regimen for the following reasons:
- The severity of your symptoms may dictate how long it takes to find relief
- You might respond to probiotic supplementation differently than another patient
- The quality of your probiotic supplement influences its potency
Furthermore, certain medical studies on the topic are designed with a specific time range in mind. For example, a study might last 4, 8, or 12 weeks. The results are analyzed after the end of that time frame, and findings are stated based on the parameters of the study.
In one instance, a study discussed in the journal “Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics” looked at the positive impact probiotics had on IBS sufferers after 12 weeks.11 This study showed a statistically significant improvement in symptoms in those who took a liquid probiotic over those given a placebo.
How Should You Take Probiotics for IBS?
Different probiotics work for different people. The probiotics for IBS that work best for you may differ from those that work for others. That being said, two types of probiotic supplements exist:
- Capsules – Delayed-release capsules, such as the Bio-K+® ExtraCare 80 Billion, may help support a healthy gut microbiome. These easy-to-use capsules are a convenient option for adding probiotics to your daily health routine.
- Drinkable – If you prefer a tasty treat with a boost of probiotics included, then the Bio-K+® Drinkable Probiotics might suit your needs. You can find these in both dairy and vegan formulas to meet your dietary preferences.
How Do You Choose the Right Probiotics for Your Needs?
The market is flooded with a wide variety of probiotic supplements, and it can be tough to weed out the good products from those that don’t keep their promises.
When shopping for the best probiotic supplement, there are a few key things to consider, such as:
- Quality of the product – Of course, the first thing you want to look for is a quality product. The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, including probiotics. Therefore, it’s important to only purchase supplements from companies that are transparent about their methods and ingredients to ensure you’re getting a product that contains what the label claims.
- Your symptoms – Different strains of probiotics may be better suited to help manage certain IBS symptoms. Speak with your healthcare professional about how you experience IBS to find a probiotic backed with science that’ll benefit you.
- Product ingredients – Probiotic supplements can contain additives and other ingredients that might trigger gastrointestinal problems. Check the label of your product and avoid potential irritants such as xylitol, sorbitol, lactose, or inulin. If you practice veganism, some materials used to encapsulate probiotics, such as gelatin, are sourced from animals, so stay extra vigilant when reading the ingredient list.
As always, be a conscientious consumer when shopping for wellness products like probiotics to ensure you’re only giving your body the best.
Support Your Digestive Health with Bio-K+®
While the cause of IBS is unknown, the condition certainly makes itself known, often causing abdominal pain and digestive discomfort. When embarking on your probiotic journey, know that finding relief for your IBS symptoms often involves trial and error—so don’t get discouraged!
If you’re looking for probiotics that support digestive, cognitive, and immune health, look no further than Bio-K+®.
Our full line of Bio-K+® probiotic products contains high-quality ingredients that you can feel good about. Jumpstart your journey to wellness today, with Bio-K+®.
- Lacy BE, Long M, Keefer L, Chey W, Brenner D, Pimentel M. ACG clinical guideline: Management of irritable bowel syndrome. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. https://journals.lww.com/ajg/Fulltext/2021/01000/ACG_Clinical_Guideline__Management_of_Irritable.11.aspx. Published January 2021. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Facts about IBS. About IBS. https://aboutibs.org/what-is-ibs/facts-about-ibs/. Published March 25, 2021. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/lactobacillus. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Bifidobacterium. Bifidobacterium - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/bifidobacterium. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Saccharomyces. Saccharomyces - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/saccharomyces. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Dale HF, Rasmussen SH, Asiller ÖÖ, Lied GA. Probiotics in Irritable bowel syndrome: An up-to-date systematic review. MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/9/2048. Published September 2, 2019. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Gut bacteria and ibs. About IBS. https://aboutibs.org/what-is-ibs/gut-bacteria-and-ibs/. Published March 25, 2021. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Ng QX, Soh AYS, Loke W, Lim DY, Yeo W-S. The role of inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): JIR. Journal of Inflammation Research. https://www.dovepress.com/the-role-of-inflammation-in-irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-JIR. Published September 21, 2018. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Eirini Dimidi, Stephanos Christodoulides, S Mark Scott, Kevin Whelan, Mechanisms of Action of Probiotics and the Gastrointestinal Microbiota on Gut Motility and Constipation, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 8, Issue 3, May 2017. Accessed February 9, 2022.
- Sisson G, Ayis S, Sherwood RA, Bjarnason I. Randomised clinical trial: a liquid multi-strain probiotic vs. placebo in the irritable bowel syndrome . Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/apt.12787. Published January 2014. Accessed February 9, 2022.