Probiotics: Gastroenterology Cure-All?
As more gastroenterology studies demonstrate positive results, more people are turning to products with probiotics to remedy stomach ailments. The hype brought by advertisements and the media have further elevated it onto the radar of those with little or no healthcare benefits and are looking for alternative medicinal therapy.
What is probiotics?
Back in 1965, the term was coined to identify the microbes that functioned to the other extreme of antibiotics: Instead of killing other organisms, they helped them flourish. In gastroenterology, they go hand in hand with prebiotics, which are substances that are hardly digested by the human stomach and help good bacteria grow as opposed to harmful ones.
What are they good for?
Certain probiotic strains have also been documented to safely and effectively treat acute diarrhea in children, given precise dosages and timeframes. The jury is still out on its merit as a diarrhea deterrent. As for diarrhea caused by antibiotic intake, they have been deemed as a cure and a preventive measure.
· Gastroenterology studies showed that patients who ingested synbiotics (probiotics with prebiotics) no longer showed colorectal cancer indicators in their blood.
Premature babies whose feedings included these microbes had fewer chances of getting intestinal failure and death by necrotizing enterocolitis.
Deliberations among gastroenterology societies are still being made on its therapeutic value for food allergies and weak immune systems.
Lactose indigestion and intolerance was lessened in several control groups who consumed yogurt with the live bacteria.
Irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease have been successfully treated by several strains of these organisms.
· Insufficient studies have been made in order for the gastroenterology community to advocate its benefits against heart problems, liver disorders, or infections that can easily infect adult patients in intensive care.
Are they safe?
Without a doubt, gastroenterology experts cite breast milk as the safest of all probiotics. As for cultured organisms, several groups, even those outside of gastroenterology, have raised concerns on the lack of standards and definitions that are currently enabling several food and drug manufacturers to include these microbes on their label. According to the World Gastroenterology Organization, a probiotic must be classified by genus and strain, living, released in the right amounts until expiry, supported by controlled human studies, and safe. The World Gastroenterology Organization also advises using them as a complementary or supplementary aid. Patients with illnesses must inform their doctor if they plan to use them along with the medication prescribed.