~ Beneficial Bacteria Induce Colitis Remission

July 27, 2005

Consuming so-called "good" bacteria has been found in a clinical trial to relieve the pain of ulcerative colitis, causing the disease to go into remission. The bacteria, known as probiotics, are believed to colonize the intestinal tract and prevent the overgrowth of harmful microorganisms. The finding was published in the July 2005 issue of American Journal of Gastroenterology (http://www.amjgastro.com/).

Researchers at the University of Alberta, in conjunction with scientists from the University of Bologna and the University of North Carolina, gave 30 men and women with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis a mixture of 8 probiotic bacteria, consisting of Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacteria breve, Bifidobacterium infantis and Streptococcus salivarius thermophilus. The patients were between the ages of 18 and 65 and had a two week or greater history of active ulcerative colitis that did not respond to a standard drug.

After six weeks of daily consumption of the probiotic mixture, 86 percent experienced relief, with 23 percent reporting improvement of symptoms and healing of the lining of the colon as determined by signmoidoscopy, and 63 percent experiencing remission of the disease. No adverse effects from the probiotic were reported.

The researchers believe that the probiotics may exert their benefits by reducing the amount of harmful bacteria in the colon, lowering inflammation, increasing the gut mucosal layer, and elevating intestinal anti-inflammatory molecules. A randomized placebo-controlled trial to confirm the therapy's effectiveness is currently underway.

Research team member Richard N Fedorak, M.D. of the University of Alberta commented that the probiotic combination could be considered a potential treatment for ulcerative colitis patients who do not respond to standard therapy.

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