Can Probiotics Make a Difference?
Jun 29th, 2011 by Tom

There have been many studies in the last decade on different strains of bacteria and how they can be of clinical value in humans.  While some have not shown efficacy, many others have.

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The average human has at least 1,000 different types of bacteria in their body making up 100 trillion CFUs (Colony Forming Units), it’s hard to imagine that taking a single strain of 1 probiotic in quantities of billions could make a difference.  However, there is some evidence that it is possible.

Pulling together a number of different studies of probiotics in the area of infection, inflammation, allergies and the liver, there is some encouraging news that indicate taking probiotics may reduce the severity of a number of conditions that can affect those with CF.

This post highlights just a few modern studies on the subject and many more can be reviewed at PubMed through a simple search.

Probiotic supplementation affects pulmonary exacerbations in patients with cystic fibrosis: a pilot study

“RESULTS:The exacerbation rate was significantly reduced in comparison to the previous 2 years and to 6 months post-treatment (P = 0.002). PFT’s have not changed at the end of treatment and during 6 months post-treatment. No change in sputum bacteria, neutrophil count, and IL-8 levels was observed.

CONCLUSION:Probiotics reduce pulmonary exacerbations rate in patients with CF. Probiotics may have a preventive potential for pulmonary deterioration in CF patients.”

STRAIN: Lactobacillus Rhamnosus LGG

Effect of Lactobacillus GG supplementation on pulmonary exacerbations in patients with cystic fibrosis: a pilot study
“RESULTS:: Patients treated with LGG showed a reduction of pulmonary exacerbations (Median 1 vs. 2 , range 4 vs. 4, median difference 1, CI 95% 0.5-1.5; p=0.0035) and of hospital admissions (Median 0 vs. 1, range 3 vs. 2, median difference 1, CI 95% 1.0-1.5; p=0.001) compared to patients treated with ORS. LGG resulted in a greater increase in FEV1 (3.6% +/- 5.2 vs. 0.9% +/- 5; p=0.02) and body weight (1.5 kg +/- 1.8 vs. 0.7 kg +/- 1.8; p=0.02).
CONCLUSIONS:: LGG reduces pulmonary exacerbations and hospital admissions in patients with CF. These suggest that probiotics may delay respiratory impairment and that a relationship exists between intestinal and pulmonary inflammation.”

STRAIN: Lactobacillus Rhamnosus LGG

Ingested probiotics reduce nasal colonization with pathogenic bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and ß-hemolytic streptococci)
“RESULTS: We found a significant reduction (19%; P < 0.001) in the occurrence of nasal PPB in the group who consumed the probiotic drink but not in the group who consumed yogurt. The effect was mainly on gram-positive bacteria, which decreased significantly (P < 0.05).
STRAINS: Lactobacillus GG (ATCC 53103), Bifidobacterium sp B420, Lactobacillus acidophilus 145, and Streptococcus thermophilus”

Use of a fermented dairy probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus casei (DN-114 001) to decrease the rate of illness in kids: the DRINK study. A patient-oriented, double-blind, cluster-randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial

“RESULTS: The rate of change of behavior because of illness was similar among active and control groups. However, the incidence rate for CIDs in the active group (0.0782) is 19% lower than that of the control group (0.0986) (incidence rate ratio=0.81, 95% CI: 0.65, 099) P=0.046.

CONCLUSIONS: Daily intake of a fermented dairy drink containing the probiotic strain L. casei DN-114 001 showed some promise in reducing overall incidence of illness, but was primarily driven by gastrointestinal infections and there were no differences in change of behavior.

STRAINS: Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001”

Probiotics Help Reduce Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Day Care Children
“CONCLUSIONS: considering the significant decrease in the number of upper respiratory tract infections in children treated with LGG and knowing that the number needing treatment (NNT) was only five, we can recommend treatment with LGG as a valid measure for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections in children who attend day care centres

STRAIN: Lactobacillus Rhamnosus LGG”

Bifidobacterium longum supplementation improved high-fat-fed-induced metabolic syndrome and promoted intestinal Reg I gene expression.
“Increasing Bifidobacterium in the gut improved HF-fed-induced metabolic syndrome by reducing metabolic endotoxin concentrations and intestinal inflammation, as well as upgrading the expression of intestinal Reg I as a regulator of growth factor
STRAIN: Bifidobacterium longum”

Effect of probiotic yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis on lipid profile in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus
“CONCLUSIONS: The total cholesterol:HDL-C ratio and LDL-C:HDL-C ratio as atherogenic indices significantly decreased in the probiotic group compared with the control group. Probiotic yogurt improved total cholesterol and LDL-C concentrations in type 2 diabetic people and may contribute to the improvement of cardiovascular disease risk factors
STRAIN: Bifidobacterium lactis”

Probiotics and antibodies to TNF inhibit inflammatory activity and improve nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
“CONCLUSIONS: these results support the concept that intestinal bacteria induce endogenous signals that play a pathogenic role in hepatic insulin resistance and NAFLD and suggest novel therapies for these common conditions
STRAINS: VSL#3 (Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus)”

Oral administration of Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1 suppresses total and antigen specific immunoglobulin E production in mice
“CONCLUSIONS:  We conclude that oral administration of BBG9-1 selectively and powerfully suppresses total and antigen specific IgE production in mice. It is suggested that BBG9-1 is useful for the prophylactic treatment in IgE-dependent allergic diseases
STRAINS: Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1 (BBG9-1)”

Improvement of intestinal function in cystic fibrosis patients using probiotics
“CONCLUSIONS:  Probiotics improved not only clinical but also biochemical intestinal function in cystic fibrosis patients. These could be given as a regular treatment in this type of patients and in those with bacterial overgrowth
STRAIN: Lactobacillus Rhamnosus LGG”

This is just a very small subset of positive studies on the subject. The studies thus far have been relatively small and many done with mouse models making it hard to draw firm conclusions but the trend is clearly going in the right direction.

One of the most promising probiotics in these studiesis the Lactobacillus Rhamnosus LGG strain.  It has been studied in several CF based studies and has shown efficacy in every trial I reviewed.
There also seems to be some value in mixed probiotics.  There is a study starting up with CF patients using a commercially available probiotic containing 12 strains totaling 25 billion CFUs taken twice daily: Effect of Probiotics on Sputum Inflammation and Pulmonary Infections in Patients With Cystic Fibrosis
It will be interesting to see the results from this study but based on all the other studies, trying a high potency, multi-strain probiotic from a reputable company may provide benefits based on everything in the literature.

With the evidence available, this is one therapy that you should consider talking to your doctor about.

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