Can Probiotics Relieve My IBS?

Can Probiotics Relieve My IBS?

by Shearly (SU)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) isn’t just one of the most common intestinal disorders, it’s also one of the hardest to treat effectively.

It’s not as if there’s a magical pill that’ll make the gut-wrenching symptoms of IBS – abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, constipation and/or diarrhea – simply go away. At best, some medications relieve some of the symptoms for some people.

So, what works best for the average IBS sufferer?

One alternative often considered is probiotics. These are microorganisms that supplement your gastrointestinal (GI) system’s natural bacteria. Studies show that probiotic supplements, particularly those that contain Bifidobacterium infantis, ease IBS symptoms such as pain, bloating, and bowel movement irregularity without any harmful side effects.

Yogurts and milk containing probiotics are another matter. Their effectiveness in soothing your digestive system is questionable because different products contain different strains that may or may not address your specific needs.

Then there are prebiotics. These are non-digestible ingredients in foods that stimulate growth and activity of microorganisms in your digestive tract. They’re naturally found in whole grain foods like oatmeal and in many fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, onions, artichokes, and asparagus. There’s little evidence that prebiotics alone are therapeutic for IBS, but some studies show that combining probiotics and prebiotics can significantly improve symptoms.

Why You?

Although the exact cause of IBS is unknown, theories abound. One is that abnormal muscle movement patterns in your GI tract and changes in the communication system between brain and the GI tract lead to the condition. Other research suggests IBS may be triggered by dietary factors including a low-fiber diet, high-fat foods, carbonated drinks, fructose, sorbitol, and dairy products. It also appears that certain medications, alcohol, smoking, and gastroenteritis may lead to IBS.

What we do know is that IBS is more common among women, possibly triggered by hormonal factors such as menstruation or emotional stress. It also occurs most frequently between adolescence and young adulthood but can occur at any age.

Good for Your Gut

There is no cure for IBS, but the symptoms may be managed with certain lifestyle changes, medications, and dietary modifications. These may include:

·       Increasing your fiber intake with whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables.

·       Avoiding foods that irritate your digestive system.

·       Avoiding cigarette smoking, caffeine products, and alcohol.

·       Addressing emotional stress issues with counseling, medication, or both.

·       Regular exercise.

·       Over-the-counter or prescribed medication to relieve stomach spasms and diarrhea.


Symptoms and conditions of the GI tract like IBS can be very disruptive to your daily life but are treatable and/or manageable if diagnosed correctly by a gastroenterologist. At Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates (AAGA), our 13 board-certified and fellowship-trained gastroenterologists are dedicated to making a positive impact on each of our patients by providing the highest quality GI care. We use the latest technology and diagnostic testing to thoroughly evaluate your symptoms and correctly identify your condition.

If you or a loved one are suffering from frequent cramping, bouts of diarrhea and constipation, or abdominal pain, call us today at (410) 224-2116  for an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists or request an appointment online.