ASK THE EXPERTS

Can probiotics help with IBS?

Reviewed by our expert panel
Man looking at probiotics on shelf in pharmacy

Dietitian Marika Day explains how probiotics may be helpful in improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Q Can probiotic supplements help manage IBS symptoms?

Melissa, via email

A Gut health is a hot topic in the news at the moment — and there’s some really exciting research coming out about the use of probiotics to improve gut conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It’s important, however, to ensure we use the particular strains of probiotics which have been shown to have clinical benefits for the specific reason we take them — in the case you mention, IBS.

A few strains have been identified as having potential benefits for IBS. These are Bifidobacterium infantis B5624, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus plantarum 299V and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.

When you trial a new probiotic, it’s important you don’t make any other changes at the same time — so you can properly assess if the probiotic is working. Typically, you’ll see an effect within a month or two.

Due to IBS’s complexity, however, some people gain no benefits from a probiotic. So I recommend trialling one for a month — and if you don’t gain any benefit, stop taking it and look at other therapies.

First published: Jul 2021

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