colony of bacteriaThere is one supplement that can help with many health issues. It is beneficial for a number of conditions, including allergies, ulcers and even the common cold. We are learning that probiotics have many clinical uses, that go beyond helping with digestion.

Your colon is an ecosystem containing several pounds of bacteria–they belong there. They remove toxins, keep pathogens in check, and create nutrients that are beneficial to the GI lining and to the rest of the body. There is a fair amount of research demonstrating the value of supplementation with probiotics. Here are a few of the studies.

A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled studies was published in Epidemiology (23(3):402-414, May 2012) looked at probiotic supplementation in pregnant women, and in infants shortly after birth, and the relation to the incidence of allergic dermatitis in their infants after birth. A total of 14 studies were included in the analysis. Overall, the studies show that probiotic supplementation was helpful in preventing atopic dermatitis.

Research appearing in the Journal of Perinatology (33, 40-44 doi:10.1038/jp.2012.37) looked at probiotic supplementation in infants with low birth weight. The subjects of the double-blind, placebo-controlled study were 31 low-weight infants. Postprandial (after meal) increase in time-averaged mean velocity (a measurement of intestinal blood flow) increased in the group given the probiotic supplements.

Research appearing in Inflammation & Allergy–Drug Targets (Volume: 11, Issue: 3, Year: June 2012, Pages: 244-249) looked at 80 patients with H. pylori and the effect supplementation with probiotics had on their condition. The subjects were given either a placebo or a supplement containing eight species of probiotic bacteria for a period of 10 days. One month later stool samples were tested for H. pylori stool antigen and given a urea breath test one month later. The testing revealed that 13 out of the 40 subjects given the probiotic were free of H. pylori one month after the supplementation.

Research appearing in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism (2011 Feb; 21(1): 55-64) looked at the use of probiotics and their effect on the immune systems of 58 athletes. The 58 subjects of the study were randomly assigned to receive either a probiotic supplement (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) for a period of 16 weeks. The placebo group had 36% higher incidence of upper respiratory infections (URTI) compared to the group receiving the supplement. According to the authors, “Regular ingestion of LcS appears to be beneficial in reducing the frequency of URTI in an athletic cohort, which may be related to better maintenance of saliva IgA levels during a winter period of training and competition.”