Irritable Colon Syndrome?
Try typing this trio into your search engine and it leads directly to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Truth is, according to the internationally renowned Mayo Clinic, IBS is a common disorder that typically affects the large intestine (colon). Common symptoms include constipation, cramping, diarrhea, excessive gas, and bloating. With syndromes defined as being a set of correlated symptoms relating to a common health concern, different treatment options can also be proven effective.
The precise cause of colon discomfort is difficult to diagnose; disruption of smooth-muscle contractions of the intestines (peristalsis), poor nervous system communication between the intestines and brain, stress, inflammation of immune system cells, and changes in gut microflora rank among the factors that can contribute to IBS.
Stress is among the frequent causes of IBS, yet taming the stress response through behavioural modification techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and therapy takes commitment, discipline, patience, and even hope. Furthermore, with the correlation between stress and colon health, prescription antianxiety drugs including the benzodiazepine group (e.g. Valium) are not uncommon for treatment of IBS. Unfortunately, their effectiveness and concern for side effects and long-term dependence can be problematic.
Thankfully, intervention with probiotics for intestinal wellbeing and for colon care in general proves promising. Clinical trials for improved intestinal health—with a particular focus on colon care—could prove to be a valuable intervention for a healthy colon and for alleviation of the symptoms of IBS.
A randomized clinical trial with 122 participants suffering from common IBS symptoms was conducted featuring intervention with the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium bifidum. Evaluation criteria was based upon symptoms of abdominal discomfort, bloating, and digestive disorder (diarrhea/constipation). Forty-seven percent (47%) of participants reported a significant improvement in quality of life compared to 11% for the control group. An important note is that, along with the effectiveness of Bifidobacterium bifidum, side effects were no different than the placebo group.
A meta-analysis of research for the pioneer probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis and relief from symptoms of IBS adds to the momentum probiotics have garnered for healthy colon status. Findings revealed this foundation probiotic, which is among the first probiotic species to be passed from mother to child, exerts therapeutic benefits for those coping with IBS. A note of interest is that benefits were more profound when B. infantis dosage was formulated with other probiotics.
According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, Canada ranks among the top countries worldwide for the incidence of IBS, with an excess of five million people afflicted. IBS is a dynamic condition with its exact cause(s) difficult to diagnose. When it comes to intervention with probiotics, “diversity is strength”; clinically-proven Bifidobacterium strains for colon care within a broad-spectrum probiotic could be the ideal formula to tackle IBS.