Life Extension Magazine®
Woman making dinner high in fiber and a novel probiotic strain

Unique Probiotic Prevents Constipation

A targeted probiotic speeds up colon transit time up to 57% and decreases chronic constipation by 42%.

By Michael Downey.

Anyone who’s suffered from occasional constipation knows how unpleasant it can be.

Roughly 20% of Americans suffer from chronic constipation, which lasts for several weeks or longer.1,2

This is more than a quality-of-life problem. Chronic constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and other health risks.3-5

As we age, the odds of developing constipation double.3

Conventional approaches with fiber do not always enable one to achieve desired improvement.6

A probiotic strain has been identified that offers a different approach.7

In a clinical trial of patients with moderate constipation, daily use of this probiotic strain restored colonic transit time to normal in just two weeks.7

That led to an average:7

  • 42% decrease in constipation
  • 48% decrease in nausea
  • 52% decrease in abdominal pain

Constipation has a wide range of underlying causes.

This novel probiotic strain may provide a solution for many individuals challenged to achieve satisfactory evacuation of their bowels.

When Constipation Becomes a Danger

Most people experience constipation (infrequent or difficult bowel movements) once in a while.

But for some, it has become a chronic condition.

Research has found that chronic constipation poses long-term health risks, including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and possibly, gallstones.3-5,7

It has also been associated with a greater risk of cancer. Researchers have found a few possible reasons for the link:5

  • People suffering from chronic constipation have a slow colonic transit time (the period it takes for stool to move through the colon).8,9 That can prolong the contact between stool carcinogens and the tissue lining the colon.
  • Constipation contributes to an unfavorable gut microbiota (the community of microbes living in the intestine). This may lead to microbial toxins disseminating to other parts of the body, contributing to cancer development or progression.
  • An unbalanced gut microbiota is linked to inflammation, which increases risk of various cancers.

A Solution

Researcher sorting vials of probiotics for study

The risk of developing chronic constipation increases with age.3

Researchers focused on probiotics as a possible solution.

These beneficial bacteria have been shown to have a range of benefits, from improving general digestive health to supporting healthy immune function, and much more.

Scientists carefully examined more than 2,000 probiotic strains, hoping to identify ones that provided these wide-ranging benefits.10

They found several strains derived from yogurts produced in New Zealand that had probiotic value and the ability to survive conditions similar to those in the human digestive tract.10

Eventually, scientists showed that one specific strain decreased colonic transit time.7

By moving stool along faster, this probiotic can provide relief for existing chronic constipation and help to prevent it from developing.

This breakthrough probiotic strain is Bifidobacterium lactis HN019.

Validated in Rigorous Clinical Trial

Scientists set out to test B. lactis HN019 in a randomized, placebo-controlled, triple-blinded clinical study.7

Triple blinding means that no one involved in the study in any way is allowed to know which treatment is active and which is a placebo.

Researchers divided 88 men and women (ages 25-65) who suffered from moderate constipation into three groups.7

One was given 1.8 billion colony-forming units (CFU) of B. lactis HN019 once daily. A second was given 17.2 billion CFU of B. lactis HN019 once daily. A third group was given a placebo.

At the end of 14 days:7

  • Subjects who took a low dose (1.8 billion CFU) of B. lactis HN019 had colonic transit times that were 18.5 hours faster, a 31% improvement.
  • Subjects who took a high dose (17.2 billion CFU) of B. lactis HN019 had colonic transit times that were 28.1 hours faster, a 57% improvement. This means that these individuals went from the slower than normal colonic transit times typical of moderate constipation to values considered to be in the normal range.

Digestive discomfort questionnaires were also completed by participants. The high-dose (17.2 billion CFU) probiotic recipients reported, on average:7

  • A 52% decrease in abdominal pain,
  • A 48% decrease in nausea, and
  • A 42% decrease in constipation.

Taking this probiotic was shown to be completely safe and did not result in any adverse effects, which mirrors the findings of other studies involving B. lactis HN019.7

Comparing This Probiotic to a Drug

Scientists compared the 57% improvement in colonic transit time of this probiotic to a prescription constipation medication called prucalopride.

They reviewed previous clinical studies of prucalopride, which lasted from four to 12 weeks longer than the two-week probiotic study.9

The reviewers found that prucalopride improved colonic transit times by 19%,9 far less than the 57% improvement seen in the high-dose probiotic trial.

The drug prucalopride has also been associated with a number of side effects, including headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea.11

How It Works

Woman sitting on toilet in discomfort

Studies have cast some light on how Bifido-bacterium lactis HN019 may reduce colonic transit time.7,12-15

This probiotic acts on food in the digestive tract to create metabolites known as short-chain fatty acids.

These fatty acids are a source of energy for cells lining the surface of the colon, making them essential to gastrointestinal health.

Preclinical models have demonstrated that short-chain fatty acids interact with a protein within certain cells that exist alongside intestinal epithelial (surface) cells. This sets in motion a cascade of events that speeds up colonic transit times.7,12-15

What you need to know

Relief for Constipation

  • The likelihood of developing constipation increases with age.
  • In addition to reducing quality of life, chronic constipation is linked to serious health issues, including higher cancer risk.
  • A specific probiotic strain, Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, has been found to target and treat constipation.
  • Clinical research shows that oral use of B. lactis HN019 decreases colonic transit time by up to 57%. In just two weeks, that led to a 52% decrease in abdominal pain, a 48% decrease in nausea, and a 42% decrease in constipation.

Another clinical study has shown B. lactis HN019 supplementation increased levels of two beneficial bacteria, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, and decreased levels of harmful enterobacteria.16 This may stimulate peristalsis (the muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract) and shorten colonic transit time.7

Put simply, this probiotic strain helps move things along in the colon, which can effectively treat and prevent chronic constipation.

Summary

Smiling woman eating on the floor in comfort

Chronic constipation afflicts about 20% of Americans and about 40% of those aged 65 and over.

Scientists have isolated a probiotic strain called Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 from yogurt produced in New Zealand. This strain has been demonstrated to target and relieve constipation.

Clinical research has demonstrated that oral use of this probiotic decreases colonic transit time by up to 57%, providing major relief from constipation.

Participants’ regularity was considered normal after just two weeks of use.

Constipation has a wide range of underlying causes. This novel probiotic strain may provide a solution for many individuals who are unable to completely evacuate their bowels.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

  1. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/symptoms-causes/syc-20354253. Accessed May 21, 2021.
  2. Vazquez Roque M, Bouras EP. Epidemiology and management of chronic constipation in elderly patients. Clinical interventions in aging. 2015;10:919-30.
  3. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/184704-overview. Accessed May 21, 2021.
  4. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/chronic-constipation-affects-body. Accessed May 21, 2021.
  5. Sundboll J, Thygesen SK, Veres K, et al. Risk of cancer in patients with constipation. Clin Epidemiol. 2019;11:299-310.
  6. Ho KS, Tan CY, Mohd Daud MA, et al. Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Sep 7;18(33):4593-6.
  7. Waller PA, Gopal PK, Leyer GJ, et al. Dose-response effect of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on whole gut transit time and functional gastrointestinal symptoms in adults. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2011 Sep;46(9):1057-64.
  8. Vandeputte D, Falony G, Vieira-Silva S, et al. Stool consistency is strongly associated with gut microbiota richness and composition, enterotypes and bacterial growth rates. Gut. 2016;65(1):57-62.
  9. Emmanuel A, Cools M, Vandeplassche L, et al. Prucalopride improves bowel function and colonic transit time in patients with chronic constipation: an integrated analysis. The American journal of gastroenterology. 2014;109(6):887-94.
  10. Prasad J, Gill H, Smart J, et al. Selection and Characterisation of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium Strains for Use as Probiotics. International Dairy Journal. 1998 1998/12/01/;8(12):993-1002.
  11. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/prucalopride-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20452343?p=1. Accessed May 21, 2021.
  12. Essien BE, Grasberger H, Romain RD, et al. ZBP-89 regulates expression of tryptophan hydroxylase I and mucosal defense against Salmonella typhimurium in mice. Gastroenterology. 2013 Jun;144(7):1466-77, 77.e1-9.
  13. Reigstad CS, Salmonson CE, Rainey JF, 3rd, et al. Gut microbes promote colonic serotonin production through an effect of short-chain fatty acids on enterochromaffin cells. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 2015;29(4):1395-403.
  14. Sims IM, Ryan JLJ, Kim SH. In vitro fermentation of prebiotic oligosaccharides by Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 and Lactobacillus spp. Anaerobe. 2014 2014/02/01/;25:11-7.
  15. Spohn SN, Mawe GM. Non-conventional features of peripheral serotonin signalling - the gut and beyond. Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & hepatology. 2017;14(7):412-20.
  16. Ahmed M, Prasad J, Gill H, et al. Impact of consumption of different levels of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on the intestinal microflora of elderly human subjects. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Jan-Feb;11(1):26-31.