Probiotic therapy decreases inflammation in patients with ulcerative colitis

February 17, 2005 Printer Friendly
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Probiotic therapy decreases inflammation in patients with ulcerative colitis


Ulcerative colitis

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Probiotic therapy decreases inflammation in patients with ulcerative colitis
A study published in the February 2005 issue of the journal Gut ( found that administration of a probiotic and a prebiotic to patients with ulcerative colitis improved inflammatory symptoms and helped regenerate epithelial tissue. Bifidobacterium longum is one of several beneficial microorganisms residing in the intestines of healthy people which prevent the overgrowth of harmful microorganisms. Prebiotics such as fructo-oligosaccharides are frequently added to probiotics to encourage their growth.

Researchers from Ninewells Hospital Medical School in Dundee, Scotland gave the freeze-dried probiotic Bifidobacterium longum combined with a prebiotic consisting of a mixture of fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin to 8 patients with ulcerative colitis, while 8 patients with the disease received a placebo. Sigmoidoscopic examinations were conducted and rectal biopsies were obtained before and after the one month treatment period. Participants were asked to keep records of their bowel habits so that any changes could be noted.

It was found that consuming the probiotic/prebiotic combination was associated with a reduction in mucosal inflammation ascertained via sigmoidoscopy, while the placebo group worsened. The reduction was not as marked as that observed in the rectal biopsy tissue and inflammatory markers, leading the authors to suggest that changes at the molecular level may precede changes that are observable during signoidoscopic examination. Inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-1 alpha were significantly reduced in the treatment group. The biopsies also revealed regeneration of epithelial tissue in those who received the probiotic.

This pilot study was the first to reveal that a probiotic/prebiotic combination has the potential to treat patients suffering from acute ulcerative colitis. The authors recommend a large scale clinical trial.


Ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease in which the large intestine becomes inflamed and ulcerated, leading to episodes of bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Unlike Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis usually doesn't affect the full thickness of the intestine and never affects the small intestine. The disease usually begins in the rectum or sigmoid colon and spreads partially or completely through the large intestine. The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but heredity and an overactive immune response are suspected factors. Food allergies may also be a factor (D'Arienzo et al. 2000).

Fish oil may be a useful therapeutic agent in the management of colitis. Studies on the use of dietary supplements of fish-oil-derived fatty acids have indicated a beneficial effect on inflammatory bowel disease (Ross 1993; Steinhart 1997; Almallah et al. 1998). Many published studies suggest that marine fish-oil supplements, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, may reduce the inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis. Fish oils may exert their anti-inflammatory effects by modulating tissue levels of certain immune factors that promote inflammation. In prospective, randomized, and controlled studies, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be therapeutically useful (Hillier et al. 1991; Aslan et al. 1992). These studies also show that fish oil reduces the doses needed of toxic steroid drugs (Hawthorne et al. 1992; Grimminger et al. 1993; Williams 1993).

Colitis patients often suffer from multiple nutrient deficiencies (Wasser et al. 1995).  Supplementation with a multinutrient formula such as Life Extension Mix could prevent complications of long-term nutritional deficiencies. Studies have shown potential lethal effects caused by colitis-induced nutritional deficiencies. Free radicals have been implicated in the colitis inflammatory process (Ramakrishna et al. 1997). Vitamin E and selenium are two nutrients that appear to be especially effective in suppressing free radical-generated inflammation.

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Human studies document an increase in beneficial bifido bacteria and a decrease in toxic bacterial levels when FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) is ingested. NutraFlora is the highest quality FOS available. The Japanese use FOS in many food products including soft drinks, cookies, cereals, and candies. FOS is not digested by the human digestive process, but instead is used as food by bifidobacteria, promoting their proliferation.

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Dayna Dye
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