High doses of probiotics (good bacteria that naturally live in the intestinal tract) help control pouchitis, an inflammation of the small intestine, Italian researchers report. As many as 50% of people who undergo surgery for ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the lining of the large intestine, develop pouchitis afterwards. Symptoms of the condition include frequent and urgent bowel movements, abdominal cramping, bleeding and fever. Most cases of pouchitis respond well to treatment with antibiotics, but the condition recurs in about two thirds of sufferers.
The cause of pouchitis is unknown, but it has been linked to reduced levels of some bacteria normally found in the intestinal tract. In this study from the University of Bologna, Italy, 20 patients with chronic pouchitis received high-dose probiotics, while a control group of another 20 patients received a placebo that did not contain any bacteria. Throughout the nine months of treatment, 85% of the probiotic group remained symptom-free. In contrast, all 20 people in the placebo group relapsed within four months. The researchers concluded that they we able to prevent chronic intestinal inflammation by manipulating the amount of 'good' bacteria in the intestine. But the benefits of probiotics lasted only as long as patients continued taking them, according to the report. Within four months of stopping treatment, everyone in the probiotic group relapsed. Long-term use of the bacteria therapy is safe.
For more information on probiotics, see my ONTV News at Noon Interview dated August 15, 2000. Click on Leslie in the Media.
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