Probiotics seem to be very effective in relieving constipation. Mixtures of bacterial strains appear to be preferable to an isolated strain.

As explained by Dr Sylvain Beorchia (International Journal of Medicine), half of patients are dissatisfied with the usual treatments for constipation (osmotic laxatives, emollients, mucilage, etc.) because of their limited effectiveness. In this context, could probiotics be of interest?

A Chinese team (Jiangnan University) crossed the results of several hundred “relevant” studies carried out to date on the subject. The probiotics have been administered in various forms: cheese, fermented milk, yogurt, drink, chocolate, tablets, freeze-dried powder capsules, etc., with a single strain or several.

What do we see? The consumption of probiotics “considerably” reduces the overall colonic transit time and it increases the frequency of stools, while improving their consistency. There is no significant effect on bloating. This is observed in a series of studies, but not in all, at least not to the same extent. While this meta-analysis has limitations, some lessons can be learned. Thus, mixtures of bacterial strains (Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, etc.) seem to be more effective than a probiotic strain taken in isolation.

Dr Beorchia sums up: “Probiotics can be regarded as safe and natural agents for functional constipation in adults.” Future studies are needed to accurately determine the number and combinations of therapeutic strains.

Elena Mars

Elena writes part-time for the Scientific Origin, focusing mostly on health-related issues.