Probiotic Use in Gastrointestinal Conditions: An Overview of Efficacy and Evidence
Probiotics are collections of live bacteria that are meant to be ingested for beneficial purposes. Many different preparations are widely available over-the-counter and used to improve or stabilize gastrointestinal flora. Studies have shown promise for probiotic use in a number of gastrointestinal diseases, treating medication side effects, and in healthy individuals with minor GI upset. Investigators continue to evaluate the effects the gastrointestinal microbiome has on homeostasis and methods by which probiotics may beneficially influence the microbiome. Long term efficacy, choice of species, dosage, and concentration of available preparations also remain areas of evolving study. This article will discuss probiotic regulation and formulations, review current understanding of mechanisms of action, and summarize recent study data in regards to clinically relevant GI disorders.