An estimated 5–10% of all people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Probiotics are being explored as an alternative to conventional therapies, which many people dislike or simply don’t respond to. There is growing evidence that probiotics can alleviate IBS diarrhea (IBS-D), but there is little evidence that they can alleviate IBS constipation (IBS-C).

The study

This meta-analysis included 17 studies (1,469 participants) that explored the efficacy of probiotics in people with IBS-C.

The results

In the probiotic group, stool frequency was increased by 1.29 daily bowel movements. Based on the Bristol Stool Form Scale, stool consistency was improved. Bloating was reduced, but flatulence was unaffected. Gut transit time (GTT) was reduced by 12.36 hours and rectosigmoid transit time by 4 hours, but the right colonic transit time was unaffected.

Studies that reported the effects of probiotics on various constipation symptoms reported fewer hard stools, an easier passing of stools, and a reduced sensation of incomplete evacuation.

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This Study Summary was published on January 5, 2021.