Last reviewed on 22 August 2019 by Maria Yiangou, Registered Pharmacist in AXA PPP healthcare's Health at Hand team.
Probiotics are microbial food supplements that help keep your digestive system healthy. Currently there is no recognised or definitive duration of use of probiotics, but it is noted that there is no evidence of harm caused by them.
Evidence from randomised controlled trials suggests that probiotics are effective at relieving some of the symptoms in a variety of gastro-intestinal disorders. For example, in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the use of probiotics is a valid discussion point between patient and doctor when it comes to lifestyle and diet management. NICE guidance suggests people who are wishing to try probiotics are encouraged to select one brand and take it at the recommended dose for at least four weeks while monitoring the effect.
Despite there being some evidence based research on different types of products e.g. fermented drinks (kefir), probiotics drinks (containing specific strains of bacteria e.g. lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species) and prebiotics (e.g. inulin), there is insufficient evidence to recommend named bacteria or probiotic brands.
Further studies and research are required into the duration of use, likewise the results of long-term use of probiotics, type vs type and the dose taken.
In summary, probiotics are a recognised option in symptom management in some gastro-intestinal disorders, with no evidence to suggest harm, but the selection and treatment length is independent to the original need and should be continued under careful monitoring.
We hope this information is helpful.
Answered by the Health at Hand nurses
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