Probiotics and their potential health claims

Nutr Rev. 2006 Jun;64(6):265-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2006.tb00209.x.


Many studies have attempted to identify specific positive health effects of probiotics. One of the challenges in generalizing health effects of probiotics is that different strains exert disparate effects on human health. As a result, the efficacy of one strain or species cannot necessarily be inferred from another. The objective of this review is to examine the current scientific literature that could be used as the basis for potential health claims. More specifically, this paper will review existing evidence of different probiotic strains to prevent and treat diarrhea, treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), treat inflammatory bowel disease, and prevent colon cancer. The strongest evidence is related to the use of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG in the prevention and treatment of rotavirus-associated diarrhea. Further examination of the literature also shows promise in the treatment of some forms of IBS with probiotics. Future studies that use consistent supplementation regimes will allow more definitive conclusions to be drawn on the effects of probiotics on IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food, Organic
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus / growth & development*
  • Probiotics* / therapeutic use