Understanding the role of probiotics in supporting digestive comfort

Nurs Stand. 2009;24(4):47-55; quiz 56. doi: 10.7748/ns2009.


Many people experience digestive discomfort at some time in their lives. It affects those who are healthy and unhealthy, and in some cases can signal a more serious underlying condition. For most people the discomfort is minor and transitory, but for some it can cause regular unpleasant symptoms, such as bloating. More severe gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. There are relatively few options for people with digestive discomfort and/or IBS. In recent years the body of evidence to support the health benefits of consuming probiotics has grown significantly. This article investigates how certain strains of probiotics have been shown to reduce digestive discomfort and symptoms of IBS. It highlights some of the problems associated with poor digestive health and offers guidance on educating patients about digestive comfort.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Digestion
  • Education, Continuing
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Probiotics*