Systematic review of randomised controlled trials: probiotics for functional constipation

World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jan 7;16(1):69-75. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i1.69.


Aim: To systematically evaluate and update evidence on the efficacy and safety of probiotic supplementation for the treatment of constipation.

Methods: The MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library databases were searched in May 2009 for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) performed in paediatric or adult populations related to the study aim.

Results: We included five RCTs with a total of 377 subjects (194 in the experimental group and 183 in the control group). The participants were adults (three RCTs, n = 266) and children (two RCTs, n = 111) with constipation. In adults, data suggests a favourable effect of treatment with Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010, Lactobacillus casei Shirota, and Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 on defecation frequency and stool consistency. In children, L. casei rhamnosus Lcr35, but not L. rhamnosus GG, showed a beneficial effect.

Conclusion: Until more data are available, we believe the use of probiotics for the treatment of constipation condition should be considered investigational.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / microbiology
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probiotics / adverse effects
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Therapies, Investigational* / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult