A gastroenterologist's guide to probiotics

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Sep;10(9):960-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2012.03.024. Epub 2012 Apr 10.


The enteric microbiota contribute to gastrointestinal health, and their disruption has been associated with many disease states. Some patients consume probiotic products in attempts to manipulate the intestinal microbiota for health benefit. It is important for gastroenterologists to improve their understanding of the mechanisms of probiotics and the evidence that support their use in practice. Clinical trials have assessed the therapeutic effects of probiotic agents for several disorders, including antibiotic- or Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and the inflammatory bowel diseases. Although probiotic research is a rapidly evolving field, there are sufficient data to justify a trial of probiotics for treatment or prevention of some of these conditions. However, the capacity of probiotics to modify disease symptoms is likely to be modest and varies among probiotic strains-not all probiotics are right for all diseases. The current review provides condition-specific rationale for using probiotic therapy and literature-based recommendations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Metagenome
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*