Review of Saccharomyces boulardii as a treatment option in IBD

Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2018 Dec;40(6):465-475. doi: 10.1080/08923973.2018.1469143. Epub 2018 May 17.


Context: Review of the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii as a treatment option for the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Objective: IBD is caused by an inappropriate immune response to gut microbiota. Treatment options could therefore be prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics and/or fecal transplant. In this review, we have looked at the evidence for the yeast S. boulardii as a treatment option.

Material and methods: Searches in PubMed and the Cochrane Library with the MeSH words 'Saccharomyces boulardii AND IBD', 'Saccharomyces boulardii AND Inflammatory Bowel Disease', 'Saccharomyces boulardii AND ulcerative colitis' and 'Saccharomyces boulardii AND Crohn's disease' gave total a total of 80 articles. After exclusions because of irrelevance, articles in other languages and some articles that were not available, 16 articles were included in this review.

Results: Three of the clinical trials showed a positive effect of S. boulardii in IBD patients (two Crohn's disease, one ulcerative colitis), while there was one trial that didn't prove any effect (Crohn's disease). Included Animal trials and cell assays describes different anti-inflammatory mechanisms of S. boulardii supporting a possible effect when treating IBD patients.

Discussion: The number of studies of S. boulardii as treatment for IBD is limited. Furthermore, the existing trials have small populations and short duration.

Conclusion: We do not have enough evidence to prove the effect of S. boulardii in IBD. Saccharomyces boulardii is, however, a plausible treatment option in the future, but more placebo-controlled clinical studies on both patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are needed.

Keywords: Crohn’s disease; inflammatory bowel disease; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / microbiology
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy
  • Crohn Disease / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Saccharomyces boulardii / growth & development*