Individuals in a community who developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after major floods have significant mental health impairment. We aimed to determine if Bifidobacterium infantis M-63 was effective in improving symptoms, psychology and quality of life measures in flood-affected individuals with IBS and if the improvement was mediated by gut microbiota changes. Design was non-randomised, open-label, controlled before-and-after. Of 53 participants, 20 with IBS were given B. infantis M-63 (1×109 cfu/sachet/day) for three months and 33 were controls. IBS symptom severity scale, hospital anxiety and depression scale, SF-36 Questionnaire, hydrogen breath testing for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and stools for 16S rRNA metagenomic analysis were performed before and after intervention. 11 of 20 who were given probiotics (M-63) and 20 of 33 controls completed study as per-protocol. Mental well-being was improved with M-63 vs controls for full analysis (P=0.03) and per-protocol (P=0.01) populations. Within-group differences were observed for anxiety and bodily pain (both P=0.04) in the M-63 per-protocol population. Lower ratio of Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes was observed with M-63 vs controls (P=0.01) and the lower ratio was correlated with higher post-intervention mental score (P=0.04). B. infantis M-63 is probably effective in improving mental health of victims who developed IBS after floods and this is maybe due to restoration of microbial balance and the gut-brain axis. However, our conclusion must be interpreted within the context of limited sample size. The study was retrospectively registered on 12 October 2017 and the Trial Registration Number (TRN) was NCT03318614.
Keywords: abdominal pain; gut microbiota; mental; probiotics; small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.