Introduction: Bloating is a common yet poorly managed complaint among healthy people, with a complex etiology that impacts health and general well-being. The study intended to evaluate the efficacy and safety of supplementation with a probiotic, Bacillus subtilis MB40 (MB40), on bloating, abdominal discomfort, and gas in healthy participants.
Methods: In this multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel trial, 100 participants were randomized to receive either MB40 at 5 × 109 colony forming units (CFU; n = 50) or a placebo (n = 50) once daily for 4-weeks. Participants completed 3 questionnaires daily: a modified Abdominal Discomfort, Gas, and Bloating (mADGB) questionnaire, a modified Gastrointestinal Symptoms Rating Scale (mGSRS), and a Bowel Habits Diary (BHD). Participants' responses to each question were combined into weekly averages.
Results: At the end of 4-weeks, there were no significant differences in average weekly change in daily bloating intensity, number of days with and duration of bloating, abdominal discomfort and gas between MB40 and placebo groups. However, the male sub-group on MB40 achieved clinical thresholds with a greater decrease over placebo in the intensity of (1.38) and number of days with (1.32) bloating, the number of days (1.06) and duration (86-minutes) of gas, the number of days with abdominal discomfort (1.32) and diarrhea symptom score (1.02). Role limitation (physical; P = .026), vitality (P = .034) and social functioning (P = .037) were significantly improved from baseline to week 4 in the MB40 group. At 2-weeks, physical functioning (P = .017) significantly improved in the MB40 group versus placebo.
Conclusions: Although MB40 supplementation did not significantly improve bloating across all populations, the male sub-group demonstrated clinically significant reductions in bloating intensity, number of days with abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating, and duration of gas, compared to placebo. Additionally, the male sub-group receiving MB40 had a 10% improvement in general health score. MB40 supplementation at a dose of 5 × 109 CFU daily for 4-weeks was also safe and well-tolerated as all biometric, vital, and hematological measures remained within normal laboratory ranges (Clinical Trials NCT02950012).