A small pilot study in which synbiotics (probiotics, or ‘friendly bacteria’, combined with prebiotics which act as food for the pro-biotics) were fed to patients with ulcerative colitis over four weeks, has proved very encouraging.
At the end of the month’s trial all 18 patients involved had significant improvements in the appearance of chronic inflammation in their colons. Moreover, specific inflammatory chemicals (interleukin 1 alpha for example) had returned to levels found in normal healthy tissue. Further tests on the levels of molecules that encourage inflammation showed that they had also decreased during the treatment period.
This suggests the exciting possibility that it may be possible to control gut inflammation by manipulating the bacterial population of the gut.
E Furrie et al. Synbiotic therapy (bifidobacterium longum/Synergy 1) initiates resolution of inflammation in patients with active ulcerative colitis: a randomised controlled pilot trial. Gut, 2005:54:242-249
First Published in September 2005
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