New IBS study makes case for multi-strain probiotics


A new probiotic product study suggests that a multi-strain approach may be beneficial in managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.

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A new probiotic product study suggests that a multi-strain approach may be beneficial in managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.1 It’s said to be the largest-ever trial on probiotics and the condition.

Commercial probiotic products are varied. Some contain one strain, while others contain multiple strains. Some have posited that multiple strains may be better than one when it comes to supporting human health. Probiotic dietary supplement brand Bio-Kult is riding that theory with its 14-strain probiotic product.

In a Bio-Kult funded study, 360 adults experiencing recurrent IBS with diarrhea were assigned to consume Bio-Kult or a placebo daily for four months. Each subject was monitored during the study and through one month of follow-up. At the end of the study, Bio-Kult was associated with reduced IBS symptoms, including reduced abdominal pain and distension, and fewer bowel movements (diarrhea) compared to placebo.

A review of responses to a quality-of-life questionnaire suggests that Bio-Kult users also felt better psychologically, based on a 34-item IBS-Quality of Life (QOL) questionnaire.

The results of this study support the efficacy of Bio-Kult’s formula as a multi-strain probiotic for addressing IBS symptoms. According to researchers, this study also raises questions about the impact that gut flora may have on the brain. While less digestive pain is likely to lead to better perceived life satisfaction, there could be something more happening between gut health and its link to brain health, they posit, suggesting that researchers continue to explore this link.

With probiotics still being a relatively young market, it’s safe to say we’ll see more probiotic studies in the future-potentially with more focusing on multi-strain formulas. The researchers behind this study note that in a 2016 review of 35 probiotic studies, conducted by the British Dietetic Association, there seemed to be a trend towards better clinical results with multi-strain formulas.2

It’s important for probiotic manufacturers and retailers to always remember that probiotic research is strain-specific, and any success with one strain may not translate to another.

People with IBS may feel reassured by a study on four months of probiotic use-it’s been done before-but IBS can be a lifelong problem, and the researchers admit that they can’t yet determine how well probiotics will work or be tolerated for longer periods.

The study was funded by Bio-Kult maker Probiotics International Ltd., and it took place at a university in Dhaka, Bangladesh. IBS subjects with particularly serious health complications, such as anemia and rectal bleeding, were excluded from the study.


  1. Ishaque SM et al. “A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of a multi-strain probiotic formulation (Bio-Kult) in the management of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.” BMC Gastroenterology, vol. 18, no. 1 (May 26, 2018): 71
  2. McKenzie YA et al. “British Dietetic Association systematic review and evidence-based practice guidelines for the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome in adults (2016 update).” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 29, no. 5 (October 2016): 549–575
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