What are the best probiotic supplements for IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and similar gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are more common than you might think.

Despite the condition’s prevalence, it’s not yet known exactly what causes these uncomfortable symptoms. Recently researchers have taken an interest in the relationship between intestinal bacteria (probiotics) and gut health. Fingers crossed, this may just be the key to a better quality of life for those with IBS.

In this article, I’m going to take a look at the best probiotics for IBS and how to use them.

Quick facts at a glance:

  • Over 1,000 kinds of bacteria live in the GI tract. There are plenty of body cells, but there are ten bacteria cells for each one.
  • Most of the bacteria in the intestine are unknown and do not have traditional means of identification.
  • Some of the bacteria in the intestine are important to ensuring our intestines and GI tract act normally; some are also beneficial to our overall health. Other types, however, can cause inflammation, infection or just a general feeling of illness.

What is currently known about intestinal bacteria in irritable bowel syndrome?

Research shows that bacterial communities in IBS patients are different than those without the condition.

However, it is not well defined what "normal" should be. It's not known whether the intestinal microbiota have changed due to intestinal problems or if they cause the condition.

Can changing microbiota affect symptoms?

Evidence shows that bacteria composition in the bowels plays a part in how the intestinal tract develops and functions. It seems that changing the balance of good versus bad bacteria can lead to an improvement of the effects of chronic GI symptoms. The reverse is also true.

For instance, infection in the GI tract (acute gastroenteritis) may lead to chronic IBS symptoms that continue even after recovering from the sickness that prompted the symptoms in the first place. This is a condition known as post-infectious IBS.

What are probiotics?

The word probiotic refers to live microorganisms that provide positive health benefits when given in sufficient amounts; in addition to this, they offer beneficial nutritional value.

As such, they're considered to be food supplements that can be found either in food products or prepared as powders, pills or capsules for over the counter use.

Can probiotics help with a GI disorder like IBS?

Studies have suggested that taking certain probiotics daily can improve intestinal function and reduce symptoms like bloating and general abdominal discomfort (source).

However, not all probiotics are the same. The strain which was found to have the most beneficial effect was bifidobacteria (source). When looking for a probiotic for IBS, try to find one that contains a variety of bifidobacteria.

What are the best probiotic supplements for IBS?

We all have a slightly different composition of gut microorganisms. It follows that supplements will not affect everyone in the same way. Depending on other conditions you have, some could even prove to be dangerous.

Though they're rather low-risk, it is possible to develop side effects. This might include additional gas and bloating, loose stools or even diarrhea (source). Although adverse reactions to probiotics are rare, you should always speak with your doctor before starting a new supplement.

Regardless of the supplement you take, you should not expect it to work overnight. Write down your symptoms over several weeks; if you don't feel better, or if you are feeling worse, stop immediately and discuss a new plan with your physician.

Quality

Price

Our rating

This probiotic blend has a huge 40 billion live cultures per veggie capsule. It’s also free from many allergens and most importantly is third party tested to guarantee quality and potency.

It is reasonably priced and is made in the USA in a GMP facility. All round, an excellent choice for anyone looking to try a probiotic supplement to relieve IBS.

Pros


  • Probiotic blend for digestive support
  • 40 billion live cultures per serving
  • Potency guaranteed
  • Veggie capsules
  • Gluten, soy and nut free
  • Non GMO
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • Made in the USA
  • Manufactured in a GMP and FDA facility
  • Third party tested for purity and potency

Cons


  • Large capsules

Quality

Price

Our rating

This is an all round digestive support which not only has 1 billion live probiotic cultures, but prebiotics and natural digestive enzymes. It is an all natural blend which is made in the USA in a GMP facility and is reasonably priced.

Pros


  • Full digestive support supplement
  • 1 billion live probiotic cultures
  • Includes prebiotics and digestive enzymes
  • All natural ingredients
  • Made in the USA
  • Manufactured in a GMP facility

Cons


  • Some users reported heartburn

Quality

Price

Our rating

This product is a natural proprietary probiotic blend of LAB4 strains. Made up from multiple strains including L. plantarum and L. acidophilus, this product is packed with 5 billion live cultures.

Again, this product is very expensive so may not make a great choice for everyone.

Pros


  • Probiotic digestive support
  • 5 billion live cultures
  • LAB4 strains
  • Vegetarian
  • Non GMO
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose free

Cons


  • Expensive

Quality

Price

Our rating

This probiotic supplement from Align comes in capsule form and contains the natural probiotic strain B. infantis 35624. In Ireland, this bacterial strain was first removed from a sample of healthy human intestines. Back in 2006, there was a study monitoring the effects of 362 patients taking various doses of this supplement to help improve IBS symptoms in suffering women.

Taking the right dose was found to decrease discomfort and pain in the abdomen, as well as bloating, gas, straining, insufficient evacuation and general satisfaction.

The one major downfall with this supplement is the price. It’s incredibly expensive compared to other similar products. But if you are happy to pay extra for something that works, then this could be a good choice for you.

Pros


  • Probiotic for digestive support
  • Contains B infantis 35624
  • Capsule form
  • Contains 1 billion live bacteria

Cons


  • Expensive

Quality

Price

Our rating

Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v, the main component in this probiotic bowel support, is a rather useful subspecies of bacteria. It was first isolated in 1986 by a scientist in Lund Sweden working with healthy human colon tissue.

Of all the probiotics on this list, this one has had the most trials - four in total - with positive end results. This probiotic supplement is dairy and gluten free and comes in the form of vegetarian capsules. They are also excellently priced.

Pros


  • Lactobacillus plantarum 299v
  • Bowel support for IBS sufferers
  • 10 billion organisms per probiotic capsule
  • Gluten free
  • Dairy free
  • Vegan
  • Good Price

Cons


  • Some users report no changeIncludes soy

Our Choice

For me, the product from Schwartz Bioresearch is the top dog when it comes to digestive support. Not only does each capsule offer up to 40 times more live cultures than others, each batch is third party tested for purity and potency while being manufactured in an FDA approved facility in the USA. This boosts your confidence in the quality of the product you are buying.

Bonus Graphic: What Causes IBS?

Helen Sanders
 

Chief editor here at Health Ambition, I'm a proud mother of two passionate about nutrition and ways to live healthier with more energy!

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