According to The IBS Network, a national charity that offers information and advice on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the condition affects a third of the UK population at one time or another. In fact, the problem has become so common these days that about one in 10 people suffer symptoms bad enough to make them go to their doctor.
IBS symptoms can include abdominal pain and spasm, diarrhoea, constipation, bloated stomach and wind. Stress is believed to be a significant trigger factor, while recent research has confirmed that in some people, irritable bowel syndrome may be due to food intolerance.1 Other research suggests the problem may be caused by parasites or Candida (yeast) overgrowth.2
Medical treatments vary from advice on diet and relaxation to the use of anti-spasmodic drugs or bulking agents. Some people turn to complementary medicine for help, such as nutritional therapy or homeopathy, while others educate themselves about their ailment from the many books and magazine articles on the subject.
Claire Williams, 45, from London, has suffered from irritable bowel syndrome for over five years. After trying all kinds of remedies, she read about Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, a new product available from health food stores by a company called Quest Vitamins.
After a couple of months on the product her alternating constipation and diarrhoea began to ease, and her abdominal cramps subsided completely.
Claire says, IBS was making my life a misery but after discovering Lactobacillus plantarum 299v I had renewed hope for a cure. Within a matter of weeks of taking the product my symptoms improved and I now feel ecstatic that I can lead a normal life again. I even treated myself to a few takeaways over the weekend without having any trouble, something I havent done in years.
Decrease the severity of your symptoms by as much as 90%
Lactobacillus plantarum 299v or Lp299v, is a member of the Lactobacillus family of micro-organisms friendly bacteria that have been found to populate a healthy human gastrointestinal tract. A lack of healthy bacteria in the intestines can cause an overgrowth of less beneficial bacteria, and this imbalance has been linked with diarrhoea, IBS and other gastrointestinal complaints.
Lp299v differs from other Lactobacillus species because it has been extensively researched for its use in treating digestive disorders, in particular, irritable bowel syndrome. Studies show that Lp299v may decrease the frequency and severity of symptoms experienced by irritable bowel syndrome sufferers by up to 90 per cent.
In one study, 40 IBS patients were split into two groups. One group received Lp299v daily for four weeks, while the other group received a placebo. The results showed that all patients treated with Lp299v reported resolution of their abdominal pain compared to only 11 patients in the placebo group. There was also a trend towards the normalisation of stool frequency in constipated patients in six out of 10 patients treated with Lp299v compared with two out of 11 treated with the placebo. With regards to all IBS symptoms, an improvement was noted in 95 per cent of patients in the Lp299v group compared to 15 per cent of patients in the placebo group.3
In another study, 50 IBS patients took Lp299v (plus another friendly bacteria called Bifidobacterium breve) or a placebo for four weeks. The pain score in different abdominal locations in the probiotics group decreased by 38 per cent compared to 18 per cent in the placebo group after 14 days and by 52 per cent compared to 11 per cent after 28 days.4
Lp299v works by creating a protective barrier against harmful bacteria.
Lp299v is thought to help irritable bowel syndrome sufferers because it has the ability to temporarily colonise the lining of the intestines and form a physical barrier against pathogenic bacteria.
Over time, consuming sugars, processed foods and alcohol can inhibit the friendly bacteria in the gut. Antibiotics can also damage bowel microflora. Re-colonising the intestines with Lp299v can help prevent gastrointestinal problems like IBS by depriving pathogenic bacteria of the opportunity to overgrow and flourish.
A liquid culture containing a bacteriocin (a compound produced by probiotics which helps prevent the growth and development of pathogenic bacteria), produced by Lp299v, was shown to help inhibit the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus faecalis, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli. All of these bacteria have the potential to cause harm to the intestines.5
Friendly bacteria like Lp299v play an important role in the manufacture of short-chain fatty acids in the body. One of these fatty acids butyric acid feeds the epithelial mucosa cells lining the gut wall and is essential in maintaining the integrity of the gastrointestinal wall. The manufacture of short-chain fatty acids also helps maintain a slightly acid pH level in the gut, which in turn promotes the growth of acid loving beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus.
After surviving stomach acid, it arrives in your large intestine ready to go to work
Another reason for Lp299vs effectiveness could be that it is one of the few types of friendly bacteria supplements that have been shown to survive the journey through the acid environment of the stomach, and to reach the large intestine where it is able to establish itself and flourish for days.
To be effective, a probiotic supplement must survive the passage through the stomach to be viable on arrival at the large intestine. The presence of friendly bacteria in the faeces is therefore evidence that the probiotic has survived the harsh acidic environment of the stomach.
In a study that looked at the resistance of Lp299v, 22 participants consumed a fermented oatmeal drink with or without Lp299v for four weeks. Lp299v significantly increased the number of Lactobacilli in the stools of the test group within one week, therefore proving that this strain of bacteria is highly resistant to stomach acid.6
What to take for best results
The recommended dose is one capsule twice daily on an empty stomach.
Contraindications: There are no known contraindications associated with Lp299v and it is safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The use of antibiotics may deplete friendly bacteria in the gut, therefore, antibiotics and Lp299v should be taken at least two hours apart.
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Gut 2004; 53(10): 1459-64
Franklin, Michael. An overview of Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis results from The IBS and Gut Disorder Centre. 2002-2005
Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2001; 13(10): 1143-7
J Clin Gastroenterol. 2004; 38(6 Suppl): S104-6
J Gen Appl Microbiol 2004; 50(3): 149-57
Int J Food Microbiol 1998; 42: 29-38