Good bacteria useful for ulcerative colitis

Consuming a mixture of eight good, or “probiotic,” bacteria reduces symptoms in patients with Ulcerative colitis that doesn’t respond to conventional medications, new research suggests.

Ulcerative colitis is a severe inflammatory disease of the colon that often produces bloody diarrhea and is associated with an increased risk of Colon cancer. Complete removal of the colon is frequently performed to reduce the symptoms of the disease and eliminate the cancer risk.

The probiotic mixture, known as VSL#3, contains four strains of Lactobacillus, three strains of Bifidobacterium and one strain of Streptococcus salivarius - all well-known species of good bacteria.

Although VSL#3 has been shown to maintain remission of ulcerative colitis, there have been no studies on the mixture’s use in the active, symptom-producing phase of the disease, co-investigator Dr. Richard N. Fedorak, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues note in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Ulcerative colitis Definition
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, episodic, inflammatory disease of the large intestine and rectum characterized by bloody diarrhea.

They therefore enrolled 34 patients with active Ulcerative colitis who were treated with VSL#3 twice daily for 6 weeks. A variety of standard treatments had been tried on the patients first, all to no avail.

Remission occurred in 53 percent of the patients and an additional 24 percent experienced some degree of improvement in symptoms. A few patients experienced no improvement or worsening of their symptoms.

The only apparent side effect of VSL#3 was increased bloating, reported by 10 patients.

Ulcerative colitis Treatment

The goals of treatment are to control the acute attacks, prevent recurrent attacks, and promote healing of the colon. Hospitalization is often required for severe attacks. Corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

Medications that may be used to decrease the frequency of attacks include 5-aminosalicylates such as mesalamine and immunomodulators such as azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine.

Testing of sampled tissue provided direct evidence that the probiotic bacteria had, in fact, reached the diseased sites of the colon, Fedorak and his team note.

SOURCE: American Journal of Gastroenterology, July 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD