Updated 08 January 2016

Why probiotics are beneficial for IBS

When it comes to probiotics, many of us have answered questions. What are probiotics, why are they beneficial and how often should you take them? We answer your questions.


Probiotics are ‘live micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria) which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the human body’.

A large number of organisms are being used in clinical practice for a variety of purposes including for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and acute infectious diarrhoea. The most widely used and researched organisms are Lactobacillus sp.  Bifidobacterium sp., and Saccharomyces boulardii.

Just as all ‘pills’ are not the same, different probiotics have varying properties. Probiotics commonly studied for use in IBS include Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium strains.

Recent scientific research suggests that IBS is caused by various factors that include an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut.3 Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium bacteria are considered beneficial in IBS as they reduce harmful organisms in the gut and do not produce toxins harmful to the body.

When looking for a probiotic, it is best to find a product containing the exact strain (or strains) that have demonstrated the best evidence for the specific benefit sought. (Table 1)

Different probiotics have been shown to be effective at various levels. The dose should match studies demonstrating their benefit(s), which typically ranges from 100 million to 10+ billion CFU/dose.

Clinical studies conducted on the strain Lactobacillus plantarum in patients with IBS, commonly used dosages of 5 billion to 10 billion CFU.

CFU (Colony Forming Units) refers to the number of live microorganisms in each serving or dose.

table of probiotics for different medical conditio

Read more:
Optimise your gut health with probiotics
What you need to know about Lp299v probiotics


1. Kligler B, Cohrssen A. Probiotics. Am Fam Physician 2008;78(9):1073-1078.
2. Probiotics: A Consumer Guide for Making Smart Choices. International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. [Online] 2015 Mar 15.[cited 2015 Oct 20] 
3. Aragon G, Graham DB, Borum M, et al. Probiotic Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterol Hepatol 2010; 6(1):39–44.
4. Nino Binns. Probiotics, prebiotics and the gut microbiota. ILSI Europe Concise Monograph Series. Online] 2013.[cited 2015 Oct 20]; Available from: PROBIOTICS, PREBIOTICS AND THE GUT MICROBIOTA
5. Niedzielin K, Kordecki H, Birkenfeld B. A controlled, double-blind, randomized study on the efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum 299V in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2001;13(10):1143-7.
6. Ducrotte P, Sawant P, Jayanthi V. Clinical trial: Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (DSM 9843) improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.  World J Gastroenterol 2012;18(30):4012-4018.