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First UK trial to confirm benefits of LAB4 multistrain probiotic for IBS patients

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have identified a multistrain probiotic that can help treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)1, offering hope to the six million sufferers living with the condition in the UK.2

In a randomised, placebo controlled trial involving 52 patients clinically diagnosed with IBS, half were supplemented with a high strength multistrain probiotic known as LAB4, commercially available under the name ProVen, whilst the other half took placebo. Patients were assessed every two weeks during the eight week supplementation period and again two weeks after the trial had ended. Details of the trial are available at .

Participants in the trial who took the LAB4 multistrain probiotic reported significant benefits in just two weeks, with the majority seeing the following improvements after four weeks:

· reduction in the severity of abdominal pain

· reduction in the duration of abdominal pain

· reduction of abdominal bloating

· improved daily bowel movement

· improved quality of life

Comparison of the effectiveness of the LAB4 multistrain probiotic to the placebo effect showed a significant difference in favour of the probiotic at six weeks, indicating that LAB4 strain had definite benefits to participating triallists.

Symptoms of IBS also returned to the patients who had been taking the LAB4 multistrain probiotic, highlighting that ongoing supplementation may be necessary to help prevent IBS symptoms from returning.

Scientists have long suspected that probiotics can help maintain digestive health and transit, but this is the first clinical trial to test the LAB4 multistrain probiotic. The results are due to be published later this month in the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Dr Elizabeth Williams from the University of Sheffield and lead researcher on the trial says:

"This trial is encouraging news for IBS sufferers. In a robust randomised controlled design we have demonstrated that the LAB4 multistrain probiotic helps alleviate the symptoms associated with IBS"

Dr Williams continues: “Dairy based probiotics are available; however some IBS sufferers report that dairy products aggravate their symptoms, and so a dairy-based delivery of probiotics is not always appropriate. This trial has tested a probiotic formula that can be delivered in a capsule and may therefore provide an alternative”.

The cause or causes of IBS still remain unclear, but this latest trial provides further evidence that the balance of gut microflora plays a key role in managing the condition. It is thought that IBS can be caused when the ‘bad’ bacteria in the intestine starts to dominate, producing excessive gas which may result in inflammation.

Jonathan Blanchard Smith, Chair of The Gut Trust, the national charity for irritable bowel syndrome says: “We welcome the findings of this latest trial which support the recent NICE guidelines and our own advice as a charity that probiotics can be a help in managing the symptoms of IBS”

Presently IBS patients often manage their condition with the use of antidiarrhoeals, laxatives and anti-spasmodics, which can be ineffective and expensive, and do not address the issue of balancing gut microflora.

ProVen costs £12.45 (30 capsules) and is exclusively available from or by calling 0800 980 1282



1 Ailment Pharmacol Ther.2008 Sep 10. [Epub ahead of print] Clinical trial: a multistrain probiotic preparation significantly reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Williams E, Stimpson J, Wang D, Plummer S, Garaiova I, Barker M, Corfe B.

2 The Gut Trust


The trial was conducted on fifty two participants diagnosed with IBS and was a double blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study. Participants were randomised to receive either the probiotic preparation of two strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus CUL60 (NCIMB 30157) and Bifidobacterium lactis CUL34 (NCIMB 30172) and Bifidobacterium bifidum CUL20 (NCIMB 30153) or a placebo capsule for 8 weeks. Participants reported their IBS symptoms using a validated questionnaire fortnightly during the intervention and at two weeks post intervention.

For further information or to speak with Dr Williams from the University of Sheffield please contact:

Andrea Kilbride/ / 020 7202 8520 /

Andrew Stevens / 020 7202 8520 /

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