New kings college research reveals that unique "live" liquid bacteria could eliminate the pain of IBS for millions

Newly published research suggests that a unique liquid made with live and activated bacteria could provide a “breakthrough” for the millions of Britons whose lives are blighted daily by the debilitating pain of IBS.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is Britain's most common digestive complaint, affecting 10-15% of the population. Despite the prevalence of IBS, the condition is extremely poorly managed. A recent survey of IBS sufferers revealed that over two thirds of sufferers have received no helpful advice from their GP regarding effective symptom relief. Sufferers therefore try an average of 5 products a month, costing them around £11 a month – but around half are still left battling the symptoms long-term. Many suffer in silence and do not share the full extent of their condition with friends or family, making this a very isolating problem.

Results of investigations recently published in the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics show that a unique multi-strain liquid bacteria called Symprove may offer the new hope for those with IBS who have struggled to find effective symptom relief. The double blind, placebo-controlled trial run by King's College Hospital, London, involved 186 patients suffering from moderate to severe IBS, for whom common IBS treatments had failed. Researchers found that the multiple strains of 'live' bacteria found in Symprove were associated with significant improvements in patients with moderate to severe IBS who had not responded to previous treatments (including conventional probiotics). Results revealed that all major IBS symptoms were either improved or disappeared completely in 60% of participants following 12 weeks of treatment, with no unpleasant side effects. Symprove particularly reduced abdominal pain, the most common and most dominating IBS symptom.

Professor Ingvar Bjarnason, consultant gastroenterologist and Principal Investigator of the study, noted “This study, which is one of the first ones on probiotics to be conducted according to pharmacologic standards, is a real breakthrough. Symprove had a most profound impact and for the first time ever, we saw people becoming symptom-free and that is very exciting.”

One patient to have benefited is Sally-Ann Clarke. For almost two decades the 45-year-old florist's life was ruled by her IBS, which caused crippling abdominal pains and chronic diarrhoea and meant she could never be far from a toilet. Food ran straight through her and she often had to dash to the toilet up to 10 times a day. Nights out became an ordeal and stress simply exacerbated her symptoms, making it a vicious cycle.

She says: “I never knew what was going to upset me, so for years I avoided social occasions for fear of ending up stuck in the bathroom. One night, when out on a date, I started to get hot and feel unwell immediately after finishing my starter. I ran to the restaurant bathroom with agonising stomach cramps and diarrhoea and was unable to leave the cubicle. I couldn't work out how I was going to get out of there – my date was left waiting at the table wondering where I was. It was mortifying and dinner dates became a distant memory after that. I was fast becoming a recluse.”

Sally-Ann tried everything she could find to help relieve her symptoms, to little or no effect. “My GP encouraged me to alter my diet and try anti-spasmodic and anti-diarrhoeal drugs but had no further suggestions, even when my symptoms persisted. Imodium helped in the short term but can't be taken every day, which was what I needed. Dairy-based probiotic drinks such as Yakult didn't touch it. I was on such a restricted diet and lost so much weight, but my symptoms never went away. I was at my wit's end. Many people's attitude is that it's 'only IBS'; but the condition was completely ruling my life.”

Sally-Ann says: “From the very first day I tried Symprove, I could feel something was different. Within 12 weeks I felt like a changed woman. I have had just one attack of IBS since – during a very very stressful time – compared to the numerous attacks that I previously endured every single day. It's nothing short of a miracle. I've gone from spending my days hiding at home near the toilet to having freedom for the first time in years – I'm able to go wherever I like and eat whatever I like. Symprove has not just improved my life; it has given me my life back.”

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Next review: 21 August 2020