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Our Complete List of The Best Probiotics for IBS

Our Complete List of The Best Probiotics for IBS

We’ll cut to the chase: you’ve probably asked yourself - or Google - “what are the best probiotics for IBS? 

The bad news is, there are tons, literally billions, of strains out there. But the good news is that researchers are looking at probiotics, both individually and combined, to find a viable solution for people affected by Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

IBS, a condition that causes severe digestive issues and abdominal pain, affects 25 to 45 million people in the USA. And, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, it’s estimated that 10 to 15% of the world population suffers from IBS. Out of which 2 in 3 are women. There are a lot of reasons why someone may be suffering from this gastrointestinal issue and even more ideas for how to alleviate the symptoms.

But, the truth is, it depends on a lot of factors. One solution that continually surfaces - and for good reason - is taking probiotics to alleviate and manage your IBS. 

So, if you’re looking for the best probiotics for IBS - you’re definitely not alone. And we’re here to help make the hunt a little easier.

Gut Health and IBS

The gastrointestinal tract is lined with 100 trillion microorganisms that assist digestion, the immune system, and many other bodily functions, even affecting mood. This complex microbiome, also known as the gut flora, is made of communities of bacteria, fungi, yeast, and more. These are imperative to maintain gastrointestinal homeostasis. 

To break it down, this means that, when the gut flora is out of sorts, so is the entire body. And really, what isn’t affected when our tummy doesn’t feel right? But we know we don’t have to tell you that.

Since the exact cause of IBS is still unknown, researchers are looking at rebalancing the gut flora as an opportunity to minimize the symptoms and signs of IBS. 

Some scientists believe that IBS may be the byproduct of a gut, brain, and nervous system interaction gone wrong. However, because the signs of IBS vary from patient to patient, pinning down that malfunction has not been easy.

The one thing all patients do have in common is altered bowel movements; given that gastrointestinal distress alters gut flora, it lays the foundation for repetitive cycles of IBS episodes, whether that’s diarrhea or constipation. And we know neither of those are fun.

Since IBS impacts so many people and it’s still so mysterious, the current goal is to find the best probiotics for IBS per type (and in general for those with mixed types of IBS) as a form of supplemental therapy to proactively reduce triggers and manage the condition - before your gut decides to go haywire on its own. 

What Are the Signs of IBS?

There are three types of irritable bowel syndrome. IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) and Mixed IBS or Alternating IBS (known as IBS-M or IBS-A) where the individual experiences both episodes of constipation and diarrhea. 

While the signs of IBS vary per type, you likely know your most common symptoms - and maybe you even have a good handle on your triggers, but most people experience the following:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Bowel movement alterations 
  • Mucus in stool
  • Food allergies 
  • Food sensitivity
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea (IBS D)
  • Constipation (IBS C)
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation (IBS-M/A)
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety

There is another type of IBS, known as IBS-U or unidentified, this type has usually gone undiagnosed for a while but experiences the same symptoms above. 

Leaky Gut vs IBS

IBS and the Leaky Gut Syndrome are different, but the latter may appear after years of unchecked IBS symptoms as an aggravated condition.

You see, when the walls lining the intestine become inflamed, they turn more and more permeable - or “leaky”. If this happens a few times, your body has an incredible ability to heal itself from the outside in. But, over time, chronic inflammation piles up and your body can’t always overcome it - which allows toxins and other substances in the gut to enter the bloodstream and trigger the immune system. 

This is just one reason why managing IBS with probiotics is important. It may help prevent future gastrointestinal issues from surfacing. Not to mention, it will substantially increase your day-to-day quality of life!

Here’s how the Signs of IBS vary from the Signs of Leaky Gut Syndrome:

Signs of IBS

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Constipation, diarrhea, or alternating episodes.

Chronic diarrhea and/or constipation.

Gas and/or bloating

Gas and/or bloating

Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain

Fatigue

Excessive fatigue

Mood swings

Nutritional deficiencies

Anxiety

Weakened immune system

Brain fog, difficulty concentrating

Skin issues (rashes/acne/eczema)

Triggering of autoimmune diseases


As you can see the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome tend to be more severe than those of IBS, even though they are often experienced together.

The good news is, researchers are not just looking into the best probiotics for IBS, they’re also looking for the best probiotics for diarrhea in general. They are also looking into if and how probiotics help with constipation and the best ones for the leaky gut syndrome. There are many benefits of probiotics that go far beyond IBS - and even your gut - but for now, we want to help you with those IBS symptoms.

How Probiotics for IBS May Help You

Probiotics are "friendly" bacteria that we can consume for health benefits. A growing body of evidence shows that they support digestion, the immune system, and improve mood or brain functions by balancing out the “unfriendly” ones and keeping them in check. Taking probiotics for IBS could help repopulate the gut flora with helpful bacteria and reduce your symptoms.

Even though research in this field is just beginning, there’s promising evidence that probiotics for IBS may be recognized as a viable treatment option. Different strains and supplements are being studied to determine their capacity to alleviate, reduce or prevent IBS symptoms. And we are seeing some great results.

The Best Probiotics for IBS

The challenge in finding the right probiotics for IBS lies in how diverse the IBS symptoms can be the large number of probiotic strains available and the different mechanisms investigators have used to study them. It’s a complicated job!

But it’s worthwhile work, because, some clinical trial results show that probiotics may be more effective than placebos and are generally efficient in the treatment of IBS. There is no definitive answer yet, but emerging evidence points to these strains as the best-known probiotics for IBS:

  • Bifantis or Bifidobacterium Infantis: specifically strain number 35624 a group of healthy bacteria that should already live in your body. However, due to poor diet, inadequate absorption, and environmental conditions they may be missing in your gut.

    IBS symptoms improved with a dose of 10M CFU. In female-only studies, the women who took strain found significant improvement.

  • Saccharomyces Boulardii: a probiotic yeast successfully used in multiple clinical trials both alone and in combination with other probiotics to treat antibiotic-induced diarrhea, Chron’s disease, and IBS.

  • VSL#3 or the Poly-Biotic: a probiotic mix of eight different strains that extensive research shows may be an “effective therapeutic tool” to restore immune function after antibiotics and to improve symptoms of IBS. This poly-biotic includes:

      • Streptococcus thermophilus
      • Bifidobacterium breve
      • B. longum or B. infantis
      • Lactobacillus acidophilus
      • L. plantarum
      • L. paracasei and
      • L. delbrueckii subsp
      • Bulgaricus

    Some studies indicate that VSL#3 could be safe and effective for both children and adults.

    The Best Probiotics for IBS-D

    Researchers haven’t found the #1 best probiotic for diarrhea, but there are some top contenders. The good news is you can take multiple strains at once to reap the benefits and help with your IBS-D symptoms. 

    • Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium infantis could help to improve stool consistency and reduce abdominal pain.

    • Bacillus coagulans appear in multiple studies and might be one of the best probiotics for diarrhea. In a double-blind and randomized clinical study, the strain MTCC 5856 was found safe and efficient in the treatment of IBS-D. 

      The patients improved on all primary outcomes including diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

    Multi-strain preparations may be the best probiotics for diarrhea and IBS-D. One study looked at a combination of seven strains over a ten-week period and noticed general improvement and relief in patients. The strains included were:

    • Lactobacillus acidophilus
    • Lactobacillus plantarum
    • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
    • Bifidobacterium breve
    • Bifidobacterium lactis
    • Bifidobacterium longum
    • Streptococcus thermophilus

    In short: the best probiotics for IBS-D include poly-biotics with Lactobacillus Plantarum, Bifidobacterium infantis, and Bacillus coagulans.

    These are all safe to try and may help different people in different ways. Consult with a licensed physician, especially if you’re already taking medications for your symptoms.

    The Best Probiotics for IBS-C

    Do probiotics help with constipation, too? Fortunately, it seems so.

    While most IBS patients suffer from IBS-D and thus experience loose stool more often, multiple studies show that there may be probiotics for constipation. 

    A systematic review by researchers at King’s College in London found that probiotics for constipation slow down gut transit time, increase stool frequency (up to 1.3 times per week!), and stool consistency with the strain Bifidobacterium lactis.

    An IBS-specific clinical trial found that multispecies probiotics for constipation work well to reduce abdominal pain, cramping, gas, and constipation by 60% to 90% compared to only 6-36% in the placebo control group. They studied combinations of Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium animalis, noticing that the best probiotics for IBS-C combined Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium animalis.

    In short: Supplements that have Bifidobacterium lactis and/or animalis, in addition to the Lactobacillus family, specifically L. plantarum could work as probiotics for constipation.

    Discuss this with a licensed physician to see if they are a good match for you. And make sure you’re meeting your dietary fiber needs in addition to your treatment.

    The Best Probiotics for IBS-M or IBS-A

    Given the complex nature of IBS-M or IBS-A, there aren’t many studies looking to find both the best probiotics for diarrhea and probiotics for constipation simultaneously. The data so far is not conclusive enough for either case and therefore it seems that only strain mixtures may work to help manage alternating IBS symptoms. 

    If you have IBS-M, you could consider the possibility of a poly-biotic and working with your physician to test multiple strains until you find one that makes you feel better. Or, you can keep different probiotics around for each situation and take them when needed.

    Managing IBS Symptoms with Probiotics

    It’s important to note that probiotics alone may not be the solution to minimize the signs of IBS permanently; it’s a supplemental form of natural therapy that works best when accompanied by an IBS-friendly diet - free of food irritants - and medication when prescribed by your doctor.

    Poly-biotics that combine multiple strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium Infantis could be the best probiotics for IBS patients, considering that each strain helps to repopulate an important colony of the gut flora with helpful bacteria that in general support digestion, immune response, and bowel movements.

    Time is also critical for improvement; most clinical trials follow patients for six to ten weeks minimum to see the effects of the probiotics for IBS patients. So, it may take a few weeks to see positive results.

    Stay patient! And make sure you do your best to remove known triggers out of your day in the meantime.

    And remember, each case is different. You may have to experiment with a few options and strains before you find the right match for you.

    Let us know if you found this guide useful and don’t forget to bookmark it for later reference. Share with a friend that suspects they might have IBS or has already been diagnosed with the condition, they may find the best probiotics for their type of IBS here.

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