In a 2016 digestive health survey commissioned by Cipla, 38% of participants reported that they suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The use of a good quality, daily probiotic can decrease the symptoms of IBS as the microorganisms found in probiotics support the maintenance of a healthy gut flora balance.
This is according to Professor Leon Dicks, head of the probiotic and antimicrobial peptide lab in the Department of Microbiology at Stellenbosch University and developer of entiro™ probiotic, who says that IBS is characterised by a variety of symptoms including abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. “Unfortunately, most cases of IBS go undiagnosed as sufferers would rather not consult their physicians about the symptoms. New research into the causes of IBS suggest changes to the brain-gut messaging; stretching and contractions of the muscles in the gut; and, a general increase in pain experienced. Although relatively little is known about the cause of IBS, we do know how to treat it.”
Professor Dicks explains that women are more likely than men to suffer from IBS and that the syndrome rarely occurs in people past 50 years of age. “Those who have family members suffering from IBS should be cautious, as this may increase their risk of developing the syndrome.”
IBS, in most cases, is a chronic condition and is rarely completely cured, although symptoms can become less severe if the correct treatment is undertaken, he explains. “The symptoms are not only physical, but can also cause stress as sufferers are in frequent pain or discomfort. The syndrome can also cause anxiety as bowel movements become unpredictable and difficult to control.”
Professor Dicks adds that research has established a link between a dysfunction of the bacteria in the gut, known as gut flora, and the onset of IBS. “Disruption to the fine balance between gut flora and the body may be caused by a number of factors, including the use of antibiotics or a bout of gastroenteritis.”
He states that probiotics or ‘good’ bacteria, consisting of live microorganisms, are beneficial in the management of IBS. “Although there are many probiotics on the market, it is important to ensure that you take a good quality probiotic which treats and protects both the small and large intestine.”
“Probiotics have no real negative side effects and are therefore a safe course of action in the management of IBS,” he concludes.
About Prof Leon Dicks
Professor Dicks has devoted his research to lactic acid bacteria (LAB) with a special focus on their probiotic properties and antimicrobial peptides. He has published 200 research papers, mostly in ISI-rated journals, contributed to 30 book chapters, and has filed nine patents. His research papers have been cited close to 5000 times over the last 7 years (Google Scholar, 18 April 2016) and he has an H-index of 39 (ISI Web of Knowledge website; 15 January 2009). His research is listed in The Nature Index, a global indicator of high-quality research that tracks affiliations n a selected group of highly selective science journals, chosen by an independent group of active researchers. He is ranked 14th in a list of 1 346 scientists that publish on antimicrobial peptides (bacteriocins) of lactic acid bacteria and 10th in a list of 12 343 scientists that conduct research on LAB (Web of Science, 7 April 2016). His group was the first to incorporate antimicrobial peptides of LAB in nanofibers that led to the development of a nanofiber wound dressing with antimicrobial properties.
The probiotic entiroTM developed by his group for a leading international pharmaceutical company has been patented in 65 countries (PCT/IB2007/051982) and entered the SA market in January 2013. He received several awards for research excellence, including the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-BHP Billiton award for research and innovation, the 2014 inventor of the year breakthrough award from Popular Mechanics and the Havenga award for Life Sciences in 2015. He serves on several editorial boards and collaborates with leading international scientists in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Finland, Japan and the USA. He is a keen and successful oil painting artist.
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