Diverticulitis is a painful and relatively common gut problem, and as with many conditions that affect the gastrointestinal system, researchers are looking at the effectiveness of probiotics in treating it.
"Diverticulosis happens when pouches (diverticula) form in the wall of the colon," according to WebMD
. "If these pouches get inflamed or infected, it is called diverticulitis. Doctors aren't sure what causes diverticula in the colon (diverticulosis). But they think that a low-fiber diet may play a role. Without fiber to add bulk to the stool, the colon has to work harder than normal to push the stool forward. The pressure from this may cause pouches to form in weak spots along the colon. Bacteria grow in the pouches, and this can lead to inflammation or infection."
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According to the Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology journal
, more than 2.5 million people in the United States suffer from this disease that can be extremely painful. Although many studies about the use of probiotics to treat diverticulitis and its symptoms have been small, there is promise in the treatment.
"The rationale for the use of probiotics is based on the theory that endogenous intestinal microflora play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of these disorders," the journal reported. "The use of probiotics will restore the normal intestinal flora that may have been altered in diverticular disease due to stasis and reduced colonic transit time. There are few data available about the use of probiotics in diverticular disease. Most studies were small and uncontrolled."
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The journal cited a study in which probiotic supplements in 15 patients helped them to attain "longer periods of remission and improved abdominal symptoms," and another study of 90 patients in which a group that received a combination of probiotics with medicine was 100 percent symptom-free at a 12-month follow up. That was compared with 76.7 percent of the group that received medicine alone.
Such studies offer hope for the future of probiotics in treating diverticulitis.
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