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Probiotics help with liver conditions

By Tim Sandle     Jun 10, 2014 in Science
Probiotics are effective in helping with cirrhosis of the liver, according to a new study. This involves the ingestion of "good" bacteria in order to combat an over-growth of potentially harmful bacteria.
Specifically, probiotics have been shown to help prevent hepatic encephalopathy in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. Hepatic encephalopathy is a deterioration of brain function that is a serious complication of liver disease.
The probiotics function by modifying the gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms in the human gut) in a beneficial way. Among the various potential contributions of the microbiota to liver disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth has historically been shown to be common in liver disease. The probiotic aims to increase the levels of Lactobacillus (ordinarily a "good" bacterium) and reducing the level of Escherichia coli (potentially a ‘bad’ bacterium).
To show the benefits of introducing ‘good’ bacteria into the body, scientists from Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital, New Delhi, India conducted a trial with cirrhosis patients who showed risk factors for hepatic encephalopathy, but had yet to experience an episode. When comparing treatment with probiotics versus placebo, the researchers found that the incidence of hepatic encephalopathy was lower in patients treated with probiotics.
The results of the study suggested that probiotics are similar in effectiveness to the current standard of care, lactulose, in the prevention of hepatic encephalopathy, yet they appear to be much better tolerated.
The findings have been published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The article is titled “Probiotics Prevent Hepatic Encephalopathy in Patients With Cirrhosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”
More about Probiotics, Liver, Bacteria, cirrhosis, Hepatic encephalopathy
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