The Sheffield IBS Trial


What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is a common functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract characterised by abdominal symptoms such as abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating and change of bowel habit leading to either diarrhoea or constipation, nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting, depression and anxiety.

The symptoms need to be experienced at least 3 days a month over a 3 month period for a diagnosis of IBS to be confirmed. It is the most common gut condition and affects up to 20% of the UK population with double the frequency in women.

What causes IBS?
The exact cause of IBS is not clear, but one theory gaining ground is that it may be due to a shift in the balance of billions of bacteria, which normally inhabit our intestine, towards those bacteria, that produce excessive gas and could possibly initiate an inflammatory response. Stress, gastrointestinal infections or antibiotics use seem to trigger the onset of IBS symptoms in some people.

The aim of the Sheffield IBS Trial

This study aimed to establish that supplementation of a high potency probiotic can significantly reduce the symptoms of IBS.

How the Sheffield IBS Trial was set up

  • 52 people diagnosed with IBS by the Rome II criteria were divided into two groups.
  • One group was supplemented daily for 8 weeks with 25 billion Lab4 probiotics whilst the second group took a dummy capsule.
  • The following IBS symptoms were assessed every two weeks during the study period and again at 10 weeks – two weeks after taking the probiotics:

Total IBS Symptoms – comprising:

  • Number of days with pain
  • Level of abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Quality of life
  • Satisfaction with bowel habit

The results

  • The participants taking the Lab4 probiotic showed significant improvement in Total IBS symptoms. Those taking the dummy capsule did not.
  • A significant reduction in days with pain, and bloating was achieved with the Lab4 group.
  • Satisfaction with bowel habit and quality of life was significantly improved in the Lab4 group.
  • The improvement in symptoms diminished quickly when the Lab4 supplementation was discontinued.