Can Probiotics Help Diarrhoea?

Here at Healthpath, we’re proud to offer evidence-based advice. However, we’re aware that science can seem a bit impenetrable and dry. Boring, even.

We also believe that education is the first step to regain control. We read a lot of scientific papers, so we thought it would be a good idea to create a digest (no pun intended) of some of the key research.

We hope these plain-English versions bring the science to life and—even more importantly—help you address your symptoms for good.


“A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of a multi-strain probiotic formulation in the management of diarrhea- predominant irritable bowel syndrome”


What’s the title in plain English?

A study looking at whether a probiotic pill can help diarrhoea and other symptoms of IBS

What did they do?

Researchers selected group of participants (aged 18–55) with diarrhoea-dominant IBS. These participants were randomly assigned to receive either a probiotic containing 14 different types of good bacteria, or a placebo (a sugar pill). After 16 weeks, the IBS symptoms of all the participants were assessed using a special scoring system.

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What are the take-home points from the study?

1. At the end of the study, 33.7% of the participants who took the probiotic were symptom-free, compared to just 12.8% of the participants who took the placebo.

2. One month after the end of the study, 69% of the participants who took the probiotic pill had less abdominal pain, compared to 47% of the participants who took the placebo.

3. This was a large study (181 patients received the probiotic and 179 received the placebo) which increases our confidence in the results. In order to reduce bias, the researchers screened all participants throughout the study to check they were complying.

The Healthpath view

IBS is a common condition, which involves a range of digestive symptoms. This study shows that probiotics may be effective at reducing symptoms of diarrhoea-dominant IBS. However, as symptoms of diarrhoea-dominant IBS differ from one person to the next, a personalised approach may be necessary.

Read the full published study here.

Tegan Philp BA PgDip MSc is a Registered Nutritional Therapist. Passionate about all things gut-related, her master’s dissertation was on the role of the microbiome in cardiovascular outcomes. Tegan has over eight years’ experience working for leading nutrition colleges in both Australia and the UK. You can learn more about Tegan on her practitioner page or connect with her via LinkedIn.


Ref: Ishaque, S. M., Khosruzzaman, S. M., Ahmed, D. S., & Sah, M. P. 2018. A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of a multi-strain probiotic formulation (Bio-Kult®) in the management of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. BMC gastroenterology, 18(1), 71.

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