Research Papers

Long Term Multistrain Probiotic Use Safe and Effective to Treat Constipation in the Elderly


Constipation is a common condition among older individuals and is more common in women and nursing home residents. Chronic constipation can have a detrimental impact on quality of life and also presents an economic burden to patients and health services. Data shows that nearly half of patients with chronic constipation are dissatisfied with the available treatment options, see minimal symptom improvement and are concerned about adverse effects and long term safety. This study is a randomized controlled trial which evaluates the efficacy of multistrain probiotics on constipation in elderly people living in a nursing home. The hypothesis was that probiotics have a positive effect on stool frequency in the elderly. The results showed that the group given supplementation of multistrain probiotics had only a slight increase in stool frequency compared with the placebo group. However, stool frequency increased significantly in the probiotic group after the 71st day of treatment. The authors concluded that multistrain probiotic supplementation was found to be safe and effective to treat constipation in the elderly and that long-term intake is needed to achieve a significant effect on symptoms. The results also showed that probiotics are more effective when laxatives are not used in conjunction.

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Background and objectives: Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions, particularly among older individuals. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of selected multistrain probiotics on functional constipation and laboratory blood parameters in the elderly living in a nursing home. Subjects and methods: Sixty participants (42 females and 18 males) aged 77.9 ± 8.84 years with functional constipation, who met the eligibility criteria, completed the study. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel design, each participant was randomized to receive either the selected probiotic mixture (N = 28) or placebo (N = 32) for 12 weeks as an adjunct to their usual diet and medications. The liquid probiotic formulation containing Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BLC1, Lactobacillus acidophilus LA3 and Lactobacillus casei BGP93 was tested for the first time. Results: Supplementation of selected probiotics resulted in a slight but nonsignificant increase in cumulative stool frequency compared with placebo. However, after the 71st day of the treatment, the cumulative number of stools was significantly higher in the probiotic group (P < 0.05) when the influence of laxative was excluded. The trend towards an increase in the difference between the two groups, which began 1 week after the probiotic intervention, pointed out to their prolonged effect. There were no significant dependent or independent effects of treatment and time on most of the 27 laboratory blood parameters tested. Conclusions: Multistrain probiotic supplementation was found to be efficacious, safe and well tolerated in the elderly with functional constipation.

Article Publication Date: 4/8/2022
DOI: 10.1038/s41430-022-01189-0

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