Do Probiotics Have Any Clinical Evidence?

A lot of health products that you’ll end up buying won’t have the evidence to back up the claims listed on the product. Probiotics are one of these supplements. Approximately 3 million adults in the U.S were estimated to take probiotics back in 2012. That number has probably increased significantly by now. Especially when research on the effects of the microbiome in various health outcomes has entered the mainstream media.

However, despite the hype around probiotics and the microbiome, it’s important to know what these products can and can’t do and to dispel any information surrounding them.

A Resource of Systematic Reviews on Probiotics

I’ve gathered as much evidence I could on probiotics and their effectiveness as an intervention for various outcomes. You’ll find that information below. I only included systematic reviews of the literature that were either done by multiple Cochrane groups, or that were published in the last ten years, but I have not critically appraised them. This is a bit of a small project, and perhaps I’ll try to make it more comprehensive depending on how many people are interested in this resource.

Clicking on the highlighted word will take you to the systematic review.

Outcomes Effectiveness
Mood Disorders
Depression No
Depression Yes, but not enough evidence and no magnitude of effect
Depression Yes, but not enough evidence and no magnitude of effect
Depression Yes, but not enough evidence
Depression, anxiety, and perceived stress Yes
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Yes
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Yes
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Yes
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Idiopathic Constipation Yes
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Yes, but not enough evidence
Acute pancreatitis Insufficient evidence
Acute pancreatitis No, but also not enough evidence
Pediatric Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea Yes
Acute infectious diarrhoea Yes
Persistent diarrhoea in children Yes, but not enough evidence
Clostridium difficile
Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea Yes
Clostridium difficile-associated colitis in adults No/Maybe + Insufficient evidence
Prevention of Clostridium difficile infection Yes, but not enough evidence
Ulcerative Colitis
Induction of remission in ulcerative colitis No
Maintenance of Remission in Ulcerative Colitis Low-quality evidence + insufficient
Crohn’s Disease
Induction of remission in Crohn’s disease Very little evidence
Prevention of post-operative recurrence of Crohn’s disease Insufficient evidence
Vaginal Infections
Bacterial vaginosis Maybe, but insufficient evidence
Vulvovaginal candidiasis Maybe, low quality evidence
Bacterial vaginosis in non-pregnant women Yes
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary Tract Infections No, but also not enough evidence
Preventing urinary tract infection in neuropathic bladder patients Maybe, but insufficient evidence + low-quality

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