Treating Bugs with Bugs: The Role of Probiotics as Adjunctive Therapy for Helicobacter pylori

  • Wilhelm S
  • Johnson J
  • Kale-Pradhan P
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OBJECTIVE: To review the literature on the role of probiotics as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infections. DATA SOURCES: Literature was accessed through MEDLINE (1966-March 2011) using the terms H. pylori, probiotic, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Bacillus clausii, and Propionibacterium. Article references were hand-searched for additional relevant articles and abstracts. STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: All English-language articles published in full were evaluated. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials assessing the use of probiotics combined with standard eradication therapy of H. pylori infection in adults were included in the review. DATA SYNTHESIS: Various probiotics, including Lactobacillus spp., Saccharomyces spp., Bifidobacterium spp., and B. clausii, reduce adverse effects such as nausea, taste disturbance, diarrhea, and epigastric pain, and increase tolerability of H. pylori eradication therapy. Based on the studies reviewed, probiotics do not affect H. pylori eradication rates. CONCLUSIONS: Probiotics may be beneficial in reducing adverse effects and increasing tolerability of H. pylori eradication regimens. They may especially be helpful in patients with recurrent H. pylori infection and a history of gastrointestinal adverse effects with antibiotics. Pharmacists can play an important role in educating patients regarding probiotic use during H. pylori eradication therapy.

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  • Sheila M Wilhelm

  • Jennifer L Johnson

  • Pramodini B Kale-Pradhan

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