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MARY SHOMON'S AUTOIMMUNE NEWS
   
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More Reason for Probiotics (July 2002)

In Living Well With Autoimmune Disease, the importance of probiotic supplements for autoimmune disease sufferers is discussed.

And there are two more reasons for probiotic supplements that are being reported in the research. Early results of research presented in April 2002 at a conference in Italy reported that as many as 18 percent of chronic migraine sufferers were infected with the bacteria helicobacter pylori – which has been found to be the cause of many ulcers.

Among those who tested positive for helicobacter pylori, use of antibiotics was an effective treatment for the headaches, and even better results were obtained when sufferers added the “friendly” bacteria probiotic supplement lactobacillus. The majority of those who added the supplement were free of migraines for a year, and the others had fewer and less intense headaches.

At the end of the year, only 20 percent of those who got antibiotics and probiotics to start, and then continued on probiotics for the year were still getting headaches. Headaches in the probiotic group occurred less often, were milder and went away more quickly than they did in the antibiotics group.

Preliminary research findings have also indicated that the risk of eczema can be reduced in infants who are given probiotics while they are being weaned from breastmilk. In the past, researchers have been able to determine that children with food allergies have a higher likelihood of overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the large intestine. A healthy, balanced ratio of good/bad bacteria is thought to help create a properly functioning immune system.

The researchers looked at 21 breast-fed infants who had already been diagnosed as having eczema, and were therefore at an increased risk of developing allergies. The infants were weaned to whey formula with and without probiotic supplementation. Stool samples were taken to test for levels and presence of good and bad bacteria. What the research found was that those who did not get the probiotic formula were more likely to have higher levels of bad bacteria. More studies will be needed to confirm these findings.

SOURCES: Gut 2002;51:51-55, July 2002

NOTE: In addition to taking probiotics, there are a number of other immune-healthy changes you can make to your diet, and supplements to consider. Find out more in the detailed diet and nutrition section of Living Well With Autoimmune Disease.

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