Jul
04
2020

Probiotics and a Phage Blend for Digestive Problems

In general, probiotics and a phage blend for digestive problems can help patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is important to realize that about ¾ of Americans suffer from digestive problems. They develop symptoms of gas, bloating, diarrhea and stomach pains. To put it another way, about 1 in 7 Americans suffer from the condition, called chronic irritable bowel syndrome. That is to say, he underlying problem is an imbalance of gut bacteria where the bad ones outnumber the good ones. There are a number or reasons why bowel flora gets disrupted. We eat more processed foods, less fiber, and beef products from industry farms contain antibiotic residues. In feedlots for beef cattle antibiotics are fed to the animals as growth promoters. The residues in the meat kill the good bacteria in our guts and the bad ones proliferate. This causes digestive problems, but also weakens our immune system.

How probiotics work

Probiotics can restore our gut flora to a large extent. But some of the probiotic action gets lost in the stomach from the acidic milieu. A recent publication from a panel of gastroenterologists has not supported the wide use of probiotics. They came to the conclusion that probiotics have not shown enough benefit to a number of clinical conditions. The researchers mentioned Crohn’s disease, C. difficile infection, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in particular of not responding to probiotics. But this may be because of inactivation of some of the power of the probiotics by stomach acid. In addition, by not using phages to potentiate the probiotic action probiotics may fail to permanently to improve the gut flora. I have previously discussed the importance of probiotics for the gut flora.

History and use of bacteriophages

Bacteriophages are now often just called phages. Dr. Frederick Twort, an Englishman detected phages in 1915 during World War I. Essentially a phage consists of either DNA or RNA and a protein envelope around this. Phages are very specific for certain bacterial strains. They attach to the bacteria and inject their own DNA or RNA into the bacteria. This stops the bacteria from multiplying, but makes the bacteria produce many more identical phages. Phages are useful to control the growth of problem bugs including antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, the regulatory agencies were slow to approve phages despite a good safety record. Life Extension Magazine recently published a review article about this subject.

Phages helping to protect probiotic bacteria

Phages naturally play a role in keeping the gut flora stable. In this lengthy review, published in January 2020 phage actions are reviewed. It also mentions the connection between the gut flora and the immune system. The Life Extension Magazine article mentioned above describes experiments that show the action of phages. E. coli is the main bacterium in the large intestine. It is also the bacterium that can cause pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections.

Experiments with bacteria and phages in Petri dishes

According to the Life Extension Magazine article researchers did experiments with Bifidobacterium longum, one of the desirable gut bacteria. This was placed on a Petri dish along with E. coli bacteria. In a second Petri dish Bifidobacterium longum, E. coli and a phage mix were placed. After 5 hours there was hardly any growth of Bifidobacterium longum in the first petri dish, as it was crowded out by E. coli. The result in the second Petri dish was interesting: the Bifidobacterium longum colonies were 7000-times higher in number than in the other Petri dish without the phage mixture. The phages had selectively attacked the E. coli bacteria, which made room for the Bifidobacterium longum bacteria to multiply.

Animal experiments with bacteria and phages

The Life Extension Magazine review mentions animal experiments with phages next. One group of mice received B. longum and the disease-causing E. coli in their food. The other group had the same bacteria plus a mix of phages directed against E. coli. For the phage group the results within 24 hours were as follows.

  • The E. coli count in the small intestine was 10-fold lower, in the large intestine 100-fold lower and in the fecal matter 100-fold lower.
  • The phage group also had a 100-fold increase of the B. longum count in the small intestine. The large intestine also had a 100-fold increase of the B. longum count. And there was a 40-fold increase of B. longum in the fecal matter.

Control mice without the phage mix developed constipation and intestinal segments showed redness, swelling and leaks. In contrast, the phage mix group of mice showed no side effects and had improved digestive function.

Human studies using probiotics and a phage blend for digestive problems

Safety tests of phage therapy were next in 2005 involving 15 volunteers. There were no side effects using two different phage concentrations to diminish E. coli. Researchers had done other safety experiments in Russia and in Poland in the past. Patients with ulcerative colitis responded with improved symptoms and improved endoscopic findings to treatment with two probiotics. They received fermented milk products (Cultura) containing live lactobacilli (La-5) and bifidobacteria (Bb-12) for 4 weeks. There were 51 patients with ulcerative colitis and 10 patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. Abdominal cramps, Involuntary defecation, leakage and the need for napkins were significantly reduced in both groups. An endoscopic score of inflammation showed a significant decreased when the baseline exam was compared to the exam after the 4-week intervention.

Literature review about phages

Here is a thorough review in a publication dated 2004 from Poland describing the action of bacteriophages, now simply called phages. It lists many human experiments and shows that phages are safe to use in humans.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) presents with a pathological intestinal function, which can be quite disabling. Another name for it is “spastic colon”, because many patients complain of significant bowel spasms. Some health providers still use this alternative term. This syndrome is more common among women and there is a theory that female hormones may have something to do with the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Testosterone on the other hand may have a calming effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

Symptoms and treatment of IBS

Generally speaking, irritable bowel syndrome occurs first in the teens or early twenties, but then frequently tends to become chronic. The patient chiefly complains of abdominal bloating and distension. Bowel movements lead to a marked relief of pain. There is often mucous in the stools. After a bowel movement there is often a feeling that the rectum did not empty entirely, even though it did. Food intake or stress can bring on these symptoms and they always occur during the waking period. At nights most patients have no pain.

Among other measures taking probiotics alone or mixed with phages can normalize the bowel flora. In older men IBS symptoms may indicate a reduction in testosterone production. If the blood contains a low testosterone level, the physician may want to replace the missing testosterone with injections or bioidentical testosterone creams. This can improve IBS in older males.

A safe delivery system for probiotics and a phage blend for digestive problems

Life Extension has developed a dual capsule that brings the inner content safely through the stomach and protects the mix of probiotics and phages from stomach acid. The capsule only opens in the small intestine where it releases its content of probiotics and phages into the gut. This allows the good bacteria like B. longum to multiply and suppresses E. coli, which would otherwise interfere with the beneficial bacteria.

Probiotics and a Phage Blend for Digestive Problems

Probiotics and a Phage Blend for Digestive Problems

Conclusion

About ¾ of Americans suffer from digestive problems. Many have a disbalance of the gut flora. But it is not easy to replace poor gut flora with a healthy one. Recent research showed that a combination of 7 probiotic strains with a mix of 4 E. coli fighting phages can give tremendous relief from bloating, diarrhea and abdominal cramps to patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Life Extension has developed a special dual capsule that “sneaks” the capsule through the stomach. It will only open in the small intestine. This way the content of the inner capsule with the mix of probiotics/phages stays safe from the stomach acid. At the end many more beneficial bowel-bacteria are growing in the small and large intestine. This normalizes the symptoms of the patient and leads to better digestion of food. Probiotics and phages are the new players in the gut microbiome.

Apr
01
2008

H. Pylori Can Be The Culprit For Indigestion

Indigestion, heart burn, bloating and stomach discomfort are common problems. Often the reason is simple. Too much food and drink at a party, a plateful of deep fried Buffalo wings or a midnight order of double-pepperoni pizza will contribute to stomach upset and a bad night’s sleep. A few over the counter antacids will come to the rescue. If indigestion is a faithful but miserable daily companion, the excuse of “just having a sensitive stomach” becomes a form of denial and a dangerous form of self diagnosis. Something is wrong, and it is time to seek medical attention instead of over the counter meds. The first line of defense will be prescription drugs called “proton pump inhibitors” (PPI). They are designed to eradicate excessive acid production in the stomach. If symptoms are more severe, e.g. weight loss, a gastroscopy will be necessary. Even though the prevalence of a stomach infection with Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) is declining, about 30% of patients with chronic stomach upsets test positive for an infection with these bacteria. This can cause recurrent stomach pains. In this case it becomes necessary to treat this with a combination of PPI’s and antibiotic medication. Eradication of H.pylori can mean a cure from a stomach ulcer. It also reduces the risk of developing gastric adenocarcinoma, a form of stomach cancer that could have developed out of an untreated gastric ulcer. Just because a person has heartburn does not mean that the condition is due to gastro-esophageal reflux of stomach acid. If after treatment with a PPI the problems of indigestion, heartburn, bloating or stomach aches reoccur, lab tests can give more information. According to a prospective trial conducted by Dr. Delaney and others the H.pylori serology (a blood test) is unreliable, but other H.pylori tests like urea breath test or stool antigen are reliable tests to establish whether a stomach infection with H.pylori is present or not.

H. Pylori Can Be The Culprit For Indigestion

H. Pylori Can Be The Culprit For Indigestion

If the bacterium is present, its eradication with antibiotic therapy will stop the stomach problems in a high percentage of cases with one treatment protocol. What was surprising was that after one year the treatment result of the treatment group with PPI/antibiotic combination was as successful as the control group that was treated with PPI’s alone. It was concluded that in the more severe cases with weight loss, vomiting, or overt bleeding an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy should be performed where a direct H.pylori test from samples is also done. However, in the vast majority of cases with minor symptoms can be treated safely by the general practitioner with PPI’s and follow-up examinations in subsequent visits. Treatment failures can then be referred to a gastroenterologist, if necessary.

More information about gastritis and H. pylori: http://nethealthbook.com/digestive-system-and-gastrointestinal-disorders/gastritis/

Reference: British Medical Journal 336:623-624 (March 22, 2008)

Last edited November 3, 2014

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Oct
01
2005

More Education Needed About Ovarian Cancer

Campaigns that inform about breast cancer are abundant in the media, but the one cancer which may be the most fatal of gynecologic cancers is silently at work, killing more than 60% of women diagnosed – ovarian cancer.
It is also the cancer women know shockingly little about, and most women cannot identify its symptoms. Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden from the University of Ottawa, Canada confirmed in a study, that there are a lot of misconceptions about the disease. One in three women falsely believe that a Pap test screens for ovarian cancer. Remarkably, 12% of Canadian women claim that they have never heard about the disease, and only 35% consider themselves well informed. Even more problematically, women 50 years and older-those with the highest risk for ovarian cancer- are significantly less likely to be aware of their risk for disease than their younger counterparts. 71% of women think that ovarian cancer mainly affects women under 50 years of age.
In the view of the findings that 96% of the women could not identify a combination of the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer, it is of great importance that more education and information is needed. Women as well as their health care providers have to be vigilant about early warning signs and symptoms. The most common warning signs and symptoms for ovarian cancer are bloating, abdominal pain, changes in urinary frequency, weight fluctuation and nausea.

More Education Needed About Ovarian Cancer

More Education Needed About Ovarian Cancer

Diagnostic tests involve a bimanual examination by a physician, which is needed for all women, including those who did have a previous hysterectomy. The other test to consider would be an abdominal ultrasound.

More information about ovarian cancer: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/ovarian-cancer/

Reference: The Medical Post, September20, 2005, page 47

Last edited October 29, 2014