Probiotics are live microorganisms that may offer potential health benefits for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a functional gut disorder characterized by symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Depending on the predominant symptom, individuals might seek the best probiotic for IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant) or the best probiotic for IBS-C (constipation-predominant).
Probiotics can help restore the balance of bacteria in the gut and improve overall gut health. They may also strengthen the intestinal barrier, assist the immune system in removing harmful bacteria, and aid in nutrient breakdown.
This article will review the top 6 brands providing the best probiotics for IBS symptoms.
Best probiotics for IBS: a shortlist
- YourBiology — best-personalized probiotic for IBS
- Unbloat – best women's probiotic for IBS
- Ritual — best probiotic for IBS with diarrhea
- Biotics 8 — best men’s multi-strain probiotic for IBS
- VSL#3 — best probiotic for IBS with large CFU count
- Culturelle® — best probiotic for IBS with constipation
Choosing the best probiotics for IBS
When selecting the optimal probiotics for addressing IBS, it is crucial to choose a product that is both safe and effective, tailored to your specific requirements. The following considerations should be given due attention:
|Clean and science-backed ingredients||Natural sources, no additives|
|Adequate dosage-price ratio||Comparing the price and quantity of probiotics|
|Probiotic strains||Evidence-based strains|
- Clean and science-backed ingredients. Ensure the supplement contains pure and high-quality ingredients, preferably derived from natural sources. Avoid those with unnecessary fillers or additives.
- Adequate dosage and price. Consider the dosage of probiotics provided in each serving of the supplement and compare it with the price.
- Probiotic strains. Look for probiotic strains that have evidence supporting their effectiveness in managing IBS symptoms. The strongest effect for IBS symptoms has been observed with the genus Lactobacillus, particularly Lactobacillus plantarum.
- CFU. Colony Forming Units (CFU) refer to the number of viable bacteria present in each probiotic dose. Higher CFU counts indicate a higher concentration of beneficial bacteria. Ensure that the probiotics you choose have an adequate CFU count, typically in the billions, throughout the shelf life.
Best probiotics for IBS in 2023: an overview
When compiling this list, we reviewed brands offering probiotic products that may benefit individuals with IBS.
Finding a product that suits specific individual needs means you are more likely to receive a positive health effect. While most probiotic supplements are similar in their benefits, the composition of each of them slightly differs. This is important to consider when trying to achieve specific health goals.
Each product is labeled under a specific category highlighting its unique benefits, ingredients, and other features. The list also includes the pros and cons of each product.
1. YourBiology — best-personalized probiotic for IBS
YourBiology offers a specialized probiotic supplement tailored to individual needs. It contains a blend of 4 good bacteria strains that may reduce IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, or stomach upset.
The brand provides personalized probiotic formulations based on comprehensive gut microbiome testing. By analyzing the gut microbiota composition, YourBiology delivers a probiotic blend specifically designed to address the unique microbial imbalances of each individual. This personalized approach enhances the supplement's effectiveness, but the customized formulation process may involve additional time and cost compared to off-the-shelf probiotics.
The YourBiology probiotic supplement is GMP-certified and made in the USA, which indicates that it adheres to the regulations enforced by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
A one-month supply of YourBiology supplements costs $64.99, a three-month supply (with one month free) for $129.99, and a five-month supply (with two months free) for $194.99.
2. Unbloat – best women's probiotic for IBS
Unbloat Daily Capsules is a supplement designed to combat persistent bloating with its potent blend of 40 bloat-fighting ingredients.
The product may be particularly effective for bloating caused by periods, menopause, and IBS. Each serving contains 25 billion CFU of probiotic strains, making it a powerful anti-bloating “superbiotic” that may help you regain control over your body. According to the brand, it may help to break down food components for better digestion, and can also support your immune system.
The supplement is manufactured in the United States. It is also vegetarian, gluten-free, and non-GMO. However, the website does not provide specific information about testing and certifications.
Unbloat Daily Capsules are priced at $59.99 for a one-time purchase, but discounts are available for monthly and quarterly subscriptions.
3. Ritual — best probiotic for IBS with diarrhea
Ritual is known for its Synbiotic+ supplement, which combines prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics in one product. This unique formulation may reduce diarrhea and IBS symptoms with one of the core strains in the supplement — Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which has been found to improve IBS score.
A notable aspect is the delayed-release capsule of the supplement, providing protection from an acidic environment. The capsule dissolves in the small intestine rather than the stomach. This feature allows flexibility in consumption without the need for pairing with meals.
The Ritual Synbiotic+ probiotic supplement is third-party tested, non-GMO, and uses an innovative Made Traceable® feature, which means the company provides transparency on what you’re putting into your body, where it comes from, and why.
The cost for a one-month supply is $54. The product is sold on a subscription basis, with free shipping.
4. Biotics 8 — best men’s multi-strain probiotic for IBS
Biotics 8 is a men’s probiotic supplement that contains prebiotics and probiotics to enhance gut microbiome health. According to the provider’s website, the supplement may reduce IBS symptoms, improve digestion, and strengthen the gut-brain axis.
It includes probiotic strains such as Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Saccharomyces boulardii that have been demonstrated in clinical studies to improve IBS symptoms, decrease severity of abdominal pain and improve quality of life.
The Biotics 8 probiotic supplement is produced in compliance with GMP and is manufactured in the United States, ensuring it meets the manufacturing regulations set by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
A one-month supply of the supplements costs $64.99, a three-month supply (with one month free) costs $129.99, and a five-month supply (with two months free) costs $194.99.
5. VSL#3 — best probiotic for IBS with large CFU count
VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic supplement designed with 8 complementary multi-strain probiotic strains from 3 different genera, including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus.
The product contains 112.5 billion CFU per serving and is available in a bottle of 60 capsules. VSL recommends consulting with a doctor to determine the appropriate dose and usage schedule.
VSL#3 is clinically tested, recommended by gastroenterologists, and held to a higher standard as a Medical Food.
The product has received positive reviews from verified buyers, with many users finding relief from UC and IBS symptoms.
Pricing options include one-time purchases at $65.95 or subscription-based purchases at $59.36, with delivery options ranging from 30 to 120 days.
6. Culturelle® — best probiotic for IBS with constipation
Culturelle® Digestive Probiotics is a supplement that may offer a range of benefits for a healthy digestive system. It contains one of the most researched probiotic strains — Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, which has been shown to reduce occasional digestive upset.
It also contains inulin which is a nondigestible oligosaccharide that serves in the diet as a soluble fiber that is naturally found in many plant foods such as wheat and garlic. Therefore, the product may be an appropriate option for individuals suffering from IBS-C (IBS with constipation).
According to the provider, the probiotics in the supplement work naturally to support digestion and immune defenses.
Culturelle® Digestive Probiotics are non-GMO, dairy free, and come in a vegetarian capsule form.
While there are no exact claims on third-party testing or certifications, Culturelle® suggests that their products are backed by more than 35 years of science.
The product is priced at $17.99 for a one-time purchase and $16.19 with a monthly subscription.
Comparing top probiotics for IBS
|Provider||Cost (per month)||Daily dose||Probiotic strains||CFU count||Review|
|YourBiology||$64.99||2 capsules||4||40 billion||YourBiology review|
|Unbloat||$43.99||2 capsules||7||25 billion||N/A|
|Ritual||$54.00||1 capsule||2||11 billion||Ritual review|
|Biotics 8||$64.99||3 capsules||10||20 billion||Biotics 8 review|
|VSL#3||$59.36||Determined by doctor||8||112.5 billion||N/A|
|Culturelle®||$16.19||2 capsules||1||10 billion||Culturelle® review|
What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by a combination of symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel movements, including diarrhea, constipation, or both. It is a chronic condition that requires long-term management.
IBS is considered a functional disorder, meaning that the digestive tract appears normal but does not function properly. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but factors such as muscle contractions in the intestine and hypersensitivity of the nerves in the gastrointestinal tract have been identified as possible contributors. IBS is diagnosed based on symptoms and medical history, and there are no specific laboratory or imaging tests for diagnosis.
Types of IBS explained
There are different types of IBS, which can manifest with varying symptoms. It's worth noting that the classification of IBS subtypes may slightly differ between sources, but these are the commonly recognized categories. Identifying the specific type of IBS is important in determining appropriate treatment approaches tailored to the individual's symptoms and needs.
IBS with constipation (IBS-C) is a subtype of IBS. It's marked by abdominal discomfort, bloating, and challenging bowel movements. Those with IBS-C often produce stools that are predominantly hard or lumpy, accounting for at least 25% of their bowel consistency. Conversely, less than 25% of their stools are loose. This condition can lead to reduced frequency in bowel movements, and individuals might find themselves exerting more effort, or straining when trying to pass stools.
IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) is a subtype of IBS. Individuals with IBS-D often experience abdominal discomfort, coupled with an immediate and pressing need to evacuate their bowels. They tend to have unusually frequent bowel movements, which predominantly result in loose or watery stools. On days when bowel movements are irregular, over 25% of stools are loose, whereas less than 25% appear hard or lumpy. Another prevalent symptom accompanying IBS-D is the excessive production of gas.
IBS-M, or mixed-type IBS, is a subtype of IBS where individuals exhibit a combination of bowel habits. They experience both hard stools, indicative of constipation, and loose or watery stools, suggestive of diarrhea. For a diagnosis of IBS-M, each stool type must be present at least 25% of the time. This alternating pattern can be distressing, with episodes of constipation followed by diarrhea. Accompanying these shifts are frequent abdominal pain and discomfort, making daily activities challenging.
Benefits of probiotics for IBS
Probiotics can be labeled as a core component of a healthy digestive system. They have been extensively studied for their potential benefits in managing symptoms of IBS. While the research is still ongoing, and study results may vary, there are several potential benefits of probiotics for IBS:
- Abdominal pain relief. It is a key symptom of IBS, and some probiotic strains have been associated with improvements in abdominal pain symptoms. For example, the strain Lactobacillus plantarum has been found to decrease the frequency and severity of abdominal pain compared to a placebo. Other probiotic strains, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have also shown promising results in reducing pain.
- Bloating and gas reduction. Excess gas production and increased sensitivity can lead to uncomfortable bloating in individuals with IBS. While the evidence is limited, certain probiotics — including Lactobacillus plantarum — have shown potential in reducing bloating symptoms. However, it's important to note that more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of probiotics for bloating and gas in IBS patients.
- Diarrhea management. Probiotics may help manage symptoms of diarrhea in individuals with IBS. Some studies have shown that probiotic supplements can significantly improve symptoms such as diarrhea in people with IBS when compared to a placebo. Specific strains, such as Saccharomyces boulardii, have been studied for their potential to prevent diarrhea and restore intestinal barrier function.
Possible side effects of probiotics for IBS
Most probiotic supplements are derived from fermented foods that have been consumed for many years; therefore, they are considered to be safe for the generally healthy population. However, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects when it comes to individuals with IBS. Some people may experience temporary digestive discomfort and additional symptoms like:
- Allergic reactions
These symptoms tend to usually resolve as the body adjusts. However, in some rare cases, probiotics can cause skin rashes or itching. Also, individuals with allergies should check for potential allergens in probiotic products. Those with compromised immune systems should exercise caution, as there have been rare reports of infections associated with probiotic use in these cases.
It's essential to consult a healthcare professional if any concerning side effects occur. Although responses to probiotics may vary, bloating and gas are consistent benefits for IBS in currently published studies.
How we compiled our list of the best probiotics for IBS in 2023
It is crucial to understand how each product is structured and what criteria are necessary to consider for it to be a viable option. We looked at several factors when choosing the best probiotic for IBS. This includes the right probiotic strains, brand reputation, effectiveness of the supplement, and ingredient quality.
- Probiotic strains. We sought probiotic strains effective in managing IBS, notably the Lactobacillus genus, especially Lactobacillus plantarum.
- Reputation. We focused on established brands known for quality supplements. Customer reviews provided insights into user satisfaction, helping us gauge brand reliability and trustworthiness.
- Effectiveness. We analyzed products with scientifically-backed ingredients, emphasizing evidence-based claims. Our goal was to select probiotics that genuinely benefit users based on research.
- Quality. We prioritized probiotics formulated to the highest standards, ensuring safety and effectiveness. We favored those developed under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and subjected to third-party testing to confirm purity, potency, and accurate labeling.
When should I start using probiotics for IBS?
The timing of when to start using probiotics for IBS can vary depending on individual circumstances. Probiotics have shown potential benefits for improving symptoms for people who suffer from IBS. Research suggests that multi-strain probiotics taken for at least 8 weeks may be more effective in alleviating symptoms. However, the specific type, dose, and duration of probiotic treatment for IBS are still not well-established, and more research is needed to provide clear guidelines.
It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or registered dietitian, who can assess your specific condition and guide you on when to start using probiotics, as well as help you choose the most suitable probiotic strain, dose, and formulation for your needs.
The recommended dosage for probiotic supplements can vary depending on the product and the intended use. It is important to note that no overarching dosage recommendation for probiotics applies to everyone. The dosage can depend on different factors, such as the strain of probiotics, the purpose of supplementation, and individual needs.
It is also worth noting that probiotics can be obtained from various food sources, but the amounts can vary based on factors such as shelf life, manufacturing processes, and storage conditions. It can be challenging to determine the exact CFU count from food alone. Therefore, many individuals opt for probiotic supplements to ensure a more consistent and measurable dosage.
What is the best probiotic for IBS - conclusion
When it comes to the best probiotic for IBS, YourBiology offers a specialized supplement tailored to individual needs. It contains a blend of 4 beneficial bacterial strains that may reduce IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, or stomach upset. The brand provides personalized probiotic formulations based on comprehensive gut microbiome testing.
It is important to consider individual needs and preferences when it comes to finding the best probiotic for IBS. The provided list of probiotic products in this article offers various benefits that may alleviate IBS symptoms. Everyone's microbiome is unique, so it may require some trial and error to find the probiotic that works best for each individual.
Seeking advice from a healthcare expert, such as a physician or certified nutritionist, can prove valuable in obtaining tailored recommendations and choosing an appropriate probiotic to alleviate your IBS symptoms.
Explore other probiotic products and benefits
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Best probiotics for constipation may increase bowel movements.
Best probiotics for bloating may decrease gas buildup in your gastrointestinal tract.
How quickly do probiotics work for IBS?
The effectiveness and duration of probiotics for IBS vary. Consistent use for several weeks is often needed to see benefits. Supplementation with Lactobacillus plantarum probiotic provided IBS symptom relief by reducing abdominal pain and bloating in a 4-week study. However, it is best to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on probiotic supplementation for IBS.
Should people with IBS take prebiotics or probiotics?
The use of for people with IBS is a topic that requires further research. While some studies suggest that specific probiotic strains, such as Bifidobacterium infantis, may alleviate IBS symptoms, the overall evidence is inconsistent. Similarly, the role of prebiotics in IBS management remains unclear.
Who should not take probiotics?
Individuals who have compromised immune systems or are critically ill should exercise caution when considering probiotics, as there have been rare reports of infections associated with probiotic use in these populations. It is advisable for these individuals to consult with healthcare professionals before starting probiotic supplementation.
- Gastroenterology Review. Probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome – is the quest for the right strain over? Rapid review of existing guidelines and recommendations.
- Current Gastroenterology Reports. Brain and Gut Interactions in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: New Paradigms and New Understandings.
- World Journal of Gastroenterology. Clinical trial: Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (DSM 9843) improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
- World Journal of Gastroenterology. Saccharomyces cerevisiae I-3856 in irritable bowel syndrome with predominant constipation.
- Engineering. Lactobacillus plantarum CCFM8610 Alleviates Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Prevents Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Pilot Clinical Trial.
Show all references
- Cureus. Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review of Their Therapeutic Role.
- Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii for the prevention and therapy of gastrointestinal disorders.
- BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. Infectious complications following probiotic ingestion: a potentially underestimated problem? A systematic review of reports and case series.
- Nutrients. Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review.
- Current Medical Research and Opinion. Efficacy of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis.
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