Do probiotics actually do anything? – 60 Minutes – CBS News

Dr. Jeff Gordon

Probiotics are recommended as a treatment for all those things … and more.
ALIGN COMMERCIAL: Your digestion system has billions of bacteria. Life can toss them off balance.
Bring back that balance of germs in the gut microbiome is just one objective touted by makers of probiotics, a $50 billion international market offered to us in capsules, popsicles, cereal, tea and some yogurt. And were informed probiotics can even assist your pet dog.
Numerous physicians and patients think probiotics deserve attempting, and numerous think they work.
One of those doctors is Dr. Dan Merenstein. Hes a teacher of household medicine at Georgetown University. And hes on the board of a non-profit, industry-financed group that promotes probiotic science.
Dr. Merenstein is doing a scientific trial backed by the National Institutes of Health evaluating a probiotic cocktail. Hes trying to see if it can avoid diarrhea in children taking prescription antibiotics, a solution other researchers have actually attempted with combined results.
Dr. Dan Merenstein: I believe the data is there. I suggest probiotics generally for individuals who are on prescription antibiotics and for people with irritable bowel illness.
Dr. Jon LaPook: I wonder what our viewers are thinking right now, right? Theyre hearing you stating, it certainly helps, others and probiotics are saying, theres no excellent evidence that it assists. Are they throwing a brick through the tv screen almost now?
Dr. Dan Merenstein: … they are but they have been throwing a brick, you understand, for the last 20 years when we inform them everybody needs Vitamin D, and everybody requirements, you understand, Echinacea for colds, or zinc for colds. I think its tough to be a customer since things change so quickly. I think we need more probiotic research study.

One cause of confusion might be the placebo impact: some people using probiotics might feel better due to the fact that they anticipate to feel better. And finding out what probiotics do inside the gut is complicated. One factor is that each persons microbiome is distinct, so the exact same probiotic may have different effects on different people. Thats exactly what teachers Eran Elinav and Eran Segal discovered at Israels Weizmann Institute of Science.
Eran Elinav: We wished to straight assess what the probiotics were doing and how they interact with whats already inside in our gut.
The researchers collected countless samples from a small group of adult volunteers who were given probiotics.
Eran Segal: Weve really looked across the entire intestinal system at places where no one has actually looked before.
The volunteers all went through several endoscopies and colonoscopies.
Dr. Jon LaPook: So youre going down the swallowing tube, into the stomach, and into the very first part of the small intestinal tract. And then colonoscopy, youre originating from listed below.
Eran Elinav: Exactly. And then we provided a few of these volunteers a huge combination of probiotics that are out there in your grocery store. And half of the individuals were provided what we call placebo, which is an empty pill.
Eran Segal: so the results were in fact very striking so what were seeing is that half the people take the probiotics and the probiotics, as they go in, they simply head out and they dont populate the gut.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Was that unexpected to you?
Eran Elinav: That was highly surprising to us, the majority of us or everybody, are under the assumption– these probiotics would settle in at least temporarily in our gut, and would do the good ideas that we anticipate them to do.

Dr. Jeff Gordon and Dr. Jon LaPook take a look at a photo of a microbiome.

Dr. Dan Merenstein.

The researchers also studied a treatment commonly advised by doctors, offering probiotics to help restore the balance of gut germs erased by prescription antibiotics.
Eran Segal: We found that the probiotics in fact delayed the repair of the germs of those people to what they had actually in the past as compared to people who took antibiotics and then did nothing.
Dr. Jon LaPook: So here a great deal of us have actually been taking probiotics with prescription antibiotics since we believe maybe thatll assist us get back to regular more quickly. And this is showing the opposite.
Eran Segal: Exactly.
Eran Elinav: Exactly.
Elinav and Segals findings contradict much of the traditional wisdom about probiotics. Other scientists are now building on their work.
Eran Segal: To be clear were not versus the concept of probiotics in general. We really believe that probiotics might have big advantages.
Eran Elinav: But, we require to be really cautious in typically recommending these microbes without knowing enough of what they do.
But we were shocked to learn that probiotics are contributed to some baby food and even infant formula. About a fifth of the top selling infant formula in the United States contains probiotics. And the market is growing..
Dr. Frank Greer: Most moms and dads dont realize– how little work there is to support making use of probiotic in infants.
Dr. Jon LaPook: And yet, its being used.
Dr. Frank Greer: Its being used.
Dr. Frank Greer is teacher emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin. He is co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics scientific report on probiotics..
Dr. Jon LaPook: So when you include probiotics to infant formula at this early stage, what could occur?
Dr. Frank Greer: I want I could respond to that concern, however I think part of the answer to that is we dont truly know how probiotics work.
Dr. Jon LaPook: So if we do not know how they work and were unsure what they do, why are we adding them to infant formula?
Dr. Frank Greer: Thats a great question. Why are we giving em to babies.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Is there any convincing proof that including probiotics to infant formula is good for the infant?
Dr. Frank Greer: My response to that would be no.

Now, the microbiome is a location of hot research study. Doctors are currently dealing with health problem by manipulating gut bacteria. A potentially lethal infection of the colon called C. Diff. has been successfully treated by moving germs from the gut of a healthy individual to the gut of somebody whos sick..
And millions of people are trying to improve their microbiomes themselves using probiotics, so-called “great germs.” Heres the problem: theres a lot of dispute among scientists about whether probiotics supply any advantage at all.
Dr. Patricia Hibberd: Over the years there have been so lots of research studies of different probiotics stating “its great for this.” The next research study says, “its not good for this.” And truly, its mayhem.
Dr. Patricia Hibberd is a contagious illness specialist and a professor of medicine at boston university.
Dr. Hibberd has actually reviewed numerous research studies in the medical literature about probiotics. She has also done her own research studies and informed us theres inadequate high quality research study to recommend off-the-shelf probiotics for the medical problems for which theyre commonly utilized..
Dr. Patricia Hibberd: The entire idea that maybe including excellent bacteria that we would take by mouth that ideally would land in the right places in the GI tract and deal with the body immune system. We just dont know how to do any of that..
Dr. Jon LaPook: But today, there is a multi-billion dollar industry thats growing..
Dr. Patricia Hibberd: Yes.
Dr. Jon LaPook: And people are out there purchasing this things.
Dr. Patricia Hibberd:.
Dr. Jon LaPook: So, is there persuading evidence that commercially available probiotics have been discovered to be advantageous for decreasing diarrhea from prescription antibiotics?
Dr. Patricia Hibberd: No.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Treating irritable bowel syndrome?
Dr. Patricia Hibberd: No.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Decreasing allergies?
Dr. Patricia Hibberd: No.

Dr. Frank Greer.

There is an unnoticeable universe hidden inside your body, its called the gut microbiome– a huge array of trillions of intestinal bacteria, numerous various types. They help digest your food in exchange for a warm, safe location to live. And we are only now starting to find the gut microbiome plays a much bigger function in our lives than we ever pictured.
Some of those germs found inside us are reproduced in commercially produced mixtures called “probiotics.” You see them on grocery and drug store shelves, and theyre recommended by your friends and often, by medical professionals like me.
But do probiotics actually do anything? To discover, first you require to know about the gut microbiome

Dr. Patricia Hibberd.

That answer was unanticipated originating from Dr. Greer. You see, a baby formula trade group– the Infant Nutrition Council of America– suggested him to discuss their viewpoint..
Dr. Jon LaPook: So then why are we seeing it in so many different items?
Dr. Frank Greer: Well, its simple to put in there, because its not really securely regulated.
The Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, does not classify probiotic capsules as drugs. That means they do not have actually to be shown “safe and efficient.” When contributed to anything, consisting of infant formula, probiotics only require to fulfill a lower requirement: “usually recognized as safe.”.
In rare cases, probiotics have actually been linked to severe infections in critically ill clients and those with weakened body immune systems. Otherwise, they appear to be safe.
Dr. Jon LaPook: If you could offer probiotics early in life and possibly aid, could not those very same probiotics down the line have unintended repercussions and injure?.
Dr. Frank Greer: Its possible, however I cant confirm that theres any harm whatsoever down the line. Theres– theres no proof that says theyre harmful.
Dr. Jon LaPook: But are there long-lasting research studies?
Dr. Frank Greer: No, there are no long-term (LAUGH) studies.
Without those research studies, theres no chance of understanding if giving probiotics to babies has unintended long-lasting repercussions. The baby formula trade group, which advised we interview Dr. Greer, sent us this statement: “In formula-fed babies, probiotics promote a balance of germs in a childs gut” and “simulate the advantages offered by breast milk.”.
Dr. Frank Greer: Well, I think that eventually formula industrys objective–.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Its their objective, but is–.
Dr. Frank Greer: Thats their goal.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Is thats whats taking place–.
Dr. Frank Greer: This does not do it. You understand? Putting a single probiotic organism in an infant formula does not promote the balance theyre speaking about.
Despite disagreement about how or whether todays probiotics work, every researcher we talked with was hopeful about the possibility of enhancing health by manipulating the microbiome. In 2015, Dr. Gordons group reported that a special additional mixture of nutrients containing chickpeas, soy, peanuts and bananas can fix the harmed microbiome of malnourished infants.
Dr. Jeff Gordon: Think about this. The concept that a faulty development of a microbiome could impair the development of bones, of the body immune system, possibly even the central nerve system. How incredibly remarkable that our collection of microorganisms is so impactful? Thats inspiring. The job ahead is complicated. We wish to have the ability to establish interventions that are safe in the short-term and in the long term. And we wan na make sure that we have it right.
Produced by Julie Holstein and Howard L. Rosenberg. Associate manufacturer, Deborah Rubin. Broadcast associate, Jacqueline Kalil. Edited by Joe Schanzer.

Dr. Jeff Gordon: This is a photo of the microbiome.
Dr. Jon LaPook: And then this is the trillions of bacteria there. Theyre represented by the different colors.
Dr. Jeff Gordon at Washington University in St. Louis is recognized as “the dad of the microbiome.” He has spent years exploring the secrets of the bacterial neighborhood in our gut.
Dr. Jeff Gordon: Its a collection of microorganisms that have the ability to exist side-by-side with us in manner ins which still are unclear.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Why are they there in the first place?
Dr. Jeff Gordon: They help process the food that we take in, however they do a lot more than that. They make Vitamins. We believe about vitamins as just remaining in food. theyre able to produce necessary amino acids, theyre able to talk to our body immune system and assistance educate the body immune system.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Thats different than I believe the way a lotta people consider the digestive track. Its sorta like a tube, and the food comes in and it goes out, whichs it. But youre stating theres far more of an interaction?
Dr. Jeff Gordon: Were concerning comprehend that far more plainly. and this capacity to procedure– the food that we take in is connected to our health as well as our disease states.
Research recommends a healthy microbiome might decrease the risk of diseases like cancer and diabetes. And in a landmark experiment, Dr. Gordon and his team made a lean mouse fatter by giving it the germs of a fat mouse.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Are you stating that part of the reason for obesity might be the types of germs that remain in the gut, in the microbiome?
Dr. Jeff Gordon: I am saying that. And we see that individuals who are overweight have a less varied microbial neighborhood compared to people who are lean.
Dr. Jon LaPook: Is there evidence that you could take the microbiome thats connected with a lean person, move it to somebody whos overweight, and it might somehow help them to end up being thinner?
Dr. Jeff Gordon: Theres a lot of work– going on today, trying to check that hypothesis.

Eran Segal and Eran Elinav.

Dr. Jeff Gordon: They help process the food that we take in, however they do a lot more than that. Dr. Jon LaPook: Thats different than I believe the method a lotta people believe about the digestive tract track. One of those physicians is Dr. Dan Merenstein. Dr. Jon LaPook: I question what our viewers are believing right now? Dr. Frank Greer: This doesnt do it.