Do Probiotics Have Any Clinical Evidence?

A lot of health products that you’ll end up buying won’t have the evidence to back up the claims listed on the product. Probiotics are one of these supplements. Approximately 3 million adults in the U.S were estimated to take probiotics back in 2012. That number has probably increased significantly by now. Especially when research on the effects of the microbiome in various health outcomes has entered the mainstream media.

However, despite the hype around probiotics and the microbiome, it’s important to know what these products can and can’t do and to dispel any information surrounding them.

A resource of high-quality evidence on probiotics

I’ve gathered as much evidence I could on probiotics and their effectiveness as an intervention for various outcomes. You’ll find that information below. I only included systematic reviews of the literature that were either done by multiple Cochrane groups, or that were published in the last ten years, but I have not critically appraised them. This is a bit of a small project, and perhaps I’ll try to make it more comprehensive depending on how many people are interested in this resource.

Outcomes EffectivenessSource
Mood Disorders 
DepressionYes, but not enough evidence and no magnitude of effect
DepressionYes, but not enough evidence and no magnitude of effect
DepressionYes, but not enough evidence
Depression, anxiety, and perceived stressYes
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel SyndromeYes
Irritable Bowel SyndromeYes
Irritable Bowel SyndromeYes
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Idiopathic ConstipationYes
Irritable Bowel SyndromeYes, but not enough evidence
Acute pancreatitisInsufficient evidence
Acute pancreatitisNo, but also not enough evidence
Pediatric Antibiotic-Associated DiarrheaYes
Acute infectious diarrhoeaYes
Persistent diarrhoea in childrenYes, but not enough evidence
Clostridium difficile
Clostridium difficile-associated diarrheaYes
Clostridium difficile-associated colitis in adultsNo/Maybe + Insufficient evidence
Prevention of Clostridium difficile infectionYes, but not enough evidence
Ulcerative Colitis 
Induction of remission in ulcerative colitisNo
Maintenance of Remission in Ulcerative ColitisLow-quality evidence + insufficient
Crohn's Disease
Induction of remission in Crohn's diseaseVery little evidence
Prevention of post-operative recurrence of Crohn's diseaseInsufficient evidence
Vaginal Infections 
Bacterial vaginosisMaybe, but insufficient evidence
Vulvovaginal candidiasisMaybe, low quality evidence
Bacterial vaginosis in non-pregnant womenYes
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary Tract InfectionsNo, but also not enough evidence
Preventing urinary tract infection in neuropathic bladder patientsMaybe, but insufficient evidence + low-quality
Preventing recurrent urinary tract infection during pregnancyInsufficient evidence
Prevention of Respiratory tract infectionsNo
EczemaInsufficient evidence
Prevention of Atopic Disease in InfantsYes
Atopic eczema in childhoodYes
Prevention and treatment of pediatric atopic dermatitis.Yes, for treatment
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections 
Prevention of pediatric upper respiratory tract infectionsYes
Prevent respiratory infections in children and adolescents.Insufficient evidence
Acute Upper Respiratory Tract InfectionsYes, but low or very low-quality evidence
Glycemic Control
Glycemic control in diabetic patientsYes
Glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetic patientsYes
Infant-related outcomes 
Prevent Infant CryingNo
Preventing Asthma or Wheezing During PregnancyNo and not enough evidence
Preterm birthNo, but also not enough evidence
Necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infantsYes
Blood PressureYes, but not enough evidence
Hepatic encephalopathyMaybe, low-quality evidence
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and steatohepatitisNot enough evidence
Prevention of allergic disease and food hypersensitivityMaybe, but insufficient evidence + low-quality
Recurrent abdominal pain in childhoodYes, but not enough evidence
Collagenous colitisInsufficient evidence
Treatment and prevention of pouchitisYes, but low or very low-quality evidence
Improving infection outcomes after liver resectionInsufficient evidence

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