Sunday, December 31, 2017

Problems and potential with probiotics

ACP InternistConference Coverage | January 2018
Problems and potential with probiotics
By Mollie Durkin
Probiotics are becoming more prevalent in both consumer and health care settings, but the excitement is tempered by problems, including how to define what is and what isn't one.

Researchers also face regulatory challenges to studying probiotics, Dr. Hibberd said. The FDA's current approach to probiotics is that, when they are intended to prevent, mitigate, or cure any disease, they are considered a drug or biologic, subject to approval and regulation.

On the other hand, if the purported health benefit is structure or function (e.g., digestive health), the products do not need regulatory approval. “Consequently, this is why we hear mostly about what's called structure/function claims that really are unhelpful in terms of thinking about when and which [probiotics] to use,” she said.

Another issue is that some probiotic products in grocery stores may list unheard-of organisms. “Some of the ‘strains' in these products are actually not real bacteria at all; they are commercial names,” Dr. Hibberd said. “So that also makes things a lot more complicated.”

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