PROBIOTICS AND THEIR USES IN CLINICAL PRACTICE – AN OVERVIEW
Probiotics, considered to have some benefits on human health when consumed in adequate amounts, are living microorganisms that can colonize intestine, mouth, mucous membranes, vagina, and skin. Probiotics have been tried for treating irritable bowel syndrome, enhancing immune system, maintaining balance in intestinal microbiota, preventing colorectal cancer, lactose intolerance, urinary tract infections, antibiotic-associated diarrhea and managing hepatic encephalopathy. They have been shown to display anti-hypercholesterolemic and antihypertensive impacts and have some positive effects on children and pregnant women. Their mechanism of action has been unexplored and related studies have become increasingly popular.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae are microorganisms that are mostly utilized as probiotics. Lactic acid bacteria, including Lactobacillusspecies, can serve a dual function by being used in food fermentation and potentially imparting health benefits such as maintaining a healthy-immune system.
Safety of probiotics is a concern as they may result in bacteremia, fungemia, some side effects and may interact with immunosuppressive drugs leading to life threatening conditions. Further studies are needed to clarify the optimum dosage, duration of the treatment, usage of mix versus single-strain probiotics, cost effectiveness, hazards, counteractive effects to pathogens and usage in the treatment of various diseases.