What are Probiotics?
Probiotics may be beneficial for those with Hepatitis C in protecting and supporting the liver and immune function.
In 1908, Metchnikoff was awarded the Nobel Prize
for discovering the important role tiny
organisms, now known as probiotics (meaning
“for life”), play in immune response.
Probiotics are dietary supplements of live bacteria or yeasts intended to assist the body's naturally occurring gut flora which are critical to normal intestinal absorptive and immunological functions. Strains of the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are the most widely used probiotic bacteria.
They are sometimes recommended by doctors, and, more frequently, by nutritionists, after a course of antibiotics, to help re-establish the healthy bacteria and yeasts in our intestines. (Antibiotics typically cause a decrease in number of the body's naturally occurring gut flora, an event which allows harmful microbes to thrive, to the detriment of our health.) Claims are made that probiotics strengthen the immune system to combat allergies, excessive alcohol intake, stress, exposure to toxic substances, and other diseases.
Are probiotics beneficial to those with Hepatitis C?
The studies listed below note beneficial effects of probiotics for the liver and can be found by their PMID # at the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health website: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=PubMed
This study tested the potential effect of the probiotic VSL#3 (a multistrain preparation composed of Streptococcus thermophilus and several species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) on oxidative and inflammatory damage induced by a high-fat diet in the liver of young rats. Data suggest that VSL#3 administration could limit oxidative and inflammatory liver damage in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Patients with alcohol-induced liver injury have altered bowel flora compared to healthy controls. Short-term oral supplementation with Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus plantarum was associated with restoration of the bowel flora and greater improvement in alcohol-induced liver injury than standard therapy alone.
The authors conducted the study on efficiency of probiothic Subalin medication for treatment children with chronic virus hepatitis. The use of improved curative complex including Subalin medication enables the regression of clinical signs of the disease, allows decreasing the signs of intoxication which alleviates the state of the children. Treatment with Subalin normalizes biochemical parameters of blood serum of the children: increase in content of whole protein, decreasing -thymol test index.
Liver cirrhosis is a frequent phenomenon in chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, alcohol-related liver damage, autoimmune hepatitis and hemochromatosis. Ascites is the most frequent complication of cirrhosis. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis occurs in up to 10% of patients with ascites because of bacterial overgrowth with translocation through the increased permeable small intestinal wall and impaired defence mechanisms. Probiotics (bacterial food supplements) have been claimed to improve the state of underlying liver disease and may be useful in the primary and secondary prevention of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis.
The authors postulate that each one of the powerful antioxidative components in baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae effectively participated in attenuation of the oxidative stress caused by flutamide metabolites, and in promoting regeneration of new hepatocytes and meanwhile could restore liver function beyond normal status.
Routine liver damage tests and plasma S-NO levels were improved at the end of treatment with the probiotic VSL#3 in all groups of various types of chronic liver disease.
Conclusion on Probiotics for HCV:
The above mentioned studies suggest that probiotics may be beneficial in protecting and supporting the liver. In additon, according to Wikipedia, probiotics “ may protect against pathogens by means of competitive inhibition (i.e., by competing for growth) and there is evidence to suggest that they may improve immune function by increasing the number of IgA-producing plasma cells, increasing or improving phagocytosis as well as increasing the proportion of T lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells.”
Therefore, probiotics may be beneficial to those with Hepatitis C (though it is certainly not a cure and should not be used as a sole treatment for Hepatitis C!)
Note: All effects can only be attributed to the individual strain(s) tested.
The oral use of probiotics is considered safe and even recommended by World Health Organization under specific guidelines.
Yogurt, kefir, miso, buttermilk, wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella, and tempeh (a soy product meant to replace meat).
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