There are over 1000 species of bacteria that naturally occur in the human digestive tract. A high diversity of bacteria is characteristic of a healthy gut balance. Increasingly, researchers and doctors are recommending multi-strain probiotic formulas to reflect the natural diversity found in a healthy gut. Because each strain has unique characteristics and functions, a multi-strain probiotic may be the best way to ensure the probiotics are producing the most benefit.

A recent study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology administered a multi-strain probiotic containing six strains of a mix of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Streptococcus daily for four weeks. Fully 68 percent of participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) taking the probiotic reported IBS symptom relief compared to only 37 percent of participants taking placebo.

“Multi-species probiotics may have a variety of different beneficial effects on IBS symptoms because each species acts in a particular way on the gastrointestinal tract and two or more species acting together may have a synergistic effect,” noted the researchers. “Multi-species probiotics given to IBS patients are effective in the global relief of IBS symptoms as well as in alleviating abdominal pain, discomfort, and bloating. Furthermore, the multi-species probiotics induced the alterations of intestinal microbiota.”

Although studies on single strain probiotics are less complicated, due to the less complicated nature of the formula, it is becoming clear that multi-strain probiotics have benefits above that of single strains. For example, a recent study investigating the effect of a single strain yogurt containing Bifidobacterium animalis did not find benefit, in contrast to the study reported here. It simply makes sense that a multi-strain probiotic would work better when you consider the vast diversity of a healthy human gut.