While it's encouraging that 71% of IBS, UC and ileal sufferers have spoken to their HCPs about probiotics, only about 1 in 10 (10%) indicates that their HCP is educating them about which probiotic will be best for their condition, and only 13% of HCPs are telling their patients that some probiotics on the store shelf may not help with their specific gastro condition. In addition, only 10% reported that their HCP recommended a specific brand or strain of over-the-counter probiotics for their condition, and more commonly, about 1 in 4 recommended lifestyle or diet changes (24%) or yogurt with live bacteria (22%) to help manage their symptoms. Seven out of 10 IBS, UC, and ileal pouch sufferers have not spoken with a pharmacist about probiotics (70%) and only 13% of IBS, UC, and ileal pouch sufferers say their pharmacist recommended a specific probiotic.
Board certified gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond, M.D., author and professional speaker, commented, "A probiotic should be chosen based upon the desired outcome and for specific health conditions, such as VSL#3, which has been clinically proven to be beneficial in the dietary management of IBS, UC and ileal pouch. Simply taking any probiotic in a pill or whatever form does not render you healthy. There are numerous published studies, which have proven that different strains of bacteria yield different health benefits.” Dr. Raymond, added, "It's important to be an advocate for yourself when it comes to managing serious gastro conditions, don't just sit idle. Talk with your doctor and/or your pharmacist and do a little research so you can participate in your plan of care."
The following are additional highlights of the VSL#3 survey amongst IBS, UC and ileal pouch sufferers:
Knowledge about Probiotics:
- Nearly half of IBS, UC, ileal pouch sufferers (46%) believe all probiotics are pretty much the same.
- Roughly 2 in 5 IBS, UC, ileal pouch sufferers (41%) don't understand which strain of probiotics is best to help treat their symptoms.
- Nearly half of IBS, UC, ileal pouch sufferers (49%) are not at all knowledgeable about the differences between a "medical food" and a "dietary supplement."
- Slightly less than one quarter of sufferers (24%) say they regularly take probiotics to control their symptoms.
- Nearly 7 in 10 of those who have used probiotics (69%) say probiotics have helped change their life for the better.
- Only about a third of sufferers (35%) feel they are at least somewhat knowledgeable about the benefits of a low-FODMAP diet.
- Nearly half of IBS, UC, ileal pouch sufferers (48%) have looked for reviews of particular probiotic brands before heading to the store shelves.
- Only 12% of IBS, UC, ileal pouch sufferers say when choosing a probiotic they look for the certain strain that will help best with their condition.
- Only 21% say that their insurance plan pays for part of the cost of their probiotic prescriptions.