RSSProbiotic for methane-dependant constipation

Posted on Fri, 10 Nov 17

Probiotic for methane-dependant constipation

A unique probiotic could target a common cause of functional constipation, methane producing bacterial overgrowth, according to a new study. 

Recently it has become apparent that a common cause of constipation is overgrowth of methane producing bacteria known as methanogens [1]. 

Overgrowth of the methanogen Methanobrevibacter smithii increases gut methane levels which directly inhibits gastrointestinal motility and results in clinical symptoms of constipation [2]. 

Targeted reduction of methanogens with antibiotics has been shown to improve gut transit and constipation, but treatment alternatives are needed [3]. 

A research group from the University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, and Columbia University Medical Center, NYC, hypothesized that a unique probiotic strain  - Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 - may be able to reduce gut methanogens and improve bowel movements in people with constipation [4]. 

Testing their idea in people with constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), they found that prescribing Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 (100 million CFU) 30-minutes after eating twice daily for 4-weeks significantly decreased methane gas production, as determined by a lactulose breath test. The reduction in methane production was associated with a significant increase in bowel movements and regularity.

“Our hypothesis is that L. reuteri DSM 17938 may inhibit gut microbiota gram-positive bacteria more than negative, shifting gut microflora towards dominant hydrogen consuming microorganisms,” concluded the investigators. “The possibility to reduce methane production with the administration of L. reuteri DSM 17938 could then represent the basis for new and more effective therapies even for other gastrointestinal disorders linked to methane production.” 


  1. Gottlieb K, Wacher V, Sliman J, Pimentel M. Review article: inhibition of methanogenic archaea by statins as a targeted management strategy for constipation and related disorders. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Jan;43(2):197-212.
  2. Ghoshal U, Shukla R, Srivastava D, Ghoshal UC. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Particularly the Constipation-Predominant Form, Involves an Increase in Methanobrevibacter smithii, Which Is Associated with Higher Methane Production. Gut Liver. 2016 Nov 15;10(6):932-938.
  3. Ghoshal UC, Srivastava D, Misra A. Sa1378 Reduction of breath methane using rifaximin shortens colon transit time and improves constipation: a randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial. Gastroenterology. 2015;148:4 S. doi: 10.1016/S0016-5085(15)31017-9. uppl 1:S308–S309.
  4. Ojetti V, Petruzziello C, Migneco A, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus reuteri (DSM 17938) on methane production in patients affected by functional constipation: a retrospective study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Apr;21(7):1702-1708.

Tags: Probiotic, Ibs, Constipation

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