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Study Advocates for Risky FMT Procedure Over Probiotic Supplements


A new study published in the medical journal Cell encourages patients to avoid probiotics in favor of a medical procedure that is known to cause adverse events in more than 25 percent of patients. The Natural Products Association (NPA) pointed out the near universal medical consensus that probiotics are safe and effective and questioned why researchers would encourage patients to seek a treatment known as a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) as an alternative, despite its association with a high rate of adverse events, including serious adverse events.

“There are good reasons why probiotics are taken by almost 4 million adults and prescribed by up to 60 percent of health care providers: they’re safe and effective,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of NPA. “What’s more alarming is that researchers are pushing patients toward a treatment that has been associated with a much higher rate of adverse events.”

Researchers have concluded that adverse events including serious adverse events are not rare and remain a major challenge with FMT. Side effects of FMT have been known to include blood infections, fever and worsening of inflammatory bowel disease, among others. FMT is also a medical procedure that is less accessible than taking a probiotic supplement. In contrast, thousands of studies have supported the safe use and efficacy of probiotics for:

  • Managing irritable bowel syndrome1
  • Improving not only gut health but liver health as well2
  • Reducing the severity of skin rashes in children and eliminate the need for topical corticosteroids to treat symptom flare-ups3
  • Reducing the likelihood of infection during antibiotic treatments, with no adverse events4

1 Moayyedi P, Ford AC, Talley NJ, et al The efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review Gut 2010;59:325-332

2 Growing evidence that probiotics are good for your liver. ScienceDaily.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180423085445.htm. Published April 23, 2018. Updated June 18, 2018.

3 Navarro-López V, Ramírez-Boscá A, Ramón-Vidal D, et al. Effect of oral administration of a mixture of probiotic strains on SCORAD Index and use of topical steroids in young patients with moderate atopic dermatitis: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(1):37-43.

4 Johnston BC, et al. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2018;doi:10.1017/ice.2018.84.

For more information, visit www.npainfo.org.