The Living With Gastroparesis blog just posted some interesting survey data about Gastroparesis which does include information about probiotic usage w/ Gastroparesis. Of 46 people who responded as taking probiotics, 25 reported mild to significant improvements of their Gastroparesis symptoms, which is actually impressive as I was not thinking they would have that large of an effect. It is important to note that the majority of positives results, were on the mild side, but some people did respond well to probiotics.
If you’re not aware, Gastroparesis is paralysis of the stomach. Basically the stomach no longer churns properly or doesn’t do it as often as it should. There can be variations on why this is, such as nerve damage, muscle damage or the pyloric sphincter does not relax. Basically, food does not empty from the stomach like it should. The symptoms essentially are like having a stomach flu 24/7. It is very difficult to eat food like a normal person and it can be very debilitating. The causes range from viral infection to diabetes to gastric surgeries.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in the lower gut. These bacteria help digest food & aid in preventing infection. They do not usually have a direct impact on the stomach, but keeping your lower gut healthy, may prove beneficial. This would be especially true if you’re dealing with a wonky upper digestive tract.
Here are a few things I’d suggest trying, possibly before trying probiotics. But there is nothing saying that you can’t try probiotics at the same time.
1. Iberogast – This is an herbal pro-kinetic, it helps the stomach and digestive tract move again. I would say this should be #1 on everyone’s list, including doctors!
2. B12 Vitamins – There is a theory that gastroparesis could be caused by damage to the vagus nerve. B12 is VERY important in the recovery of damage to nerves. Given that someone dealing with gastroparesis might not have very good absorption, talk to your doctor and get a B12 deficiency test or ask to get B12 injections. Not only could this be helpful for nerve health, but could also improve your energy levels as well.
If you want to try oral supplementation, you could try Nature’s Bounty Vitamin B-Complex which has a small B-complex dosage that would probably be easier to digest. I’d also strongly recommend a Methylcobalamin B-12 supplement, the one I stand by is NSI’s Methylcobalamin 500mcg capsules. They do not have any fake sugars like most methyl-b12 supplements. Methyl-B12 is B12 in a form easily absorbed by the body.
3. Digestive Enzymes – Enzymes breakdown your food, I’ve read some reports that they are not effective with gastroparesis, but I would not write them off. Anything you can do to help breakdown your food before your stomach tries to go to work on it can help! You could try CompleteGest Digestive Enzymes or Now Foods Plant Enzymes.
4. Probiotics - While they don’t directly affect the stomach, having a healthy lower digestive tract could help keep things in sync and hopefully reduce symptoms. I’d suggest Align Digestive Care Probiotic which has a low probiotic count (1 Billion CFUs), you can then double or triple it if you feel the need for a higher dosage. Starting small is probably important.
Don’t give up hope. Many people have recovered from Gastroparesis. I myself dealt with some very tough symptoms for 3 months during the summer of 2006. I know for some they have dealt with it much longer than I ever did. As far as I know my cure was a steady diet of Rice Krispie Treats & Nature’s Bounty Vitamin B-Complex. But perhaps it was also the Zelnorm or the Prozac or a bunch of the other stuff I was trying at the time. The B-Complex though seemed to be night and day after I started taking it. I wish I could guarantee that would be the case for you.
If you’ve used a probiotic and have or have not found success, please post the brand/type you use.