The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Probiotic effects on respiratory tract infection

     Reviewers at the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Athens, Greece evaluated the evidence.

    First, the details.

    • The reviewers identified 14 well-designed studies of probiotics for the prevention of upper or lower respiratory tract infections (RTIs).
      • 12 in healthy subjects and 2 involving patients with RTIs.
    • Various Lactobacillus strains were used in 7 studies, combinations of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains were used in 5 studies, and a Bifidobacterium strain and a non-pathogenic Enterococcus faecalis strain were each used in 1 study, respectively.

    And, the results for various aspects of the studies.
    The risk of getting a RTI

    • 4 studies favored probiotics to reduce risk.
    • 10 studies reported no effect with probiotics vs the comparative group.

    Symptom control

    • 5 of 6 studies reported reduced symptoms with probiotics.

    Duration of infection

    • 3 of 9 studies reported shorter RTIs with probiotics.
    • No difference was found in the remaining 6 studies.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “Probiotics may have a beneficial effect on the severity and duration of symptoms of RTIs but do not appear to reduce the incidence of RTIs.”

    It’s probably an oversimplification to report on probiotics as a group. However, there were probably too few studies to warrant reporting their individual effects.

    A primer on pre, pro, and synbiotics is here.

    2/1/09 18:36 JR

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