We chose probiotics this month because of their growing popularity over the last two decades, stemming from perceived benefits including improved digestion, immune function and nutrient absorption.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are thought to confer health benefits on the host by reversing dysbiosis (alterations in the composition or function of gut microbes), which is associated with the development of many chronic and degenerative diseases. Majority of probiotics contain lactic acid-producing bacteria including Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Bifidobacterium, Propionibacterium and Enterococcus or yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii. Current evidence suggests the value of probiotics in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, acute infectious diarrhea, diarrhea induced by antibiotics and that associated with chemotherapy; and in improving cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Probiotics may also have anti-carcinogenic potential. However, well-designed trials and specific recommendations are needed to establish their use. Read more about probiotics.
The last two decades have seen a significant increase in dietary supplement use by cancer patients. Despite the proliferation of Web sites that contain information about dietary supplements, finding a reliable source can be overwhelming. The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center developed and maintains a free Web site “About Herbs” that provides objective and unbiased information about herbs, vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, and unproven anticancer treatments. Each of the 278 and growing number of entries has healthcare professional and patient versions that are regularly updated with the latest research findings. The free About Herbs App, compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices, can be downloaded at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/about-herbs/id554267162?mt=8.