Probiotics Symposium 2011

The 5th Annual Probiotics Symposium took place in beautiful, historic Alexandria in Virginia. The days were filled with the latest research and information on the use of probiotics in diverse areas of medicine. There were many new attendees and many who come back each year to hear the latest updates.


Patrick Hanaway MD

Dr Patrick Hanaway, pediatrician, gave a fascinating talk. He told us many interesting facts like: how 70% of our immune system resides in our gut, how when infants are born, their gut is sterile and dependent on many factors, including the country of their birth, whether they were delivered in a hospital or at home, the onset of the condition of their digestive system is formulated.

Dr Hanaway sited a study that showed that when mothers to be were given probiotics in their last 3 months of pregnancy and then their babies were given probiotics for 6 months after birth, that within the first 2 years, their was  a  49% reduction in atopic illness. By 4 years old, it was 47%.

Dr Hanaway also mentioned that if a baby’s natural digestive process was interfered with for one week or more, that it had a significant negative effect on the baby. This would point to antibiotic treatment during that time as well as botanical herbal remedies as well. That is a very significant finding as we tend to think that because it’s natural, it good. It certainly points to effective use of homeopathic medicine instead, which would not have a similar effect.

Elizabeth Mumper MD

Elizabeth Mumper MD

Dr Elizabeth Mumper MD gave an enlightening presentation on Autism. She explained how Autism is defined as a ‘behavioral’ condition, and therefore the medical problems are not really addressed. She said its very important to look at the medical problems, particularly the GI tract, as it influences behavior of autistic children.

There are more neurotransmitters in the gut than there are in the brain. She explained how there were 3 parameters to look at – inflammation, intestinal permeability and food sensitivity. All 3 affect the behavior of autistic kids. Probiotics are her first line of treatment.

She also warns against use of Aspartame and MSG, both of which will affect these kids severely. One very interesting comment she made was with regard to skin conditions- like eczema- in children. She now understands it to be a symptoms of disregulated immune function.



Yvan Vandenplas MD

Yvan Vandenplas MD from Belgium gave a very interesting presentation of research on use of Saccharomyces Boulardii in acute gastro enteritis ie diarrhea. The studies showed 25% less duration time – ie 3 days instead of 4. They also showed that the earlier you start the treatment , the more successful it is. There was no difference in results when using S Boulardii was used on its own or in combination with other strains.

When considering the cost of use of probiotics for only saving one day of symptoms, it was found that more money was spent on follow up doctor’s visits and prescription drugs in the control group. There was a 60% reduction in reoccurrence 2 months later and 40% after 2 months. This points to significant improvement in immunity. He pointed out that S Boulardii is a transitory organism and that it is not present in normal flora.

It was also interesting to find out that probiotics are added to all children’s formulae in Europe. Also that S Boulardii is resistant to anti-biotics and yet not to anti-fungals. For this reason it is necessary to take anti-fungals at a different time.



Stephen Olmstead MD

Dr Stephen Olmstead MD told us in detail about the practical applications of Probiotics. He explained the 3 different definitions of probiotics – as viable microbial food supplements which beneficially influence health of humans, prebiotics as non-digestible substances that stimulate the growth and/or metabolic activity of selected GI microbes leading to health benefits and Synbiotics – as a food or supplement that combines pro and pre biotics.

He explained the different types of probiotics – lactic acid bacteria, non-lactic acid bacteria like bacillus species and e coli nissle 1917 used in crohns, and non-pathogenic yeast ie saccharamyces boulardii

Documented use of probiotics include antibiotic-assocaited diarrhea, c difficile -associated diarrhea, community acquire diarrhea, traveller’s diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease,irritable bowel syndrome, vaginal dysbiosis, recurrent urinary tract infection, allergies, atopic dermatitis, eczema and lactose intolerance.

In conclusion he spoke about the use of prebiotics showing benefit for Ulcerative Colitis and allergies and use of Saccharamyces Boulardii for ADD, Crohns Disease and traveler’s diarrhea. He stressed the importance of further clinical trials to document formulation efficacy.

Believe it or not, fecal implants are the latest recommendations when it comes to curing the intestinal infection, Clostridium difficile.  C.diff causes excruciating diarrhea. This was discussed by the panel at the symposium.

As revolutionary as it may sound, the results are excellent. Historically, it’s treated with powerful antibiotics, however, those antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, leaving your intestines ripe for a second round of infection.

They don’t recommend an implant anally for compromised patients and there is research under way to come up with a capsule that is ingested orally that will survive the upper digestive tract and only ‘open’ in the lower bowel.

See what Dr Mercola has to say about Fecal Implants