Bacteria are germs that are normally in the gut. They are often referred to as the gut flora. Most bacteria are in the large intestine (colon). Some bacteria can cause infection; these are called pathogens. Other bacteria can be helpful. These helpful (or “good”) bacteria are called probiotics. Medicines that destroy bacteria are called antibiotics.

During IFFGD's 7th International Symposium on Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in April 2007, we had the opportunity to interview a leading researcher, Eamonn Quigley, MD, on the topics of probiotics and antibiotics. Dr. Quigley is Professor of Medicine and Human Physiology at University College, Cork (National University of Ireland). Brooks Cash, MD adds comments about issues of safety and effectiveness of antibiotics.

Is there a role for probiotics in the treatment of IBS?

Dr. Quiqley discusses how our understanding of the importance of the interaction between our gut bacteria and ourselves is growing.

Are there issues of safety and effectiveness with probiotics?

Not all probiotics are equal. Dr. Quigley talks about the importance of quality control.

How can probiotics work in treating IBS?

Dr. Quigley explains how studies suggest that some probiotics can do more than displace bad bacteria (pathogens).

Is there a role for antibiotics in treating IBS?

Some IBS patients show a response to certain antibiotics. A discussion by Dr. Quigley of why this may be and possible issues of safety and effectiveness.

Brooks Cash, MD, USN, is Chief, Gastroenterology Division and Colon Health Initiative; and Associate Professor of Medicine, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. Here he speaks about whether there is an appropriate application for the cautious use of antibiotics in the treatment of functional bowel disorders, and what symptoms they may affect. 

About these videos and Resource

These interviews with IFFGD were taped at the 7th International Symposium on Functional GI Disorders held in Milwaukee, WI in April 2007.

More on this topic

More information can be found in IFFGD Publication Gut Bacteria and Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Eamonn Quigley, MD.