Esophageal Microbes, Friend or Foe?

  • The body is full of many different microbes that can work with or against the body depending on where they are found and how many are present. Recent research published in Gastroenterology indicated an association between these microbes and GERD. Patients with Barrett's and esophagitis had and increase in a gram-negative microbial population where the healthy subjects had esophagus populations containing Streptococcus (1).


    It is unclear as to whether the GERD was caused by the abnormal bacterial population or whether the bacteria were a result of the GERD. More research is needed.  These findings are definitely promising and may help to further target GERD treatments with things like probiotics which promote the growth of the body's "good bacteria".

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    Recently I was able to pose the question of probiotics to the panel gathered for the Children's Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation (CDHNF) webcast for IBD. The doctors gathered felt that while probiotics may offer good benefits it is not quite clear cut enough to promote them across the board. They felt that there may come a time where doctors are able to prescribe probiotics based on the strain that will be most helpful for each specific disease type. Much in the same way antibiotics are prescribed now.


    In fact, in 2007 the National Institutes of Health launched the Human Microbiome Project. The project is designed to study the role of bacterial populations, called microbiomes, with in specific areas of the body and how those populations affect our health. These results could potentially alter current treatments for many diseases including GI diseases like GERD.



Published On: August 25, 2009