This section was compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C. Send all comments or additions to:Frankp@chiro.org
If there are terms in these articles you don't understand, you can get a definition from the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary. If you want information about a specific disease, you can access the Merck Manual. You can also search Pub Med for more abstracts on this, or any other health topic.
A Nutritional Approach to Immunity
Many studies show that immune function depends on nutrients found primarily in whole, unprocessed foods.  Researchers have also confirmed that physical activity and a healthy emotional state are essential for proper immune function. [3,4] A healthy diet and lifestyle may be the cornerstones of a strong immune system, but what specific measures can be taken when a person is faced with an immune challenge such as the annual cold and flu season?
Probiotics Effective Against Viral Infections
A recent study on the prevention of gastrointestinal infections suggests that probiotics may also be effective against viral infections. In this study, a group of 81 children was randomized to receive either a strain of lactobacillus (Lactobacillus GG) or placebo after hospital admission. Because many infections are acquired in the hospital (termed nosocomial infections), the researchers decided to test the protective effects of probiotics in this setting.
The Probiotic Solution for Colitis
Colitis, or irritable bowel disease (IBD), is a group of conditions characterized by gut–wall inflammation. Conventional medicine generally addresses IBD symptoms with steroids and other drugs. Probiotics, or "friendly" bacteria, address the root cause, most importantly by acting antagonistically toward pathogenic bacteria that cause intestinal inflammation. Valuable probiotics include various species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. You may also want to refer to the Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Essential Fatty Acids Page for more on this topic.
Bacteria That Strengthen The Immune System
Richard N. Podell, M.D. writes: "As a practicing physician and nutritionist, I hear that question at least three times a day. The good news is we can strengthen the immune system's resistance to infection by taking supplements of Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidum, two breeds of "friendly" bacteria that normally live in the human gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract."
The Yeast Within
The predominant organisms normally found in the vagina are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Corynebacterium vaginale.  These organisms maintain an acidic vaginal environment with a pH of 4 to 4.5.  Since lactobacillus and corynebacterium are responsible for metabolizing the sugars glycogen and glucose, which are favorite foods for candida and other yeasts, a healthy amount of these organisms can stave off candida overgrowth. 
A Probiotics Primer
Ever since Louis Pasteur formulated the germ theory of disease in the late 1800s, humans have been locked in mortal combat with microorganisms. The zealous use of antibiotics, disinfectant
chemicals and sanitary packaging attests to our fear and loathing of all things microbial. In this age of antisepsis, it seems ironic that each of our intestinal tracts harbors tens of
trillions of bacteria. This number, by some estimates, exceeds the total number of cells making up the human body. Even more ironic is that many of these bacteria are beneficial. Probiotic– – or life–enhancing organisms within the intestinal tract perform such a wide variety of physiological functions that they have been likened to an accessory organ.
Probiotics in the Development and Treatment of Allergic Disease
Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2012 (Dec); 41 (4): 747–762
Gut microbiota composition can discriminate between allergic and healthy children, and the distinction may precede clinical manifestations of disease. The mother provides the first inoculum of bacteria, which influences the risk of becoming allergic later in life. Bifidobacterium species are major determinants of disease risk. Specific probiotics may modulate early microbial colonization, which represents the first intervention target in allergic disease, together with their ability to reverse the increased intestinal permeability characteristic of children with atopic eczema and food allergy. Probiotics also enhance gut-specific IgA responses, which are frequently defective in children with food allergy. In addition, probiotics have the potential to alleviate allergic inflammation locally and systemically.
Evaluation of Helicobacter Pylori Eradication in Pediatric Patients
by Triple Therapy Plus Lactoferrin and Probiotics Compared to Triple Therapy Alone
Ital J Pediatr. 2012 (Oct 31); 38 (1): 63 ~ FULL TEXT
To evaluate whether the addition of a probiotic could improve Helicobacter pylori (H.P.) eradication rates, 68 children with histopathologically proven H.P.-infection were randomized into two therapy regimens (group A and B): both groups received standard triple treatment (omeprazole, amoxicillin and clarithromycin) while only group B patients were also given a probiotic (Probinul - Cadigroup). Patients compliance was evaluated at the end of the treatment. Successful eradication was defined as a negative 13 C-urea breath test (C13-ubt) result four weeks after therapy discontinuation. In conclusion our study suggests that the addition of this probiotic formula to triple therapy
did not increase (significantly) the H.P. eradication rates; however it significantly decreased
the frequency of epigastric pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Galactooligosaccharide Supplementation Reduces Stress-induced Gastrointestinal Dysfunction and Days of Cold or Flu: A Randomized, Double-blind, Controlled Trial In Healthy University Students
Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 (Jun); 93 (6): 1305–1311 ~ FULL TEXT
Current research suggests that daily supplementation with prebiotics may boost immune function and gastrointestinal health during times of heightened stress. The following randomized, double-blind study included 419 college students who were randomized to receive 0, 2.5 or 5.0 grams of a galactooligosaccharide prebiotic supplement for eight weeks before, during and after final exams. The results revealed that the study participants showed fewer symptoms of gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and abdominal pain following prebiotics supplementation. It was also found that normal-weight individuals receiving the 5.0 gram prebiotic supplement experienced a 40 percent reduction in days with cold or flu, although no effect was observed in overweight or obese participants. These findings suggest that galactooligosaccharide prebiotics may provide beneficial protection during times of increased stress.
The Causes of Intestinal Dysbiosis: A Review
Alternative Medicine Review 2004 (Jun); 9 (2): 180–197 ~ FULL TEXT
Alterations in the bowel flora and its activities are now believed to be contributing factors to many chronic and degenerative diseases. Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis have all been linked to alterations in the intestinal microflora. The intestinal dysbiosis hypothesis suggests a number of factors associated with modern Western living have a detrimental impact on the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract. Factors such as antibiotics, psychological and physical stress, and certain dietary components have been found to contribute to intestinal dysbiosis. If these causes can be eliminated or at least attenuated then treatments aimed at manipulating the microflora may be more successful.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Ulcerative colitis (UC), a subcategory of inflammatory bowel disease, afflicts 1-2 million people in the United States, and many more worldwide. Crohn's disease, a subcategory of inflammatory bowel disease, contributes to significant morbidity, particularly in industrialized nations. It can affect people of any age, but is more commonly diagnosed in adolescence and young adulthood. Factors such as antibiotics, psychological and physical stress, and certain dietary components have been found to contribute to intestinal dysbiosis. If these causes can be eliminated or at least attenuated then treatments aimed at manipulating the microflora may be more successful.
Part 1: Ulcerative Colitis–Pathophysiology and Conventional
and Alternative Treatment Options
Alternative Medicine Review 2003 (Aug); 8 (3): 247–283 ~ FULL TEXT
While conventional treatments can be effective in maintaining remission and decreasing the length of active disease periods, the treatments are not without side effects, and a significant number of people suffering from UC fail to respond to even the strongest drugs. This article reviews potential unconventional treatments - transdermal nicotine, heparin, melatonin, DHEA, probiotics, fiber, dietary changes, botanicals, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients - that may be considered in conjunction with conventional approaches or as part of a comprehensive alternative treatment protocol. You may also want to refer to the Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Essential Fatty Acids Page for more on this topic.
Part 2: Crohn's Disease–Pathophysiology and Conventional
and Alternative Treatment Options
Alternative Medicine Review 2004 (Dec); 9 (4): 360–401 ~ FULL TEXT
Conventional medications are not curative but can contribute to resolution of acute flare-ups and help maintain remission. Because significant side effects are associated with many these medications, more natural interventions to help maintain remission should be considered. Associated nutrient deficiencies, dietary interventions, and nutrient and botanical supplementation are discussed.
Probiotics in Health Maintenance and Disease Prevention
Alternative Medicine Review 2003 (May); 8 (2): 143-155 ~ FULL TEXT
Probiotic microflora display numerous health benefits beyond providing basic nutritional value. They cooperatively maintain a delicate balance between the gastrointestinal tract and immune system. When this balance is disrupted, disease and inflammation result. A healthy gastrointestinal tract, with adequate mucus production and appropriate bacterial colonization, prevents the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, modulates disease processes, and prevents widespread inflammatory disorders. Probiotics may be commonly used as a therapeutic tool by health care practitioners in the not-too-distant future.
Essential Fatty Acids as Possible Enhancers of the Beneficial Actions of Probiotics
Nutrition 2002 (Sep); 18 (9): 786
I investigated whether there is a common link between essential fatty acids and probiotics, which have similar actions and benefits in atopy. I made a critical review of the literature pertaining to the actions of essential fatty acids and probiotics on immune response and the interaction between them with particular reference to atopy. A significant reduction in the risk of childhood asthma and other atopic conditions was reported in children who were exclusively breast-fed for at least 4 mo after birth. This beneficial action can be attributed to the immunomodulatory, nutritional, or other components of human milk Human breast milk is rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), which have immunomodulatory actions. You may also want to refer to the Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Essential Fatty Acids Page for more on this topic.
Probiotics in Human Disease
Western civilization is facing a progressive increase in immune-mediated, gut-related health problems, such as allergies and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and genetic factors are an unlikely explanation for these rapid increases in disease incidence. Two environmental factors that relate to the modern lifestyle in Western societies are hygiene and nutrition. There has been a decline in the incidence of microbial stimulation by infectious diseases as a result of improved hygiene, vaccination, and antimicrobial medication.
Probiotics in Human Disease - Part I
Am J Clin Nutr 2001 (Jun); 73 (6): 1142S–1146S
These data show that probiotics promote endogenous host defense mechanisms. Thus, modification of gut microflora by probiotic therapy may offer a therapeutic potential in clinical conditions associated with gut-barrier dysfunction and inflammatory response.
Probiotics in Human Disease - Part II
Am J Clin Nutr 2001 (Jun); 73 (6): 1142S–1146S
Western civilization is facing a progressive increase in immune-mediated, gut-related health problems, such as allergies and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and genetic factors are an unlikely explanation for these rapid increases in disease incidence. Two environmental factors that relate to the modern lifestyle in Western societies are hygiene and nutrition.
Probiotics: Effects on Immunity
Am J Clin Nutr 2001 (Feb); 73 (2 Suppl): 444S–450S
The gastrointestinal tract functions as a barrier against antigens from microorganisms and food. The generation of immunophysiologic regulation in the gut depends on the establishment of indigenous microflora. This has led to the introduction of novel therapeutic interventions based on the consumption of cultures of beneficial live microorganisms that act as probiotics.
Probiotics in the Management of Atopic Eczema
Clin Exp Allergy 2000 (Nov); 30 (11): 1604–1610
The results provide the first clinical demonstration of specific probiotic strains modifying the changes related to allergic inflammation. The data further indicate that probiotics may counteract inflammatory responses beyond the intestinal milieu.
Probiotics: A Novel Approach in the Management of Food Allergy
J Allergy Clin Immunol 1997 (Feb); 99 (2): 179–185
Human intestinal floral strain, Lactobacillus GG (ATCC 53103), promotes local antigen-specific immune responses (particularly in the IgA class), prevents permeability defects, and confers controlled antigen absorption.