Weighing up probiotic benefits

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

Probiotics are often touted as having health benefits, but clinical trials need to be tightened up to make sure we can rely on their results, New Zealand researchers write in a viewpoint article. Because the term 'probiotic' can cover a range of microbial species and each one has different strains, it's difficult for consumers and health professionals to compare the results from different probiotic trials. The researchers suggest standardising clinical trials and product labelling to make it easier to understand possible benefits from products available in New Zealand.

Journal/conference: New Zealand Medical Journal

Organisation/s: University of Otago

Funder: Blis Technologies, Callaghan Innovation.

Media Release

From: New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA)

Key points

  • Probiotics have a number of reported health benefits ranging from improvement of intestinal health and function, to immune support.
  • Probiotic products include a range of bacterial species and each has unique health benefits as they interact with our bodies uniquely.
  • Probiotic strains need to be treated independently and cannot be compared unless investigated in a standardised way
  • We recommend that probiotic trials communicate findings through consistent labelling and data reporting
  • Analysis of probiotics in a standardised way would enable development of data bank containing health benefits and information on products available in NZ; this would be a straightforward approach for health care professionals and consumers to make decisions on probiotic products


Probiotics available in New Zealand have a range of reported health benefits, and it can be difficult for consumers and healthcare professionals to compare efficacy of different products. Probiotic products contain a variety of bacterial species and strains that interact with our bodies in unique ways and provide different health benefits, and it is important to acknowledge that these strains cannot be compared unless tested in standardised way. Development of an online resource that collates and translates the scientific literature on probiotics into easy-to-understand clinically relevant information would help consumers and healthcare professionals compare probiotic products and make informed decisions.

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New Zealand

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