Probiotic Combination for C. difficile

Kerry Beeson BSc (Nut. Med.) Nutritional Therapist

Results from a new clinical trial1 suggest that probiotics could offer benefits for those suffering from Clostridium difficile infection (CDI).

The randomised controlled trial was conducted over a two year period, and monitored a total of 33 patients suffering from mild to moderate Clostridium difficile. Each patient was given a combination of probiotics over a 28 day period as well as the usual antibiotic treatment, and a control group was given a placebo.

The probiotic supplement given to the treatment group contained the following strains at a combined strength of 17 billion CFUs: 
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®  Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37®Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07® and Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04®.

cancer patient lying in hospital bed

C. difficile infection is often contracted in hospital, with vulnerable patients being most at risk.

The results, which were published this August 2017 in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, indicated that the probiotics shortened the duration of symptoms (typically diarrhoea) by an average of 24 hours. Given the financial implications for hospitals caring for patients with CDI, the impact of symptoms on patients who may already be suffering with other serious conditions, and the potential to decrease both CDI transmission and antibiotic use, even a small decrease in the length of the infection may be very significant.

The study authors, who were from the Universities of Wisconsin and Virginia, concluded that:

”Probiotics provide a promising, well-tolerated adjunct therapy to standard C. difficile infection (CDI) treatment regimens”

What is Clostridium difficile?

Clostridium difficile is a pathogenic bacteria which can result in fatal infections. It is often contracted in a hospital environment, and in fact is the most common cause of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections, with hundreds of thousands of cases reported each year. This serious and unpleasant illness is more prevalent in the elderly or those with serious health conditions, so its onset is even more serious in these vulnerable patients. It also commonly develops in those who have been given broad-spectrum or long-term antibiotics.

Consequently, any adjunct to support conventional treatment would be welcomed, and it’s very encouraging that a safe, natural solution may be on offer in the form of certain probiotic strains.

All of these very well-researched strains are also featured in our latest web resource, The Probiotics Database, an impartial compilation of the world's best strains, based on the weight of research that supports their use.

If you found this article interesting, you may be interested to read these other related blogs and information pages:

Faecal transplants may eradicate C. diff diarrhoea
Probiotics & Clostridium difficile


  1. Barker et al (2017), A randomized controlled trial of probiotics for Clostridium difficile infection in adults (PICO), Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, dkx254, Published: 23 August 2017