The following article is a part of conference coverage from the Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 2021 Annual Meeting , held from December 9 to 11, 2021. The team at Gastroenterology Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in gastroenterology. Check back for more from AIBD 2021.


Probiotic use is associated with brain fog in men and White patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to research presented at the Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (AIBD) 2021 Annual Meeting, held from December 9 to 11, 2021, in Orlando, Florida and virtually.

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Probiotic use has been linked to brain fogginess; however, studies on probiotic use and associated brain fog among patients with IBD are limited. In the current cross-sectional study, researchers sought to evaluate the link between brain fog and probiotics in patients with IBD.

The study included adults with biopsy-proven IBD, without a history of psychiatric illness or opioid use. Patients were divided into 2 groups based on probiotic use. Symptoms of brain fog were assessed using a questionnaire. Differences in baseline demographics and comparative outcomes between groups were analyzed, with a P value of less than 0.05 considered statistically significant.

A total of 66 patients were included in the study with a mean age of 44±2 years; 35 (53%) patients were women and 59 (89.4%) were White. Of these, 31.8% (n=21) of patients reported taking probiotics, with a majority (67%; n=14) having consumed them for over a year.

An overall trend for an association between probiotic use and brain fog was observed among all patients (P =.080). A significant association between probiotic use and brain fog was reported among both White patients (P =.044) and men (P =.004). Furthermore, a strong association was observed with the duration of probiotic use (P =.038).

The researchers noted, “Consumption of probiotics was independently associated with brain fog in men, as well as Caucasian patients with IBD respectively.” They concluded, “Given the high prevalence of probiotic use in IBD patients, prospective studies are warranted to examine the causal relationship between probiotics and IBD-associated brain fog to guide prescription of probiotic supplements for IBD.”

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Apaar D, Khushboo G, Jayesh R, Shesh R, Gerald D. Brain fog in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and association with use of probiotics. Presented at: AIBD 2021 Annual Meeting; December 9-11, 2021; Orlando, FL and virtual. Abstract P027.