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Consuming the Bifidobacterium, BB-12® probiotic may help relieve persistent constipation

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4 Min read

Constipation is common and can impact our quality of life.1 Results from clinical studies suggest that supplementing our diet with the Bifidobacterium, BB-12® probiotic strain (hereafter referred to by use of its trademark BB-12®) may help relieve constipation.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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Constipation is common and impacts our well-being 

Constipation is one of the most common health conditions in the Western world, affecting up to 27% of the population.9, 10 Constipation can significantly affect our daily life and overall well-being.1, 11 

What is constipation? 

Symptoms of constipation include less than three bowel movements per week, hard stools, straining, cramps, bloating, nausea, reduced appetite, gas, and a feeling of wanting to go but not being able.10, 11, 12

Many factors can cause constipation

Factors that can cause an imbalance to our gut bacteria may lead to constipation. Such factors include a low fiber diet, dehydration, a physically inactive or stressful lifestyle, older age, some medications, and hormonal changes.10, 11


Although serotonin is mostly known for its role in regulating mood and behavior, approximately 90% of the body’s serotonin is in the gut and is important for digestion.8

Digestion and good bowel health are driven by serotonin 

The movement of food through the digestive system is a complex process. It begins with chewing, which reduces food into small particles that mix with saliva to form a small, easy-to-swallow ball (called a bolus). As the food bolus moves through the gut, serotonin is released which triggers the muscles in the gut to make wave-like movements. These muscle movements push the bolus of food further forward along the intestine and are a key part of digestion.9, 10, 13 

BB-12® stimulates the release of serotonin

Some lab-based research has shown that the BB-12® probiotic may help digestion by stimulating the release of serotonin.14 In addition, BB-12® may obstruct harmful bacteria and increase the number of beneficial bifidobacteria,2, 7, 13 thereby positively influencing the gut microbiome and potentially improving the intestinal environment.

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BB-12® may help alleviate constipation 

Results from numerous studies have consistently demonstrated that when people with mild constipation supplement their diet with the BB-12® probiotic strain, digestion does not take as long, bowel movements become more regular, and there is less discomfort after bowel movements.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Digestion and bowel health may be improved by supplementing with the BB-12® probiotic strain

It is suggested that BB-12® may stimulate the release of serotonin,14 and, thereby, the BB-12® probiotic strain may help improve digestion and relieve constipation.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Click to read more about BB-12® or about probiotics for gut health.

BB-12® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen A/S. 

The article is provided for informational purposes regarding probiotics and is not meant to suggest that any substance referenced in the article is intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease.
Bifidobacterium, BB-12® 

The probiotic strain Bifidobacterium, BB-12® is the world’s most documented probiotic bifidobacterium. It has been extensively studied and has been associated with improved outcomes across various health areas.

BB-12® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen A/S

BB-12 consumer logo TM

References Open Close

1. Wald A, et al. The burden of constipation on quality of life: results of a multinational survey. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007;26(2):227-36. (PubMed)
2. Pitkala KH, et al. Fermented cereal with specific bifidobacteria normalizes bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents. A randomized, controlled trial. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007;11(4):305-11. (PubMed)
3. Eskesen D, et al. Effect of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, BB-12®, on defecation frequency in healthy subjects with low defecation frequency and abdominal discomfort: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial. Br J Nutr. 2015;114(10):1638-46. (PubMed)
4. Matsumoto M, et al. Impact of LKM512 yogurt on improvement of intestinal environment of the elderly. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2001;31(3):181-6. (PubMed)
5. Nishida S, et al. Effect of Yogurt Containing Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 on Improvement of Defecation and Fecal Microflora of Healthy Female Adults. Milk Science. 2004;53(2):71-80.
6. Murakami T, et al. Safety and effect of yoghurt containing Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 on improvement of defecation and fecal microflora in healthy volunteers. J Nutr Food. 2006;9:15-26.
7. Uchida K, et al. Effect of fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12 on stool frequency, defecation, fecal microbiota and safety of excessive ingestion in healthy female students - 2nd report. J Nutr Food. 2005;8:39-51.
8. Gershon MD, Tack J. The Serotonin Signaling System: From Basic Understanding To Drug Development for Functional GI Disorders. Gastroenterology. 2007;132(1):397-414. (PubMed)
9. Tack J, Müller-Lissner S. Treatment of chronic constipation: current pharmacologic approaches and future directions. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009;7(5):502-8; quiz 496. (PubMed)
10. Andrews CN, Storr M. The pathophysiology of chronic constipation. Can J Gastroenterol. 2011;25 Suppl B:16b-21b. (PubMed)
11. Mayo Clinic. Constipation. Updated 29 June 2019. (Source - accessed 25th May 2020.)
12. Longstreth GF, et al. Functional bowel disorders. Gastroenterology. 2006;130(5):1480-91. (PubMed)
13. Alander M, et al. Effect of galacto-oligosaccharide supplementation on human faecal microflora and on survival and persistence of Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12 in the gastrointestinal tract. International Dairy Journal. 2001;11(10):817-25. (Source)
14. Leser TD. Bifidobacteria stimulate serotonin secretion in an endocrine cell line. ASM Microbe; June 1-5 2017; New Orleans, USA.

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