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Med Hypotheses. 2003 Aug;61(2):307-13.

Probiotics can treat hepatic encephalopathy.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore 21205, USA.


Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a common and dreaded complication of liver disease. The effects of HE can range from minimal to life threatening. Even 'minimal HE' causes major dysfunction in many aspects of daily living. The exact pathogenesis of HE remains unknown. However, the products of gut flora metabolism are universally recognized as critical. Present treatments for HE include the cathartic agent lactulose and poorly absorbable antibiotics. While effective, these treatments incur numerous side-effects and cost. Probiotics are viable bacteria given orally to improve health. Probiotics have multiple mechanisms of action that could disrupt the pathogenesis of HE and may make them superior to conventional treatment.

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