In recent years, interest has increased in the use of probiotics (orally administered micro-organisms) to treat people with a wide range of health problems. In the UK, probiotic preparations are classified as foods or food supplements so, unlike for medicines, there are no regulations to prevent their manufacturers from making non-specific promotional health claims,1 such as "Gives your patients a boost". Here we focus on the use of probiotics to treat people with gastrointestinal disorders. In a future issue, we will consider their use in atopic disease.
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