The use of probiotics and xylitol chewing gum to alleviate sore throat symptoms — as an alternative to antibiotics — appears to have no effect, according to a study by the University of Southampton.
Previous evidence indicates that probiotics and xylitol, a birch sugar that prevents bacterial growth, can help reduce recurrence of upper respiratory tract infections.
But the Southampton study, published in CMAJ(Canadian Medical Association Journal), found no significant benefits of either the gum or probiotics, which are available over the counter, in improving sore throat symptoms.
Professor Michael Moore, one of the study’s authors, commented: “It was not clear before the trial whether gum or probiotics would be helpful in relieving symptoms but it is a priority to find alternative approaches to treatment that don’t involve antibiotics- so it was worth testing out these two potential treatments. We were hoping that one or other would prove beneficial in sore throat but unfortunately not.”
Participants completed a symptom diary, participants reported the number of probiotic capsules and sticks of chewing gum used each day, as well as the severity of symptoms. They were study “compliant” if they had taken 75% of their allotted treatment.
There were no significant differences between groups for both the xylitol and the probiotic groups, which suggests that neither intervention helped in controlling acute symptoms.
University of Southampton