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Kefir is a fermented milk drink from Russia.

There are some claims that Kefir is effective at treating gastroenteritis and inflammatory or irritable bowel syndrome. A web search for Kefir results in massive amounts of information and even sites dedicated to it.

The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity.

One pilot study looked at a restrictive diet, which included several "probiotic" foods Kefir, but did not test it exclusively:

Notably, 9 out of 11 patients were able to be managed without anti-TNF therapy, and 100% of the patients had their symptoms reduced. To make clear recommendations for its use in clinical practice, randomized trials are neededalongside strategies to improve acceptability and compliance with the IBD-AID.

This is a strong result for IBD treatment. Most treatments do not even come close to this result. I also understand that with dietary changes it is more or less impossible to do proper blinding.

I am always wary of digestive system treatments as this has been a very difficult part for medical science to get a grasp on because of the sheer complexity of how everything in the gut interacts.

I am interested in whether Kefir can be successfully used to treat such illnesses.

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    Based on a quick review of the literature, it seems scientists are getting excited by the idea, but it is still a long way off from being isolated, clinically tested and recommended. Unfortunately, this question looks like it might fall into the "research-level science" basket. Looking forward to being proved wrong (either now, or in ten years' time.)
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 31 '12 at 13:05
  • I'd be surprised if it would have significantly different effect, than yogurt or buttermilk (quoted study also includes yogurt alongside with kefir).
    – vartec
    Jul 31 '12 at 15:37
  • The big question is which probiotic(s) in the Kefir has this effect? The right combination of strains could be the answer.
    – Tjaart
    Aug 1 '12 at 6:05

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