What Has Science Shown About The Effectiveness Of Probiotics For Health Conditions
A great deal of research has been done on probiotics, but much remains to be learned about whether theyâre helpful and safe for various health conditions.
Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea , prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.
However, in most instances, we still donât know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also donât know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions.
The following sections summarize the research on probiotics for some of the conditions for which theyâve been studied.
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Probiotics Correct Dysbiosis Caused By Antibiotics
A systematic review of 63 trials examined all the available research into probiotic use for dysbiosis . In healthy subjects who experienced a disturbance in their microbiota after antibiotic use, 83% of subjects experienced microbiota recovery after taking probiotics.
Both Lactobacillus/Bifidobacterium probiotics and Saccharomyces boulardii were shown to be effective.
While more research needs to be done on preventing yeast infections specifically, probiotics are shown to generally recover the microbiome after antibiotic use.
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Probiotics To Take With Antibiotics: Saccharomyces Boulardii
Fungi are also not killed by antibiotics, but, unlike gut commensal spore bacteria, it’s not because they have a protective shell. It’s because, by definition, antibiotics kill only bacteria.
Saccharomyces Boulardii, found in live kombucha, is a health-producing fungi. This fungal probiotic is also perfect to take with your antiobiotic as it, too, survives the pharmaceutical chemical and will continue to resist the regrowth of pathological bacteria both during and after the medication protocol.
Beyond surviving antibiotics, though, there’s another big plus to taking Saccharomyces Boulardii.
It is one of the few probiotics to have been shown in clinical studies to fight off C. diff.
Probiotic Supplements: Take With Antibiotics
August 19, 2021 by Clare Fleishman MS RDN
Antibiotics kill off pathogens, saving untold numbers of lives every year. Unfortunately, the 20th century wonder drugs also destroy a lot of beneficial bacteria along the way. The ensuing disturbances in gut microbiota communities can lead to diarrhea and other displays of dysbiosis.
Antibiotics disrupt gut microbiota
When antibiotics are administered, dysbiosis may occur rapidly, within days, leading to altered bacterial metabolism and impaired host proteome in mice and humans.
Many studies confirm that antibiotic exposure alters the gut microbiome in children and adults.
In a 2021 review of 12 studies in children, antibiotic exposure was associated with reduced microbiome diversity and richness, and with changes in bacterial abundance. Significant reductions were seen in bifidobacteria and lactobacilli , and significant increases in Proteobacteria such as E. coli . Different antibiotics exerted different effects on the microbiota. For example, macrolide exposure was associated with reduced richness for twice as long as penicillin.
With adults, in a small study of 12 healthy men over a 6-month period following a 4-day intervention with a cocktail of three antibiotics, initial changes included blooms of enterobacteria and other pathobionts, and the depletion of Bifidobacterium species and butyrate producers.
Probiotics and antibiotics
Supplementation with probiotics to offset the effects of antibiotics has become popular.
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Treatment Of Vaginal Thrush
- Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that affects most women at some stage. Common symptoms include pain, itching and vaginal discharge. Taking antibiotics and being post-menopausal can increase their risk of getting vaginal thrush.
- Using a probiotic alongside antifungal treatment for thrush may help control the condition in the short term, but not necessarily for recurrent thrush.2
- Choose a lactobacillus containing probiotic.
- Read more about vaginal thrush and treatment for vaginal thrush.
Morbidity And Mortality Are High
AAD is associated with several pathogens, including Clostridium difficile, Clostridium perfringens, Klebsiella oxytoca, and Staphylococcus aureus, and varies widely in severity. Pseudomembranous colitis secondary to C difficile is the main cause of AAD-related mortality, which more than doubled from 2002 to 2009.,C difficile infections cost the US health care system up to $1.3 billion annually. With such high rates of morbidity and mortality and high health care costs associated with AAD, even a small reduction in the number of cases would have a big impact.
Probiotics replenish the natural GI flora with nonpathogenic organisms. A 2006 meta-analysis of 31 randomized controlled trials assessing the efficacy of probiotics for both the prevention of AAD and treatment of C difficile found a pooled relative risk of 0.43 for AAD in the patients taking probiotics. However, many of the studies included in that meta-analysis were small. As a result, in 2010, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Infectious Diseases Society of America recommended against the use of probiotics for the prevention of primary C difficile infection, citing a lack of high-quality evidence.
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Take With Or Without Food
Check the label on your antibiotics. Does it recommend taking them with food or on an empty stomach?
In either case, follow the directions. Some antibiotics are better absorbed on an empty stomach, so you dont want to limit their effectiveness. But if the label says, Take with food, taking your pills with a meal might help ease stomach issues.
Beyond the specifics above, good old-fashioned advice for treating diarrhea still applies. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and use rehydrating beverages high in electrolytes if needed. Avoid alcohol and caffeine if theyre making your diarrhea worse. Keep in mind alcohol may actually cause severe reactions while you are taking certain antibiotics, so check the label for that information, as well. Eat a more bland diet than you might normally eat.
Its better to use caution than get hit with unpleasant side effects.
Common sense would say you are going to disturb the natural balance with antibiotics, Dr. Rabovsky says, so anything else that causes you GI symptoms could make side effects even worse.
Probiotics Reduce Antibiotic Diarrhea
May 8, 2012 — Diarrhea is a common side effect of antibiotic use, occurring in almost 1 in 3 people who take the drugs. But new research suggests that probiotics may help lower the risk of that unwanted side effect.
By affecting good bacteria, as well as bad, antibiotics can disrupt the delicate microbial balance in the intestines, but the live microorganisms marketed as probiotics can help restore this balance to reduce diarrhea risk, a new review of the research suggests.
Supported by a federal grant, researchers from the nonprofit research and analysis group RAND Corporation pooled the best available research on probiotics and antibiotic-associated diarrhea, including the most recent studies.
They found that in people taking antibiotics, those who used probiotics were 42% less likely to develop diarrhea.
The review appears this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Even with the latest research, the science showing that probiotic foods and supplements promote digestive health has not yet caught up to the hype, and many questions remain about their benefits, experts tell WebMD.
“The good news is that a lot of extremely high-quality research is going on now,” says gastrointestinal disease researcher Eamonn Quigley, MD, of Ireland’s University College Cork, who was not involved in the review.
“Up until now, most of the noise about probiotics has been generated by marketing, but it may soon be generated by the science.”
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Probiotics And Antibiotics: An Overview
- Antibiotics deplete the populations of friendly bacteria in the gut and may cause digestive issues so its important to select probiotics to take with antibiotics, dont wait until the course has finished.
- If taking Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11 and Bifidobacterium lactis Lafti B94 then take them with breakfast. These strains can be taken at the SAME time as your antibiotic if this is also at breakfast-time.
- If taking a different probiotic supplement, wait at least 2 hours after your antibiotics before taking probiotics.
- It is important to always follow the advice from your doctor, and always take and finish a course of antibiotics as prescribed. Taking probiotics alongside antibiotics may reduce digestive issues and enable you to finish a course, reducing the chances of antibiotic resistance.
- If you have already finished a course of antibiotics before being recommended a friendly bacteria supplement, better late than never by all means take a probiotic now! For next time, you know you can take them during as well as after.
- It simply isn’t a question of antibiotics OR probiotics – it’s a question of antibiotics AND probiotics.
You may also wish to read our FAQ, At what time should I take probiotics?
The Best Way To Combine Probiotics With Antibiotics
If youre taking antibiotics, I highly recommend taking them with probiotics. In fact, researchers suggest that taking probiotics as early as possible with antibiotics is best for decreasing antibiotic side effects such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea [15
Here are some tips on how to get the most from your probiotic supplement when taking antibiotics.
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How Do I Know If My Probiotic Is Not Vegetative Or Soil
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It’s designed to take before, during, and after antibiotics, or as ongoing gut protection. All four strains in here are 100% gut commensal spore bacteria.
What kind of probiotic do you have? Just look on the ingredient label:
- A spore bacteria will always start with Bacillus followed by the latin name of the strain.
- If the name starts with anything else, it is either a vegetative bacteria or possibly a probiotic fungi .
*Spore bacteria can be either soil-based OR gut commensal:
Can Probiotics Reduce The Negative Effects Of Antibiotics
The short answer is yes. There has been considerable research directed at finding methods of preventing the side effects from antibiotic use. Probiotics have been found to be successful in mitigating the adverse effects of antibiotics.
Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is a common event following antibiotic treatment. Probiotic use of any type was found to significantly reduce the incidence of AAD when compared to alternative treatments or placebo in the pediatric population. In Clostridium difficile-specific AAD, both children and adults showed a massive 64% reduction in the risk of diarrhea when they also took probiotics.
Clinical trials have shown that probiotic use reduces the chance of recurring infections with Helicobacter pylori, a nasty bacterium that causes stomach ulcers. A reduction in allergies and urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis were also found. There was also an easing of the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.
Taking probiotics will lessen the likelihood of suffering from diarrhea or other side-effects while you are taking the course of antibiotics. It will help your microbiome to recover once you have completed the course. The faster your microbiome is to return to the normal stasis, the less likely you are to suffer any of the issues caused by dysbiosis of the gut or vagina.
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Important Tips For Supporting General Health Whilst On Antibiotics
- Eat fermented or prebioticfoods. These can help rebalance the gut microbiome and optimise gut health after a course of antibiotics.
- Avoid refined sugary foods, as these feed the harmful bacteria and yeasts which often overgrow due to antibiotic use.
- Avoid alcohol, even if not contraindicated with your course of antibiotics. Alcohol can also disrupt the gut microbiome and negatively impact immune function, which may hinder your body’s efforts to fight infection.
- Ensure you complete your course of antibiotics. Unpleasant side effects can make it difficult to continue taking antibiotics but failing to complete the course can increase the risk of antibiotic resistance.
- Eat a healthy diet. Don’t let the antibiotics do all the work – include a selection of immune-boosting foods containing vitamin C and other antioxidants, including citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables.
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The Lack Of Consistency In The Findings On Probiotics Comes In Part Because They Are Being Treated Like Conventional Drugs
This opens the door to developing personalised probiotic treatments based on someones genetic profile. Such a system is realistic and could be developed relatively soon, says Elinav, but at this stage it remains a proof of concept. To become a reality, it will need more research on probiotic tailoring and testing more bacterial strains in larger groups of people.
This kind of personalisation may release the full potential of probiotic treatments for gut health. At the moment, the lack of consistency in the findings on probiotics comes in part because they are being treated like conventional drugs. When you take a paracetamol tablet, you can be more or less sure that the active component will do its job and work on receptors in your brain, dulling your sensation of pain. This is because most peoples pain receptors are similar enough to react in the same way to the drug.
But the microbiome is not just a receptor it is closer to an ecosystem, and sometimes likened to a rainforest in its complexity.
As a result, finding and tailoring a probiotic treatment that will work on something as intricate and individual as your own internal ecosystem is no easy task. And with that in mind, its not so surprising that a dried-out pack of bacteria from a supermarket shelf may well not do the trick.
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Double Check With Your Doctor On Mixing Probiotics And Antibiotics
There may be situations where your doctor doesnt want you to take probiotics with antibiotics. So please, for your own safety, check with your doctor to make sure taking antibiotics together with probiotics is the right call for you. The more health conditions and the more complicated your medications schedule is, the more important it is the check with your doctor.
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Does Your Health Status Influence The Best Time To Take Probiotics
Your current health status has a significant bearing on whether or not you should take probiotics or potentially hold off on consuming them. Below are some examples of health conditions that could affect probiotic use:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is, in many cases, caused by unfavorable shifts in the gut microbiome. Some cases of IBS develop after an acute gut infection , while others involve bacterial overgrowth, sharing overlap with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth . An overwhelming body of evidence indicates that probiotics are effective and safe for people with this type of IBS. Probiotic treatment can reduce abdominal pain, bloating, and distension. Probiotics may also regulate the intestinal immune system in IBS cases, ultimately protecting the gut.
The topic of probiotics and SIBO is a bit more controversial. Some healthcare professionals and patients with SIBO argue that probiotics must be avoided, while others feel that probiotics improve SIBO. The truth appears to lie somewhere in between some people with SIBO experience benefits from probiotics, such as the soil-based probiotic organism Bacillus clausii.
However, other people with SIBO do not tolerate probiotics well and must proceed through antimicrobial treatment before weaving probiotics into their lives. If you have SIBO, talk with your Functional Medicine provider to determine whether probiotics are suitable for your situation.
General Constipation or Bloating
H. pylori Infection