Friday, November 28, 2008


Probiotics are microorganisms with potential health benefits. I never heard about probiotics in medical school. Maybe they are teaching it now, but I've had to do my own research to find out what they are all about.

Probiotics are mainly used to treat GI conditions, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea, infectious diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome where the microflora of the intestine has been disturbed. When the friendly microorganisms in the body have been disrupted or killed by antibiotics or stress, the homeostasis of the body is thrown off. Restoring the balance and proper immune function by placing new "friendly" organisms into the body is what probiotic therapy is all about.

The organisms we know the most about are in the Lactobacillus species that are naturally found in the human gut. Most probiotics are bacteria (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) but some are yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii. The probiotic species must be resistant to acid and bile to survive transit through the upper GI tract and they must be taken regularly to work.

A number of studies have shown that probiotics may reduce the incidence of diarrhea in people who have taken antibiotics. The benefit is the greatest when they were taken within 72 hours of taking the first antibiotic. For adults, the greatest benefit came from doses of a least of 5-10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs).

There are no contraindications to probiotics comprised of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, S. thermophilus or S. boulardii species. There are also no known interactions with medications or other supplements.

Scientific studies have shown benefits from probiotics in infections diarrhea, antibiotic induced diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome and possibly atopic dermatitis (eczema) in infants and young children. Other allergies such as asthma, food allergy or allergic rhinitis showed no benefit.

Probiotcs are sold as capsules, powder, liquid or placed in foods. A recent study analyzed a range of brands of probiotics and found that of the 19 brands examined, five did not contain the number of live microorganisms stated on the label*. So really knowing the brand and making sure it contains enough CFUs is important.

Traditional yogurt does not usually contain enough probiotics to make a difference but therapeutic yogurts do. Look for Danactive, Activia, Yo-Plus, Stonyfield and Danimals for children.

Warning: Probiotics don't "cure" anything.

More information on probiotics can be found here. and at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

* product review: probiotic supplements.


Lilorfnannie said...

It is the simplest thing in the world to go get some live kefir grains from someone, and propagate it with plain old milk and drink kefir every day. It has all the live cultures in it, not just the ones that are suited to mass production. It is the best thing in the world for you. I am convinced that it would dramatically help or cure IBS, Crohns, and the like. I think it's tragic that hardly anyone seems to know of this stuff, they suffer so much when it could be alleviated so easily and cheaply.

Healthnut said...

Probiotic is a great digestive aid, but I highly doubt that it will cure IBS or Crohn's Disease. If so, the pharmaceutical industry would have patented it by now.

Emily said...

I don't know if it's the simplest thing, I've been scouring the net for a kefir grain source! Any ideas? Tried that kefir list and contacted a few peole in my area via email but no response.

PS. This is for Healthnut - My dad has IBS and I, by some miracle, persuaded him to start drinking kefir (I had to do it in a way that made it seem like it was his idea, a tip from my mom). Anyway, as long as he drinks it several times a week he has no problems now. I don't know if I have IBS, but after a terrible bout of mussel food poisoning I was experiencing awful stomach pains a couple of times a month (couldn't connect it to any specific food group either). Yogurt didn't help, kefir did. So much so that if I forget to drink kefir for over a week I'll get another terrible stomach ache. My sister has also benefited from kefir. Runs in the family I guess.

Pharmaceutical companies wouldn't make enough money off of this easy cure, so why would they advertise it... it's already sold in grocery stores for 3 bucks and can theoretically be acquired for free from the internet!

So - If I'm going to have a dependence on something like kefir I might as well make my own!

Kate said... has probiotic supplements that help with IBS -- there is also more info on the topic at

snugglebunny said...

You may find this link to a study abstract interesting. Though I am not sure why no one has tried to replicate it, as far as I have been able to find out.

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Probiotics said...

Probiotics is powerful and can free your body of all the accumulated toxins, and other waste material that have been building up like a septic tank.

Probiotics said...

Kefir is really healthy, its a fermented food rich in probiotics that is good for our tummy.

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