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Probiotics can be taken in almost any circumstances and by all ages. More information can be found in our frequently asked questions and by reading the article: Are probiotics safe to take?
However, there are a very small number of circumstances when we recommend that they are NOT taken without a discussion with your doctor first as they may be contraindicated with either a medical condition or another drug.
In this article we look at:
A contraindication is a specific situation (or medical condition) in which a drug, natural remedy, medical procedure, or even surgery should not be used because it may be harmful to the patient.
The list of patients for whom probiotics are contraindicated is relatively short in comparison to many other natural remedies or herbal supplements. However, probiotics are not recommended for use in a few serious medical conditions, which are listed below:
It should be noted however, that these medical circumstances have only been highlighted as there is limited research on how probiotics react with them. The recommendation is therefore, that probiotic supplements are not taken in these circumstances unless with the advice of a doctor. We also suggest you contact the supplement manufacturers directly for guidance on their products.
In addition to the above contraindications, it is also recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding women consult their doctor before taking certain live culture strains. Within the Optibac range, most of the strains of bacteria used are safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding. (This is always indicated on our packaging, which displays the ‘suitable in pregnancy’ symbol where applicable).
There is however one strain of friendly bacteria within our range, which is lacking in clinical evidence for use in pregnant women. For this reason, Saccharomyces boulardii does not carry the ‘suitable in pregnancy’ symbol, and we recommended to discuss its use with a doctor during pregnancy.
There are no known contraindications with medical drugs or supplements, however there are some probiotic interactions that should be considered when taking certain medications or supplements:
Probiotics generally have very few side-effects, and the majority of people take them without any negative effects at all. For some individuals however, there may be a period of ‘adjustment’ in the gut when they start taking a new live cultures product.
Mild symptoms such as: bloating or wind can occur as a result of the changes taking place within the microbial population of the gut. Changing the composition of the microbiome is of course the goal of taking probiotics, so this change is a positive one, however temporary symptoms can occur as a result. Most people find that probiotics benefits far outweigh any short-lived discomfort, however if side-effects persist it is recommended to contact the manufacturer for advice.
Health professionals may also like to head over to The Probiotics Professionals site to read: Probiotics and side-effects. An in-depth review.
For the vast majority of people probiotics are very safe to take. For those individuals that do fall within one of the few contraindicated groups, they should always seek advice from their doctor before taking any live cultures supplements.
Often the contraindications are based around one or two isolated cases of a negative health outcome after taking probiotics. These cases could, in many instances, have resulted from other health factors just as easily as the probiotic use. However, it is always necessary to err on the side of caution, which is why the guidelines exist.
You may like to read further information on the following:
Can I take probiotics if I am taking Warfarin?
Can I take probiotics if I have diabetes?
Healthcare practitioners can visit Probiotic Professionals to see: Can I become addicted to probiotics?