"Don't take probiotics whilst on antibiotics."
Taking specifically researched probiotics alongside antibiotics can help reduce the risk of antibiotic associated side effects.
Probiotics are bacteria (apart from S. boulardii), hence are susceptible to being killed by antibiotics. For a long time it was therefore considered a waste of money to take probiotics whilst on antibiotics, and people would instead wait until the course of antibiotics had finished before taking a high dose probiotic supplement to replenish the depleted friendly bacteria levels. However, as mentioned in previous myths, research into probiotics has developed at an incredible rate, allowing identification of very robust strains. From this research it has emerged that some strains e.g. L. rhamnosus Rosell-11 and L. acidophilus Rosell-52 are able to survive to reach the gut alive, even when taken at the same time as antibiotics1,2. Scientific research shows that they do so in sufficient concentrations to keep the levels of friendly bacteria topped up to significantly reduce the likelihood of getting antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. There are many advantages to this:
- The individual is much less likely to have to endure side effects from the antibiotics.
- The individual is more likely to be able to complete the course of antibiotics, which is important to clear the infection for which they were prescribed in the first place.
- This also may help in the worldwide challenge of antibiotic resistance, as one of the reasons this is thought to perpetuate is because of individuals stopping their course of antibiotics half way through the course due to unpleasant side effects, giving the ‘bad’ bacteria an opportunity to mutate and flourish.
- Approximately 70% of the immune system is located in the gut3, and the gut microflora is known to interact with and support this immune tissue. Supporting the body’s immune system in this way by taking a probiotic supplement could help to fight off the infection for which the antibiotics were prescribed. Numerous studies show the success rate of taking antibiotics can be much better when specific probiotics are taken at the same time4,5.
- There is less damage to the intestinal microflora, so less intensive work is required post-antibiotics to bring the friendly bacteria levels back up to a healthy state.
Taking probiotics alongside antibiotics has many benefits – simply find a supplement which will survive when taken alongside the antibiotics.
Look out for:
Well researched products that list high quality probiotics on the packaging.
Can I take probiotics with antibiotics?
This myth has been busted by Megan Crowch, BSc (Hons) Physiology, Herbal Medicine Diploma (IRH practicing member).
- Patsera et al. (2010) Using probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus R0052 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011 during pulmonary tuberculosis in children, complicated by antibiotic-associated Clostridium difficile intestinal infection. Zaporozhye Medical Journal; 12: 30-33.
- Song et al. (2010) Effect of probiotic Lactobacillus (Lacidofil® Cap) for the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea: a prospective, randomised double-blind multicenter study. Journal of Korean Medical Science; 25: 1784-1791.
- Jung et al (2010) Peyer’s Patches: The Immune Sensors of the Intestine. Int J Inflam; Sep 19: 823710.
- Anukam et al. (2006) Augmentation of antimicrobial metronidazole therapy of bacterial vaginosis with oral probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14: randomized, doubleblind, placebo controlled trial. Microbes Infect; 8, 6: 1450-4.
- Babak O (2007) The use of Lacidofil in treatment of duodenal peptic ulcers associated with H. pylori. [News of Pharmacy and Medicine] 5: 24-25.
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