We all know that bacteria can cause disease, so it makes sense to be at least a little leery about taking a supplement that is loaded with bacteria. There is however, a growing volume of scientific support that probiotics (PBs) can both treat as well as prevent quite a few illnesses.
Probiotics literally means “for life” (pro biota), which suggests these must be “good” bacteria and indeed, our digestive system’s health depends on maintaining a balance between the good and bad flora. Since the 1990s, clinical studies have shown that PBs can effectively treat a number of condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, H. pylori (causes ulcers), bladder cancer recurrence, C-Diff (Clostridium difficile)—a dangerous gut infection associated with antibiotics, pouchitis (post-surgical complication after colon removal), eczema in children, and more.
Probiotics are not all the same, as different strains of bacteria have different functions and therefore, help us in different ways. For example, some organisms protect our teeth from getting cavities but can’t survive in the highly acidic environment of the stomach.
Solid evidence exists for probiotic therapy in the treatment of diarrhea. Lacotbacillu GG can shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children (but not adults). The Harvard.edu website describes two large review studies that suggest PBs can reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60% when compared with a placebo.
Vaginal health is also improved by PB use, as it can reduce and/or eliminate recurring yeast infections. Lactobacilli can help treat bacterial vaginosis, which can potentially complicate pregnancies and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This bacteria can also be used to treat UTIs, especially in women.
Come back next month for more much-needed information regarding probiotics…