Can Probiotics Reduce The Side Effects Of Antibiotics?

Leaky Gut Syndrome

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’ll know that I encourage readers to be very careful about their use of antibiotics. The reason is that antibiotics (particularly the broad-spectrum kind) can do some terrible damage to your immune system, and it can take years for your body’s defenses to recover.

If your doctor prescribes antibiotics for a minor illness, make sure that they are really needed. A few years ago the CDC estimated that one third of all antibiotics prescriptions are unnecessary. Often some rest and time will work just as well.

What if antibiotics are unavoidable?

Sometimes those antibiotics are just unavoidable, for example for serious bacterial infections or after major surgery. If that’s the case, you would be right to worry that they will destroy all the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This will likely weaken your immune system, leave you vulnerable to a Candida overgrowth, and probably cause some digestive problems too.

What can you do about this? The good news is there is a simple strategy to reduce the impact that antibiotics have on both your immune system and your digestive system. And the research conducted over the past few years supports this.

By taking some good probiotics during your course of antibiotics, you can reduce or eliminate many of the side effects that come with antibiotic use.

Probiotics prevent Candida taking over your gut while you are on antibiotics

A study published earlier this year shows clear evidence that probiotics can prevent a Candida overgrowth after antibiotics. This really shows how effective probiotics can be, and why Candida sufferers should make them a part of their daily routine.

Researchers looked at a group of 150 children in a pediatric intensive care unit, all of whom had been taking broad-spectrum antibiotics for at least 48 hours. One half of the children were given probiotics (a blend of 7 different strains) twice daily, while the others received a placebo. Rectal swabs were taken regularly to test for Candida colonization.

After a week, those children taking probiotics were significantly less likely to have Candida colonization. In fact, they were 34.5% less likely. And the longer the study continued, the more positive the results became. So after 2 weeks, the probiotics group were 37.2% less likely to experience Candida colonization.

The researchers concluded that “probiotics could be a potential strategy to reduce gastrointestinal Candida colonization … in critically ill children receiving broad spectrum antibiotics”.

Probiotics prevent the diarrhea associated with antibiotics

Antibiotics cause diarrhea so often that there is even an expression for it – Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (AAD)! In addition to the discomfort that this causes, this becomes a larger problem when it prevents patients from finishing their courses of medication. So there has been a large amount of research into exactly how to prevent this.

In 2012 the American Medical Association conducted an analysis of the research into probiotics and AAD. In total, they examined 82 individual scientific studies – a huge amount of data. In their conclusion they wrote that “The principal finding of this review is that using probiotics as adjunct therapy reduces the risk of AAD [Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea]”.

In other words, taking probiotics during your course of antibiotics will support your digestive system as well as your immune system. By quickly replacing the beneficial bacteria that you have lost, you are able to minimize the negative effects of the antibiotics on your body.

In fact, during the next few years I expect more and more doctors to recommend taking probiotics along with their prescribed antibiotics. The best way to take your probiotics is a few hours apart from the antibiotics. That will ensure that the antibiotics kill as few of the probiotic bacteria as possible.

Probiotics – they really work

Possibly the most important lesson that we can take from all this research is that probiotics really do make a difference. If you were worried about how effective probiotic supplements can be, these studies show that they have a real, measurable effect on your digestive system and immune system.

In my Ultimate Candida Diet program, I describe exactly how to integrate probiotics into your Candida treatment for the best results. By following a good anti-Candida plan based on a low-sugar diet, probiotics, antifungals and a few lifestyle changes, you can eliminate your Candida for good.

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    • says

      Hi Eddie. Unfortunately the spit test (or ‘spittle test’) is not accurate at all. It’s more of a marketing ploy than a scientifically-researched test.

  1. Christine says

    What about natural antibiotics – herbs that kill bacteria such as oregano etc – do they significantly impact the good bacteria as well?

    • says

      Natural antibiotics tend to have a much milder effect than prescription antibiotics. They usually have antifungal properties too, so they won’t destroy bacteria and allow fungi to flourish in their place.

  2. Sherie says

    I was recently told by my GYN that the only people who can get this candida overgrowth due to antibiotic use are people who have serious diseases such as HIV or maybe an autoimmune disease. Can you comment on this? I’m very concerned because for years I have been given many antibiotics due to consistent UTI’s. My home yeast test says I have yeast infection but my GYN said I didn’t. I don’t know how I could not have this. Just from the middle of May to middle of August I was given 4 antibiotics in a row. As of right now I have been given 7 antibiotic from the middle of May. They are going to kill me with these antibiotics. I’m going thru terrible digestive problems now. Can you comment on this. Thank you

    • says

      Hi Sherie, they’re talking about systemic Candidiasis, when the Candida spreads into your blood and reaches other organs. It is perfectly possible to have a Candida overgrowth in your gut that is causing symptoms elsewhere, without being immuno-compromised.

  3. melissa M says

    Hiii Lisa!!
    I’m so glad that i found your website, it’s very informative. I have a question though. I’m terrible at swallowing large pills could you reccomend a brand of probiotics of the smaller variety?..Thanks so much

    • Lisa Richards says

      Hi Melissa, most probiotics have larger capsules, and that especially applies to the higher quality probiotics that contain lots of bacteria! When you swallow the pill, try taking half and gulp of water and swilling it around in your mouth. Then quickly tilt your head back and let it drain down your throat. That’s the method that works for me :)

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