Probiotics

Overview

Probiotics are a type of good bacteria. They help keep the natural balance of organisms in the intestines. They reduce the growth of harmful bacteria to help keep the digestive system healthy. The largest group of probiotics in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria. It's in yogurt with live cultures. Yeast is another probiotic.

Why are probiotics used?

Many people use probiotics to prevent side effects from antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good bacteria along with the bad bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in good bacteria may lead to digestive problems like diarrhea, gas, and cramping. It may also lead to infections such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost good bacteria. This may help prevent diarrhea and infections.

Probiotics may also be used to help with:

Some people think probiotics may help treat problems in the stomach and intestines. But only certain types (strains) of bacteria or yeast have been shown to work in the digestive tract. Experts still need to find out which probiotics might work to treat specific diseases. They are studying probiotics for possible benefits in colon cancer, skin infections, and irritable bowel syndrome.

How safe are probiotics?

Most probiotics are like the bacteria that are already in your digestive system. Some probiotics have been used for a very long time. Examples include those in fermented foods and cultured milk products. These appear to be safe for most people. But more study is needed to be sure that probiotics are safe for young children, older adults, and people who have weak immune systems.

Be aware that probiotic supplements are regulated as foods, not drugs. If you take a supplement, be sure to tell your doctor about everything you take, including the specific bacteria in your supplement.

Credits

Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.