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probioticsMany people take probiotics.  Dr. Bruce Semon explains why probiotics don’t work for Candida.

When people take antibiotics, or when they have intestinal problems, they often are told to take “probiotics.” The idea is that if you are taking antibiotics, which kill bad bacteria, you should be probiotics, to line the intestines with good bacteria. Probiotics are live bacteria which people take so that they can “repopulate” the gut with “good bacteria”.

Unfortunately, this has not been studied well and can backfire.

First off, antibiotics kill all bacteria, not just bacteria (depending on what you take). Antibiotics such as penicillin are narrower and kill only certain bacteria. Now, however, many people take broad-spectrum antibiotics such as Augmentin or Ceclor or Zythromax, which kill pretty much all bacteria. There may be good reasons for doctors prescribing these medications, and I’m not suggesting you stop taking them. The only question here is whether probiotics can help you.

If you take probiotics while you are taking antibiotics, you will not see much effect because the medicine probably will kill the probiotic as well.

If you take probiotics later, what is the result? Not much.

When you take antibiotics, the yeast grow into the spaces that the bacteria leave. This happens quickly. So for probiotics to be effective, they need to clear out the yeast to repopulate the intestines with good bacteria.

For people who suffer from the intestinal yeast Candida albicans, does taking probiotics help?

Let’s look at what probiotics are.

Probiotics consist of mainly two kinds of bacteria, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. People take these products because they think these products will help clear the intestinal yeast Candida albicans. Candida yeast in the gut can cause all kinds of problems, ranging from headaches to multiple sclerosis.  I explain why on other pages on this website.  Click here

The answer is that there are no studies showing that either of these bacteria, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can clear yeast in the gut.  Why might this be?

The first problem is that the yeast Candida albicans and the bacteria Lactobacillus actually get along together. Instead of Lactobacillus killing the Candida yeast, Lactobacillus helps the yeast to grow better. Studies show that Lactobacillus makes “growth factors” for yeast.

So why is Lactobacillus so popular? Lactobacillus clears out another bad bacteria called Clostridia. Unfortunately,    Lactobacillus does this in a few weeks, but people keep taking Lactobacillus, which then helps the yeast to grow.  A person may feel better from having less Clostridia, but eventually will feel worse from having more yeast. So if you are going to take Lactobacillus, a few weeks is all you need. Studies show that more time is not beneficial.

Does the second type of probiotic, Bifidobacterium do anything? Researchers are working hard to show something but there is not much evidence to show much benefit.

There is another problem here. The most protective bacteria are called anerobes, which grow without oxygen. Neither Lactobacillus nor Bifidobacterium is an anerobe. You cannot buy the anerobic bacteria at this point.

The verdict? If you want to try probiotics, try Lactobacillus first but do not keep on taking it past a few weeks.  The best advice is to follow my Candida diet, and take Nystatin so you get rid of the yeast that is causing you problem.

An additional problem is that the probiotics come in all kinds of mixtures. May have both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.  Some brands have only one or the other.  You need to read the labels carefully.  You also need to check the labels for inactive ingredients.  I found one that even contains malt, which is bad for you for other reasons.  To find out why, click here.

I’m happy to help you.  Contact me, Dr. Bruce Semon, for appointments or Telemedicine consults.