Probiotics may aid in antibiotic side effects.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Bifidobacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus
Professional Data: Bifidobacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus


While many bacteria can affect the body negatively, a few kinds are actually essential for well being. Bifidobacteria are necessary for the health of the digestive and gastrointestinal systems. These helpful guests also contribute in a number of other ways that can support overall health. Bifidobacteria are instrumental in preventing the growth of unfavorable organisms in the body like yeasts and sickness-causing bacteria. To date, 28 species of bifidobacteria have been isolated from the intestines of humans and animals. They exist primarily in the large intestine although some also inhabit the lower part of the small intestine.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is another beneficial bacteria that primarily resides in the small intestine. Researchers think that maintaining a healthy "colony" of acidophilus is crucial for maintaining overall health. Small amounts of L. acidophilus occur in cultured food products such as yogurt and acidophilus milk. L. acidophilus supplementation may be especially useful for helping patients restore beneficial bacteria to the intestines after treatment with antibiotics.

A meta-analysis, recently conducted in London, investigated the efficacy of probiotics in both the treatment and prevention of diarrhea from antibiotics. This study analyzed 9 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies conducted between 1966 and 2000. In all 9 trials, antibiotics were administered along with probiotics or placebo. Two of these studies were conducted in children. After analyzing the data, researchers found that the probiotics S boulardii and lactobacilli both had the potential to prevent antibiotic-induced diarrhea. However, the effectiveness remains to be proven. The researchers concluded that, "A further large trial in which probiotics are used as preventive agents should look at the costs of and need for routine use of these agents."1


L D'Souza A. Probiotics in prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhoea: meta-analysis. BMJ. Jun 2002; 324:1361.