Whilst antibiotics can be a real lifesaver, they can also bring with them unwanted side effects. Antibiotics cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria so indiscriminately wipe out both. Once both good and bad have been wiped out, it is easy for the opportunistic harmful bacteria to proliferate and this is where problems can arise.
Antibiotic use is the most common and significant cause of major decreases in healthy gut bacteria and the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. It has also been associated with the development of unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms and even IBS. Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea is a common side effect of antibiotic use affecting up to 30% of adults and 40% of children and may occur between the initiation of therapy and up to 2 months after treatment stops.
Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea is thought to be the direct result of disturbance in the normal intestinal microflora, in particular infection with the harmful bacteria Clostridium difficile.
If you need to take antibiotics and experience unwanted side effects, supplementation with Saccharamoyces boulardii can be an effective way to relieve symptoms. Saccharomyces boulardii is a non-pathogenic yeast which has been shown to help support a healthy balance of flora. It is also resistant to antibiotics and can be recommended to patients whilst they are receiving antibiotics. Saccharomyces boulardii has been shown to be effective against harmful bacteria associated with antibiotic side effects such as Clostridium difficile. The effectiveness of Saccharomyces boulardii for the prevention of antibiotic side effects has been demonstrated in a number of clinical trials and meta-analyses1,2.
Even if you don’t experience any obvious side effects during antibiotic therapy, it is still important to supplement with a high quality probiotic supplement once you have finished your course. This is to help replenish a healthy balance of microflora to reduce the risks of any longer term effects from unbalanced microflora. It is also a good idea at this stage to keep your diet as low in sugar as possible to avoid feeding the bad bacteria.
Choose a probiotic supplement that contains specific strains that are comprehensively studied and have been shown to be effective. Two of the most comprehensively studied strains include Lactobacillus acidolphilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07.
To replenish good bacteria following antibiotic therapy choose a product that contains 60 billion live bacteria per capsule – it is key to supply a high dose to maximize the recolonisation of beneficial bacteria at this stage.
1. Czerucka D, Piche T, Rampal P. Review article: yeast as probiotics – saccharomyces boulardii. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Sep 15;26(6):767-78 Tung JM, Dolovich LR, Lee CH. Prevention of Clostridium difficile infection with saccharomyces boulardii - a systematic review. Can J Gastroenterol. 2009 Dec;23(12)817-21