Probiotics & Preventative Treatment: Avoiding Stronger Prescription Drugs
There are a number of ways people use probiotics to aid with various conditions as a stand-alone treatment. They are also used frequently as a preventive measure. And more doctors are recommending probiotics to help with the symptoms related to antibiotics and other drugs―and sometimes instead of drugs―to help with pain and other symptoms.
Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics have been used for years to reduce symptoms in the digestive tract and female sexual organs. Painkiller addiction statistics show that too many people are getting hooked on opiates after a standard course of pain treatment. While they are not a cure-all, studies have shown that probiotics can help with the pain and discomfort associated with some of the following:
- Prescription medicine side effects. There are some medications that deplete vital nutrients from the body and can impact the digestive track. Antidepressants sometimes cause stomach complaints that could possibly be eased with probiotics.
- Antibiotic aftermath. Antibiotics can deplete magnesium and vitamins, and are notorious for creating yeast in the body, especially the digestive tract and female reproductive organs. Probiotics taken strategically during and after antibiotic use can help abate the symptoms of diarrhea and pain by replacing the good bacteria, which is stripped away during antibiotic use. This can help prevent the need for anti-diarrhea medicines.
- Vaginal and urinary tract infections. Research has shown that a 14-day course of treatment with probiotics taken orally helped women with a history of recurrent yeast vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections. Probiotics can possibly help avoid the need for vaginal yeast medicines, both oral and local, as well antibiotics and sulfur-based medicines.
- Digestive disease. In studies, probiotic treatment helped prevent relapse of ulcerative colitis and relapsing pouchitis (inflammation of the ileal pouch), which helps with irritable bowel syndrome. Colitis is typically treated with the combination of Flagyl and Ciprofloxacin, powerful antibiotics that are helpful when needed but cause other symptoms. Probiotics, along with self-care and diet, may prevent flare-ups and lower the chances of needing prescription and over-the-counter medications.
- Chronic liver disease. Studies suggest that manipulation of intestinal flora through probiotics may help as an adjunctive therapy in some types of chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis of the liver. This has to be studied more but it has shown promise.
- Studies in healthy children showed probiotics are effective in reducing the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea as well as for shortening the duration of acute infectious diarrhea. One study suggested probiotics may also prevent diarrheal infections from spreading.
What Are Probiotics?
The body is full of both good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are live microbial food supplements that are considered the 'good bacteria' that keep the gut healthy. They are widely found in food products that have “live cultures.” These organisms can pass through the stomach and the small bowel and retain viability.
Probiotics naturally occur in the following foods:
- Yogurt (dairy, soy, almond and coconut based)
- Kefir, a dairy-based drink
- Soy milk and soy products
- Kombucha, a fermented tea
- Miso and miso soup
Probiotics also come in supplement form:
- This is perhaps the most well-known supplement, a predecessor to multi-strain probiotics. Also known as Lactobacillus acidophilus, or L. acidophilus, this strain of probiotic has been popular in treating common issues such as diarrhea and yeast and vaginal infections. It comes in capsules, powders and fluids.
- Probiotics capsule. There are many brands that boast having Acidophilus and many more strains of probiotic. These supplements claim to have billions of CFUs (colony forming units). A probiotic that has multiple strains and delivers at least a billion CFUs is considered adequate. (For children the dosing is lower, so check with a pediatrician.)
- Drinks and powdered drinks. There are many probiotics in drink form that deliver the live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. The can be found in health food stores and supermarkets, as well as in packet form that can be mixed with water.
- There are chewable, and chewy, forms of probiotics for adults and children. They even make some for dogs.
Although there is still a great deal of research needed to assess the true power of probiotics, many consumers use them. With painkiller addiction statistics being so overwhelming, people are searching for alternative ways to complement their health care needs. Always consult with your doctor about the best approach for your health.
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"Symbiotic Modulation of Gut Flora: Patients with Cirrhosis" - PubMed.gov
"How Many CFUs Needed?" - ConsumerLab.com
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"Beneficial Effects of a Probiotic VSL#3 on Parameters of Liver Dysfunction in Chronic Liver Diseases" - Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology
"America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse" - National Institute on Drug Abuse