Probiotics Counter Antibiotics

Probiotics Counter Antibiotics

When it comes to a healthly gut, the use of antibiotics is equivalent to throwing the baby out with the bath water. Eradicating pathogenic bacteria with courses of antibiotic drugs also kills off normal intestinal flora. Antibiotic-associated disruption of gastrointestinal flora tract can lead to diarrhea, dehydration and mineral-salt imbalance, particularly among small children. Replacement with beneficial "friendly" bacteria, called probiotics, is in order. Because the 25- to 35-foot-long digestive tract contains some 400 species of bacteria, totaling some 100 billion organisms, repopulation is a considerable task. Favorable bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidus counter the sanitizing effects of antibiotic therapy. Recent scientific studies support this application.

Some 20 to 40 percent of all children prescribed broad-spectrum antibiotics develop diarrhea. A University of Nebraska study of 188 children between six months and 10 years of age found supplementation with 10 billion colony-forming units of Lactobacillus casei per day reduced the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 75 percent after 10 days. [ 1 ]

Triple-antibiotic therapy is used to aggressively eradicate Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes gastric ulcers. Using probiotics between antibiotic courses repopulates the digestive tract with friendly bacteria and effectively inhibiting colonization of H. pylori. [ 2 ]

Frequent antibiotic users are familiar with subsequent overgrowth of yeast (Candida albicans), which thrives in a gut low in friendly bacteria. Probiotics are recommended in cases of yeast infection. [ 3 ]

Researchers are now beginning to advocate antibiotic/probiotic combinations for such conditions as diarrhea, female urinary/genital tract infection and infective endocarditis. [ 4 ]

Probiotics are also a promising alternative among individuals who have adverse reactions to antibiotics because they help the gastrointestinal flora resist gastrointestinal aggression brought on by antibiotics. [ 5,6 ] When filling a customer's prescription for antibiotics, have them also reach for a bottle of probiotics.

Bill Sardi wrote on iron in the June 2000 issue of NSN.


1. Vanderhoof JA, et al. Lactobacillus GG in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children. J Ped 1999 Nov;135:564-8.

2. Kabir AM, et al. Prevention of Helicobacter pylori infection by lactobacilli in a gnotobiotic murine model. Gut 1997 Jul;41:49-55.

3. Gionchetta P, Campieri M. Probiotic therapy. Res Clin Forums 2000;22:111-16.

4. Charteris WP, et al. Antibiotic susceptibility of potentially probiotic Lactobacillus species. J Food Prot 1998;61:1636-43.

5. Mangiante G, et al. A probiotic as an antagonist of bacterial translocation in experimental pancreatitis. Chir Ital 1999;51:221-16.

6. Saavedra JM. Probiotics plus antibiotics: regulating our bacterial environment. J Ped 1999;135:535-7.

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