Antibiotics are a vital medical treatment, and sometimes necessary. However, they are being so ubiquitously used in human and animal healthcare that we have inadvertently created an antibiotic crisis. On a social level, there is huge concern that the main antibiotics we use are soon going to be ineffective due to antibiotic resistance. On another, more individual level, when we take them, we often radically disrupt our vital gut ecosystem of bacteria. The consequences can be huge gut disruption – diarrhoea, dysbiosis (an imbalance of gut bacteria), pain, bloating, allergies, and even our own resistance to antibiotics, resulting in potentially less efficacy the next time we need them.
There’s a simple solution though, if you do have to take antibiotics. Probiotics – containing large numbers of the human bacteria that are supposed to live in your gut – can help to restore the disrupted balance. Contrary to popular belief, you can take them while you are taking a course of antibiotics as long as you don’t take them at exactly the same time and, in fact they do help. They will reduce symptoms like diarrhoea and, when you continue to take them after, they help to get the balance of bacteria in the gut back to normal.
But which bacteria help, in what quantities and how do you choose between all of those probiotic companies who claim they can help you when you take antibiotics?
Actually, when you look at the science on probiotics with antibiotics, it’s of variable quality. So you need to be sure that the science is good. In fact probably the best studies on probiotics and antibiotics involves the LAB4 combination of bacteria. Just 4 specially selected bacteria so effective that they really can make a difference.
One study showed that LAB4 helps to maintain the balance of microflora during antibiotic use and inhibits the overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria. Another LAB4 study found that supplementation significantly reduced incidence and total numbers of antibiotic resistant strains after antibiotic therapy (by more than 70%) and inhibited opportunistic fungal overgrowths like Candida, which often causes thrush. In another study, elderly hospital patients requiring antibiotic therapy for C. difficile infection had significantly reduced Diarrhoea.
Research can, of course, be of variable quality, but, importantly, these were high-quality studies, conducted in top UK hospitals by medical and microbiological researchers. So, if you’re looking for a probiotic that has been properly researched and found to have a quick and comprehensive effect on supporting you when you have to take antibiotics, LAB4 probiotics should be top of your list.
- Madden JA et al. Effect of probiotics on preventing disruption of the intestinal microflora following antibiotic therapy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Int Immunopharmacol. 2005; 5(6):1091-7.
- Plummer SF et al. Effects of probiotics on the composition of the intestinal microbiota following antibiotic therapy. Int Microbial Agents. 2005; 26 (1): 69–74.
- Plummer S et al. Clostridium difficile pilot study: effects of probiotic supplementation on the incidence of C. difficile diarrhoea. Int Microbiol. 2004 Mar; 7(1): 59-62.