Ask The Herb Lady

With Cathy Schram

Probiotics and Antibiotics

Q: Should I take a probiotic while taking an antibiotic or wait until I’m finished with the full course?

A: Actually, the answer is both. Did you know that 70% of the immune system is located in your digestive tract? We have over 100 trillion “good” bacteria in our bodies that aid in our overall health and well-being. Antibiotics will kill intestinal bacteria, not differentiating between the “good” and “bad” bacteria. Therefore, you need to replenish with a probiotic during and after a course of antibiotics because your immune system will be compromised. Also, one-third of antibiotic users experience diarrhea while using antibiotics. A disease-causing strain of bacteria, called “C. diff” can occur when too many “good” bacteria have been killed. Studies have shown that when taking antibiotics plus probiotics people were 42% less likely to develop diarrhea.

During the course of antibiotic therapy take the probiotic 3-4 hours after the antibiotic. This way you will not be killing off the good bacteria in the probiotic. After completing the antibiotic course, it is recommended to use a daily probiotic for at least one month. This will help recover and repopulate the good bacteria in the gut and intestines.

There are many strains of beneficial bacteria, with acidophilus and bifidophilus being the most popular. Saccharomyces boulardii is very helpful in the prevention of diarrhea while taking an antiobitic because it is actually a form of yeast rather than a bacteria. It will survive the antibiotic.

As far as daily use goes, friendly bacteria are necessary for good colon health. They also aid in digestion and assimilation of some nutrients. In addition to the many different strains, there are also different forms; such as refrigerated and shelf-stable varieties.

Remember, these are live bacteria and you must follow package directions as far as storage. You may want to talk with your health care provider or herbalist to see which might be right for you.

This herb information is for health education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners. Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins? Send them to Cathy Schram, CNHP and Certified Herbalist. Write to: Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO 63011.