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Probiotics - What and When?

Probiotics contain microorganisms that are similar to the beneficial bacterial that occur naturally in our intestinal tract.  There is solid scientific evidence that these microbes can help certain conditions. We know that the gut microbiome is altered by disease, with antibiotics, infection and even constipation. Probiotics have an important role in keeping the gut equilibrium by directly interacting with immune cells.  But all probiotics are not alike and it can be confusing for doctors and patients to know what to take.

Consider this a little primer with conditions, probiotic names and prices.

Probiotics come in two main forms: food and dietary supplements.  There are so many different brands and formulations and quality control is not well regulated. The effectiveness is specific to the disease and the dose taken.

1. Diarrhea after taking antibiotics (or to protect your GI tract when you take an antibiotic)-

    DanActive - $5

    Align -         $50

    Bio-K+ -      $17-27

    Culturelle-   $40

    Forastor-      $50

2. Ulcerative Colitis

     Activa -       $6

     Align-          $50

     Bacid-          $20

     Culturelle-   $40

3.  Irritable bowel

     Activa-        $6

     Align-          $50

     Bacid-          $20

     Culturelle-    $40

4.  Constipation

     Any of the above.  Activa yogurt is easy and effective.  The active bacteria isBifidobacterium     animalis.

I always tell my patients to take probiotics along with antibiotics and after they are done to restore the normal gut bacteria that are wiped out by antibiotics.  They are generally considered safe, even in children.

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