Antibiotics and Probiotics – Get the Facts

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Antibiotics and Probiotics – Get the Facts

Antibiotics and Probiotics – Get the Facts

Fact 1: Antibiotic overuse is a serious problem.

When you’re faced with an infection that your immune system is struggling to overcome, antibiotics can be lifesavers. However, we do have a tendency to overuse these medications. According to an Australian survey, in 2014, around 38% of hospital patients received antibiotic therapy and 23% of these prescriptions were considered inappropriate.[1] In a 2014 poll of Australian workers, 65% believed that taking antibiotics would help them recover from viral infections like a cold or flu more quickly – even though antibiotics have no effect on viruses at all. One in five expect antibiotics for viral infections and 60% of general Practitioners (GPs) were prescribing antibiotics to meet patient demands or expectations.[2

Of course, it’s sometimes necessary to take antibiotics, whether as a one-off, or on a long-term or recurrent basis. If you do need to take them, it’s important to understand how antibiotics affect your body, and how to minimise the side effects associated with them.

Fact 2: Antibiotics disrupt your microbiome.

Scientific research has shown that a single course of antibiotics can cause changes to your microbiome that can last for at least four years.[3] This is because antibiotics don’t just target bacteria that cause infections – they can also damage your native commensals (the good bacteria in your gut), negatively affecting your microbiome. It’s your commensals’ job to make it difficult for pathogens (harmful microbes such as bacteria and yeasts) to grow in your gut; a reduction in commensals can, therefore, allow pathogens to overgrow, causing an imbalance between your good and bad microbes. Known as ‘dysbiosis’, this imbalance may increase your risk of infection and uncomfortable gut symptoms.

Scientific research has shown that a single course of antibiotics can cause changes to your microbiome that can last for at least four years. [3]

Fact 3: Antibiotics may cause both short-term and long-term side effects.

Ten percent of the population experiences side effects when they take antibiotics,[4] including digestive discomfort and pain, candidiasis or thrush, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD), or even Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), which causes debilitating gut symptoms and is very hard to eradicate.[5] If you only have to take antibiotics once in a while, this may not seem like such a big deal. However, repeated prescriptions can cause recurrent disruption to your commensals, meaning the above side effects can become chronic. Additionally, there are strong links between long-term microbiome disruption and the development of chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic diarrhoea, metabolic syndrome and obesity.[6] Pretty scary, huh? Luckily, we can use certain specific probiotic strains to reduce the risk of these side effects.

A persons tongue showing the effects of antibiotics | HealthMasters

Fact 4: Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®), Saccharomyces boulardii (SB) and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp lactis (BB-12®) are probiotic strains that help preserve and rebuild commensal bacteria populations and reduce antibiotic-associated side effects.

You may have read in the media recently that probiotics don’t work or can cause harm, but it’s important to note that the safety and effectiveness of probiotics comes down to the strains that you use, and whether they’re right for your individual needs. It is also important to understand exactly how they work to improve your microbiome. 

If you need to take antibiotics and you want to reduce your risk of microbiome disruption and side effects, you can choose strains with specific, evidence-based results. SB, LGG® and BB-12® have all demonstrated efficacy in assisting the restoration of commensal bacteria, creating an environment representative of a healthy gut microbiome.[7],[8] Rather than ‘colonising’ (living in) your gut, these bacteria are temporary guests that feed your commensal bacteria to restore your unique microbial balance. Additionally, SB[9], LGG® and BB-12®[10] all stunt the growth of infectious microbes, reducing the risk of side effects related to pathogenic overgrowth, such as CDI or AAD.

SB, LGG® and BB-12® have all demonstrated efficacy in assisting the restoration of commensal bacteria, creating an environment representative of a healthy gut microbiome.[7],[8

These benefits are supported by clinical trials. A review of studies involving 4,780 people taking antibiotics found that SB reduces AAD and enhances recovery of the microbiome during antibiotic use.[11] Additionally, studies in 4,213 people showed that LGG® is safe and effective for preventing CDI and CDI-associated diarrhoea during antibiotic use.[12] These strains offer protection from microbiome disruption and antibiotic-associated side effects. 

Fact 5: Your Natural Healthcare Practitioner can help you choose the right strains for you.

Sometimes antibiotics are necessary – even Natural Healthcare Practitioners take them! If you do need them, SB, LGG® and BB-12® are safe, effective and evidence-based options to help protect your microbiome. Speak to your Healthcare Practitioner Kevin Tresize ND today about whether these probiotic strains are right for you.

[1] Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC). AURA 2016: first Australian report on antimicrobial use and resistance in human health – summary report. Sydney: ACSQHC, 2016. P. 6. Available from www.safetyandquality.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/AURA-2016-Summary-Report.pdf 

[2] Australian Government Department of Health & Department of Agriculture. Responding to the Threat of antimicrobial resistance. Australia’s First National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019. 2015 (published 2015 June 30; cited 2019 May 13). Available from https://www.amr.gov.au/resources/national-amr-strategy 

[3] Yoon MY, Yoon SS. Disruption of the Gut Ecosystem by Antibiotics. Yonsei Med J. 2018;59(1):4–12. DOI:10.3349/ymj.2018.59.1.4 

[4] Ouwehand AC, Forssten S, Hibberd AA, Lyra A, Stahl B. Probiotic approach to prevent antibiotic resistance. Ann Med. 2016 May 18;48(4):246-55. DOI: 10.3109/07853890.2016.1161232 

[5] Yoon MY, Yoon SS. Disruption of the Gut Ecosystem by Antibiotics. Yonsei Med J. 2018;59(1):4–12. DOI:10.3349/ymj.2018.59.1.4 

[6] Ouwehand AC, Forssten S, Hibberd AA, Lyra A, Stahl B. Probiotic approach to prevent antibiotic resistance. Ann Med. 2016 May 18;48(4):246-55. DOI: 10.3109/07853890.2016.1161232 

[7] Collignon A, Sandré C, Barc MC. Saccharomyces boulardii modulates dendritic cell properties and intestinal microbiota disruption after antibiotic treatment. Gastroenterol Clin Biol. 2010 Sep;34 Suppl 1:S71-8. DOI: 10.1016/S0399-8320(10)70024-5. 

[8] Barc MC, Charrin-Sarnel C, Rochet V, Bourlioux F, Sandre C, Boureau H, et al. Molecular analysis of the digestive microbiota in a gnotobiotic mouse model during antibiotic treatment: Influence of Saccharomyces boulardii. Anaerobe. 2008 Oct;14(4):229-33 DOI: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2008.04.003. 

[9] Dinleyici EC, Eren M, Dogan N, et al. Clinical efficacy of Saccharomyces boulardii or metronidazole in symptomatic children with Blastocystis hominis infection. Parasitol Res. 2011 Mar;108(3):541-5 DOI: 10.1007/s00436-010-2095-4. 

[10] Hauser G, Salkic N, Vukelic K, et al. Probiotics for standard triple Helicobacter pylori eradication: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 May;94(17):e685 DOI: 10.1097/MD.0000000000000685. 

[11] Szajewska H, Kołodziej M. Systematic review with meta‐analysis: Saccharomyces boulardii in the prevention of antibiotic‐associated diarrhoea. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Oct;42(7):793-801 DOI: 10.1111/apt.13344. 

[12] Goldenberg JZ, Ma SS, Saxton JD, et al. Probiotics for the prevention of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea in adults and children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013; 5: CD006095.

 

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