The manipulation of the gut microbiota is complex and may cause bacteria-host interactions.[7] Though probiotics are considered safe, some have concerns about their safety in certain cases.[7][40] Some people, such as those with immunodeficiency, short bowel syndrome, central venous catheters, cardiac valve disease and premature infants, may be at higher risk for adverse events.[5] In severely ill people with inflammatory bowel disease there is a risk of the passage of viable bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract to the internal organs (bacterial translocation) as a consequence of bacteremia, which can cause adverse health consequences.[7] Rarely, consumption of probiotics by children with lowered immune system function or who are already critically ill may result in bacteremia or fungemia (i.e., bacteria or fungi in the blood), which can lead to sepsis, a potentially fatal disease.[6]
Clearly, probiotics benefit your health from head to toe in many ways. They are so essential for a multitude of bodily functions that research suggests taking a probiotic supplement may be even more important than taking a daily multivitamin. Keep in mind that many of the nutrients you find in a multivitamin supplement, especially B vitamins, are made by beneficial bacteria in your gut.
This is one of the newer areas of probiotic research. Described as the “gut-brain axis,” researchers believe that the communication between the gut and the brain affects not just physical but also mental health and behavior. For example, a recent study found that probiotics can reduce anxiety, relieve stress and improve mental outlook. Another study found that the probiotics L. helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum reduced depression, anger, hostility and self-blame and improved problem-solving ability. Another study showed a difference in brain activity between women consuming yogurt and those consuming a placebo. More research needs to be done to confirm the effect of probiotics on mental and emotional health.
Probiotics act by stimulating the growth of microorganism colonies in our bodies that are “good” or helpful. These beneficial bacteria play an important role in maintaining the natural balance in our systems, stabilizing our digestive organs’ barriers against undesirable microorganisms, producing substances that inhibit “bad” microorganisms’ growth, outcompeting undesirable microorganisms, and stimulating immune responses.1
In these cases, IBS is essentially just TMI. “For the colon to be functioning properly, it needs to be contracting and relaxing in a way that is conducive to regular bowel movements that occur at predictable times and don’t occur too frequently or too rarely," Lebwohl says. "And the bowel needs to be giving infrequent feedback to the brain. People should not be getting updates from their bowel in terms of cramps or the feeling of having to have a bowel movement too often. Yet, people with IBS get very frequent unsolicited ‘progress reports’ from the bowel.”
One review of probiotics benefits for necrotizing enterocolitis was bold enough to say, “The results confirm the significant benefits of probiotic supplements in reducing death and disease in preterm neonates. The … evidence indicate that additional placebo-controlled trials are unnecessary if a suitable probiotic product is available.” Regarding sepsis in developing countries (where it is overwhelmingly more common), a 2017 randomized, controlled trial claims that a large number of these cases “could be effectively prevented” if mothers are given a synbiotic (probiotic and prebiotic together) that contains the probiotic strain L. plantarum.
Probiotics are safe in the amounts you normally find in food. In general, most healthy adults can safely add foods or dietary supplements that contain probiotics to their diets. Some individuals might experience gas (flatulence), but that generally passes after a few days. But which strains of bacteria are most helpful or which doses are best isn't always known. And if you are lactose intolerant, you can experience stomach discomfort if you try to get your probiotics from dairy products. In that case, consider using a dairy-free probiotic. 

When I polled friends and family about their personal experiences with probiotics, I got a real mixed bag of responses. Some called them a lifesaver and others felt no effects whatsoever. I put the anecdotes aside and talked to Ben Lebwohl, gastroenterologist and director of clinical research at Columbia University’s Celiac Disease Center, to get the straight poop on whether probiotics are miracle or myth.


For guys who prefer to take a swig rather than swallow a pill, there are these liquid probiotic drops from Probonix. The grape-flavored adult liquid is formulated to help with everything from bloating and gas to sinus issues and allergies. Containing 12 strains of probiotics and 1 billion cultures per serving, the manufacturer says it passes into your gut 10 times more effectively than other probiotics.
With the growing popularity of probiotics, there is a huge variety of supplements from which one can choose. The most important thing is to determine what type of probiotic microorganism you need for your condition. Do not just take the supplement that provides the most kinds of organisms. You need to do your research and be sure that there are scientific studies to support what you take. New research is emerging, so if you don't find what you need right now, keep looking. A doctor can help one decide if trying probiotics might be helpful for you and can advise you regarding the amount and type of probiotics that may be appropriate in your case.

A closer look at the science underlying microbe-based treatments, however, shows that most of the health claims for probiotics are pure hype. The majority of studies to date have failed to reveal any benefits in individuals who are already healthy. The bacteria seem to help only those people suffering from a few specific intestinal disorders. “There is no evidence to suggest that people with normal gastrointestinal tracts can benefit from taking probiotics,” says Matthew Ciorba, a gastroenterologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “If you're not in any distress, I would not recommend them.” Emma Allen-Vercoe, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, agrees. For the most part, she says, “the claims that are made are enormously inflated.”


In the past, probiotics have been proposed as part of a weight loss diet. However, a 2015 meta-analysis looked at available randomized, controlled trials investigating this effect and determined that the studies did not seem to support this hypothesis, as body weight and BMI were not consistently reduced. The researchers did point out the need for better designed trials, because they were not convinced the results were based on well-designed science.
^ Jump up to: a b Cheplin HA, Rettger LF (December 1920). "Studies on the Transformation of the Intestinal Flora, with Special Reference to the Implantation of Bacillus Acidophilus: II. Feeding Experiments on Man". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 6 (12): 704–5. Bibcode:1920PNAS....6..704C. doi:10.1073/pnas.6.12.704. PMC 1084701. PMID 16576567.[non-primary source needed]
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The popular frenzy surrounding probiotics is fueled in large part by surging scientific and public interest in the human microbiome: the overlapping ecosystems of bacteria and other microorganisms found throughout the body. The human gastrointestinal system contains about 39 trillion bacteria, according to the latest estimate, most of which reside in the large intestine. In the past 15 years researchers have established that many of these commensal microbes are essential for health. Collectively, they crowd out harmful microbial invaders, break down fibrous foods into more digestible components and produce vitamins such as K and B12.

The large intestine is home to hundreds of trillions of bacteria. Fortunately, most are neutral or even beneficial, performing many vital body functions. For example, they help keep “bad” bacteria at bay, play a role in immunity, help us digest food and absorb nutrients and may even have anticancer effects. But will consuming them as probiotics in foods or capsules make a notable difference to your health—especially if you are already healthy? Here’s a look at the evidence.
Uh, no. “There have been studies that suggest a theoretical link between the microbiome and even changing the microbiome, and changes in the brain,” Lebwohl tells me. He specifically points to this study, in which healthy women with no gastrointestinal issues had their brains imaged before and after a month of consuming yogurt products containing probiotics twice daily.
Many studies have shown that probiotics reduce diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics in both adults and children. In fact, it is common for physicians and pharmacists to recommend eating a probiotic-fortified yogurt every day during a course of antibiotics to prevent diarrhea. More research is needed to determine which probiotics are associated with the greatest effect for specific antibiotics.
Now researchers are finding evidence that the effects of bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) system send signals to the central nervous system, linking the gut with the brain. This could account for some known connections between GI illness and mental illness. For example, a higher-than-average number of people with irritable bowel syndrome also develop depression and anxiety. 

All probiotic strains are manufactured through fermentation, and are then freeze-dried before blending with fructooligosaccharides (FOS). The result is a shelf-stable (two years at room temperature), nitrogen-filled probiotic of human origin: a probiotic that easily adapts to your body, and is both acid- and bile-resistant to survive the acidic environment of the human stomach. In other words, a probiotic that fulfills its promises. 

Plus, thanks to its immune-modulating properties, it can also decrease inflammation and minimize symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders. For example, one study published in the journal BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine showed that Bacillus coagulans was effective at reducing inflammation, relieving pain and improving the ability to perform regular daily activities in people with rheumatoid arthritis. (3)
“We know that there’s a symbiotic type of relationship between gut bacteria and their hosts—that’s us. Certain chemicals that the gut bacteria produce can alter blood pressure. We also know that when mice or rats or people have high blood pressure, the bacteria in their guts are different. Those things each reveal a piece of the puzzle. But we don’t have enough pieces to put the entire puzzle together yet,” says Pluznick.
Like many of my patients, 33-year-old Dawn didn’t initially make the connection between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression, and overall gut health. While we discussed her digestive problems during our initial consultation, she casually mentioned her primary care physician wanted to wean her off selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These antidepressant medications change your brain chemistry but also wreak havoc on your gut and impair nutrient digestion.
I have been taking probiotics for several years now. When I first started taking them, I had been getting increasing attacks of gout, but I didn't take them for that reason. Soon, I realised that I had stopped getting gout, except for the very occasional attack if I had been taking antibiotics, so it wasn't all in the mind, because I hadn't expected the attacks to stop. I get mine from the well-known health shop and they need refrigerating after opening.
"In fact," she continues, "80% of immune system cells are found in the gut. In addition to the well-known GI benefits of minimizing bloat, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, probiotics aid in digestion by extracting nutrients, helping your body absorb minerals, produce vitamins, and make brain chemicals, including over 30 neurotransmitters along with mood-enhancing serotonin. A healthy person has over 100 trillion microbes, generally a five to one ratio of helpful to harmful."

To boost the immune system, B. Lactis is a promising choice. One study had participants taking either a probiotic or a placebo for six weeks. At the end of this period, researchers measured antibody levels and found greater increases in antibodies of the B. lactis group than in placebo participants, concluding that this probiotic may help improve immune function [1]. In addition, a 2009 study found that supplementation of the strain B. lactis DN-173 led to self-reported improvements in digestive comfort [2].
Like kefir, kombucha is a fermented drink that may improve the function of the immune system and boost energy levels and detoxification. Beneficial bacteria in kombucha may improve antioxidant activity in the body as well. Kombucha tea comes in black and green varieties. Kombucha tea is made using a SCOBY, or a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, that is necessary for the fermentation process. Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast strain that is found in kombucha.
I did the “milk test” on these New Rythm probiotics, along with Culturelle I had purchased in 2 different states (TX & MA, as I was traveling); my mother’s CVS brand acidophilus; and one “control” cup with milk only (so, 5 cups total in my experiment). The New Rythm became a solid yogurt consistency, while the other 4 remained liquids. I did the experiment twice, just to be sure of the results. I could not believe it!!! New Rhythm is my brand, hands down!!! I also would like to mention that my product usually arrives the day after it ships. So it will take a few days to ship when I select standard shipping, which is to be expected, but it doesn’t stay in transit long which is ideal for preserving the living cultures.

Probiotic bacteria actually compete against unfriendly flora for bacterial binding sites on the inside lining of your intestines, further protecting you from these harmful pathogens. One way to repopulate your gut with probiotics to restore harmony and get all their many benefits is with the right foods, which can support the growth and proliferation of good bacteria that crowd out the bad ones.

The bottom line: Keeping your gut microbiome balanced is vital for maintaining healthy digestion, promoting sleep and immune strength, and more – and natural approaches are the best way to achieve that balance, says Dr. Rawls. Feel free to give probiotic supplements a try if you like, but be sure to track your progress to make sure it’s worth the money. And know that supplementing with the right herbs and botanicals, along with eating plenty of natural sources of both prebiotics and probiotics, will likely deliver the results you seek much more quickly.
"I usually recommend Garden of Life, BioK or Megafoods brand," says Shapiro. "I also recommend starting with about 30 billion CFU and making sure your supplement has at least 12 different strains. And if you don't eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that provide fiber for the probiotics to live off of, make sure you're the one you are taking contains prebiotics as well.
Swanson Probiotic for Digestive Health helps support digestion with 16 carefully selected strains so you can feel your best.* Your digestive tract is a diverse ecosystem, home to billions of microorganisms. The “good ones,” known as probiotics, provide valuable support for healthy digestion, immune function and many other vital processes throughout the body.* Probiotics help establish and maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the GI tract by increasing the population of beneficial strains. Prebiotics, such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), enhance this activity by nourishing probiotic organisms to ensure that they thrive.
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Non-dairy sources of probiotics include miso, tempeh, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Miso is a savory, nutty paste made from fermented soybeans. It's extremely versatile and a lovely addition to soups, marinades, vegetables, and dressings, like this Miso Citrus Vinaigrette. If you're not familiar with tempeh (aka tofu's counterpart), it is comprised of fermented soybeans that are packed into cakes. Tempeh makes a great alternative to meat in sandwiches, stir-fries, and curries.

Unless you know that your body is lacking in a particular type of probiotic, you should just look for broad-spectrum probiotics that contain a mix of different strains of bacteria, Warren says: "We have billions of bacteria in our gut, so by taking a supplement with a range of different strains, you will ensure you are not overdoing or missing one type." Keatley also stresses the importance of finding a supplement with a diversity of bacteria strains to keep overgrowth of any one strain in check. "Providing too much of an advantage to one strain of probiotic may push out another strain we didn't know was important until it's too late," she points out.


If you have annoying tummy troubles... Allow your predominant symptoms to guide you. Bloated and constipated? Look for lactobacillus acidophilus or lactobacillus casei, which help restore gut flora. Can't stop going number two? Types with saccharomyces boulardii can ease antibiotic-associated diarrhea and even prevent extreme cases caused by infections. 

More common than diarrhea is the opposite problem — constipation. In a search for studies on the benefits of probiotics in treating constipation, researchers found that probiotics slowed "gut transit time" by 12.4 hours, increases the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and helped to soften stools, making them easier to pass. But the jury is still out on specific recommendations when it comes to the benefits of probiotics for constipation.

The high quality supplement comes in veggie capsule form, and no refrigeration is necessary. This probiotic is made in an FDA registered facility (in the US), and it meets GMP standards. It’s an all natural supplement, that’s free of lactose, soy and gluten. It also contains no artificial coloring. DNA Shift probiotic also offers prebiotic fiber for an extra healthy brain and gut.
When you nosh or swallow a probiotic, it doesn't take up permanent residence in your intestinal ecosystem with the bacteria that's there already, says Hutkins. It might help crowd out a microorganism that's making you sick (which is likely why probiotics have proven most useful against infectious diarrhea), but it eventually just passes through the gut. That's why it's impossible to take too many; you'll just poop them out. This in-and-out nature also means that if you're aiming for a health benefit, you need to ingest them almost daily.
Many studies have shown that probiotics reduce diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics in both adults and children. In fact, it is common for physicians and pharmacists to recommend eating a probiotic-fortified yogurt every day during a course of antibiotics to prevent diarrhea. More research is needed to determine which probiotics are associated with the greatest effect for specific antibiotics.

For nearly 50 years, Swanson Health's research and development team has delivered science-backed health and wellness products to people around the world. Our innovation is guided by clinical research, scientific consensus, emerging research and usage traditions, creating products that help you find vitality at any age. At Swanson, we don't hide our science behind proprietary formulas — we believe in easy-to-read, transparent labelling. What's printed on our labels, is exactly what you'll find in our products.


We found the most evidence linking strains to antibiotic recovery, immune health, and IBS/IBD relief. We made checklists of the most researched strains that treat those issues (10 strains known to boost general health, six for immune health, seven for antibiotic recovery, and seven for IBS/IBD relief) and dug into ingredient lists to find the supplements containing the highest number of effective strains for each use case.
Supplements: dietary probiotic supplements -- which are available in capsules, tablets, powders and liquid extracts -- each contain a specific type of probiotic. These products are available at health food and natural food stores, vitamin shops, and other stores. As an example, one commonly used supplement is acidophilus, which is available from several supplement manufacturers.

Two dangerous diseases in newborns, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and neonatal sepsis, may meet their match with well-designed probiotic supplements. Both of these conditions are common in premature babies and are most dangerous in low birth weight and very low birth weight infants. Research has confirmed that when a pregnant mother takes high-quality probiotics during pregnancy, her baby is significantly less likely to develop either NEC or sepsis, particularly when the baby is breastfed after birth (and mom is still taking the supplements) and/or when probiotics are added to formula. A probiotic supplement with multiple strains seems to be the most effective in these cases.
Probiotics seem to be all the rage these days. With many purported benefits and a relatively low risk of side effects, manufacturers are taking advantage of booming business opportunities. Rather than leave your health in the hands of big business, it is important that you be as educated as possible about the best types of probiotics so you can choose what is right for you and your family.
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