When it comes to preventing and treating conditions that are more prevalent in women—including mastitis, urinary tract infections, and yeast infections—you don’t have to (and shouldn’t!) rely on the same probiotic your spouse takes for digestive health. “Specific to women, some strains of Lactobacillus have been shown to help prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis,” says Hannah Holscher, PhD, RD, a nutrition scientist at the University of Illinois, in Urbana-Champaign. “Remember that each probiotic strain is going to have different health benefits, and it’s important to select one that has been studied in the same reference population. For example, an adult woman may not see the same health benefits of a probiotic strain that was shown to improve a health outcome in infants.” These are some of the many health benefits of probiotics.
"This suggests that probiotics should not be universally given as a 'one-size-fits-all' supplement," study co-senior author Eran Elinav, an immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said in a statement. However, it may be possible to tailor probiotic treatments to the individual, based on the types of microbes already in his or her gut, as well as other factors, so that he or she gets the most benefit from probiotics, the researchers said.
You'd be right. Lebwohl said there are no current studies supporting probiotics for cancer, and further, that he’d be concerned about anyone with a compromised immune system using probiotics. “It has not been adequately studied for cancer and I would be concerned about widespread probiotic use in someone who might have a suppressed immune system due to cancer, because of the rare but documented instances of actual infections arising from probiotic use."

Officials in the E.U., where supplements are more heavily regulated than in the U.S., haven't authorized the use of the word probiotic to back any health claim. The only approved use related to microorganisms is "live yogurt cultures and improved lactose digestion." It can all feel like, well, a punch to the gut. So we asked scientists at the forefront of probiotic research to help us separate fact from hype, and pros...from cons. Here's what you need to know.


Probiotics are clearly incredibly supportive, but they can't do their work alone. To make sure that you're getting the most out of your microbes, it's important that you give them the support they need to work. You've got lots of options for supporting your gut health, from dietary changes to probiotic supplementation, but make sure you're at least covering the following bases.
This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
Renew Life Ultimate Flora offers 30 billion CFUs with 10 scientifically studied strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which according to current scientific research, are the two most prevalent good bacteria found in a healthy gut. In other words, you might choose these if you’re seeking a careful balance designed to re-establish proper immune health and digestive equilibrium.
However, it’s not just digestive woes that probiotics can help address. A clinical case series followed 300 patients who took a probiotic mixture of L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus. They documented that 80% of acne patients had some degree of clinical improvement, particularly effective in inflammatory acne. Later, an Italian study involving 40 patients found L. acidophilus and B. bifidum supplementation produced better clinical outcomes in acne as well as better tolerance and compliance with antibiotics [2]. 

^ Cuello-Garcia CA, Brożek JL, Fiocchi A, Pawankar R, Yepes-Nuñez JJ, Terracciano L, Gandhi S, Agarwal A, Zhang Y, Schünemann HJ (2015). "Probiotics for the prevention of allergy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. (Systematic review & meta-analysis). 136 (4): 952–61. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2015.04.031. PMID 26044853.
“There are numbers of papers that do show that certain strains of probiotics, particularly the L. Rhamnosus strain contained in Pro-B, can help in prevention and treatment of vaginal bacterial and yeast infections,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. “And of course, many women have to take antibiotics intermittently, which can incidentally disturb their normal vaginal flora. This probiotic can be helpful for women to maintain healthy vaginal flora.” Here are 6 times to say no to antibiotics (and when to say yes).
^ Jump up to: a b c Maria Jose Saez-Lara; Carolina Gomez-Llorente; Julio Plaza-Diaz; Angel Gil (2015). "The Role of Probiotic Lactic Acid Bacteria and Bifidobacteria in the Prevention and Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Other Related Diseases: A Systematic Review of Randomized Human Clinical Trials". Biomed Res Int (Systematic review). 2015: 1–15. doi:10.1155/2015/505878. PMC 4352483. PMID 25793197.
Reviews looking at the treatment or prevention of vulvovaginal candidiasis in women, pneumonia in patients hooked up to respirators, and colds in otherwise healthy people show some positive results. But the authors note that the studies are almost all of low quality, small in size, and often funded by companies with significant conflicts of interest.
These are live microorganisms that will not provide the promised benefits if they don't remain alive. The manufacturer and consumer must pay close attention to the conditions of storage at which the particular microorganism will survive and the end of their shelf life. The potency will indicate the number of viable bacteria per dose, and the purity has to do with presence of contaminating or ineffective bacteria.
While Lebwohl isn't comfortable endorsing a specific brand publicly, he did say "a widely used brand in which the compound is bifidobacteria or lactobaccilus seems like a reasonable way to go in a patient who is eager to give this a try, but would be best done under the supervision of a healthcare professional.” He does advise looking for a supplement with between 1 billion and 10 billion colony-forming units, or CFUs.
Here they perform a dual role: firstly, a probiotic supplement can ensure that the gut flora remains healthy and well-balanced. This could speed up the return to normal defecation. Secondly, serious diarrhoea can cause the gut flora to become depleted, which can slow recovery. In some cases, symptoms may even worsen. Once again, probiotic supplements can help you to regain a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria.
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