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What You Should Know About Probiotics. By Our Student Pharmacist, Malcolm White.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics have been termed “good bacteria”. Probiotics usually refer to live bacteria in the gut that naturally live in your body. You might be wondering if having this bacteria in your gut will make you sick. The answer is no.

Remember when I said there is a term called good bacteria? Many bacteria in the gut help with processes such as digestion, as well as make important substances like Vitamin K. Your body uses vitamin K for clotting your blood.

Your gut, however, can also consist of bad bacteria. When you get an infection there is usually more bad bacteria, knocking your system out of balance. This is where probiotics can come into play. Good bacteria help eliminate extra bad bacteria thus returning your system back to balance.

How do probiotics work?

The main goal of probiotics is to help restore balance in your gut between the good bacteria and bad bacteria. Your body works constantly to prevent the increased growth of bad bacteria. When you have an increase in bad bacteria you are more likely to become sick. Good bacteria help keep bad bacteria from overgrowing which allows you to stay healthy. This balancing act is constantly happening all of the time. A way to keep your good bacteria in check is by eating a well balanced diet rich in fiber.

Should I take probiotics?

Currently, the main job of probiotics is to help digest food, relieve constipation, decrease diarrhea, and boost immunity. If any of these experiences are a common thing for you I would recommend you try probiotics to help.

Be wary of probiotic products that make claims such as weight loss and reduced cancer risk. Those claims have not been validated. There is evidence that probiotics can treat certain medical conditions.

Wilkins T, Sequoia J. states, “There is high-quality evidence that probiotics are effective for acute infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (C-Diff).”

Are there any risks to taking probiotics?

For the most part, probiotics have been used safely for years. However, there are some concerns to be aware of when taking probiotics. Exercise caution with use from immunocompromised (having a weakened immune system) patients. Some examples of immunocompromised patients are individuals with cancer, HIV, or previous bone or organ transplant recipient. Because probiotics consist of live bacteria, there is a chance that an immunocompromised patient’s experience with probiotics could be fatal. Also probiotics are not recommended in patients who are lactose intolerant (have a sensitivity to milk).

What are the reliable probiotic brands?

Probiotics are considered dietary supplements not drugs, Therefore, the FDA does not monitor manufacturing of probiotics. This is a major reason why it is important to buy your probiotics from a reliable brand.

Below is a list of probiotics that were recommended by a dietician:

  • Culturelle daily probiotics
  • Gardens of life raw probiotics for women
  • Renew Life
  • Klaire Labs
  • Innate response 14-20
  • Advanced Naturals
  • Seed

What are the ways I can take probiotics?

Probiotics can come in a variety of forms such as:

  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Capsules or Pills
  • Powders
  • Liquids

When using probiotic products, it’s important to store them in the proper place. Some probiotic products are sensitive to heat, light, and humidity. If probiotics are exposed to these elements, they will start to break down thus becoming ineffective to use. Recommended storage would be a dark cool place like a cabinet. Also, remember to look at the product to see if it requires refrigeration.

In conclusion, don’t start taking probiotics without talking to your doctor or pharmacist about whether probiotics might help you.


Probiotics. Cleveland Clinic.https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics. Updated 03/09/2020 Accessed 08/19/2020

Wilkins T, Sequoia J. Probiotics for Gastrointestinal Conditions: A Summary of the Evidence. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(3):170-178.

Doron S, Snydman DR. Risk and safety of probiotics. Clin Infect Dis. 2015;60 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S129-S134. doi:10.1093/cid/civ085

Should you take probiotics.https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-take-probiotics. Published April 2016. Updated August 20th, 2019. Accessed August 19,2020.

Kellie Bramlet Blackburn.Should you take a daily probiotic supplement.https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/should-you-take-a-daily-probiotic-supplement-.h16-1592202.html. Accessed August 19,2020 

Risks and Benefits of Probiotics.WebMD.https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/probiotics-risks-benefits#2. Updated May 12, 2019 Accessed August 19, 2020 

Sydney Greene.The 7 Best Probiotics According to a Dietician.https://www.verywellfit.com/best-probiotics-4163636.Updated 02,2020.Accessed 08/20/2020

Picture References:

Amazon.Renew Life – Ultimate Flora Probiotic Women’s Care – 25 billion – probiotics for women – daily digestive and immune health supplement – 30 vegetable capsules.https://www.amazon.com/Renew-Life-Womens-Probiotic-Supplement/dp/B004ZNDFIW. Accessed August 20,2020

Renew Life.Ultimate flora extra care probiotic 50 billion (14 caps).https://www.renewlife.com/ultimate-flora-extra-care-probiotic-50-billion.html. Accessed August 20,2020

Amazon.Klair Labs – Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete Probiotic – 25 Billion High CFU Probiotic for Women & Men – 12 Species – Digestive Health and Immune Support – Hypoallergenic and Dairy Free (60 Capsules).https://www.amazon.com/Klaire-Labs-Ther-Biotic-Complete-Probiotic/dp/B00JZ246S6. Accessed August 20, 2020

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