By Bio-Kult’s Technical Advisor who is also a qualified Nutritional Therapist, Natalie Lamb, NT Dip CNM, mBANT, BA Hons, GAPS.
Antibiotics are a wonderful invention; they have saved many lives and still play a very important role in combating infection. However, there is some concern that antibiotics are used a little too frequently nowadays and are rarely required for conditions such as coughs, colds, sore throats and flu. It is, however, extremely important to remind your client to complete a course of antibiotics once started to prevent the development of antibiotic resistant strains.
Antibiotic resistance is when a strain of bacteria no longer responds to treatment with one or more types of antibiotics. This is a growing concern, particularly because no new antibiotics are in development. Current government strategy is to promote more responsible use of antibiotics among doctors, prescribing them only when they are really needed, and after laboratory testing.
While successfully inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria, antibiotics are now well known to significantly disrupt protective intestinal and vaginal microbiota, significantly reducing bacteria considered to have health-promoting properties such as Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp.
A diverse microflora plays an important role in the functioning of strong immune and digestive systems. The predominance of lactobacilli in a healthy vagina is known to create an acidic environment that protects women from infection. Candida spp. overgrowth is often seen after a course of antibiotics when the defense layer of beneficial bacteria in the gut has been disturbed. Antibiotics, as with any medication, can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. By altering the microbial balance within the gut, further pathogenic bacteria are able to selectively overgrow increasing the risk of developing a further intestinal infection; the main symptom of which being antibiotic associated diarrhoea (AAD)1.
A systematic review and meta-analysis by Hempel2 in 2012, which analyzed 63 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) including 11,811 participants, indicated a statistically significant association of probiotic administration with reduction in AAD. Studies have indicated that probiotics may prevent AAD via restoration of the gut microflora1. Probiotics may also provide such benefit by directly secreting antibacterial substances targeting pathogens and disrupting biofilm formation, making it easier for antibiotics to function; and by enhancing generalized mucosal immunity, which in turn aids in the eradication of the organisms at the mucosal site3.
The immune system can need some extra help during the colder months if busy fighting off all those extra winter bugs. Up to 70% of our immune cells are located in the gut, and supported by a strong microflora. One strategy, therefore, to support the body’s natural immunity to prevent initial infection and reduce the need for antibiotics, is to consider regular consumption of fermented foods or probiotic supplements.
During antibiotic therapy extra protection is possible by consuming a probiotic supplement at the same time as antibiotic therapy. I would recommend taking them at least two hours apart and continued for at least two-to-four weeks after completion of the antibiotic course at a dose of around five billion CFUs a day. An additional strategy could be to support the body’s natural immunity to prevent initial infection by considering regular consumption of probiotics as a daily preventative.


References

  1. Johnston BC, Goldenberg JZ, Vandvik PO, Sun X, Guyatt GH. 2011. Probiotics for the prevention of paediatric antibiotic-associated diarrheal. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Nov 9;(11):CD004827.
  1. Hempel S, Newberry SJ, Maher AR, Wang Z, Miles JN, Shanman R, Johnsen B, Shekelle PG. 2012. Probiotics for the prevention and treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhea: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. May 9;307(18):1959-69.
  1. Reid G. 2006. Probiotics to prevent the need for, and augment the use of, antibiotics. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. Sep;17(5):291-5.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.