Antibiotics and Probiotics

Recently I went to a seminar on gut health (to make sure I’m up-to-date with the latest thinking and research) and learned something interesting… the NHS are currently conducting a large clinical trial using probiotics alongside antibiotics… so let me tell you why this is such good news.
Antibiotics have had a huge impact on our health and have doubtless saved many, many lives. But there is a negative side to antibiotic therapy, which is that while they kill pathogenic bacterias they also kill off the ‘good guys’.  And of increasing concern is the increase in antibiotic resistant bacterias or ‘super bugs’.
Back in 2005, a small study showed that using a probiotic alongside an antibiotic for 7 days, and then maintaining the probiotic supplementation for a further 3 weeks, reduced the overgrowth of undesirable and potential harmful bacteria in the gut.  Also, this use of probiotics reduced the level of antibiotic resistance within the re-growth microflora. It was the findings of this small study that have led to the current large trial which should be completed by end 2013.
So why is good gut bacteria so important? We have 100,000 billion microbes in our intestine and a further 1,000 billion on our skin whose primary role is protecting us against infection. Normal microflora is essential to intestinal cell development, turnover, secretion and absorption as well as simulating and priming our immune system throughout our lives. Our gut flora makes vitamin B12, folic acid, biotin, riboflavin and vitamin K, in addition to recycling urea into amino acids. Lastly, the microbial flora can detoxify heavy metals by binding and enhancing excretion, releases quercitin (a powerful antioxidant) from fruit carbohydrates, and can release dietary substances that stimulate or repress liver function.
So fingers crossed, in the near future GPs may be giving prescriptions for probiotics alongside antibiotics.  But in the meantime, I would recommend that if you do need to take a course of antibiotics, you take a good probiotic in between doses and continue with the probiotic for a further 3 weeks after the antibiotic course has finished.
But not all probiotics are equal…  The two probiotics currently on the market that have clinical research studies behind them are Culturelle (Lactobacillus GG, code 73390) and LAB4 (BioCare Bio-Acidophilus, code 16860) which can be bought from the Natural Dispensary on 01453 757792, quote CW010 to get a discount.
If you would like to find out more, or have any specific concerns about your health, feel free to contact me.

Written by

Claudia Williamson Registered Nutritional Therapist DipION, FdSc, mBANT, mCHNC Tunbridge Wells, Kent