Twitter Facebook
Living With Allergies Magazine
Levrix - Fast Allergy & Hayfever Relief Licener - Head Lice Treatment Hedrin - Beat Head Lice Love your skin with Dermal Claratyne TCJ Kids Proper Crisps Proper Crisps NeilMed Sinus Rinse

» Previous Articles

ProbioticsThe Wonders of Probiotics

They're tiny but oh, so important. Naturopath Rebekah Paddy, from Mother-Well Holistic Health, explains what probiotics are and how they can help with allergies.

What are probiotics?
In short, they're beneficial bacteria. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes probiotics as "live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host"– that's us! There are about 100 trillion bacteria living in our gastrointestinal tract (GIT), made up of 500 different species and thousands of different strains.

What do probiotics do?
These little microbes are multi-taskers, regulating our entire immune system and reducing risk of allergies and auto immune conditions. They also help digest our food, make essential vitamins, and help regulate inflammatory cytokines which are associated with inflammation and pain. Certain strains are seen to have anti-bacterial effects and others anti-viral properties.

What is the link between probiotics and the immune system?
Over 80% of our immune system resides in our digestive tract which means good gut health will directly improve our overall health. Beneficial bacteria (probiotics) are a very important part of this and are often seen as the cornerstone to our immunity. There is a vast amount of work that still needs to be done before we really understand how probiotics work, but the little we do know is pretty convincing. Probiotic supplementation has been shown to be helpful not only as a treatment option, but also as a preventative, including for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Amazingly, the good bacteria infants are exposed to in the first three months of life, through the birthing process and breastfeeding, set up a blueprint which generally stays with that person for life.

How do probiotics help with allergies?
Allergies manifest when the immune system overreacts to harmless substances such as food or pollen. Probiotics keep the immune system balanced so it doesn't 'overreact' to these things. A review of 21 studies that included 11,000 children at risk for developing eczema, showed that supplementing with beneficial bacteria called Lactobacillus rhapsodic GG (LGG) or Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain HN001 reduced risk of eczema onset by 50% compared to a placebo. This was also seen in children who took a multi-strain probiotic.

Are there side effects?
All clinical reviews on probiotic efficacy and benefits have reported no harmful effects from probiotic use – so this is a very safe therapy. It should be noted, however, that at times the introduction of probiotics can initially increase symptoms such as flatulence and bloating. It is usually advisable to start slowly to avoid this, and build up to the recommended daily dose.

Are probiotics good to take when you're taking antibiotics?
Yes! The diarrhoea, bloating or thrush (candida) which sometimes manifest after antibiotic therapy are in part due to the killing off of the good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, along with the bad. A 2012 review of 82 studies concluded that taking probiotics during antibiotic use reduces the risk of antibiotic associated diarrhoea (AAD), by 42%. Timing is important though. You need to take antibiotics and probiotics at least two hours apart....

Subscribe to read the full article »

Issue: Summer 2015