Probiotics in Lyme Treatment

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Probiotics in Lyme Disease Image by Marty Ross MD

About Probiotics

Probiotics are healthy germs which a person takes to improve intestinal and overall health. According to the World Health Organization definition from 2001, probiotics are "live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."

Current probiotic products fall into three categories:

  • human intestinal bacteria
  • soil-based spore-forming bacteria
  • human intestinal yeast.

The health benefits of probiotics may include:

  • stimulating the immune system,
  • balancing inflammation caused by infections and allergies,
  • controlling food and environmental allergies,
  • keeping Candida Albicans intestinal yeast under control,
  • fighting and controlling unhealthy intestinal bacteria like Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff),
  • maintaining the good balance of normal intestinal bacteria, viruses and parasites,
  • preventing intestinal bacteria, viral, and yeast (from Candida) infections, and
  • aiding food digestion.

Probiotic Types

Bacteria found in human intestines

The most common bacteria included in probiotics from this category include strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These strains generally require refrigeration. Because they are derived from bacteria living in human intestines, many strains may repopulate and remain in the intestines over time.

Bacteria found in the soil

These are also called spore-forming probiotics. Common spore-forming probiotics include strains of Bacillus bacteria. These bacteria exist in heat stable spores outside of the intestinal tract. This means they do not require refrigeration. They are also acid stable which improves their chances of reaching the intestines. Unlike human intestinal bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, these do not appear to repopulate the intestines. They seem to work by supporting the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines. They may also work by helping Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics live, grow, and function in the intestines.

Yeast found in human intestines

Human intestines include a healthy yeast called Saccharomyces Boulardii (Sacro B).This probiotic is especially useful for the treatment and prevention of C. Diff infections in the intestines. C. Diff is a bacteria living in the intestines that can grow too much when a person takes antibiotics. It can lead to severe diarrhea. For more information about this condition see C. Difficile Diarrhea: Prevention and Treatment

When & How To Use Probiotics in Lyme Disease

"Generally throughout this site, I do not recommend specific poducts and brands. However, with probiotics, the quality of the product matters. Below I present products and brands which use high-quality strains of bacteria with a beneficial scientific-based track record. Unfortunately, many probiotic products which I do not include here do not use strains shown to work."  Marty Ross MD

Promote Healthy Intestines*

To prevent Candida yeast overgrowth in the intestines and to keep a balance of good intestinal bacteria, probiotics may be helpful. Herbal and prescription antibiotics can kill healthy intestinal bacteria which can lead to yeast overgrowth, immune system imbalance, and poor digestion with loose stools.

In some with loose stools on antibiotics, it may be very helpful to increase probiotics to stop this problem.

Use either a soil-based probiotic with Bacillus species or human intestinal bacteria with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. For greater intestine dysfunction, consider using both types. The advantage of a soil-based spore-forming probiotic is that it does not require refrigeration. Be sure to use brands which use strains that are scientifically proven effective.

Corebiotic by Researched Nutritionals 2 to 4 pills 1 time a day. This product is a soil-based spore-forming probiotic that includes strains of Bacillus scientifically proven to support intestinal health. Consider using Corebiotic Sensitive, which does not include prebiotic fiber, if Corebiotic causes gassiness. Another spore-forming probiotic to consider is Proflora R by Bio-botanical Research.

OR

HMF Forte by Genestra 2 to 4 pills 1 time a day. This product includes Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains scientifically shown to support intestinal health.

Intestinal Candida Yeast Overgrowth*

 
 
 
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Based on my experience managing Lyme disease in Seattle, when someone has intestinal yeast overgrowth, it is useful to use both a soil-based probiotic and a human intestine-based probiotic at the same time to improve intestinal function. See A Silent Problem. Do You Have Yeast? to determine if you have intestinal yeast overgrowth.

Corebiotic by Researched Nutritionals 2 to 4 pills 1 time a day. This product is a soil-based spore-forming probiotic that includes strains of Bacillus scientifically proven to support intestinal health. Consider using Corebiotic Sensitive, which does not include prebiotic fiber, if Corebiotic causes gassiness. Another spore-forming probiotic to consider is Proflora R by Bio-botanical Research.

WITH

HMF Forte by Genestra 2 to 4 pills 1 time a day. This product includes Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains scientifically shown to support intestinal health.

C. Difficile

See C. Difficile Diarrhea: Prevention and Treatment on this site for information about using Sacro B to promote healthy intestinal function if someone could develop or has C. Difficile overgrowth.

Timing

Do not take bacterial probiotics near herbal or prescription antibiotics. Because Sacro B is a yeast, it should not be taken near anti-yeast medications. Avoid taking the bacterial probiotic 30 minutes before through two hours after taking an antibiotic. Do not take Sacro B 30 minutes before through two hours after taking an anti-yeast medication. 

Disclaimer

The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.

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

References

View Citations

  1. FAO/WHO. Health and nutritional properties of probiotics in food including powder milk with live lactic acid bacteria, Report of a Joint FAO/WHO expert consultation on evaluation of health and nutritional properties of probiotics in food including powder milk with live Lactic acid bacteria. Córdoba, Argentina: 2001.
  2. Gill H, Prasad J. Bioactive components of milk: probiotics, immunomodulation, and health benefits. In: Bosze Z, editor. Advances in experimental medicine and biology. New York: Springer; 2008. pp. 423–464.
  3. Britton RA, Versalovic J. Probiotics and gastrointestinal infections. Interdiscip Perspect Infect Dis. 2008;2009:1–10.
  4. Elshaghabee FMF, Rokana N, Gulhane RD, Sharma C, Panwar H. Bacillus As Potential Probiotics: Status, Concerns, and Future Perspectives. Front Microbiol. 2017;8:1490.
  5. Markowiak P, Śliżewska K. Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):1021. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.3390/nu9091021
  6. Kelesidis T, Pothoulakis C. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii for the prevention and therapy of gastrointestinal disorders. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2012;5(2):111-25.

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About the Author

Marty Ross, MD is a passionate Lyme disease educator and clinical expert. He helps Lyme sufferers and their physicians see what really works based on his review of the science and extensive real-world experience. Dr. Ross is licensed to practice medicine in Washington State where he treated thousands of Lyme disease patients in his Seattle practice through late 2018. Marty Ross, MD is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and Georgetown University Family Medicine Residency. He is a member of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) and The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Marty lives with his two beloved Basenji dogs in Austin, Texas. There he enjoys the hot humid weather, friends, food trucks, exercise, organic food, live music, whiskey, and long Texas Hill Country motorcycle rides.

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