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Probiotics: when can you stop taking them

by (734)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:47 PM
Created June 07, 2012 at 10:52 AM

I've been using probiotics for a while now and they seem to working (about 2 months). I had Crohn's - ulcerative colitis; the inflammation is gone but I still had (and have) IBS-like symtoms. I've been taking Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v probiotics for about 2 months and I can say I feel improvement.

I've got some questions:

  • Is it necessary to continue to take them for... (2 months, 1 year, indefinitely,...)? Are the good bacteria repopulated now and will it stay like that or will it slowly get worse again?
  • If it is not really necessary, is it still beneficial to keep taking them? This sounds like a stupid question (of course taking good bacteria is a good thing), but I would try not to take more supplements than necessary (both for health and financial reasons).

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 08, 2012 at 11:00 PM

I am aware of that; I had my not-so-great (see the euphemism) gastroenterologist prescribe one of those. Since at that time I began to suspect nearly everything he did was wrong, I began researching this, and sure enough, I found what you're suggesting now.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 07, 2012 at 2:25 PM

I am convinced that probiotics are definitely useful in certain circumstances. It has been proven some strains definitely are useful, as the one I mentioned (Lp299v; see http://www.ibsgroup.org/forums/topic/122624-lactobacillus-plantarum-299v-effective-for-the-relief-of-irritable-bowel-syndrome-new-trial-unveiled-at-ddw-2010/). You also mention it is often used as marketing; which I also believe it is true (think about the Actimel bottles; which are often taken unnecessarily). The question I have: if you have taken probiotics and benefited from them, when can you stop?

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424 · June 07, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Taking serious antibiotics can significantly change the population of your gut microbiome. A few months time post antibiotics will lead to a repopulated gut, but the proportions of the strains which do the repopulation can be much different than before. Think earthquake followed by gentrification. Certain strains could be all but completely taken out giving rise to overgrowth of another. Whether the change in population is detrimental or beneficial to health is somewhat difficult to say without data. Just wanted to clarify that as it may or may not have significant implications.

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734 · June 07, 2012 at 12:12 PM

I wanted to add one more thing (ran out of space in the comment above): I do consume quite some cooked foods (nearly all, in fact) and very little fermented foods, so from that point of view, I can definitely see why I would be worth to continue taking them.

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1548 · June 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM

I would say probably not a necessity. I was just thinking in terms: Probiotics to help build gut flora up over time, then cycle off and switching to a digestive enzyme for a while. Could help break foods down since you'll have the gut flora. That's all I'm saying. I don't know the research to truly know the "upper limit" to probiotics, or when your gut flora is "capped" out. A point of diminishing returns where taking it is "senseless" But I do know, from personal experience, that if I start having loose or rapid stool movements, I need to back off of them.

C6e32ff9978fe287aa8c1c6be52d9524
1548 · June 07, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Probiotics to help build gut flora up over time, then cycle off and switching to a digestive enzyme for a while. Could help break foods down since you'll have the gut flora. That's all I'm saying. I don't know the research to truly know the "upper limit" to probiotics, or when your gut flora is "capped" out. But I do know, from personal experience, that if I start having loose or rapid stool movements, I need to back off of them.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 07, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Thank you for your reply. It won't be harmful (that's what I also mentioned in the question itself), but is it necessary or even beneficial to continue taking them? I do take digestive enzymes sometimes after the more-difficult-to-digest meals. Digestive enzymes are for short-term use (to break down one meal), while probiotics only work in the long-term, so just 'switching' from probiotics to digestive enzymes doesn't seem logical to me. These are two completely different supplements, that work at different levels, so I don't see why I would replace one with the other...

E3267155f6962f293583fc6a0b98793e
1085 · June 07, 2012 at 11:39 AM

I would be interested in the answer to this question too.

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5381 · June 07, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I dont understand the benefits myself. There are some 600 odd native bacteria in your gut, and the most proven beneficial one is a strain of e coli which never occurs in any probiotic. Good bacteria is a bit of misnomer, as very few individual strains have any proven benefit - we just know mainly that we need some of those 600 odd native ones. If you take serious anti-biotics, and then stop, your gut bacteria return fully in about a month, so the system is very robust...

I dont see how taking 1 or 2 types of bacteria that dont have hugely proven benefits would be that much help. Additionally, these bacteria are supposed to exist in your bowel, not your whole digestive system.

I see this more as marketing - although some specific bacteria may have some proven benefit, so if i used them I would do research each strain to see if they actually help.

But if it floats your boat, go for it (especially if you find its really helped). Then again, you dont want those bacteria camping out, in other parts of your body than your colon, like your small intenstine..

Why do you think your bacterial balance is out? Is it overgrowth/SIBO? Or did you take anti-biotics for awhile? Or is it something people often try for chrons, just to see if it works?

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 07, 2012 at 2:25 PM

I am convinced that probiotics are definitely useful in certain circumstances. It has been proven some strains definitely are useful, as the one I mentioned (Lp299v; see http://www.ibsgroup.org/forums/topic/122624-lactobacillus-plantarum-299v-effective-for-the-relief-of-irritable-bowel-syndrome-new-trial-unveiled-at-ddw-2010/). You also mention it is often used as marketing; which I also believe it is true (think about the Actimel bottles; which are often taken unnecessarily). The question I have: if you have taken probiotics and benefited from them, when can you stop?

C1484e8cfca0cc00f40da25d36f689b8
424 · June 07, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Taking serious antibiotics can significantly change the population of your gut microbiome. A few months time post antibiotics will lead to a repopulated gut, but the proportions of the strains which do the repopulation can be much different than before. Think earthquake followed by gentrification. Certain strains could be all but completely taken out giving rise to overgrowth of another. Whether the change in population is detrimental or beneficial to health is somewhat difficult to say without data. Just wanted to clarify that as it may or may not have significant implications.

C6e32ff9978fe287aa8c1c6be52d9524
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1548 · June 07, 2012 at 11:53 AM

I could be wrong, but I don't see any harm in taken them permanently. Especially if you consume ample amounts of cooked food. (I only consume them with cooked food.) Maybe switch over to a digestive enzyme for a while?

From what I've been researching, fermented foods, although an awesome source of probiotics, get quite destroyed in the stomach acid before digestion. Therefore, erasing a lot of it's benefits? Do NOT quote me on that, but it's what I've been seeing.

NOW digestive enzymes are wicked cheap (and recommended by Robb Wolf and other paleo enthusiasts) but like I said, I think they are only important for major cooked meals. Raw foods generally still have their natural enzymes for breaking down.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 07, 2012 at 12:12 PM

I wanted to add one more thing (ran out of space in the comment above): I do consume quite some cooked foods (nearly all, in fact) and very little fermented foods, so from that point of view, I can definitely see why I would be worth to continue taking them.

C6e32ff9978fe287aa8c1c6be52d9524
1548 · June 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM

I would say probably not a necessity. I was just thinking in terms: Probiotics to help build gut flora up over time, then cycle off and switching to a digestive enzyme for a while. Could help break foods down since you'll have the gut flora. That's all I'm saying. I don't know the research to truly know the "upper limit" to probiotics, or when your gut flora is "capped" out. A point of diminishing returns where taking it is "senseless" But I do know, from personal experience, that if I start having loose or rapid stool movements, I need to back off of them.

C6e32ff9978fe287aa8c1c6be52d9524
1548 · June 07, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Probiotics to help build gut flora up over time, then cycle off and switching to a digestive enzyme for a while. Could help break foods down since you'll have the gut flora. That's all I'm saying. I don't know the research to truly know the "upper limit" to probiotics, or when your gut flora is "capped" out. But I do know, from personal experience, that if I start having loose or rapid stool movements, I need to back off of them.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 07, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Thank you for your reply. It won't be harmful (that's what I also mentioned in the question itself), but is it necessary or even beneficial to continue taking them? I do take digestive enzymes sometimes after the more-difficult-to-digest meals. Digestive enzymes are for short-term use (to break down one meal), while probiotics only work in the long-term, so just 'switching' from probiotics to digestive enzymes doesn't seem logical to me. These are two completely different supplements, that work at different levels, so I don't see why I would replace one with the other...

Fb1acc37c066271cd4addf494f02861e
0
30 · June 08, 2012 at 1:40 AM

inactive brewer yeast could lead to a worse state of Inflammatory bowel disease; refs are 5 and 6 in http://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Solutions/PlantesSupplements/Fiche.aspx?doc=levure_biere_cerevisiae_ps

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 08, 2012 at 11:00 PM

I am aware of that; I had my not-so-great (see the euphemism) gastroenterologist prescribe one of those. Since at that time I began to suspect nearly everything he did was wrong, I began researching this, and sure enough, I found what you're suggesting now.

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