If you are wondering who should not take probiotics, you can rest assured that they are usually safe. The benefits usually outweigh the risks as we will review.
But there are a few exceptions to the rule. Let’s take a look at those.
And a quick note: You should always check with your healthcare provider before taking them.
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Who Should Not Take Probiotics
There are some instances where probiotics are considered risky, however.
Make sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking probiotics in the following instances:
- Compromised immune systems such as people undergoing chemotherapy treatment
- Infants with short gut syndrome
- Preterm infants
Keep in mind, the risks of probiotics in these groups of people are very rare too. But to be safe, it’s best to avoid probiotics without medical supervision in these conditions.
Using probiotics for most people is beneficial. This is true whether probiotics come from food or probiotic supplements.
Research shows that probiotics may:
- Help prevent urinary tract infections (bladder infections)
- Reduce irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Decrease diarrhea symptoms
- Aid in constipation
- Promote a healthy mood
- Decrease gas and bloating
- Reduce eczema symptoms (atopic dermatitis)
- Decrease seasonal allergies
- Dampen asthma symptoms
- Reduce inflammatory bowel disease symptoms (ulcerative colitis)
- Support a healthy immune system
- Decrease heartburn symptoms
What About Probiotic Side Effects?
There are some temporary side effects that can come with probiotics.
Additionally, certain strains work better for some conditions. It can take some trial and error to find the best type of probiotics for you. This is because we are all unique.
Taking probiotics can temporarily increase symptoms of gas and bloating due to die-off symptoms. This means that probiotics can decrease bad bacteria in the body. However, as they die, they release some toxins into the body.
Additionally, if you have histamine intolerance, you may only tolerate certain strains of probiotics. Good bets in this situation are Bacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics.
If you have SIBO, good choices are Bacillus strains and Saccharomyces boulardii.
For general health and immunity, Lactobacillus strains are good choices.
Signs Probiotics Are Working
Probiotics can take some time to have their full benefit. Patience is needed when you are first starting them.
However, many people enjoy less digestive discomfort. This includes less nausea, bloating, heartburn, and other icky feelings in the belly after starting to take probiotics.
Other people notice that their mood improves over time. Others notice that they are less prone to viral and bacterial illnesses. This can include the common cold or respiratory infections.
Probiotics Interactions with Medications
If you are on antibiotic medication or antifungal medications, probiotics are best taken 2 hours after your antibiotic dose according to WebMD.
As stated above, you should make sure to check with your doctor before taking probiotics if you are taking medications that affect your immune system like immunosuppressant drugs.
Can probiotics cause diarrhea?
Probiotics don’t typically cause diarrhea, but it is possible to have some mild diarrhea symptoms as part of die-off symptoms.
Can probiotics cause pain?
Occasionally people have some mild digestive discomfort with probiotics, but these usually go away after a week or two.
If you are experiencing abdominal pain that worsens for any reason, you should always seek help from your healthcare provider.
Do I need probiotics?
You can get probiotics from foods in your diet. However, if you don’t eat fermented foods, your digestive tract may benefit from a probiotic supplement.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.