Daily probiotic use is appropriate for some people
Studies have demonstrated benefit for using daily probiotics
Should I use a probiotic every day?
Probiotics have been studied in numerous populations and a trial of a daily probiotic is reasonable for some people. With regards to functional gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, probiotics can support digestive health and reduce the frequency of these unwanted symptoms. In addition to promoting digestive health, there is evidence to use certain probiotic strains for other benefits such as feminine health. I will discuss the use of daily probiotics for various conditions below.
It is estimated that 2.4% of the entire population of Canada suffers from having issues with their digestive health.1 Problematic digestive symptoms can include abdominal discomfort, frequent changes in bowel habits, flatulence, constipation, and others. When experiencing such symptoms, it is important to see your doctor to ensure conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, have been ruled out. Patients suffering from occasional digestive health issues, such as constipation, may benefit from taking a daily probiotic.
The American College of Gastroenterology released the following statement regarding probiotic use in IBS: “We suggest probiotics, taken as a group, to improve global symptoms as well as bloating and flatulence in IBS patients.”2 The authors identified 53 studies that included over 5000 patients. The overall results of these studies showed that patients taking a daily probiotic had a decrease in IBS symptoms. The authors did not recommend a specific product as the studies looked at multiple products.
People who experience digestive health issues have been found to have fewer good bacteria in their guts compared with people who do not suffer from digestive health issues. Specifically, it has been shown that people with digestive health problems seem to have a reduction in Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium within their gut flora. Studies have shown that using a probiotic product that contains these bacteria can improve troublesome digestive symptoms.3
Using a daily, multi-strained probiotic containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium is an appropriate recommendation for patients experiencing occasional constipation, flatulence, and abdominal pain. Talk to your pharmacist to help you decide on a product that is right for you.
Certain probiotic bacteria have been shown to have an important role in overall immune function.4 By stimulating and interacting with immune cells these good bacteria support important health-promoting immune function. Using daily probiotics may help support your body’s overall immune health.
The vagina of women is host to numerous bacteria of which are predominated by Lactobacillus in healthy women.5 Lactobacilli that inhabit the human vagina produce substances that prevent overgrowth of harmful bacteria. The type of microorganisms present in the vagina can change for numerous reasons resulting in a bacterial or yeast infection.
For women who experience problems with their vaginal health, despite maintaining proper hygiene and other preventative practices, a probiotic containing Lactobacillus may be used to prevent recurrences. Talk to your pharmacist to find the product right for you.
Conclusion on Daily Probiotics
In addition to the three conditions mentioned above, probiotics have been studied in a multitude of areas. Probiotics can be used in addition to other standard therapies to support your health. In general, taking a probiotic daily is safe and there are very few adverse effects. Using probiotics may take an extended period of time to see a benefit, so if you purchase a bottle ensure you take it for a prolonged duration (assuming there are no side effects). Always talk to your pharmacist before trying a probiotic for daily use.
Bradley Linton, H.BSc., BScPhm, Pharm D., RPhSources:
- 1. Fedorak RN, Vanner SJ, Paterson WG, Bridges RJ. Canadian Digestive Health Foundation Public Impact Series 3: irritable bowel syndrome in Canada. Incidence, prevalence, and direct and indirect economic impact. Can J Gastroenterol. 2012 May;26(5):252-6. doi: 10.1155/2012/861478. PMID: 22590697; PMCID: PMC3352839.
- 2. Ford, AC , Moayyedi, P, Chey, WD et al. (2018) American College of Gastroenterology Monograph on Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. American Journal of Gastroenterology. pp. 1-18. ISSN 0002-9270
- 3. Zhuang X, Xiong L, Li L, Li M, Chen M. Alterations of gut microbiota in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017;32:28-38.
- 4. Mazziotta C, Tognon M, Martini F, Torreggiani E, Rotondo JC. Probiotics Mechanism of Action on Immune Cells and Beneficial Effects on Human Health. Cells. 2023 Jan 2;12(1):184. doi: 10.3390/cells12010184. PMID: 36611977; PMCID: PMC9818925.
- 5. Ma B., Forney L.J., Ravel J. Vaginal microbiome: Rethinking health and disease. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 2012;66:371–389. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-092611-150157.