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Probiotic therapy


While you're taking antibiotics, you are at risk for destroying the healthy bacterial population of your intestinal tract.  That sets you up for infections with resistant bacteria that can make you very very sick.  (Clostridium difficile and others).   One of the things that we do when we take antibiotics is to try and replace the normal intestinal flora.  There are several ways to do this. 

First, you should have a high fiber diet.  Any microbes living in your GI tract need a place to call home.  Having a little bit of fiber in the diet can help that a lot. 

Most pharmacies and all health food stores will sell populations of healthy bacteria called Lactobacillus.  This comes in many species.  Two of the most common are L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus.   These are found in yogurt and buttermilk and you can help yourself a lot by having an 8 ounce serving a few times per day.  This is particularly important while you're taking antibiotics.  If you are taking ciprofloxacin, take the milk products at least 2 hours earlier or later than you take the antibiotic or the calcium in the milk will neutralize the antibiotic.

There are other foods such as sauerkraut, which when prepared without preservatives, will contain some Lactobacillus.  Any pickles that are made in their natural state, without preservatives, will be useful.  There is even a drink that you can get in some health food stores called kombucha that is loaded with all kinds of healthy microbes, but tastes like spoiled apple juice.  It is an acquired taste and I happen to like it.

But the easiest way to get a Lactobacillus is to take it in capsules.  Most pharmacists will carry capsules which contain tens or hundreds of millions of bacteria which will repopulate your GI tract.  Better yet, most health food stores will offer capsules which contain billions for tens of billions of bacteria. Think of it is the difference between George Bush's budget for the military versus his budget for education.

Another little trick is to take some Saccharomyces boulardii.  This is offered as a product called Florastor, it is also the same species as nutritional yeast, bread yeast, and brewer’s yeast. So you could probably buy some nutritional yeast and get the same effect. One of the benefits of this yeast is that it is not killed by antibiotics.