Why You Need Probiotics If You Take Antibiotics

Why You Need Probiotics If You Take Antibiotics

Every year, doctors prescribe antibiotics before surgery and to treat a wide variety of illnesses and bacterial infections, and countless numbers of people are helped by these drugs, which can save lives. Unfortunately, antibiotics not only kill bad bacteria; they can wipe out the beneficial ones as well. can come to the rescue!

Antibiotics destroy the beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract and ultimately can throw your digestive system and entire body into imbalance. Probiotics, aka beneficial bacteria, are the body’s defenders and have been shown to be especially effective when taken before, during, and after a course of antibiotics.

When you take antibiotics, several things happen.

  • Bad bacteria begin to die
  • Beneficial bacteria come under attack and begin to die as well. These good bacteria are collateral damage!
  • Opportunistic pathogens such as Candida albicans and others move in to fill the void and cause illness
  • Your body may begin to develop antibiotic resistance, in which many bacteria become resistant to one or more antibiotics so are no longer effective.

Antibiotic resistance has become a significant health challenge. It is being fueled largely by indiscriminate use of antibiotics (e.g., prescribed for colds, flu, and other viral infections for which they are completely ineffective) and the presence of antibiotics in food products, such as meat and dairy. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you take antibiotics only if you really need them. It is also suggested you get a second opinion from a knowledgeable healthcare provider before agreeing to take the drugs.

Read about how to heal your body from antibiotic overload

Why should you take probiotics for antibiotics?

If you must take antibiotics, grab some high-quality probiotics and get ready to support your intestinal flora and immune system as well as get relief from any side effects of the antibiotics. In fact, one particular side effect that is becoming an increasing problem is the emergence of Clostridium difficile (aka C-diff), an opportunistic bacterium that can cause significant diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. C-diff can be especially challenging to eradicate and can be life-threatening. Probiotics can help reduce the risks associated with antibiotic use.

Generally, the use of antibiotics is detrimental to immune system functioning. In a recent (2017) study conducted by experts at MIT and Harvard, the authors reported that antibiotics work against the body and weaken the immune system’s ability to ward off and eliminate pathogens, which can lead to illness and disease.

When should you take probiotics for antibiotics?

Once you know you will be taking antibiotics, begin using probiotics. If you have surgery planned, start probiotics about one week before the procedure if possible. Otherwise, begin as soon as possible.

Research has indicated that beneficial bacteria should be taken 30 minutes before eating or during a meal. [Editor’s Note: Our sponsor Bio-K+ recommends while taking antibiotics, that you take 1-2 servings of their drinkable probiotics or 1-2 capsules daily. This is the equivalent of 50-100 Billion CFU’s of probiotics and should be continued for 5-10 days following a course of antibiotics. Also, probiotics should be taken at least 2 to 3 hours prior to or after taking your antibiotic dose. This means if you’re to take your antibiotics twice a day (i.e. breakfast and dinner), take your probiotics at lunch time and bedtime, as long as you haven’t eaten within 3 hours of bedtime.]

According to Michael Klaper, MD, the more common probiotics that can be helpful when antibiotics are in the picture include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • L. plantarum
  • L. salivarius
  • L. bulgaricus
  • L. casei
  • L. bifidus
  • L. rhamnosus
  • Bifidobacteria longum
  • Saccharomyces boulardii is another probiotic recommended by other professionals

As another precaution, it is suggested you include foods rich in probiotics in your diet as well as a probiotic supplement to optimize your gut health. Foods such as fermented vegetables (e.g., sauerkraut, kimchee), tempeh, miso, and sourdough are possibilities.

Read about probiotics: essential for good health

Infrequently, probiotics can cause mild side effects, including bloating, constipation, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, rash, and diarrhea.

If your healthcare provider and you agree to a regimen of antibiotics, then remember to reach for the beneficial bacteria as well. Probiotics can be your safety net against side effects, antibiotic resistance, and a compromised immune system.

[Editor's Note: Our partner Bio-K+ offers a 100% probiotic product with proven benefits and effectiveness on human health. Bio-K’s probiotic helps to maintain a healthy intestinal flora, support intestinal functions and activate your immune system. They have a wide range of products for your needs including fermented drinkable products for adults and children as well as capsules.]


Klaper M MD. Q&A: probiotics principles

Marcason W. Probiotics: where do we stand? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2013; 113(10): 1424

Schroeder MO. Getting your probiotic fix when taking antibiotics. US News and World Report 2017 Dec 18

Tompkins TA et al. The impact of meals on a probiotic during transit through a model of the human upper gastrointestinal tract. Beneficial Microbes 201 Dec 1; 2(4): 295-303

Yang JH et al. Antibiotic-induced changes to the host metabolic environment inhibit drug efficacy and alter immune function. Cell Host & Microbe 2017 22(6): 757-65

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Andrea Donsky, B. COMM is an international TV Health Expert, Best Selling Author, Nutritionist Podcast Host, and Founder of NaturallySavvy.com—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. As a pioneer and visionary in the health food industry, Andrea’s passion is to inspire people to make healthier choices. Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an entrepreneur ("She Boss!") to educate the public on living a healthy lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, podcasts, videos, talks, and TV and radio media appearances. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007 in order to share her passion for healthy living, and love for natural products and companies. Among her numerous publications, Andrea co-authored Unjunk your Junk Food published by Simon and Schuster, a book that journalist, author and mother Maria Shriver endorsed: “Unjunk Your Junk Food has certainly made me more aware about the food that my children eat and the effects it has on our body and mind."</P. Andrea also co-authored two e-books entitled Label Lessons: Your Guide To A Healthy Shopping Cart, and Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.