Some doctors are now recommending that people with Crohn’s and Colitis NOT take probiotics. They are saying that people with IBD do not have a normal response to beneficial bacteria and therefore probiotics can aggravate these conditions.
Back when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s (1984), the medical establishment maintained that Crohn’s was an autoimmune disorder rather than an immunodeficiency. In contrast to this, a friend (who is also a scientist) recently said: “I had noted that those I knew who had Crohn’s tended to be more vulnerable to certain types of bacterial infections, but had assumed that this is due to the drugs they are on. However, after looking into the matter – it seems that a faulty immune system is actually an inherent characteristic of the condition. Is this something that you have noticed with those you help? It seems quite a tight walk to expose oneself to “good bacteria” and trusting the immune system to respond appropriately. I want to suggest this route (i.e. the probiotic route), but given the tendency to pathogenesis to organisms that would normally not be problematic for most others – I don’t want to add fuel to the fire….”
This approach is actually not new, it is just becoming more prolific in the literature. Here are some excerpts from Listen To Your Gut (2006) where I talk about factors pertaining to this:
“It’s also important to ingest the right strain of each probiotic species. Different strains of acidophilus (for example) can produce completely different results. Out of 200 different strains of acidophilus, only 13 have potent antibiotic and antiviral capabilities. If you have IBS or IBD, you need to ingest potent strains that are capable of wiping out the bad bacteria in your gut, strong enough to protect against re-infection, and capable of restoring your mucosal lining and helping to balance your immune system.”
“Some species that are routinely included in commercial probiotic blends simply do not have a long-term record of human safety and not enough is known about their actions/ramification in the gut under varying conditions. For example, a study on immunodeficient mice found that supplementing with a certain strain of L. reuteri (used in many probiotic blends) caused some of the mice to die, leading the researchers to recommend “the need to proceed cautiously when using high doses of this strain in neonatal, immunocompromised hosts.”(10) Therefore, you only want to purchase a probiotic supplement that contains species and strains with a proven, long-term record of human safety.”
“So, you need to be very careful when choosing a probiotic brand to supplement with as the field of misinformation in this arena is vast. In my opinion, probiotics are so powerful, they should be stringently regulated and undergo routine, independent testing. Swallowing live microorganisms, which are highly adaptive, intelligent beings, should be undertaken with great caution and safety should always be paramount. Unfortunately, currently probiotics are not regulated at all, and many probiotic manufacturers do not even comply with labeling guidelines. In addition, when I refer to ‘probiotics’ I’m referring to food-cultured beneficial bacteria only.”
“When I first began recommending Natren probiotics to my readers, I did so for one reason only; they worked. At that time, I knew a fraction of what I know now about probiotic strain selection, manufacturing, storage, and other factors effecting potency and efficacy. I had experimented with different brands of probiotics off and on for seven years and each time I tried supplementing, my symptoms (gas, bloating, bleeding) worsened. Although the science behind probiotics and why they should benefit me seemed sound, my experience proved contrary. When I was nearly ready to give up on the whole subject, my naturopathic physician Dr. David Wang, convinced me to try Natren brand probiotics. He insisted they were the best brand he knew of and that I would see good results from them. I started with just Natren’s Bifido Factor powder (Bifidobacterium bifidum Malyoth strain) and