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Old 12-19-2005, 08:04 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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Is it possible to be dependent on probiotics?

As I understand it, the point of probiotics is to get your gut colonized. Once you have a healthy colony of whatever, you can stop taking the probiotic.

Am I wrong? Are there reasons why a person might take probiotics every day for years at a time, or for life? Is it possible for a person to stop taking probiotics and begin experiencing the problems that led them to take them in the first place?
Old 12-19-2005, 09:12 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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The gut colonies are susceptible to change for any number of reasons. Antibiotics, most obviously, will kill off the gut flora, but your diet and water as well as any change to them - vacationing in a foreign area, for example - can also have an effect.

Dependence is not the right word here, since it implies physiological necessity, but there are reasons why probiotics may be used for long periods of time.
Old 12-19-2005, 09:56 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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Okay, to narrow the situation: a person lives in the same place, eating same food and drinking same water, and not taking courses of antibiotics or adding/subtracting any drugs from their daily regimen.

Is it possible that long-term probiotic use would make any sense, then?
Old 12-19-2005, 11:00 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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I am not a medical professional. This is only my experience.

I seem to have a problem maintaining a good gut culture. I'll take a probiotic for a couple of months, and then go off of it. Even if I don't require antibiotics, I'll need to start taking probiotics in a few months. I don't know if I'm doing something wrong, or if the good bacteria just don't like me (the bad yeast, on the other hand, LOVE me), but I do find that I start having gut problems a few months after I stop taking the probiotics. I'm just glad that it's something relatively easy to find and take.
Old 12-20-2005, 08:59 AM
Spezza Spezza is offline
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I was on a long course of anti-biotics last year and earlier this year. The doctor's solution to the "gut flora" situation was to eat yogurt everyday. One dose of yogurt, he said, was enough to replace anything destroyed by the daily anti-biotic.

So, depending on the person's diet, I suspect they would not need a pro-biotic.
Old 12-20-2005, 11:21 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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There's no such thing as eating the same food and water every day. Remember the old Greek adage about how you can't step in the same stream twice? You change every day. Your body changes every day. Your diet changes every day. Change is continuous.

There are specialty probiotics for people with lactose intolerance, like DairyCare and Digestive Advantage, that are designed to be taken every day. I doubt whether they've done medical studies showing that this needs to be done for years on end, but anyone with LI knows that it doesn't take much to disrupt the gut flora population.

I did find one article that starts to discuss this, although it is limited to infants, so obviously "long-term" is relative:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 79, No. 2, 261-267, February 2004

Long-term consumption of infant formulas containing live probiotic bacteria: tolerance and safety, by Jose M Saavedra, Adel Abi-Hanna, Nancy Moore and Robert H Yolken

To our knowledge, this is the first careful documentation of intake of live bacteria over any extended period of time in any population. The intakes studied can be used as a benchmark for well-tolerated, safe intake of these bacterial agents.

In conclusion, prolonged consumption by healthy infants of 2 formulas supplemented with live B. lactis (Bb12) and S. thermophilus at concentrations similar to those previously shown to have clinical benefits was studied. Consumption of bacterial loads in this population were as high as 1 x 108 CFU kg-1 d-1 for periods of up to 1 y, with cumulative consumption over time of up to 1 x 109 CFU/kg. Probiotic supplementation of these formulas resulted in adequate growth. The supplemented formulas were well accepted and tolerated and resulted in a significantly lower reported frequency of colic or irritability. Supplementation also resulted in a trend toward less frequent seeking of health care attention and a significantly lower frequency of antibiotic use.
Is it necessary to use probiotics on a daily basis forever? Probably not. Would it be helpful to do so? It appears to be. Would it be harmful to do so? Almost certainly not.

I don't think we can say much more with our current state of knowledge.


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