Welcome to another Self Care Sunday! I really enjoy our time together each Sunday as we pause and reflect on ways to improve our health: physically, emotionally and sometimes even spiritually. This week, let’s have a probiotic discussion, focusing on Saccharomyces boulardii. I just had Lasik surgery on my eyes which is one of the best decisions I have made, but every surgery comes with its cost. Even with this quick eye surgery, I find myself using an ophthalmic antibiotic four times a day for seven days. I don’t like to take antibiotics, but I also do not want to risk an eye infection. Is there a way to support our bodies when we have to take antibiotics? Yes, and it is Saccharomyces boulardii.
The antibiotic is ciprofloxacin, and it is in an opthalmic suspension, which just means that it is eye drops. While I do like the fact that I am putting the antibiotic directly where I need it, as opposed to taking an antibiotic in pill form; I can still feel a difference just with the eye drops. After applying the eye drops, within a few minutes, I can smell their medicinal odor and then I begin to taste it as well. It is an unpleasant smell and taste, but more importantly, it reminds me that these medicines are impacting my entire body, not just my eyes.
The Problem with Antibiotics
Our gastrointestinal microflora (gut microbiome) is full of bacteria, yeasts and other microorganism that live within our digestive tracts. Some are good (nonpathogenic), and some are bad (pathogenic). We have a problem when the bad guys outweigh the good guys. This can lead to gatrointestinal disease.
Studies show that our gatrointestinal microflora is a main regulator of our immune system within the gut and other major organs. (Source)
About 80% of our immune system lies within our guts. Once our gut microbiome is compromised, it is easy to see that our immune system is compromised as well. And no one wants a compromised immune system. Are you with me? Autoimmunity is when the body’s immune system reacts inappropriately by seeing a part of the body as an enemy and attacking it. Essentially, the immune system turns on its own body with very damaging results. This is why so many people with an autoimmune disease (such as myself) change their diets and seek to restore gut health.
The problem with antibiotics is that they are completely nondiscriminatory. Antibiotics wipe out both the bad bacteria and the good bacteria. Once the slate is wiped clean, it can be much easier for the bad bacteria to take hold and proliferate moving forward.
A body where pathogenic bacteria and yeasts have taken over is a body in a world of hurt.
A bigger issue with antibiotics is the fact that we are just beginning to see how they can impact pathogenic bacteria in such a way that actually makes it stronger. Antibiotics have been used so extensively that the infectious organisms they are designed to kill are adapting to them, making the antibiotics ineffective. This research is concerned with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria or “super bugs”.
According to the CDC, each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people contract an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 die. That’s right…each year.
Naturally, the first defense for combating antibiotics is to not take them unnecessarily. The CDC studied the 262 million people received antibiotic prescriptions from physicians, and they estimated 30% were unnecessary (Source).
But, what if you do have to take antibiotics? If you have surgery, or a severe infection, antibiotics may be necessary. If you do have to take antibiotics, then it is a good idea to understand how to support your gut microbiome throughout the process.
Highly Recommended Probiotics
As soon as we begin to talk about the gut microbiome, most people now recognize the importance of probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria found in the digestive tract that help the body to absorb nutrients and support immune system function, as we already discussed. Probiotics can be related to digestive health, skin health and immune function. Additionally, having abundant probiotics in the gut also keeps the pathogenic bacteria and yeasts in check. Prebiotics are also becoming a common term – prebiotics are the food source for the probiotics to keep them working well.
We get our first probiotics from our birth mothers – it is a part of the passing through the birth canal process. You literally get what your Momma gives you. C-sections bypass this process, which is why it is especially important to focus on probiotics and gut health for these babies.
After that process, we gain probiotics from what we eat, including fermented foods. However, most of us do not eat a lot of fermented foods, or as we discussed, we face a round of antibiotics that will reduce our probiotics.
The next step is to start taking probiotics as a dietary supplement.
Reader, I have tried just about all of the probiotics that came highly recommended to me, including plenty of options that contain soil based probiotics and some refrigerated options. I have tried products like Prescript Assist, Bio-Kult and Garden of Life Probiotics, which have great contents and work for a lot of people.
But, I just never felt any different with them. That is when I decided that I needed to do more research, which lead me to Saccharomyces boulardii.
What is Saccharomyces boulardii?
Saccharomyces boulardii is a nonpathogenic (good guy) strain of yeast. It is not a bacteria, it is a yeast. It is used as a probiotic and dietary supplement.
Why is Saccharomyces boulardii Effective?
Now we have come to the heart of this matter. What makes Saccharomyces boulardii so different from other probiotics? To start, it is a yeast, not a bacteria. When you take an antibiotic, it will kill the probiotics in your gut, which include the good bacteria. Because it is a yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii is not affected by antibacterial agents – meaning that antibiotics will not wipe it out. It has proven itself in clinical studies to prevent Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea (Source), a possible side effect of taking antibiotics as they wreak havoc on the gut microbiome. Saccharomyces boulardii can be taken in conjunction with antibiotics without losing its effectiveness like other probiotics based on bacteria.
Other Benefits of Saccharomyces boulardii
Saccharomyces boulardii uses several mechanisms of action including “regulation of intestinal microbial homeostasis, interference with the ability of pathogens to colonize and infect the mucosa, modulation of local and systemic immune responses, stabilization of the gastrointestinal barrier function and induction of enzymatic activity favoring absorption and nutrition” (Source).
- It is stable at body temperature (one of the few yeasts that does best at our body temperature).
- In the lyophilized (shelf-stable) form, it survives gastric acid and bile (it won’t be destroyed in the stomach before it gets where it needs to go).
- It releases an enzyme that splits C. difficile toxins and toxin intestinal receptors
- Found to reduce the risk of traveller’s diarrhea and other forms of diarrhea.
- It shows reduction in Crohn’s symptoms and lessen recurrences once in remission.
- Helps to prevent or treat several gastrointestinal diseases. (Source)
What is my experience?
I take this supplement, which is the shelf-stable form of Saccharomyces boulardii. I actually feel a difference taking this as a probiotic that I did not feel with other probiotic options. A big key for me was understanding that I had a candida (pathogenic yeast) problem. It took me a lot of time to overcome it, and I am still susceptible to relapse, but the S.b. was a huge help to me with the candida issue. Also, I love to know that I can take it confidently now to support my gut through my round of antibiotics.
The next time you have to take antibiotics, I hope you consider reaching for some S.b. too! Thanks so much for joining me! I hope this article adds to your understanding of antibiotics, probiotics and Saccharomyces boulardii!
For further reading on the topic…
Want to understand your risk for an antibiotic-resistant infection? Read Dr. Mercola’s Many Prescribed Antibiotics Are Unnecessary and Cause Damage