Q. Dear Terry, “I have some digestive issues and think that probiotics might be helpful. I’ve never taken them before and don’t know what to look for. What do you recommend for probiotics?” – Jamal K., Atlanta, GA
A. Dear Jamal, Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that help to keep our digestive system running smoothly. Our body is full of many types of bacteria and adding probiotics helps to ensure more of the healthy bacteria survive and thrive. Probiotics are best known for helping with digestive disturbances, including after antibiotic treatment, but they are also crucial for our overall health.
While there are many different types of probiotics out there, I believe the best kinds are human strain. Human strain probiotics means that they are naturally occurring within our bodies and many of these strains have been clinically studied.
One of the most extensively tested probiotics, Lactobacillus plantarum, has a wide range of benefits. In a clinical study, it was found to reduce IBS symptoms in 95 percent of those taking it versus only 15 percent of patients in the placebo group. This normalization of the digestive system happened in only four weeks.
Another probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, is well known for its ability to stop the conditions that lead to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A Spanish review examined the ways that probiotics address the symptoms of IBD, and named it as one of the probiotics that reduces inflammatory conditions in the digestive tract. This same review also mentioned that because L. rhamnosus appears to reduce inflammation, it can strengthen the barrier in the intestines to prevent leaky gut.
A clinical trial conducted in Bavaria found that Bifidobacterium bifidum significantly reduced IBS symptoms – including pain and discomfort, frequency of bowel movements, urgency, bloating, and improved overall quality of life.
We all need beneficial bacteria. Without them, we wouldn’t exist. I think it’s important to get probiotics that have a history of human use and work especially well in the human body. Having a “big number” of probiotics is less important than making sure you get the right probiotics.
I would take a combination of L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, and B. bifidum twice per day, or with each meal.
You may also want to consider a blend of Ayurvedic herbs that has been used for thousands of years to support digestion. These herbs help to fight inflammation, stop stomach and digestive disorders, soothe and relax intestinal tissues, bolster the ability of the liver to detoxify, and much more. I would take a combination of turmeric, greater galangal, andrographis, boerhavia, Indian laburnum, gotu kola, cyperus, licorice, East Indian sarsaparilla, long pepper, chebulic myrobalan, Indian tinospora, ginger, and curry tree each night before bed.
Terry . . . Naturally
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