Why should I take probiotics alongside antibiotics?

There are many different types of antibiotics. Some are broad-spectrum, meaning that they act on a wide range of disease-causing bacteria. Others are designed to kill certain species of bacteria.

Both types can have a number of side effects, including tiredness and antibiotic associated diarrhoea (AAD) caused by an overgrowth of diarrhoea producing bacteria. They have a negative effect on our gut bacteria (microbiota) and taking too many antibiotics can drastically change the amounts and types of bacteria in our gut, potentially leading to an overgrowth of the ‘bad’ types of bacteria and causing an imbalance known as dysbiosis.

Why should I take probiotics alongside antibiotics?

As probiotics can help to stimulate immunity, produce antimicrobial substances, compete for nutrients with pathogens and inhibit harmful bacteria from attaching to the gut lining, they are helpful both during and after antibiotic therapy.

A large number of studies have shown that taking probiotics alongside antibiotics can reduce the risk of AAD and help maintain the balance of healthy bacteria and reduce the risk of dysbiosis.

One study that used ProVen Probiotics 25 Billion products, investigated the use of probiotics both during and after antibiotics and the group who took probiotics alongside antibiotics had more stable levels of microflora and less gut dysbiosis both during and after the course[1].

As well as taking probiotics, we would recommend the following both alongside and following antibiotics (and as part of a healthy diet generally):

  • Further supporting microbial balance by eating fermented foods daily - they contain huge numbers and varieties of probiotic species and can help to support the microbiome. Include kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, natural yoghurt and pickled vegetables.
  • Feeding the microbes with fibrous prebiotic plant foods – including leafy green vegetables, garlic, onions, leeks, bananas and Jerusalem artichokes
  • Eating foods that support gut health generally - including bone broth, stewed apples, flaxseed, healthy fats (such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado)
Note: always take the probiotics at least two hours away from the antibiotics to ensure the greatest chance of survival for the probiotic bacteria.
[1] Plummer S et al 2005. Effects of probiotics on the composition of the intestinal microbiota following antibiotic therapy. Int J of Antimicrobial Agents 26:69-74​ and Madden JAJ et al 2005. Effects of probiotics on preventing disruption of the intestinal microflora following antibiotic therapy: A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Int Immunopharmacology 5:1091-1097​