Important for women's health
Michael T. Murray, ND
The word probiotic is derived from the Greek language and literally means "for life. It describes the beneficial bacteria that inhabit the human intestinal tract. To a very large extent, the intestinal flora play a major role in the health of the host; therefore, probiotics can be used to promote overall good health. However, there are numerous specific uses for probiotics based upon clinical studies.
The word probiotic is derived from the Greek language and literally means “for life.” It describes the beneficial bacteria that inhabit the human intestinal tract. Women who embrace these “friendly” bacteria may find relief from some common ailments.
To a very large extent, the intestinal flora play a major role in the health of the host; therefore, probiotics can be used to promote overall good health. However, there are numerous specific uses for probiotics based upon clinical studies.
Probiotics for Urinary Tract Infections
One of the best-documented applications of probiotic supplements is in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs). In one study, women who did not have beneficial lactobacilli in their vaginal flora were 650 percent more likely to have frequent bladder infections.
A number of studies have also demonstrated the efficacy of some specific strains of lactobacilli in preventing UTIs. These results appear to be enhanced if the product also provides a cranberry concentrate rich in compounds that block adherence of bacteria to the lining of the bladder allowing them to be washed away.
Supplementing with Probiotics
The quality of probiotic supplements depends on two main factors: first, the characteristics of the strains contained in the supplement and, second, adequate viability (capable of living, developing, or germinating under favourable conditions). Viability at consumption depends on a number of factors, such as proper manufacturing and the “hardiness” of the strain, as well as packaging and storage of the product in the right amount of moisture and at the correct temperature.
Within each species of bacteria there is a multitude of strains. Some probiotic strains are resilient and strong and are able to survive passage through the upper gastrointestinal tract and inhibit pathogenic bacteria, and others are weak and cannot survive or kill pathogenic bacteria.
The dosage of probiotic supplements is based solely on the number of live organisms present in the product, therefore I recommend using products that list the number of live bacteria at expiration versus at time of manufacture. Successful results are most often attained by taking between five billion and 20 billion viable bacteria per day.
Probiotics include not only the freeze-dried bacteria in capsules available at your health food store, but also fermented foods such as yogourt, sauerkraut, and kefir. The specific microorganisms found in these products are usually lactobacilli and bifidobacteria–the major probiotics in the human intestinal tract.
Clinical Research has Noted the Health Benefits of Probiotics in the Following Areas:
Prevention and treatment of