Probiotic supplements are widely available and are sometimes promoted as a general way to support the gut microbiome and promote health. But a higher bar for probiotic use exists in medical settings, where probiotics are more apt to be used for specific purposes.
A new publication in the Journal of Family Practice summarizes the latest evidence on using probiotics for a variety of specific health conditions, providing practical recommendations to assist primary care physicians in advising their patients and answering questions about probiotics.
The article, authored by current International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics board members Daniel J. Merenstein, MD, Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, and Daniel J. Tancredi, PhD, shows evidence supporting the use of probiotics for the following health issues: prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, reducing crying time in infants with colic, improving the effectiveness of antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis, reducing the risk of Clostridioides (formerly Clostridium) difficile infections, treating acute pediatric diarrhea, and managing symptoms of constipation.
"Probiotics are not the same as drugs, but it's still important for physicians to recommend them in an evidence-based manner," says lead author Dr. Daniel J. Merenstein, Professor of Family Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. "In this article, we summarize the evidence that has emerged in the scientific literature, getting as specific as possible about which probiotic strains are appropriate for which health indications."
In addition to practice recommendations for primary care physicians, the article includes a table of probiotic strains with evidence supporting their use; answers for patients' frequently asked questions; and examples of probiotic recommendations by global medical organizations.