probiotic capsules in hand

Probiotics Adverse Effects • Can Good Bacteria Harm You?

Do probiotics adverse effects exist or are they sym0ptoms of something else? Most people who are consuming probiotics supplements and fermented foods on a daily basis do not experience any adverse effects.

Quite the contrary, probiotics are essential for optimal health and much more important than multivitamins.

  • Research show that for most people probiotics do not cause any adverse effects whatsoever.

Indeed, our whole body is teeming with microorganisms and without them we would not survive long. Friendly microorganisms in the gut are vital to life. It is estimated that 80% of the immune system is connected to the gut! Probiotics is generally accepted in the medical community as a harmless and very efficient, natural remedy.

  • Some experience headache, skin eruptions, bloating and other symptoms. Aren’t these probiotics adverse effects?

What are probiotics adverse effects?

Some people who start consuming foods or supplements containing probiotics or beneficial bacteria experience a mild reaction. Some claim this to be “side effects.” Why does such a seemingly adverse reactions occur? There are at least three possible explanations for this. Lets look at them one at the time starting with the most common.

1. Probiotics cleansing effect

Detoxification (or healing crisis) is often mislabeled probiotics adverse effects when in reality it is a positive sign that the body is ridding itself from toxins, bacteria or waste. Detoxification means the removal of waste or toxic substances from the body and is essential to stay well. However, this cleaning process might cause mild symptoms that are labeled probiotics adverse effects.

  • Each person has a unique gut microflora, like a fingerprint belonging only to one individual.

We also carry different levels of toxins and bad bacteria in our digestive tract. Therefore, each person will have a unique response to probiotics, whether from food or supplements.

Many people who start consuming friendly bacteria do not experience any probiotics adverse effects at all. Others might have a mild reaction. Typical symptoms are…

probiotics adverse effects

Fermented Vegetables

  • increased gas
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • headache
  • skin rashes
  • eczema
  • symptoms similar to a cold

These symptoms are very common and most of them disappear after 1-3 days, but in some cases it might take a week or even two. This is completely harmless; and again, this is NOT proof of probiotics adverse effects, but rather a probiotics cleansing effect!

What to do to  avoid detox symptoms

Probiotics help clean your gut and intestine; bad bacteria die off and as they do they can release a dose of toxin which is removed in your stool. Usually you don’t even notice this happening. However, if you have more to clean out from your body and you consume large doses of probiotics, the initial reaction might be more severe. Therefore it is recommended to start with a smaller probiotic dose and slowly increase the dose, carefully monitoring how you feel.

  • The more the body needs detoxifying the stronger the reaction on probiotics will be, it’s a cleansing process.

Some people may have suffered from a chronic condition for years and when consuming probiotics the body is stimulated to rid itself from toxins and other waste materials stored in the body. These are NOT probiotics side effects; it just shows that the probiotic bacteria is doing what its supposed to do; they help keep your gut and body in a healthy balance!

  • A breakthrough study in 2010 concluded that probiotics rival the effects of those sought after by the pharmaceutical industry. Yet, with probiotics there were no adverse effects whatsoever.

That would make sense. Probiotics are natural, friendly bacteria you get when eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and fermented vegetables. People have probiotics adverse effectsbeen eating fermented foods for centuries without suffering any harmful side effects, quite the contrary. Many studies reveal that a lack of healthy, natural bacteria in modern diet is linked to the prevalence of IBS, IBD, Crohn’s, allergies, eczema, autoimmune diseases, autism, ADHD and a host of other health problems. Clearly, many health problems are “side effects” of modern living and a poor diet.

Probiotic bacteria produce organic lactic acid—these healthy acids lower the pH in the intestine, thereby promoting the growth of healthy bacteria colonizing your gut. Lactic acid also prevents the growth of bad bacteria and yeast like Candida. Natural, probiotic bacteria communicate with the cells in your gut, they create a healthy environment and this stimulates your body to start a detoxifying process; it wants to clean out waist, bad bacteria and toxins produced by harmful microorganisms, toxins and other waste. The natural state of your body is health and balance and probiotic bacteria is one major factor that strongly promote this.

When I started taking probiotics daily I got several symptoms like headache, skin eruptions and tiredness. These symptoms passed after a week or so and left me feeling refreshed, detoxified; it’s a good feeling!

  • If you want to avoid a reaction I recommend you start with a low probiotics dose and then slowly increase it, carefully monitoring how you feel.

If you will start eating fermented vegetables you should be careful because the effect can be strong of you have a lot to clean out, and many do. One tablespoon is good to start with.

2. Probiotics adverse effects because of low quality ingredientsprobiotics adverse effects

Unhealthy ingredients can cause a reaction with people who have allergies or intolerances to these substances. Even healthy individuals can get adverse reactions from unhealthy additives. Therefore, avoid unhealthy additives included in low quality probiotics supplements (however, “traces” of these substances are usually harmless):

  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Gluten

Some manufacturers add synthetic, diary-based, or gene modified ingredients. For example, many coated probiotics are treated with a polymer of acrylic acid, a synthetic chemical sprayed onto the capsule. Even though the strains of bacteria might be of good quality, synthetic ingredients can cause adverse reactions in your body.

  • Therefore: Probiotics are not the problem, only poor manufacturing principles causing unwanted side effects

Always choose probiotic supplements with high quality, natural ingredients that will not make your health suffer.

Or even better, start making your own fermented vegetables at home. I do this all the time and my family loves it—it’s simple, tasty and very health-promoting.

3. Probiotics adverse effects because of serious disease

It could be wise to first consult with your doctor or health practitioner if you suffer from serious liver problems, venous catheterization, pancreatitis or if you’re immunosuppressed; this is a state in which the immune system is suppressed by medications during the treatment of other disorders, like cancer, or following an organ transplantation.

It has been reported that such serious conditions can cause adverse reactions when taking probiotics. It’s not always clear why this happens, or even if the probiotics is to blame. The human body is very complex and especially during treatment of a serious health problem can this be seen—it’s always wise to be careful.

If you’re not sure about how probiotics might affect your condition, discuss is issue with your doctor or health practitioner before you start using it.

Always listen to your body!

This principle applies to all treatments: If it hurts or feels wrong, stop it and discuss it with your health practitioner. We are all unique individuals and how we react to any treatment or supplement depends on many factors.

The microflora in your gut is formed according to your genetic makeup, your lifestyle, how you eat, drink and sleep, you level of stress and much more. Therefore, even though you many not experience any probiotics adverse effects, your needs will be unique; you might want to try several different sources of probiotics and find what fits your body best.

Conclusion: For the great majority of people there is no such thing as probiotics adverse effects, period.


  1. Juhiena says

    Am taking probiotic for almost 6 months, and I have celiac disease. Now I have skin rash like eczema,and the eosenophyle level in my blood is very that from probiotic?do I have to continue using it?thank you for helping.

    • Ken says

      Hi juhiena:

      Sorry to hear about your problems; celiac disease with its intestinal inflammations can be very unpleasant. I have suffered from an autoimmunity condition for many years so I know how persistent inflammations can be.

      Even though one should not be dogmatic in these issues, according to most studies, probiotics do improve the quality of life for celiac patients. This is due to the fact that probiotic bacteria has strong anti-inflammatory properties. So most likely probiotic bacteria are not to blame for your symptoms.

      You probably already know that people with inflammatory conditions should avoid grains as much as possible. Please understand that you can not use probiotics to compensate for a grain based diet without suffering bad effects. This is because grains and sugars are very pro-inflammatory. And even though probiotics are anti-inflammatory, they cannot eliminate all bad effects of a diet high in starchy carbs. Also, many people with celiac disease cannot tolerate even small amounts of gluten, a protein commonly found in wheat, rye and barley.

      Are you trying to avoid or eliminate grains and sugar in your diet and at the same time as you consume probiotic foods or a good probiotic supplement? This can have a very powerful effect even though it might not completely remove all of your symptoms.

      Remember too that not all probiotics are the same. The best you can do is to consume fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kefir or yogurt. Try to avoid probiotic products from the store that contain sugar and other additives. You’ll find some good recipes and advice in other posts on how to prepare fermented foods at home. Follow the principles here to see if your supplement is of high quality.

      In general, celiac patients should be extra careful to consume high quality fresh foods, organic if possible.

    • Erin says

      Hi, Juhiena,
      My suggestion would be to stop the probiotics at once, if you haven’t already, and to be checked out by a rheumatologist.

      Please read the article below. In a very few cases, probiotics, particularly lactobacillus spp. can lead to very serious complications. Eosinophilia is not to be taken lightly. I wish you the very best,

      • Ken says

        Thank you for sharing; you are right that in rare cases you need to be careful. However, the particular report you refer to is being challanged by other researchers in February 2013. Here’s what they say:

        “A recent report in this journal suggested a causal relation between probiotic consumption and eosinophilia. In our opinion, the data presented does not suggest such a relationship. The two described eosinophilia cases have not been shown to be caused by infection and certainly not by probiotic infection. The consumed probiotics could not be retrieved in shops, so their identity remains unknown. Furthermore, the alleged consumption took place 2–4 weeks prior to the onset of the symptoms; during such time period, probiotics tend to have disappeared from the intestine. Because most probiotic health benefits are strain specific, also potential risks are strain specific. Thus, generalizing a risk to probiotics as a class is incorrect. We do, however, agree with the authors of the case report that quality control of probiotics should be rigorous. We also do not dispute that there may be certain risk groups (e.g. severely immune-compromised patients), where probiotic use should be carefully monitored. In conclusion, the data presented in the case report do not indicate that specific probiotics strains might cause eosinophilia.”


    • Ken says

      Good point Auntsandy!

      Here’s a brief summary what GAPS is all about. Dr Campbell-McBride has a clinic in Cambridge, England and works with children and adults suffering from learning disabilities, neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders and children and adults with immune disorders and digestive problems. Shes is pecialized on treatment for autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia in children.

      She has developed a GAPS treatment (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). The name shows a connection between the functioning of the digestive system and the functioning of the

      For children they start a GAPS treatment at the age of 2, 3, 4 up to 5, to give a child the best chance to completely recover from autism, from ADHD, from ADD, and dyslexia and dyspraxia.

      What happens in these children is that they do not develop normal gut flora from birth. Gut flora is a hugely important part of our human physiology. Recently research in Scandinavia has demonstrated that 90% of all cells and all genetic material in a human body is our own gut flora. We are just a shell, 10% human. We are a habitat for this mass of microbes inside us. Disturbances in this flors can cause a host of health problems.

      The GAPS diet can be summarized like this:

      1. Diet — consists of easily digestible foods dense in nutrition, including fermented foods. It takes two years to drive out the pathogenic flora, to reestablish normal flora in the gut, to heal and seal the damaged gut lining in these people and turn the gut back to being a major source of nourishment for the person instead of being a source of toxicity.

      2. Food supplements includes: probiotics and vitamins D and A in the form of cod liver oil, although sun exposure is also an important part for GAPS patients, for proper vitamin D production.

      3. Detoxification — The GAPS nutritional protocol will naturally clear out most toxins. Dr. Campbell does not use any kind of drugs or chemicals to remove toxins as it can be too drastic for some, and can produce damaging side effects. Instead she recommends juicing as a gentle but effective way of removing toxic build-up, as well as baths with Epsom salt, sea salt, seaweed powder, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda.

  2. Helia says

    I took probiotics for about a week ( Florestor ) and it raised my high blood pressure signigficantly… I have not been able to bring it down…I am kind of worried. Do probiotics usually raise blood pressure?

    • Ken says


      Sorry to hear about your blood pressure. Naturally this would make anyone worried. I’m not a doctor so I cannot give you any medical advice. And if you’re concerned you should talk to your health practitioner.

      But I can share what I know from experience. Studies on probiotics show that for those suffering from high blood pressure probiotics can lower blood pressure, not raising it. High levels of blood cholesterol strains the cardiovascular system and this can increase blood pressure. Probiotics can reduce cholesterol levels by “consuming” the cholesterol in your intestine and this can lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Also, a high blood sugar level can cause high blood pressure. Again, probiotics can reduce the blood sugar levels which can lower blood pressure.

      I’ve not come across reports of any probiotics adverse effects including raised blood pressure. I’ve not tested Florestor but I know this brand a little and it seems to be a good supplement, even though it does contains lactose and soy that can case adverse effects in sentivite persons. This supplement is a bit unusual as it contains only one active ingredient, the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii lyo that can be found on certain fruits as mangosteen. According to some studies this yeast seems to have some health benefits, although not FDA approved to treat any disease.

      Your body is very complex and each person’s gut contains a unique mixture of billions of different bacteria, both good and bad. Therefore, each individual can react differently to probiotics. As with anything else, if you don’t feel well, STOP eating it and speak to your healthcare practitioner.

      However, IF the probiotics supplement has something to do with your blood pressure, then some (remotely) possible reasons for adverse reactions might be the following:

      1. Allergy to the yeast in the supplement (will mostly cause a drop in blood pressure)
      2. Lactose intolerant (Florestor contains lactose; very unlikely the cause of high blood pressure)
      3. Allergy to soy (Florestor contains small amounts; mostly cause a drop in blood pressure)
      4. If you’re on any antifungal medication
      5. You have some problem with your intestinal lining
      6. Other drugs may interact with Florestor

      You can also try another probiotic supplement not containing lactose, soy or yeast and see how that works. I recommend Dr. Mercola’s Complete Probiotics.

      Additional causes of high blood pressure:

      Dietary changes
      An underlying health condition (secondary hypertension; tends to appear suddenly)

      Hope this can be of help

  3. Mark says


    I was taking probiotics for about 3 weeks. It felt great. I felt lighter and had more energy. However, a few days ago that changed and every day at about 4:00 pm, I would start to feel very bloated. This would last until I went to sleep late at night. The next day it is gone but starts all over again at the same time of day. I stopped taking it for 3 days now and that awful bloated feeling has somewhat got better, but not completely. What do you make of this?


    • Ken says

      Hi Mark.
      Sorry to hear about your symptoms. Bloating can be very unpleasant; I’ve had it too. What supplement do you use? What dosage?

      Each person is unique and therefore you will have a unique response to probiotics. This depends on factors like gut health, genetic makeup, level of stress and much more. You say bloating started after three weeks. Others have similar experience. This seems occur because it takes probiotics some time to transform the environment in your gut to become more friendly. Probiotics lowers the pH in your stomach which bad bacteria don’t like. When this happens bad bacteria or yeast will start to die off. This can cause bloating.

      Bloating most often means your gut is filling up with gas. With no immediate way of escape gas creates pressure and this causes a sensation that your stomach is swelling up. For most people this is completely harmless and a common when taking probiotics. I felt bloated after starting with probiotics, but I continued ntil the symptoms dissappeared. I got bloated a few times again after that but not as much. Then the bloating completely disappeared and I felt much better. This is a common scenario.

      A main reason for bloating is tht bad bacteria don’t die peacefully but release toxins. This is a good sign because the probiotic bacteria are actively cleaning out waste products and toxins. Sometimes symptoms come and go for some time until they subside. Much depends on how much bad bacteria you have and how long you’ve had it. If you would have Candida overgrowth then the reaction can be much stronger.

      Even if you stop taking probiotics the effect will continue for some time. This is because probiotics creates a healthy environment in your digestive tract where good bacteria can thrive. If you have “pockets of resistance” from bad bacteria in your gut, symptom can come and go for a while until most of the harmful bacteria is gone.

      Just as a sidenote: if your probiotic supplement contains milk products it can cause side effect as bloating if you’re unable to digest milk or have intolerance to it.

      Try lowering the dose to a level that’s more comfortable for you. Once your gut adapts you can gradually increase the dose. Remember too that if you consume much sugar and grains it will feed harmful organisms in your gut as they thrive on carbs. Many who lower their intake of sugar and grains feels that the intestine responds positively. After some weeks you can try reintroducing grains slowly.

      And of course, if it hurts or feels wrong, you should stop taking probiotics. Listen to your body!

      • Mark says

        Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. It’s good to know that the bloating is a common occurance from probiotics. I was taking Trubioitics and each capsule contains 1.5 billion. I’ve been off it for a few weeks but still get some of the bloating. I also have the urge to urinate all the time. Could this be due to the bloating? I never had this before. I get in the car to go someplace and withing 15 minutes I have a strong need to pee. I think that as the bloating issue gets better so does the urinating issue. I’ve seen my doctor about it. My blood and urine were checked and are perfect. If it continues, he wants me to see a urologist. But I was curious as to your thoughts. Thanks!

        • Ken says

          Hi Mark.

          I understand your concern. Probiotics usually help fight off inflammations/infections in your urinary tract and kidneys. For example, if E.coli bacteria are present in too high number common symptoms are cloudy urine, burning sensation, abdominal pain and frequent urination. However, your doctor is probably right, it could be wise to see a urologist just to make sure. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  4. Christine Prentice says

    Hi Ken,

    My 19 year old daughter suffers from depression and an autistic spectrum disorder (aspergers.) I had heard anecdotal reports of probiotics helping some people with these conditions so at my suggestion she started taking probiotics.

    Recently my daughter had some blood tests and saw her doctor rearding her depression and to get the results of the tests. The doctor said her liver was slightly inflamed and asked if my daughter wa taking any supplements (she is not on any prescribed medication at present and is a non-drinker.)

    My daughter told the doctor about the probioticsand he told her to stop taking them because tey may be causing her liver inflammation! I thought that probiotics were supposed to help with liver inflammatuon if anything, npt to cause it? My daughter’s cholesterol levels were also high. Again, shouldn’t probiotics help? Of course my daughter has stopped taking the probiotics on her doctor’s advice and he depressuon continues to worsen.

    Also, her psychologist refused to see her in relation to depression after two visits due to the fact she also has asperers and she is “too difficult to deal with.” The psychologist said she needs to see a psychiatrist immediately to prescribe anti-depressants but the psychiatrist also refused to see her because “we don’t see people on te autistic spectrum!”

    We live in Adelaide, Australia. It will take 2 months to see a psychiatrist specialising in aspergersand that’s not even the immediate problem-her severe depression is the problem and the doctor won’t even let her take the probiotics while she is waiting! I’m at my wits end and don’t know how to help her. Could the probiotics really be causing the liver inflammation? I couldn’t find any such link suggested in any study I could find on the internet?

    • Ken says

      Hi Christine,

      Sorry to hear about your daughter’s illness and the struggle you have. But it sounds as she has a very caring mother!

      I’m not a doctor so I can’t give medical advice. But I have done much research on probiotics because of my own health problems and I’ve consumed it for years, so I’m pretty well informed.

      About your question: can probiotics cause liver inflammation? Hepatitis is often referred to as a liver inflammation or swelling of the liver. If this is the case with your daughter, then it’s usually caused by a virus, certain medications, toxic substances, microbes, autoimmune conditions (or in some cases alcohol abuse). But such adverse effects are not cauesd by probiotics. However, it might be wise to be careful with any supplement.

      Research has revealed that autism, depression and other conditions are connected to the gut and inflammations seems to be an important, underlying factor. I want to direct you to an article I read some time ago about a successful protocol called GAPS developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Her own child suffered from autism but completely recovered with GAPS. She now treats children and adults with autism, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, immune disorders, and digestive problems. (For a GAPS brief overview, please read my reply above to Auntsandy.) Probiotics is a cornerstone in this treatment.

      Please check this articles and let me know what you think?

      Protocol to treat autistic disorders

      Check this testimonial

  5. Curtisha says

    Hello, thank you for this site! I’m a 19 year old female and have struggled with pollen allergies all my life and developed food allergies which have gotten worse over the past 8 years from the first time I bit into an apple and felt discomfort in my chest and a swelling of my throat and tonsil area and things like acid reflux which I have recently been diagnosed with.
    I now have that reaction to any fruits or vegetables and nuts that I eat (raw or cooked) unless canned, and also meats sometimes like chicken & beef. I saw allergists and skin tests shows I’m about allergic to every food, tree, animal etc tho some things I have no noticeable reaction too. I suffer from extreme bloating and so many other symptoms which lead me to researching and decided to buy the Ultima Flora 50 billion probiotic supplement. I haven’t taken one yet bcuz I have anxiety problems and am worried about side effects. So I am asking, should I start out smaller? and will it help me be able to eat healthy and like a normal person without being scared I might die from anaphylaxis (biggest fear)? Or is 50 okay to start with?

    • Ken says

      Hi Curtisha

      Sorry to hear about your health problems; I fully understand your fear of an anaphylactic shock. If you are sensitive to pollen, certain foods or other substances you should of course be very careful not to trigger a serious reaction. I’m not a medical doctor so I can’t offer you medical advice. But I’m happy to share with you what I know on the subject.

      Allergy involves a complex series of reactions involving your gut and immune system. Each individual is unique and will have a unique reaction to any treatment. But generally speaking: Probiotics is one of the best ways to treat allergies and intolerances. I’ve written a post on allergy and probiotics. This post gives you a brief overview on the matter of probiotics, your gut, how allergies develop and what probiotics can do.

      Anxiety, gut problems and allergies very often go hand in hand and can be very distressing. Often the root cause of the problem can be found in a damaged gut flora and a weakened gut lining which disturbs the immune system. Research has shown that probiotics has been very beneficial for those suffering from different kinds of allergies and intolerances. Serious probiotics adverse effects are extremely rare. A study in Jan 2013 showed that 8 weeks of eating probiotics decreased the level of allergic markers in the body. That study dealt with pollen allergy but the same applies to many other allergies. The study reported no side effects whatsoever. Many other studies show similar results with probiotics for allergies, depression, inflammation and gut problems. That includes basically all symptoms that you mention. One reason why probiotics works so well for all those symptoms is that the root cause is a damaged/abnormal gut causing a chain reaction that can results in many different symptoms.

      If you’ve never had probiotics before it is wise to start out slow to see how your body reacts. With the kind of allergies/intolerances you have, its quite possible you might get symptoms of detoxification which is normal; this shows that the probiotics are working. Taking 50 billion/day as a supplement is OK for most people. Homemade fermented vegetables can contain much more probiotics so with those you need to start off very slow.

  6. Mary says

    Is there any correlation between women’s periods and probiotics. I hadn’t had a period in 9 months, I’m 52, and then I started probiotics to get rid of fungus in my toenail which is working but then I got a period after two months on ortho biotic pills, could the probiotic have brought on the period?

    • Ken says

      Hi Mary.
      This is an interesting question. I’ve read a few reports about women who experience how their periods return after consuming probiotics for a while. Some women have reported that they have healthier periods when adding probiotics to their diet and some have had periods starting again after an early menopause.

      Even though there seems to be no clear answer as to why this occurs, it is considered a sign of good health and not in any way a negative side effect.

      As you know menopause is not a medical condition; it is a natural phase of a woman’s life. A woman is considered officially menopausal if she has not menstruated in the past 12 months. Perimenopause is a term used of the period leading up to menopause and as might already know, estrogen levels decrease significantly during this period of perimenopause.

      Sometimes a woman think that she is in menopause but then unexpectedly begin to menstruate again. Perimenopause usually begins in women who are in their mid 40s to early 50s. But some women are as young as in their mid 30’s.

      Recent research has revealed that probiotic bacteria affect your body much deeper than previously thought. Beneficial bacteria work on a cellular level and promote many body functions, including your reproductive organs. This might be a reason to why periods are starting again. However, I’m sure new research will reveal more about this in the future.

      • Mary says

        Ken, that’s exactly what I was thinking too but it’s good to hear from you, thanks!

  7. Kerry says

    I started taking the Ultima Flora 15 billion for general health and have been taking it for two weeks. I have developed horrible heartburn and reflux all day long. My diet has consisted of vegetables and salad and I have gone dairy and wheat free and have cut out flour and sugar as well In my diet. I have never had heartburn or reflux until now. Could this be probiotic related? Die off symptoms?

    • Ken says

      Hi Kerry.

      Sorry to hear about the worsening of your symptoms. I’ve suffered similar symptoms myself so I know how unpleasant they can be. About your question if probiotics can cause the side effects you mention. I’ve just completed a new post that might contain some guidance in the matter of acid reflux. Please read it and see what you think.

      • says

        I stopped the probiotics temporarily for a week and a half to see if my symptoms would improve while still following a no refined sugar/white flour/caffeine free red meat free diet and I am still having the same symptoms. How long can I expect the die off to continue as the tightness in my espohagus and reflux is very troublesome everytime I eat and even sometimes on an empty stomach.

        • Ken says

          Sometimes it can be very difficult to know what’s causing the symptoms. But it is not unusual that symptoms come and go for weeks at the time. However, there can be many causes for the same symptoms as for example hiatal hernia, a condition when parts of your stomach are stuck up in the hole of the diaphragm. For others stress triggers the same symptoms. Many people don’t chew the food properly but eat too fast and this cause acid reflux.

          In any case, finding out what’s triggering symptoms is essential to be able to treat it correctly. Some people have recorded their daily activities as what they eat, level of stress, do symptoms occur in the morning or evening? etc. This way it is possible to see a pattern and perhaps draw some conclusions. Try different foods to determine how they make you feel. Salad and fruit are healthy but can also cause the same symptoms. For example my body enjoys a bit more fat and protein but not too much green salad and fruit; these food can actually be a cause of heartburn for me. I therefore try to eat more avocado, nuts and sprouts which have the opposite effect, making me feel great. This is just an example but illustrates that it can take some “trial and error” to understand how your body responds to different foods. And of course if you feel worried, let a health specialist check your stomach.

  8. Mark medley says

    I was exposed to campybolacter which caused 5 days of fever and diarrhea.
    The fever has gone but the diarrhea continues. The dr prescribed a probiotic during the period as well as a zpack.
    It’s now day 12 and the diarrhea continues. Could the probiotic be the culprit and should stop and see if the diarrhea stops

    • Ken says

      Hi Mark
      Sorry to hear about your infection. Campylobacter poisoning is common in the US. There are different forms of Campylobacter causing disease, but a common one is C. jejuni. These bacteria secrete an exotoxin causing adverse effects like stomach cramps, pain, diarrhea, and fever. The good news is that it usually disappears by itself fairly quickly. However, in some cases diarrhea can continue for more than 10 days.

      You doctor’s recommendation of probiotics is a good way to populate your gastrointestinal tract with beneficial bacteria. It is recommended to take probiotics long after you completed the antibiotics to compensate for the loss of good bacteria. Probiotics does not cause advere effects but as it can clean out bad bacteria and toxins, this process can cause mild symptoms.

      However, a common side effect of antibiotics like the Z-PAK (azithromycin) is diarrhea. If it continues you should contact your doctor for advice about the side effects. Some people are allergic to certain antibiotics.

      • Mark medley says

        So the probiotics mild symptoms should NOT include prolonging the diarrhea ??

        • Ken says

          Sorry Mark if my previous answer was unclear on this. Yes, probiotics can cause diarrhea. I’ve had it myself. The reason is usually that you have bad bacteria, yeast, virus or toxins that need to be cleaned out, which probiotics do well. Usually symptoms are mild and don’t make you feel really sick.

          Most people who get diarrhea from probiotics have it for a day or two. In case of a bacterial infection you might have diarrhea for a week. Just as an example, researach show that on the average 63 out of 100 people who took probiotics no longer had diarrhea after three days.

          Persistant diarrhea for more than two weeks is mostly common in children, even though a few adults can get it too. The reason is most often a stubborn bacterial infection or Candida. Probiotics kill off the bacteria and this process has the side effect of diarrhea and other symptoms. Even though 12 days is longer than normal it’s not extreme in any way. I know some people that have done a thorough detox using probiotics and they got diarrhea, headache and other symptoms for several weeks. But afer compling the detox they felt great and had much more energy.

          However, if diarrhea makes you feel sick, weak, or if your body can’t retain enough fluid, you should call your doctor.

          I mentioned antibiotics also because it is a known and common cause for diarrhea.

  9. Teresa says

    Hi, I have the migraine gene and get migraines from anything fermented or aged (and a lot of other things too) I also took antibiotics for many years for acne. I’ve been having stomach issues and feel I need to start a probiotic to resolve. I haven’t been able to eat any probiotic foods for 15 years. Everyone says to stay away from probiotics due to the severe migraines it brings. Do you have any advice on a certain brand without all the additives and should I try one type of bacteria at a time?

    • Ken says

      Hi Teresa.

      It sounds as you might have advere reactions to biogenic amines. Amines are created by bacteria breaking down the amino acids in certain foods. Some amines are tyramine, phenylethylamine and histamine. They are present in some foods that are ripened or fermented as wine, beer, chocolate, coconut, and many other. Amines can cause side effecs as migraine, depression, stomach problems and other symptoms. One example is the “red wine headache” because some red wines contain high amounts of amines. Most commercially fermented foods contain amines causing adverse effects in sensative persons. However, of preparing homemade fermented vegetables or yogurt is different. Then you can control this process and use starter cultures that do not produce amines.

      It’s hard to explains briefly about biogenic amines becaues it is complicated. But a safe way to stay away from amines is to eat fresh food, organic if possible and avoid all meats that is older than 2 days. Probiotics supplements do not contain amines.

  10. Opal Crist says

    Hello. I took probiotics for 3 months and felt great. My intestines stopped cramping, my blood pressure was back to normal (I don’t take meds for it) and my cholesterol dropped 34 points (no meds here either) and it had been high for years. My problem was a skin rash that itched severely – mostly on top of my foot. It kept re-appearing and itching. I had a few rashed on my wrist and back of my hand. I stopped taking them about 3 weeks ago, but the irregularity of bowels and lower abdomen pain is returning. Could it be possible that a different brand would NOT cause this rash?

    • Ken says

      Hi Opal Crist.

      Lovely to hear that probiotics has helped you in so many ways. The benefits you mention are exactly what probiotics promote.

      About your skin rash:

      1. Skin rashes can be present when taking probiotics, often because of bad bacteria, yeast or toxins exiting your body. This is completely harmless, even beneficial and NOT any probiotics adverse effects. I have had psoriasis/eczema from childhood and when I did a detox my skin itched terribly for some time and then the eczema suddenly disappeared and the itching stopped. Eczema often affects hands and feet and can be related to problems in your gut.

      2. Skin rashes can also be a sign of allergy. Perhaps some ingredient in the probiotics supplement causes your body to react. This is usually a side effect from additives and other substances found in low quality supplements. Make sure the supplement does not contain milk products, soy or artificial coating. If you’re taking a high quality supplement and still get rashes, then chances are that you are experiencing detox symptoms. But if you suspect an allergic reaction, be very careful. Contact your health practitioner to find out what substance is causing the adverse reaction. Allergies should not to be taken lightly. Serious allergic reactions include facial swelling, lip swelling, tongue swelling or throat swelling, hives or shortness of breath. However, this is NOT probiotics side effects, but due to low quality ingredients or artificial additives.

      3. A third rare possible reason for rashes. Your gut is unique and will have a unique response to certain bacteria strains. Some supplements contain bacteria that some guts don’t like. Supplements containing more different bacteria seem to work better. One possible explanation for this is that a wider range of bacteria creates a better overall balance in your gut and intestine. In any case, it can be wise to try another supplement and see how your body reacts. The ones I recommend are Dr Mercola (10 different strains) and Bio-Kult (14 different strains).

  11. Jewel says

    I am 28 years old. I have Natures Bounty Pro biotic 100 million organisms. When I take them is seems like I burp more. I just wanted to confirm how long and how much should I take.

    • Ken says

      Hi Jewel

      Sorry it took me so long to answer your question but I was away on vacation.

      Burping is common when you start taking probiotics. The most common reason is that gas is produced in your stomach, no because of any probiotics adverse effects but a sign that the probiotic bacteria is working. It usually goes away after a few days. If burping is bothering you, try lowering the dose or take a capsule every second day. As a rule, the more bad bacteria you have in your stomach, the more symptoms you will have when taking probiotics.

  12. Lou says


    I drank about 16 ounces total of good belly probiotic mango drink for 2 days. On the eve of the second day I developed severe rashes that in a few hours time have spread throughout both arms, my entire neck, my quads, and parts of my chest and stomach. Did I consume too much? It said 8 ounces a day was fine. Also I am vegetarian, near vegan for many years. How long before the rashes disappear and what should I do to help resolve this issue quicker?

    • Ken Silvers says

      Hi Lou.
      Adverse reactions can be many and varied but from your description it sounds like an allergic reaction. The probiotic drink you mention contains a number of ingredients and it’s very hard to know for sure which one your body reacts to; if you think the drink is to blame. Allergic reactions can remain minutes, hours or days. Usually the adverse reaction stops quickly as you avoid the food triggering the reaction.

      Please do not take allergic reactions lightly! They can become severe very unexpectedly.

      For mild allergy symptoms such as rashes, over-the-counter antihistamine is usually recommended. However, if you experience severe symptoms as difficult breathing or tightness in the throat, then you should call 911.

      Good Belly Probiotics drinks probably tastes good, but it is also loaded with sugar; not your best choice if you’re concerned for your health. These kinds of probiotics drinks are popular, but cannot be compared to high quality probiotics supplements, or even better, homemade fermented foods. Sorry I can’t be of more help to you.

  13. Lynne says

    Hi, I was going to start taking probiotics and took 1 dose with my evening meal. I was feeling good physically and went to sleep at 11p.m. I awoke at 3 a.m. and I was sneezing and had a sore throat. As far as I know I had not been exposed to any one that was sick. Now I wondered if the probiotics could have brought on this sickness which lasted a week.
    Thanks for an answer. By the way I had just bought them at Healthy Options, a health food store here in Cebu Philippines.

    • Ken Silvers says

      Hello Lou

      Hard to say if your symptoms are caused by probiotics. Often probiotics adverse effects often means probiotics detox symptoms. Detox side effects are just as the symptoms you describe. Symptoms similar to a cold or even the flu are common. For most symptoms are mild. But experiencing your symptoms only after one dose seems rather fast. Such fast adverse effects can happens if the cae of much bad bacteria or Candida. Such organisms cause many side effects when killed off by probiotics.

      If this is the case with you, then symptoms can be unpleasant though harmless (actually beneficial). Symptoms disappear after a a few days to a week. Some supplements contain additives causing adverse effects or allergic reactions.

  14. Chris says

    I believe that my family (my 4 year old son and 6 year old daughter and myself) seem to have adverse reactions to probiotics. The major reaction would be severe emotional outbreaks and depression. I have heard that probiotics help with depression but in our case, it seems to cause more emotional problems. My kids were given 15 billion, then 30 billion , but every time it caused psychological reactions. We persisted for a while thinking that it might be a die-off effect but after months of no change, we had to stop the probiotics. After they stopped taking them, their emotional state was back to normal. My son is still struggling with Candida/yeast/bacteria issues in his gut , so his doctor now recommends 90 billion VSL#3 supplements. I am so scared of giving him that high count of probiotics considering his previous negative reactions to 15 billion count. Please advise.

    • Ken Silvers says

      Hello Chris.

      Sorry to hear about the unpleasant reaction. I understand your concern about possible probiotics adverse effects. It is hard to be completely sure but it could be that you are experiencing a strong herxheimer reaction, or healing crisis. This is not a probiotics side effect but can be caused by bad microorganisms in your gut.

      This can happen if the cae of Candida overgrowth (nasty!) or bad bacteria. If this is the case, adding probiotic bacteria cause Candida or bacteria to die-off. Such bad organisms don’t die peacefully, but often release powerful toxins causing adverse effects. Therefore, many adverse effects are symptoms that bad bacteria are being killed. In other words, probiotics are not causing adverse effect but bBad bacteria are.

      Research reveal a close connection between the gut and the brain. What happens in the gut can cause the brain to react with different symptoms including depression. In general it seems that children often experience a stronger reaction than adults. Science has also shown that problems in the gut are a factor for conditions like autism, ADHD and others. The point here is that the state of the gut greatly affects the mood and mental state.

      I’m not saying your doctor is wrong as he knows more than I do about your situation. And his recommendation to use probiotics is sound advise as it is a powerful way to control Candida and bad bacteria. Therefore, try lowering the probiotic dose to minimize adverse effects. A larger dose can cause an even stronger reaction and that only causes unnecessary suffering.

      So what options do you have?

      1. In the case of Candida, please remember they need sugar to survive and multiply. Therefore, Candida overgrowth often causes severe sugar cravings. Limiting your children’s sugar/carb intake is therefore a good start. Be sure to read my post on Candida.

      2. Instead of taking an entire probiotic capsule at once (VSL#3 has a very high bacteria count), try dissolving one probiotic capsule in a glass of water, milk or some other liquid; let your children take just a tablespoon at the time of this drink several times a day. At the end of the day the glass should be empty. If there is no adverse reaction, continue this for a while until a whole capsule can be consujed without side effects.

      3. Try adding small amounts of probiotic foods as yogurt (without sugar), kefir or fermented vegetables.

      4. Limit stress; Candida seems to multiply easier when the body is under stress.

      I really hope your children will get better.

  15. Dawn Fentress says

    I started taking probiotics about 1 1/2 weeks ago and I have noticed that I get am having extreme urine urgency. Could this be due to the probiotics? I am taking “Now” 8 strain – 4 billion.

    • Ken Silvers says

      Hi Dawn

      Probiotics can have a cleansing effect, which can cause symptoms.

      Similar to your stool, urine can change color and smell because of food, drink, medications or probiotics. This includes to how often you need to urinate.

      Peeing 6-8 times per day is normal. Some go more or less depending amount of liquid consumed and how active they are. Increased frequency can be caused by an overactive bladder, caffeine, urinary tract infections and other conditions. In the case of urinary tract and kidney infections probiotic bacteria strongly promote urinary tract health.

      Researchers have found that probiotics cause a range of positive biochemical effects in your body. Probiotic bacteria can change the makeup of your gut microflora increasing the number of beneficial bacteria and boosting their effects. This promotes positive biochemical changes in your body, including your bladder, bile acids, kidney functions and much more. Probiotics stimulate these functions and at the same time rid the body from unwanted waste and bad bacteria, thus healing urinary tract or kidney infections. For some with such infections, (you may not always be aware that you have one) probiotics can cause a strong urge to pee for a short time.

      So when there are many factors involvedand it’s not always known what’s causing specific symptoms like yours, unless you make some tests. However, it is important to pee when you feel the urge. But if you are in pain, or if the urine turn pink or red and you suspect it’s blood, please consult you health physician immediately.

    • Ken Silvers says


      Many detox programs include probiotics; Dr. Mercola, Dr. Oz and many others include probiotics. This is because probiotic bacteria clear the way to rid the body of unwanted waste, bacteria and other substances. Much of this waste is removed through your intestine and probiotic bacteria greatly support this process. Often detox programs also include things like lemon, Omega-3, spinach, coconut oil, kale, coriander leaves, avocado, nuts and berries. Juicing vegetables is considered very beneficial too. If you’re new to detox, it might be wise go start slowly, perhaps doing a three-day detox and then see how you feel.

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