Do probiotics adverse effects exist or are they symptoms 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…
- increased gas
- skin rashes
- 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 been 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 ingredients
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):
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.
However, for the great majority of people there are no probiotics adverse effects, period.