Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Antibiotic Antidote?
Would you recommend taking probiotics if you have to take antibiotics, and if so, how much and when?
Answer (Published 5/20/2003)

I definitely recommend taking probiotics when you're on antibiotics. Many antibiotics wipe out "friendly" intestinal bacteria that help keep your digestive system functioning normally. In the intestines and colon, these microbes help complete the digestive process, and some actually produce vitamins. There's even evidence that without normal "friendly" bacteria in the digestive tract, our immune system wouldn't function properly, and we would be less resistant to harmful bugs. Immediate effects of the disruption of normal gut flora by antibiotics are often diarrhea, cramping, bloating or other unpleasant digestive symptoms.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Supplements & Herbs - If you are interested in supplementing your diet, and want to take the mystery out of choosing vitamins, try Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. Visit today for your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

Probiotics are products containing the helpful bacteria that normally inhabit the human digestive tract, usually Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, (sometimes they are collectively called "acidophilus.") Most occur in cultured milk products, such as yogurt with active cultures or acidophilus milk. Because concentrations of desired bacteria in milk products may not be high enough to do you any good, I recommend the use of supplemental lactobacillus in liquid or capsule form. I particularly recommend the strain known as Lactobacillus GG because research shows that it survives passage through the strong acid of the stomach and actually makes it into the intestinal tract where it's needed. (One brand of Lactobacillus GG is Culturelle, sold on the Internet or in health food stores.)

Start taking probiotics twice a day with meals as soon as you begin taking antibiotics and continue for a few days after you complete your course of antibiotics.

Incidentally, in addition to preventing diarrhea associated with antibiotic treatment, probiotics have proven to be an effective treatment for diarrhea in children, travelers' diarrhea, lactose intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Related Topics

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here