The human body is inhabited by millions of bacteria that are immensely important to human health. They live mainly in the lower gastro intestinal tract, but also on the skin, in the lungs and other parts of the body.

The Intestinal microflora is mainly made up of ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria and yeasts that live in the small and large intestines, fulfilling a variety of important functions. However pathogenic (harmful) bacteria also inhabit the intestinal tract and compete with the beneficial bacteria for space. Under certain conditions the balance of friendly bacteria to unfriendly bacteria becomes disrupted and health problems could begin to occur.

Various factors can reduce the number of friendly bacteria. This allows the pathogenic bacteria to increase and cause problems.  These factors include treatment with antibiotics.

Antibiotics are a type of medication used to treat bacterial infections. There are many different types of antibiotics. Antibiotics are very important and effective at treating serious infections; yet they can have some negative side effects. One cause of side-effects is due to the antibiotics destroying some of the body’s good bacteria too. This can lead to antibiotic-associated diarrhoea or a yeast infection.

A PROBIOTIC supplement can re-populate the intestines with friendly microorganisms to solve this.

According to the 2001 definition by the World Health Organisation (WHO), probiotics are “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

However, given that probiotics are usually bacteria themselves, they can also be killed by antibiotics if taken together. It is important to take antibiotics and probiotics a few hours apart.

The full extent to which people’s health problems might be helped by taking probiotics, has not yet been realised. Many promising lines of research are looking into a variety of potential future beneficial uses for these products.

Ruth Coetzee | M-KEM Pharmacist