During the past few years, probiotic supplements that contain “good” bacteria that strengthen the digestive system and our immune system have gone mainstream. The market is so flooded with products that many people are thoroughly confused about which product to use. Dr. Mark Stengler, a naturopathic medical doctor who is founder and medical director of the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California, provides the following guidelines when selecting and using these products. Here is what he recommends…
Take a probiotic for a specific problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome, weak immunity, vaginal infection or diarrhea. Choose a strain that has been proven effective for that problem…
Look at the expiration date before buying. With probiotics, the fresher the better—so buy products with the furthest-off expiration date possible.
Understand the amount of bacteria. It’s natural for some bacteria to die after a product has been manufactured—and for the amount of organisms in the product to be slightly less than listed on the label. The exact amount of beneficial bacteria at the time of purchase is not as important as the species of bacteria that you choose to help your condition. To make sure that you benefit from a probiotic, choose a brand from a reliable manufacturer, such as Enzymatic Therapy, Natural Factors or Nature’s Way, which are all available at health-food stores.
Check the storage requirements. Some probiotics are stable at room temperature. If a product’s label says it needs to be refrigerated, buy it only if it has been refrigerated at the store. This could help prevent some of the bacteria from dying on the shelf before you get the product home.
Dosing for acute problems. For an acute health problem, such as diarrhea, you can safely take three to four times the recommended dose on the label to get the therapeutic benefit more quickly. Probiotics are safe for everyone.
Source: Mark A. Stengler, NMD, is a naturopathic medical doctor and leading authority on the practice of alternative and integrated medicine. Dr. Stengler is author of the Health Revelations newsletter, author of The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies (Bottom Line Books), founder and medical director of the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California, and adjunct associate clinical professor at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. http://MarkStengler.com