Food for Thought on Probiotics
Like so many things involved with health, I have a tendency to get a little sidetracked while investigating treatment options, especially if it has a direct affect on me. While writing the second article in my methylation series, I really got sidetracked (I know it is not the sign of a good writer), into the area of probiotics and gut microflora. The reason for this diversion is because it affects me greatly and I know that it affects many others as well.
I had a lot of research lying around on probiotics and I find them very interesting for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that not all probiotics affect each person the same way. Also, probtioics are bantered all over the internet as a benign treatment for many things which is not necessarily true. In fact, some probiotics actually make people feel worse (in a bad way) or do absolutely nothing, wasting both time and money.
Not to try an scare anyone but experimenting with probiotics does carry some inherit risks. In one clinical trial the use of probiotics actually turned deadly when trying to treat pancreatitis with probiotics. In the study 24 deaths were reported in the group taking probtioics. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2947383/ Now I do not want anyone reading this to go and flush their probiotics down the toilet. The reason I bring this up is to emphasis that probiotics can be powerful substances that can exert a strong influence on the host person and like everything carry and small but measurable risk.
None the less I still think that there are certain questions about probiotics that beg to be asked. What if a certain combination of microflora tailored to the individual could reverse certain symptoms such as fatigue, pain, or skin disorders? What if shot gunning probiotics is not necessarily a good thing? After all, it has been found that some species of probiotics will reduce the amount of other good bacteria. It is also been found that certain mixtures of good probiotics actual fight against each other and the host would be better off taking only one the is the most needed. If you are like me then questions like these get you thinking and beg to be answered.
I have friends that have had bad reactions to probiotics and I am not talking about herxheimer (herx) reactions. This brings me to a side note regarding herxheimer reactions. Not all bad reactions are herx reactions. We have to be careful to watch for and understand the different reactions that take place. For instance one FQ sufferer relayed to me that when he took a certain probiotic he became extremely fatigued. No other symptoms, just fatigue. He attributed it to a herx reaction since when he stopped, the fatigue got better. Herx? Not necessarily. For instance many probiotics of the family lactobacillus will reduce the e. coli population in the gut. A good thing right? Again, not necessarily. Not all e.coli bacteria are bad, as a matter of fact some of the e.coli produce NADH which is a coenzyme that incorporates niacin and involved in the Krebs cycle. It is found in every cell and affects energy levels and longevity of cells. Low NADH can affect mitochondrial function. So, in theory, by reducing certain populations of e. coli in an individual it could reduce the NADH levels and fatigue could ensue.
A cautionary tale about misinterpreting symptoms. Recently a friend of mine was trying to lift a partial methylation block using targeted B vitamins. During the course of treatment she started experiencing some nasty side effects including an irregular heartbeat. At first she was attributing her symptoms to a herxheimer reaction and kept telling me that it was bacteria die-off. To make a long story short she was experiencing a low potassium level as a result of the therapy. She learned that low potassium can become very serious very quickly, she should not always attribute everything to a die-off reaction, and she should educate herself very well regarding any supplment and its possible side effects.
The purpose of this article is to supply food, or probiotics, for thought. In the coming months, while wading around in the genetic pool, I am going to research what I believe to be some of the most beneficial probiotics and if all goes well report on them.
All antibiotics are destructive to a certain point. The fluoroquinolones (FQ) inflict more damage than one can possibly realize and that damage manifests on so many levels. One of those levels is damage to the symbiotic relationship that we have with our inherited gut flora. I believe this is another area where the FQ’s put into place the groundwork for long term chronic health problems. I also believe that by targeting certain probiotic strains based on individual needs we could create individualized treatments that could help alleviate certain symptoms.