Most people think probiotics are healthy… But over the last few years, I’ve stopped recommending most of them. And now a brand new study reveals shocking effects from these popular supplements…
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Here’s Why You Should Think Twice About Taking Probiotics
Probiotic supplements are beneficial bacteria that can be ingested in capsules.
Thousands of studies show how some bacteria are associated with better health outcomes.
But we often overlook the importance of where these bacteria populate.
When we take oral probiotics, do the bacteria populate the right regions of the gut?
A new study shows that these supplements can cause bacteria to grow out of control in the small intestine.
(Probiotics should be further down the digestive tract for benefit.)
This “small intestinal bacterial overgrowth” (SIBO) is associated with gas, bloating, and brain fog.
These scientists conducted human research at the Department of Internal Medicine, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University. They published their results in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology.
Some bacteria produce a substance called lactic acid.
The body can deal with small amounts of lactic acid – but large amounts overwhelm our detoxification system.
As lactic acid increases, it begins to circulate in the blood and eventually gets to the brain.
Lactic acid has potent effects on the brain – causing confusion.
At higher concentrations, lactic acid causes delirium and slurred speech.
This is a well-known phenomenon seen in short bowel syndrome.
“Lactic acidosis is characterized by brain fogginess and elevated lactate and occurs in short bowel syndrome.”
The researchers in this study wanted to find out if this could also happen in people without short bowel syndrome.
“We aimed to determine if brain fog, gas and bloating is associated with lactic acidosis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).”
The study examined people with and without brain fog who also complained of gas and bloating.
“Patients with gas, bloating, brain fog, intact gut, and negative endoscopic and radiological tests, and those without brain fog were evaluated.”
They assessed all of the participants for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
“SIBO was assessed with glucose breath test and duodenal aspiration/culture.”
While bacteria can have beneficial effects further down in the gut, there should not much bacteria in the small intestine.
The study found that all of the participants who complained of brain fog were taking probiotic supplements.
“In the brain fog group, all consumed probiotics.”
People in the brain fog group (all taking probiotics) also had a much higher rate of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
“SIBO was more prevalent in the brain fog group than non-brain fog group.”
Elevated lactic acid was also found in the brain fog group – it was three times more common.
“Lactic acidosis was more prevalent in the brain fog group compared to non-brain fog group.”
So, they found a lot of associations between brain fog, probiotics, and lactic acidosis.
But were these people taking probiotics to treat these problems?
Or were the probiotics causing the bacterial overgrowth and brain fog?
The last part of the experiment answers this question.
They asked the people taking probiotics to stop taking them. Then they treated them with antibiotics.
Cessation of probiotics along with antibiotic treatment cured brain fog – and significantly reduced gas and bloating.
“After discontinuation of probiotics and a course of antibiotics, brain fog resolved and gastrointestinal symptoms improved significantly.”
The scientists believe that probiotic use could have caused the brain fog and gastrointestinal problems.
“We describe a syndrome of brain fog, gas, and bloating, possibly related to probiotic use, SIBO, and lactic acidosis.”
Brain fog is a stronger indicator of problems caused by probiotic supplements than gas and bloating.
“Patients with brain fog exhibited higher prevalence of SIBO and lactic acidosis.”
Many people believe that experiencing negative effects of supplements is a good thing – that they need to detox, or “get worse before they get better.”
In reality, if supplements make people feel worse, it’s usually a bad sign.
Bacteria that are beneficial lower down in the gut can be harmful if taken by mouth – because they overgrow in the upper part of the gut.
Often, once you have created this problem, you need antibiotics to treat it properly.
“Symptoms improved with antibiotics and stopping probiotics.”
Antibiotics have very specific effects on different bacteria.
No two antibiotics are the same.
And some antibiotics can have very serious side effects.
You should always consult a healthcare professional about treating and diagnosing health problems.
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- Brain fogginess, gas and bloating: a link between SIBO, probiotics and metabolic acidosis
- What is brain fog? An evaluation of the symptom in postural tachycardia syndrome.
- Is that brain fog really adult ADHD? - Harvard Health