Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic that has been commercially distributed for nearly fifty years as an aid to gastrointestinal health, finding a particular application to antibiotic-related diarrhea and the stubborn C. difficile infection.
The manufacturer Biocodex, which has produced this probiotic for many decades, now makes it available in the US under the tradename Florastor.
Here’s a bit of history on the use of Saccharomyces boulardii from the NYBC newsletter THE SUPPLEMENT:
In the 1920s a French microbiologist named Henri Boulard journeyed through Indochina in search of a heat-resistant yeast that could be used to ferment beverages at temperatures above 70° Fahrenheit. When he happened to observe the local population using a tea brewed from litchi fruit skins to combat diarrhea during a cholera epidemic, he was intrigued, and eventually managed to isolate the yeast responsible for this health benefit.
Since this original microbiological detective work, Saccharomyces boulardii (yes, Henri named the creature after himself!) has been commercialized, first in Europe after World War II, and more recently in the USA as well. It has been studied for many decades as a means to control diarrhea, and has shown very good results for a variety of conditions: Clostridium difficile, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, traveler’s diarrhea, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
Your gut is normally home to billions of bugs (intestinal flora), which play a significant role in breaking down food and allowing the digestive tract to absorb nutrients. You could say that Saccharomyces boulardii is a “friendly bug,” an introduced species that allows you to restore and maintain a good working set of intestinal flora in your gut. As it aids digestion, Saccharomyces boulardii can also relieve the bloating and gas that often go with microbial imbalance. Further research has also highlighted this yeast’s ability to repair the mucous membrane lining the intestinal walls and to strengthen immune function in the digestive tract.
NYBC stocks Florastor®, a freeze-dried form of Saccharomyces boulardii that does not need to be refrigerated and has a shelf life of three years. Florastor® is resistant to all commonly-used antibiotics (except anti-fungals), and so it can be taken along with antibiotic treatment to keep intestinal flora in balance. It’s also worth noting that, with a history of use spanning more than 50 years, Saccharomyces boulardii has an excellent safety record for all ages, including children.
One caution, especially important for people with HIV: if you have persistent, serious diarrhea, it’s important that you get an accurate diagnosis of any underlying problem. Simply treating yourself with Saccharomyces boulardii, even if you gain some relief, is not sufficient, since you may be overlookingv a root cause of the condition that needs to be addressed.