Effectiveness of Saccharomyces boulardii (a probiotic) for antibiotic-associated diarrhea and for C. difficile infection

A good recent review of the effectiveness of probiotics highlights especially the value of Saccharomyces boulardii for diarrhea associated with antibiotic treatments, and for C. difficile infections (a common, and often quite stubborn, gastrointestinal infection). This review, published in 2009, pools data from a number of studies to draw its conclusions. The author first focuses on antibiotic-associated diarrhea, which is a common side effect of many currently used antibiotics, occurring in up to a third of patients being treated. In the second place, the review looks at C. difficile infection and the clinical evidence for the effectiveness of probiotic treatments. In the case of both antibiotic-associated and C. difficile-associated diarrhea, the author concludes that Saccharomyces boulardii has shown effectiveness as a treatment. Among the other findings of this article: probiotic treatments have a very good safety profile and therefore can be recommended widely; and it is very important to treat using probiotics with documented high quality/potency standards in order to insure beneficial outcomes.

Read more about dosage and uses of Saccharomyces boulardii in the NYBC catalog, which now includes two different choices, both from high-quality producers:

Saccharomyces boulardii – Jarrow

and

Florastor – Biocodex

Reference:

McFarland, L. V. Evidence-based review of probiotics for antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile infections. Anaerobe/Clinical microbiology 15 (2009) 274–280.
Accessed at http://www.idpublications.com/journals/PDFs/ANAE/ANAE_MostDown_1.pdf

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CATIE booklet on side effects

CATIE, the venerable and sharp Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange, has once again provided a terrific manual entitled A Practical Guide to HIV Drug Side Effects (link – http://www.catie.ca/en/practical-guides/hiv-drug-side-effects ).

The booklet, available as a pdf by clicking the link above, covers a wide array of topics. The language is clear and the layout is easy to follow. They provide information on mainstream medical and “alternative” or natural remedies to manage what can be debilitating side effects of HIV therapy.

Topics covered include the range found in the table of contents:

This Guide Is One Tool to Healthy Living
4 Dealing with Side Effects
8 My Health Map
10 Body Weight and Body Shape Changes
14 Diarrhea, Gas and bloating
17 Emotional wellness
21 Fatigue
24 Headaches
27 Menstrual changes
31 Mouth and throat problems
35 Muscle aches and pains
38 Nausea, vomiting and appetite loss
42 Nerve pain and numbness
44 Rash and other problems of the skin,
hair and nails
47 Sexual difficulties
49 Sleep problems
53 Less common side effects: lactic acidosis,
pancreatitis and abacavir hypersensitivity
55 Appendix: Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D
57 More Resources

Probiotics found effective for antibiotic-related diarrhea

A recent review article that pooled findings from more than 11,000 patients concluded that probiotics were effective for preventing and treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea. About 30% of people treated with a course of antibiotics develop diarrhea, so this is a significant medical issue. Types of probiotics reviewed include Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii; both were found effective. See NYBC’s entries under Probiotics for details on how to use.

Reference: Hempel S, et al “Probiotics for the prevention and treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhea: a systematic review and meta-analysis” Journal of the American Medical Association 2012; 307: 1959-1969

Florastor: a probiotic for many types of acute and chronic diarrhea

For many types of acute and chronic diarrhea, the probiotic Florastor can be recommended as the best natural approach. Florastor is the tradename of Saccharomyces boulardi lyo (lyo = freeze dried, the best means for preserving the effectiveness of this probiotic species; also means that Florastor is shelf-stable at room temperature).

Here are the main indications/conditions for which Florastor/Saccharomyces boulardii has been investigated:

Acute Diarrhea
A controlled study found a significant reduction in symptoms of diarrhea in adults taking 250mg of S. boulardii twice a day for five days or until symptoms were relieved.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A placebo-controlled study found that patients with diarrhea due mainly to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) had a significant reduction in number and consistency of bowel movements.
Suggested dosage is 250mg twice daily.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Florastor benefits for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) include: 1) prevention of relapse in Crohn’s disease patients currently in remission and 2) improvement for ulcerative colitis patients with moderate symptoms. Suggested dosage is three 250mg capsules a day.

Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea
Some evidence for its usefulness in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) in adults. Suggested dosage: 250mg twice a day with the standard antibiotic course.

HIV/AIDS-Associated Diarrhea
Saccharomyces boulardii was shown to significantly increase the recovery rate of stage IV AIDS patients suffering from diarrhea. On average, patients receiving S. boulardii gained weight while a placebo group lost weight over the 18 month study. There were no reported adverse reaction observed in these immunocompromised patients.

Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection
Two 500mg doses per day of Saccharomyces boulardii when taken with one of two antibiotics (vancomycin or metronidazole) were found to significantly reduce the rate of recurrent Clostridium difficile (pseudomembranous colitis) infection. However, note that significant benefit was not found for prevention of an initial episode of Clostridium difficile-associated disease.

For more on Saccharomyces boulardii, see the NYBC entry:

Florastor

Note that non-member price is $30, but member price is NOW ONLY $29. (NYBC Membership costs $5, $10, or $25 per year, depending on income.)

Some references (there are many more, since Saccharomyces boulardii is among the most-studied probiotics):
–Höcher W, Chase D, Hagenhoff G (1990). “Saccharomyces boulardii in acute adult diarrhoea. Efficacy and tolerance of treatment”. Münch Med Wochenschr 132: 188–92. 
–McFarland L, Surawicz C, Greenberg R (1994). “A randomised placebo-controlled trial of Saccharomyces boulardii in combination with standard antibiotics for Clostridium difficile disease”. J Am Med Assoc 271: 1913–8. 
–Maupas J, Champemont P, Delforge M (1983). “Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with Saccharomyces boulardii: a double blind, placebo controlled study”. Medicine Chirurgie Digestives 12(1): 77–9. 
–Guslandi M, Mezzi G, Sorghi M, Testoni PA (2000). “Saccharomyces boulardii in maintenance treatment of Crohn’s disease”. Dig. Dis. Sci. 45 (7): 1462–4. PMID 10961730. 
–Guslandi M, Giollo P, Testoni PA (2003). “A pilot trial of Saccharomyces boulardii in ulcerative colitis”. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 15 (6): 697–8. doi:10.1097/01.meg.0000059138.68845.06. PMID 12840682. 
–Saint-Marc T, Blehaut H, Musial C, Touraine J (1995). “AIDS related diarrhea: a double-blind trial of Saccharomyces boulardii”. Sem Hôsp Paris 71: 735–41. 

Supplements for Diarrhea and Malabsorption

We’re reprinting below the NYBC recommendations
for supplements that address the common gastrointestinal
problems of people with HIV:

Diarrhea. This is one of
the most common side effects of
antiretroviral drugs–especially protease
inhibitors. When it occurs, make
sure to drink plenty of (healthy) fluids
to replace electrolytes (potassium,
sodium, and magnesium ions) and
prevent dehydration. Avoid sugary
and/or caffeinated beverages.
One of the simplest remedies: bananas!
Adding a yogurt with active
cultures to your regular diet can also
improve diarrhea. In addition to adding
beneficial flora to your gastrointestinal
tract, yogurt is nutritionally
rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin,
vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

However, for some, dietary changes may
not be enough to control the diarrhea
Supplements to consider in treating
diarrhea associated with protease
inhibitors include calcium, and glutamine
(up to 20-40 grams daily for
diarrhea while it persists). There are
some clinical data to support these
interventions. A note of caution: calcium
carbonate works fine but should
be avoided if you are using atazanavir
[Reyataz].

If diarrhea is associated with the use
of antibiotics, go probiotic! Use acidophilus,
bifidus or Saccharomyces
boulardii
(Florastor) to control C.
difficile (a problem frequently encountered
with antibiotic use) and to improve gut function.
Use of digestive enzymes may also help to improve
digestion (e.g., lipase, protease, amylase, and
lactase).

Malabsorption is the difficulty in digesting or
absorbing nutrients from food. It’s a widespread
problem among HIVers, and a serious
one at that. HIV disease damages the
guts, where it is estimated that 80%
of the disease “lives,” hindering the
digestive tract’s ability to absorb nutrients
(or meds). Additionally, many
HIVers actually have too little acid
in their stomachs – a little-discussed
condition. This can cause the sphincter
at the opening of the stomach to
fail to close properly, resulting in
GERD: gastro-esophageal reflux disorder.
In general, gut function can be
improved with probiotics such as
acidophilus and bifidus, as well as
2-5 grams of glutamine, taken daily.
Further, digestive enzymes that help
break down fats, carbs and proteins
may be useful in promoting better
absorption. Again, a good diet and
a potent multi are important starting
points!

See the NYBC entries for more detailed
recommendations regarding these supplements:

Glutamine Powder:
http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=49&products_id=128
or Glutamine Caps:
http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=49&products_id=127

Douglas Vegetarian Enzymes:
http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=49&products_id=264
Jarro-Zymes Vegetarian Enzymes:
http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=49&products_id=335

Ultra Jarro-Dophilus (probiotic):
http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=354
Jarrodophilus EPS (No refrigeration needed):
http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=199
Saccharomyces boulardii (Florastor):
http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?products_id=217

Symptoms common, often ignored by docs

A recent report underscored the myriad symptoms and problems facing significant numbers of people living with HIV. The study involved 751 patients enrolled in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study, undertaken between 1999 and 2000. Commonly reported symptoms included fatigue (71%), difficulty sleeping, depression, muscle aches and diarrhea (each reported by 60% of the respondents). Over 50% of patients reported headache, difficulty remembering, tingling hands or feet (neuropathy), weight loss and body shape changes.

The worry is that some may be associated with meds and this may reduce adherence to drug schedules. This can lead to resistance, etc. Which is why we at NYBC take very seriously the methods and means that may be available to manage some of these side effects. Diarrhea has been managed in studies that investigated agents like calcium and glutamine. Acetylcarnitine has some benefit for nuke-related neuropathy. You can review our literature on what we know (and need to learn more) about such interventions along with the different symptoms and side effects people experience and how they can be managed.

The study included about 54% African American. The study noted that healthcare providers often don’t recognize these as important symptoms. Perhaps this is why there is a strong racist element within American health care, one that arises out of blindness and ignorance as much as any overt hostility.

The second aspect of such care is that many people, of every ethnicity, are economically impoverished. So how can many people access sometimes costly, nearly always out-of-pocket agents like acetylcarnitine? NYBC is working on ways to make this possible, though we will need additional help to assure such access. State-run programs like ADAP and Medicaid can help in some states–but many of these programs are facing cuts due to tight budgets. Tight budgets induced by banks getting a socialized bailout for their malfeasance while Americans suffer?

So political activism will remain a key component in any comprehensive effort to provide care and treatment that includes the types of agents NYBC investigates and makes available. Ongoing research into dietary supplements and the ways in which they may improve health outcomes, enhance adherence to medications, reduce side effects and lower the burden of public costs by reducing morbidity and mortality are keenly needed.

Top search terms bringing visitors to this blog

Dear NYBC Blog Reader,

Thought you might be interested to see some of the most popular search terms that brought people to the New York Buyers’ Club Blog in the past year:

1. “Saccharomyces boulardii C difficile”
2. “glutamine ulcerative colitis”
3. “cholesterol lowering supplements”
4. “B vitamins depression”
5. “HIV Vitamin D”
6. “vitamins for neuropathy”
7. “Tylenol antidote”

And here, in very brief form, is the information these searchers found on the NYBC Blog:

Saccharomyces boulardii, which NYBC stocks in the form of Florastor, appears in a recent study to be the best probiotic for the stubborn gastrointestinal infection C. difficile.

Glutamine has shown effectiveness in reducing symptoms of ulcerative colitis and other gastrointestinal conditions in a number of research studies.

Plant sterols, fish oil, niacin, pantethine have been studied for cholesterol control.

B vitamins strongly affect mood and memory, and addressing a B vitamin deficiency can improve depressive symptoms.

Vitamin D deficiency is widely prevalent among people with HIV, and supplementing with 1000IU/day of D3 plus 1000mg/day of calcium may be a good way to support bone health for people taking HIV meds. Other research has noted the link between Vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and susceptibility to cold and flus.

Acetylcarnitine, alpha lipoic acid and evening primrose oil are among the supplements studied for diabetic or HIV-related neuropathy (pain, tingling in feet, hands).

NAC (N-acetylcysteine) is used as the antidote to acetaminophen overdose. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol and is added to many other over-the-counter drugs, so overdose leading to liver damage or liver failure has become common in the US.