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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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. 

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.

NYBC’s Quick Guide to Gastrointestinal Health

A number of NYBC members and visitors to our website and blog have asked us to reprint the NYBC “Quick Guide to Gastrointestinal Health,” which first appeared in the Winter 2009 issue of our free newsletter THE SUPPLEMENT:

NYBC’s Quick Guide to Gastrointestinal Health

Gastrointestinal or gut health is basic to overall health, whether you’re talking about how well you feel on a daily basis (nausea, cramps, diarrhea, etc. being among our least favorite experiences), or the importance of properly absorbing food that you eat and thereby supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy over the long term.

Gastrointestinal health can also be a complicated issue, since gut disturbances may stem from many different causes, whether it’s a bug picked up from poor food handling practices, a side effect of medications, or one of the symptoms of an underlying disease or infection (such as HIV) that requires treatment in itself. Identifying the root cause or causes of gastrointestinal problems can be a major challenge, and of course we urge you to work with your healthcare provider to sort that question out, especially if your condition lingers, becomes acute, or has an impact on your ability to go about your daily life.

Below we present various tips, tricks, news and research notes, all designed to help you maintain good gastrointestinal health, or find help when things are not going so well in your digestive tract.

Probiotics. These are “friendly” microorganisms that can re-balance the ecology of your gut. Probiotics are well-known for their benefit to digestive health, and especially for their ability to resolve some types of diarrhea. Here are the major types stocked by NYBC: bifidus (as Bifidus Balance/Jarrow); lactobacillus/bifidus (as Jarrodophilus/Jarrow—needs refrigeration); lactobacillus/bifidus (as Jarrodophilus EPS–needs no refrigeration); and Saccharomyces boulardii (as Florastor from Biocodex—needs no refrigeration).
Some NYBC members find that using Jarrodophilus every other day keeps diarrhea away. (And it’s actually cheaper than getting the probiotics from yogurt—though admittedly not quite so tasty or nutritious.) Another approach: try the green foods supplement Pro Greens (Nutricology), which has a rich variety of nutrients, but also includes a substantial lactobacillus/bifidus component. The BioCodex product Florastor, meanwhile, is most often used for antibiotic-associated diarrhea or to avoid “traveler’s diarrhea” (when started in advance of the trip).

Research note, as reported last year by John James in the online AIDS Treatment News Daily Alerts. The note deals with C. difficile, a diarrhea-producing infection that’s on the rise, and is often a lingering byproduct of antibiotic treatment: “A recent meta-analysis of 31 studies compiled and published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that S. boulardii is the only probiotic that is effective in fighting recurrent C. diff-associated disease. […] ‘Because Florastor (S. boulardii) is a yeast and not a bacteria, it is not killed by the strong antibiotics that are being used to kill the C. diff bacteria, so it survives in the digestive tract,’ says [researcher] Dr. Raymond. ‘When the ‘baby’ C. diff emerge from their spores, they are greeted by a well-colonized gut, rather than an empty playground.’”

Glutamine and other supplements to prevent diarrhea and maintain body weight. In the era of antiretroviral therapy, weight loss has become less of a problem for people with HIV. Yet maintaining muscle mass over time remains a big concern, and one key to that is controlling diarrhea, which deprives the body of needed protein and other essential nutrients.

One frequently used remedy for diarrhea is the amino acid glutamine. It has been studied for leaky gut syndrome, which results when intestinal tissues are damaged, and also has a long history of application to maldigestion in people with HIV. Anecdotally, people with protease-inhibitor diarrhea find relief using 30-40 grams per day. Start with about 15 grams per day and increase the dose until the diarrhea is controlled. A daily maintenance dose is about five grams a day. Note that glutamine is best taken in three daily doses.

Research note: A well-designed study published in the journal Nutrition found that a glutamine-antioxidant regimen was effective at helping HIV+ people with weight loss to regain body weight. The regimen included glutamine (40 g per day), along with vitamin C (800 mg), vitamin E (500 IU), beta-carotene (27,000 IU), selenium (280 mcg), and N-acetylcysteine (2,400 mg). People who took the supplements showed significant weight gain in 12 weeks, while participants taking a placebo did not.

Other supplements have also been used to counteract malabsorption and diarrhea associated with HIV and/or HIV medications:

Calcium: two Canadian studies from 2004 and 2005 re-affirm the thinking that calcium carbonate can be useful in controlling protease inhibitor-related diarrhea. Calcium supplements have long been used for this purpose by buyers’ club members; see the recommendations under “Digestive Maintenance” on the NYBC website for details.

Soluble fiber such as apple pectin, oat bran, and flax seed. For some people, soluble fiber can help food stay in the digestive tract for longer periods of time, increasing the amount of nutrients that are absorbed, and lessening bowel frequency.

Traditional botanicals/remedies for gastrointestinal health. NYBC stocks two formulas produced by the well-regarded California-based developers of herbals, Health Concerns and Pacific BioLogic. Both formulas are derived from traditional schools of herbal medicine (Chinese or Tibetan), but are also informed by modern clinical practice. Here are the indications for use supplied by the manufacturers:

Quiet Digestion (Health Concerns). Used to reduce gastric distress including pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, regurgitation, poor appetite; addresses viral or bacterial gastroenteritis as well as motion sickness, hangover and jet lag effects.

GI Tract: Gastro Regulator (formerly Digest Ease) from Pacific BioLogic. Derived from a Tibetan medicine formula, it is designed to help the function of the gastrointestinal tract, helping to optimize the course of digestion and colonic function, particularly problems arising from bad dietary habits. There may be a brief period of diarrhea or constipation at the beginning of using this product.

Recently an NYBC member called our attention to Mastic Gum, a resin traditionally used in the Eastern Mediterranean as a remedy for heartburn, and generally to protect the stomach and duodenum. Now there’s intriguing new research supporting use of mastic for gastrointestinal health and perhaps additional purposes as well:

1. A study published in 2007 found evidence that mastic could help prevent or manage prostate cancer. This prostate-protective effect may be achieved via an inhibition of nF-KB–interestingly, that’s a cellular protein that HIV also hijacks to help produce more of itself.

2. Another recent study looked at use of 2.22 grams of mastic/day among patients with Crohn’s disease (a chronic, debilitating bowel disorder). Not only did this dosage help in this small pilot study, but two markers of inflammation were significantly reduced: interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein. Again, it’s of interest that both markers are also often elevated in HIV disease.

TheBody.com booklet: “The HIVer’s Guide to Coping with Diarrhea & Other Gut Side Effects.” NYBC recommends this thorough and easy-to-read booklet, which has been reviewed by HIV specialist physicians, and also includes case studies of people with HIV who have worked through some typical gastrointestinal problems. It can be read online, or ordered from thebody.com at http://www.thebody.com/content/art13137.html.
Here’s a capsule summary of the 29-page booklet:

Gastrointestinal or gut problems–diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, gas, loss of appetite–are very common for people with HIV, with consequences ranging from temporary to very serious. This booklet takes you through the common causes: HIV meds, other meds or supplements, the effects of HIV itself, your diet, psychological triggers, or other health problems (such as parasites). It then sorts through some of the most used remedies, including over-the-counter drugs, supplements, prescription meds, or changing your diet or your HIV drug regimen.

For further information, please also see individual product entries in the “Digestive Maintenance” section of the NYBC catalog. In addition to the items mentioned above in our “Quick Guide,” you’ll also find here our recommendations in the category of digestive enzymes:

DIGESTIVE MAINTENANCE

Saccharomyces boulardii: When a Yeast is Good

Here’s a testimonial about the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii that we recently came across on the website http://www.florastories.com/. No doubt there’s a connection between the site and the product tradenamed Florastor, but nonetheless this is an important clarification for those wondering about the relationship between other yeasts and the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii.

Note that the NYBC purchasing co-op has stocked Florastor for several years, and its predecessor DAAIR imported a similar product from Europe for a decade longer. So we have accumulated a store of knowledge about its usefulness and do have confidence in the reliability of its formulation. (By the way, a Consumer Labs review last year gave Florastor good marks, confirming our view.)

Here’s the clarification about “yeast” and Saccharomyces boulardii:

Yeast. It’s a word that makes many women cringe.

And it comes as no surprise, according to Patricia Raymond, MD, board-certified gastroenterologist, author and assistant professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School. For many women, the thought of yeast conjures up bad thoughts of yeast infections.

“Before I was a gastroenterologist, I was a physician,” says Dr. Raymond. “Before I was a physician, I was a medical student. Before I was a medical student, I was a regular woman and frankly, yeast was not my friend. Anything that causes you to lose your self-confidence, lowers your self-image and destroys your sex life is not a friend.”

What many people don’t know is that there are different varieties of yeast. Candida albicans is the yeast infection-causing yeast that many women have learned to hate, while Saccharomyces is a beneficial yeast that can be broken down into different types.

For example, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a brewer’s yeast that’s used in making wine, bread and beer, while Saccharomyces boulardii is a powerful probiotic that’s been clinically shown to maintain and restore the natural flora in our small and large intestines.

“For those women who have never had a positive relationship with yeast, fear not – pharmaceutical yeast doesn’t equal yeast infection,” Dr. Raymond reports. “In the last several years, there have been more and more studies – clinical trials on humans – using yeast, using specifically Saccharomyces boulardii, and, as a practicing gastroenterologist, I have come to the conclusion that yeast is, in fact, good.”

This website entry then goes on to detail some of the main applications of Saccharomyces boulardii: preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea; managing traveler’s diarrhea; treating recurrence of C. diff (Clostridium difficile).

For more information, see the NYBC entry:

Florastor,

Saccharomyces boulardii (tradename Florastor) for C. difficile

Here’s a story on the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii from John James of AIDS Treatment News, posting at AIDS Treatment News Daily Alerts – http://www.aidsnews.org/now.

2008-04-30

Report raises C. diff concerns; yeast-based probiotic shown to help significantly reduce recurrence

Antibiotic-resistant Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection is becoming an increasingly serious problem. In principle at least, the use of a probiotic along with antibiotic treatment could make sense.

“A recent meta-analysis of 31 studies compiled and published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that S. boulardii is the only probiotic that is effective in fighting recurrent C. diff-associated disease.[reference] Additionally, an article in the March 2006 issue of Gastroenterology and Hepatology showed that use of S. boulardii provided an almost 50 percent decrease in subsequent recurrence among patients who suffered recurrent CDAD symptoms.[reference] ‘Because Florastor (S. boulardii) is a yeast and not a bacteria, it is not killed by the strong antibiotics that are being used to kill the C. diff bacteria, so it survives in the digestive tract,’ says Dr. Raymond. ‘When the ‘baby’ C. diff emerge from their spores, they are greeted by a well-colonized gut, rather than an empty playground.'”

Note: references and more detailed reporting at

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/bi-rrc042908.php

For additional information, see the NYBC entry on Florastor or other entries on Saccharomyces boulardii on this blog.

Saccharomyces boulardii info sheet on www.thebody.com

We noticed that our friends at www.thebody.com are still posting an old info sheet on Saccharomyces boulardii produced by one of the New York Buyers’ Club’s predecessor organizations, the PWA Health Group. Much of the scientific information displayed is still valid, though the Biocodex product, once available in the US only through convoluted importation processes (pioneered by PWAHG and others), is now readily available here under the tradename Florastor.

See also NYBC’s  Florastor description in our online purchasing co-op.

Here’s the introduction of the info sheet on www.thebody.com:  

Saccharomyces boulardii (SB) is a live yeast packaged in capsules and sold over the counter in Europe to treat diarrhea. Studies suggest that SB protects the gut from amebas and cholera, may keep candida from spreading, alleviates diarrhea caused by c. difficile, Crohn’s disease and diarrhea of unknown cause in PWAs, and traveller’s diarrhea.

We’ll add the capsule summary of Florastor’s utility from the NYBC website:

This “friendly” yeast has a proven ability to increase the immune response in the GI tract and has helped to control chronic diarrhea in some PWAs. Part of the way this works is to replenish vital intestinal flora that have the added benefit of competing for the site of other infections. It may be a good idea to use this product if you are taking antibiotics. One problem with chronic, long-term antibiotic use is that it can cause the eruption of a bacterial infection known as clostridium (C. difficile) which can cause serious diarrhea.