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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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

NEW! Managing and Preventing HIV Med Side-Effects

To mark its fifth anniversary, the New York Buyers’ Club has prepared a special edition of SUPPLEMENT. In it you will find a concise Guide to managing and preventing HIV medication side effects with supplements and other complementary and alternative therapies.

This is an invaluable introduction to how nutritional supplements can be used to counter those side effects that can make life miserable–or even disrupt treatment adherence–in people taking antiretroviral medications for HIV.

Read about approaches to dealing with diarrhea, nausea, heart health issues, diabetes, insomnia, fatigue, liver stress, lipodystrophy, anxiety and depression.

This FREE Guide is available online at:

http://newyorkbuyersclub.org/

On the NYBC website you can also SUBSCRIBE to the nonprofit co-op’s quarterly FREE newsletter, THE SUPPLEMENT, which continues to offer a unique perspective on current evidence-based use of supplements for chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes/insulin resistance, hepatitis and other liver conditions, anxiety/depression, osteoarthritis, cognitive and neurorological issues, and gastrointestinal dysfunction.

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

Calcium carbonate for protease inhibitor-related diarrhea

Calcium is best-known as a supplement to support bone health, but it also has a long history of use to control diarrhea, especially protease inhibitor-related diarrhea, in people with HIV.

Below are a couple of recent Canadian studies that tend to re-affirm the effectiveness of this widely used strategy. See also the NYBC entry on Digestive Maintenance, which includes two types of Calcium supplement.

Turner MJ, Angel JB, Woodend K, Giguère P. The efficacy of calcium carbonate in the treatment of protease inhibitor-induced persistent diarrhea in HIV-infected patients. HIV Clin Trials. 2004 Jan-Feb;5(1):19-24. Pharmacy Department, The Ottawa Hospital, Ontario, Canada.

BACKGROUND: Although some evidence exists to support the practice of using calcium carbonate to treat nelfinavir-induced diarrhea, there is a lack of data supporting the role of calcium in diarrhea induced by other protease inhibitors (PIs). PURPOSE: The objective of this prospective open-label study is to evaluate the efficacy of calcium carbonate in the treatment of PI-induced persistent diarrhea in HIV-infected patients. METHOD: Along with dietary advice, patients were asked to take oral calcium carbonate 500 mg twice daily for 2 weeks. Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) scale were used to assess the severity of diarrhea. Data were analyzed using paired t tests to test for differences in VAS and NCIC scores between baseline and 14 days. Pearson correlation was used to explore the relationships between change in diarrhea and patient baseline factors. RESULTS: At day 0, the mean VAS +/- standard deviation was 6.6 +/- 2.1 and decreased to 5.3 +/- 1.9 (p=.01) after 14 days. At day 0, the mean NCIC score was 1.9 +/- 0.8 and decreased to 1.2 +/- 0.9 (p=.005) after 14 days. No baseline patient factors predicted change in NCIC or VAS grade. CONCLUSION: Calcium carbonate is associated with a reduction of diarrhea in individuals with diarrhea induced by PI.

**
Rachlis A, Gill J, Baril JG, LeBlanc RP, Trottier B, MacLeod J, Walmsley S, Van der Vliet W, Belsky G, Burgoyne R. Effectiveness of step-wise intervention plan for managing nelfinavir-associated diarrhea: a pilot study. HIV Clin Trials. 2005 Jul-Aug;6(4):203-12. Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. a.rachlis@utoronto.ca

PURPOSE: Pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of a step-wise diarrhea management strategy for nelfinavir-associated diarrhea. METHOD: HIV-infected adults (CD4 count > 100 cells/mm3, and no evidence of enteric pathogens) developing symptoms of diarrhea after initiation of nelfinavir for a duration of > or = 1 month were enrolled into this 9-week prospective pilot study. Step-wise interventions, reviewed and adjusted additively at 2-week intervals, included nutritional counseling (+/- lactase and/or psyllium), calcium carbonate, and loperamide. Outcome measure included stool-form consistency, bowel movement frequency, and incidents of associated morbidity (urgency, incontinence) daily. Patient quality of life was also assessed. RESULTS: Eighteen patients completed the study. Mean daily bowel movement frequency decreased by 32%, from 2.98 to 2.03 (p = .005). Mean daily stool form shifted from a rating of 4.24 to 2.37 (p = .0001), representing a shift to firmer stools. Period prevalence of incontinence (28%) and urgency (33%) decreased to 6% each, respectively. Quality of life ratings relating to gastrointestinal disturbance and overall physical/psychosocial function were improved. CONCLUSION: The results of this pilot study demonstrated that a step-wise intensified approach may be successful in managing nelfinavir-associated diarrhea and will need to be validated in a larger scale, randomized controlled trial.