Prebiotics: Feeding the Good Guys Bacteria require a diet high in complex sugars
(polysaccharides). It has been found that some of these sugars selectively enhance the growth of the good bacteria and cannot be used by the bad bacteria for food. the harmful bacteria called Clostrium difficile and Proteus cannot metabolize
fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), whereas beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can. Unfortunately, one of the bad bacteria, called Klebsiella, can also metabolize FOS. When bad bacteria overgrow in the colon, digestion is impaired, leading to fermentation of undigested carbohydrates that can lead to bloating, flatulence, diarrhea/constipation and fatigue. Under such circumstances, people become intolerant to
soluble fiber in high fiber foods, which worsen the fermentation. The beneficial carbohydrates are called prebiotics and include FOS, lactoferrin and arabinogalactan.
The latter is a fiber found in high concentrations in American larch trees and, besides feeding the good bacteria, it also stimulates immunity. Some cautions to keep in mind: People with autoimmune diseases should not take arabinogalactan. If you have documented yeast overgrowth (Candida species) you should not take FOS since it also feeds yeast organisms. Another excellent prebiotic is lactoferrin which does not feed
yeast or pathogenic bacteria. You can get FOS from Vitamin Research Products,
Inc www.vrp.com and arabinogalactan from www.vitacost.com.
Not All Probiotics Are the Same A wide variety of organisms are sold as
probiotics, but studies have shown that not all are effective. Some are very sensitive to stomach acid and are killed before they reach the colon, while others are acid resistant.
Yogurt has long been a popular source of probiotics. One recent study tested 20 volunteers using yogurt containing viable probiotic organisms and found that the organisms reached the colon alive. Another study of babies with diarrhea found that probiotic-containing yogurt reduced hospital stays, reduced frequency of diarrheal stools, and
improved weight gain. A recent study found that Lactobacillus was much better at promoting the production of protective mucin in the GI tract than all of the other organisms tested. In mice, it was found that Lactobacillus salivarius was better at reducing gut
inflammation than other species. For treating pediatric diarrhea it was found that
Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus sporogens, and Saccharomyces boulardii (a form of beneficial yeast) were the most effective. Another study found that Lactobacillus rhamnosus was effective in treating childhood diarrhea. Likewise, this same species
was found to rapidly restore normal permeability in cases of leaky gut syndrome, where food particles enter the blood stream from holes in the GI tract. It also suppresses Candida yeast infections. People with sick GI tracts, especially those having the leaky gut syndrome, are at a high risk of having bad bacteria in the intestine pass through the
microscopic hole in their intestine, enter the blood stream and cause infections in other organs and tissues — even the brain. This is a major problem during surgery and a major cause of post-operative infections. Studies in which these colon bacteria were tagged
with radioactive labels have shown the bacteria entering the blood stream and traveling all over the body. Probiotics help prevent this process in patients undergoing major gastrointestinal surgery. In a recently published study, it was found
that Lactobacillus paracasei helped prevent gut inflammation. The number of organisms in a probiotic supplement is vital to success. In general, the dose should contain at least 5 billion organisms total.
one probiotic supplement that seems to meet all the requirements for a good
probiotic, and that is Theralac (www.theralac.com). This probiotic product contains 20 billion organisms from 5 species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria as well as two prebiotics — lactoferrin and a patented LactoStim. Of particular importance is that the
capsules are stomach acid resistant so that all of the organisms arrive in the colon alive.
Theralac contains some of the most beneficial species, including Lactobacillus paracasei,
Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobactrium lactis and Bifidobactrium bifidum. The Lactobacillus GG can be purchased from
Vitamin Research Products at www.vrp.com. Bladder Infections,
Vaginal Yeast Infections Probiotics can significantly reduce the incidence
of bladder infections, especially in women. Most effective was the Lactobacillus rhamnosus as found in Theralac. There is strong evidence that when the vaginal flora (good bacteria) is reduced, bladder infections become more common. Ironically, bladder infections of any kind that exist before surgery are one of the more common sources for wound
infection after the operation. Few doctors know this. A study conducted by the Department of Urology at a medical university in Japan found that vaginal suppositories containing Lactobacillus strains of probiotics significantly reduced urinary tract infections in women. Douches in which Lactobacillus organism were added to lukewarm water have also been effective. A number of women suffer from vaginal infections (called vaginosis) that can lead to painful intercourse, foul discharges, and itching. While yeast is the leading cause of this condition, sometimes harmful bacterial overgrowth is the problem. Normally, much like the colon, the vagina is inhabited by beneficial bacteria that suppress yeast and pathogenic bacterial growth and protect the urinary tract as well. It is ironic that women are told to use douches containing bacteria-killing betadine or other antibacterial agents. These douches also kill the good bacteria. If betadine douches are used to clear harmful bacteria, they should be followed in a few days by probiotic douches. The mucus in the vagina
normally is slightly acid, which benefits the growth of the good bacteria, so commercial acid douches are beneficial. Broad-spectrum antibiotics not only kill the good
bacteria in the colon, but also in the vagina and mouth.
Only the dried form of buckthorn berries and bark should be used. Capsules providing 20 to 30 mg of anthraquinone glycosides (calculated as glucofrangulin A) per day can be used; however, the smallest amount necessary to maintain regular bowel movements should be used.4 As a tincture, 5 ml once at bedtime is generally taken. Usually buckthorn is taken at bedtime, so it will have time to act and by morning a bowel movement is induced. It is important to drink eight six-ounce glasses of water throughout the day while taking buckthorn, and to consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Buckthorn should be taken for a maximum of eight to ten days consecutively or else it can lead to dependence on it to have a bowel movement.5 Some people take peppermint tea or capsules with buckthorn to prevent griping, an unpleasant sensation of strong contractions in the colon sometimes induced by buckthorn.
Buckthorn may turn the urine dark yellow or red, but this is harmless. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and children under the age of 12 should not use buckthorn without the advice of a physician. Those with an intestinal obstruction, Crohn’s disease or any other acute inflammatory problem in the intestines, diarrhea, appendicitis, or abdominal pain should not use this herb.6 Use or abuse of buckthorn for more than ten days consecutively may cause a loss of electrolytes (especially the mineral potassium) or may weaken the colon. Long-term use can also cause kidney damage.7
Certain medications may interact with buckthorn. Refer to the drug interactions safety check for a list of those medications.
The problem you're probably having is the rebound effect of repeated courses of antibiotics. They kill the probiotics that prevent the bad guys from finding a nice home on the intestinal walls, so even if you're taking probiotics while you're taking antibiotics they won't do you much good since the antibiotics are killing them off, too. This is because antibiotics don't know which bacteria are beneficial and which are harmful; they're indiscriminate killers. A probiotic called reuteri is thought to be the most useful against fungal infections such as Candida, but I'm not sure about a bacterial infection. Anti-bacterial natural agents abound, though they're not as potent as pharmaceutical antibiotics -- their main advantage, provided they work to kill the harmful bacteria, is they don't kill the beneficial bacteria so an imbalance in the immune system doesn't result. When you get to your point, often an extreme diet is necessary. Sugar attracts harmful bacteria, for example, and other foods, by being pro-inflammatory, will overstimulate the immune system and thus weaken it's ability to pay its attention to what it needs to. Most common of these foods are wheat and dairy, but different people will have different problems. Good natural antibiotics include raw garlic, goldenseal, oregano oil, boric acid and colloidal silver, but there are many others. That being said, at this point, when allopathic medicine fails you and you end up with recurrent infections, I'd see a naturopath and see if he or she can't find something that works to break this cycle without endangering your beneficial bacteria. Don't expect an easy fix in any form of medicine; sometimes bacteria can be devilishly adaptive and hard to eliminate. You not only have to kill the adult ones, you also have to kill off the eggs or larvae when they hatch to completely eliminate the problem. It might be beneficial to also do an anti-parasitic cleanse, which would usually consist of a combination of wormwood, clove oil, black walnut hulls, and whatever else is included. As to the above, yes, prebiotics are essential to maintain a healthy colony of probiotics, but when you have a bacterial infection, harmful bacteria eat that stuff, too, so it gets more complex. That's why many anti-Candida or chronic infection diets will eliminate fermented foods from the diet even though they are the best prebiotics known, such as sauerkraut and kim chi. As to lactoferrin, that's not really that useful as a prebiotic and isn't that well absorbed by itself -- it's a constituent of colostrum, which can help the immune system but I don't know what it would do in your particular case. Good luck.
Sorry, forgot about the omega 7 oils. These are found in fish oil, along with the omega 3 oils, but in the process of isolating the oil the heat used will often kill them off. There's a new fish oil supplement by New Chapter that supposedly doesn't kill them off. As to their effectiveness for your vaginal health, I don't know. I do know that evening primrose oil is helpful for that, but again, have no idea if that will do anything to rid you of an infection.
I used to buy the pre/pro biotic supplements, but now I eat greek yogurt instead. The "activia" type yogurts have so much "junk" in them I can't stand it. They have more binders, sweeteners, and flavoring than actual yogurt (IMHO)
The yogurt I eat is called Chobani
. The ingredients are:
cultured pasteurized non-fat milk, evaporated cane juice, blueberries(or other fruit like starwberries or peaches), natural flavor, locust bean gum, pectin, s.thermophilus, L.bulgaricus, L.acidophilus, bifidus, and L.casei.
Most yogurts have soy lecithin/wheat gluten based binders in them, but this one doesn't so it is safe if you are avoiding or allergic to soy/wheat.
I eat them once a day when I take the meds that make my tummy angry and I haven't had a problem with "feminine issues" or thrush since I started.
Another thing I like about "greek style" yogurt is that it is less "goopy", naturally fat free, and had about twice the protein as American yogurts. It is very thick because when its made the excess water is removed. (I am really cheap and this makes me feel like I am getting more bang for my buck, lol)
Sorry I don't have an answer about the omega 7.....I kind of got sidetracked.....but I hope this helps arm you with some helpful info for your health/wellness.
Good luck! :)
Looks like one of my posts didn't make it. The buckthorn mentioned by Gymdandee is a different buckthorn than the one that contains the Omega 7 oils. That's sea buckthorn, a completely different plant. The New Chapter Omega 7 supplement uses sea buckthorn as it's source for the Omega 7 oil. It's also used in Aubrey cosmetics a lot, as it's one of the highest foods in vitamin C. It's used in traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine, but it's not the laxative that buckthorn is.
Thank you all for your information, advice and words of encouragement. This place is so rewarding. I'm going to hold off on the Omega 7 until I talk with my Naturopath. Her advice has helped (daily pral & suppository of FemDophilus for a month and boric acid when the pH gets too high). And I'm eating much better than ever. But still have a clear watery discharge and an uncomfortable burning/swollen feeling "down there". Ugh! Just soooo sick of this! I'm getting a second opinion from a Uro-gynecologist next week. Can't come soon enough! Just a bit worried he'll want to go down the same road I've already been with countless antibiotics and creams. The thought of walking out of his office disappointed is already weighing on my mind. Thank you all for your support and feedback.