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I recently read about the positive effects of probiotics. A Russian researcher wrote about their positive effects on the immune system. I wanted to ask about probiotics and CF. Can one take probiotics for an extended period of time during the winter months? Is it advisable to take probiotics on a regular basis during an antibiotics therapy?

Many thanks for the answer,

probiotics are formulations (medicine or food) containing viable micro-organisms (e.g. lactobacilli or yeasts). They are distinguished from prebiotics, which have a positive effect (growth stimulation) on micro-organisms already present in the intestine.

For some pro- and prebiotic substances (e.g. so-called E. coli Stamm Nissle 1917), some studies show possible positive effects e.g. with acute diarrhea, the prevention of antibiotics-induced diarrhea, as well as with chronic inflammatory intestinal diseases (esp. Colitis ulcerosa). The alleged, heavily advertised healthy features of various probiotic products have not been scientifically proven in most cases, though; there is still a great demand for further research in many areas. One of the many difficulties here is that the features of probiotics are specific to the respective strains. That is, even if a beneficial effect with a certain disease has been described for a particular strain of bacteria, this does not at all mean that all probiotic bacterial strains will have this positive effect. Also, possible harmful effects and symptoms (e.g. increased flatulence) caused by the bacteria have to be taken into account for the overall evaluation.

Even though more recent studies managed to prove an increased abnormal colonization of the intestinal flora (e.g. due to frequent intake of antibiotics), there have only been sporadic reports on the positive effects of probiotics (Lactobacillus GG) on the intestinal function (Bruzzese et al Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004; 20:813-9) and the number of respiratory infections (Bruzzese et al. Clin Nutr. 2007; 26:322-8) in CF patients.

Therefore, based on the current state of knowledge, it is impossible to give a general recommendation about the intake of probiotics for CF patients. Further clinical studies in this area would be reasonable, though.

Kind regards

TO Hirche