Probiotics are a topic that’s everywhere these days. Health magazines, newspapers, blogs and TV shows all are brimming with new information on how live flora can benefit [and are needed] for our overall health. Hey, we won’t argue there. We are HUGE supporters of probiotics. But first, what are probiotics? Well they’re the supplemental form of the beneficial of live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive and your immune system. Your body is chock full of bacteria, both good and bad. We love to get from traditional, fermented food such as miso, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, etc, but you can also get a powerful punch from supplemental probiotics.

We talk about the power of positive flora in our Prescribe 20 program. The food we eat today, the stress we live, the fatigue we’re constantly battling…the reality is we just don’t live in the same world our ancestors did, and we’ve got to support ourselves in way we once never had to. Planet Earth is a tough place these days! There are lots of wild things our bodies have to deal with.

But this post isn’t about the pros or cons of probiotics. We are pro. That’s our stance. In our our Prescribe 20 program we often hear people mention they’ve had some not so pleasant side effects when they first started popping the probiotics – think nausea, fatigue, stomach aches. What’s happening? We thought these were supposed help us feel better?! Well, let’s discuss, shall we?

What’s often happening is an unfortunate reaction that some people experience called the Herxheimer Reaction. It’s essentially a detoxification process that can result in you feeling worse before you feel better. It’s thought to happen when  toxins from dying bacteria, viruses, bacteria and of course, yeast overgrowth, overwhelm the body’s abilities to clear them out.  Symptoms can be massive fatigue, nausea, digestive issues, headaches, skin rashes, muscle aches and overall mild flu like symptoms. This can happen during several treatment plans for serious illnesses, such as Lyme’s disease, other autoimmune conditions or after heavy rounds of antibiotics. BUT – it can also happen simply even when one starts to implement a whole foods diet! That is why we developed our “reverse detox” protocol in Prescribe 20 – the smartest way to detox is slow and steady, not fast and furious. Same goes with probiotics, start small and work your way up!

So what to do if these symptoms happen to you?

  • Unless your symptoms are drastic and affecting you dramatically, don’t stop taking the probiotics – this period should pass. Simply downgrade your dose to every other day or cut in half.
  • It will usually not last more than 3-7 days.
  • Instead of taking on an empty stomach (which some say when probiotics are most effective), for the time being start taking with food. You can change to taking on an empty stomach after your body has adjusted.
  • *Be sure to know the quality of your probiotic. All supplements are not created equal! Check for fillers or ingredients that might not jive with your system.

We talk about some of our favorite probiotic brands in Prescribe 20, so if you’ve ever felt like you need to tackle digestive issues from a food AND supplementary perspective, be sure to sign up here. Also, give yourself a pat on the back for getting friendly with your micro-biome and taking care of your gut, your body and your health. Bacteria, we love you little maniacs.

PLEASE NOTE: this blog is not intended to answer questions you have about specific probiotics & brands. The topic is too vast and personal reactions are very specific to the individual.  We cannot provide individual advice in your comments. We recommend discussing your situation with your healthcare provider.