Last month, hard-core medical journal, The Annals of Internal Medicine published a meta-analysis study of the use of probiotics (little healthy bacteria), in the treatment of clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) or what most of us refer to as “C-diff”. And the results were astounding….just as predicted….which is rather unsurprising to be frank.

Naturopaths, nutritionists and other forms of “alternative and complementary” practitioners have been tooting this horn for well over a decade by my count. Many pathogenic bacterial and fungal infections including C. diff which are routinely encountered in hospitals have always responded well to treatment with quality probiotic supplements. Progressively, it is now commonplace that at some point, a natural product becomes so notoriously legendary that even conventional medicine can’t help but learn to embrace it. What was “alternative” soon becomes “innovative” by conventional standards and it finds itself being studied by the most noteworthy of mainstream medical journals. Such is now the case with probiotics, as they join ranks with other dyed-in-the-wool nutraceuticals such as vitamin D, and omega 3 fish oil.

In this particular study, 20 trials which included nearly 4000 patients found that probiotics reduced the incidence of CDAD by 66% and with only 9.3% of participants experiencing adverse effects compared with 12.6% of the control group. While it would be helpful to know exactly which species of probiotics were studied and in which quantities these probiotics supplements were consumed in, the research at least points to a reluctant but affirmative embrace by conventional medicine. In fact, a report by the Hamilton Spectator on Jan 22, 2013 reported that McMaster Hospital had begun using probiotics as standard practice for c. diff prevention and treatment. The times are a changing!

Care should be used when choosing a probiotic supplement as potencies can vary 1500 fold from low to high potencies while the cost is anything but linear. Furthermore, strains of probiotic species can vary considerably. The experts at Full Circle would be happy to help, and we carry some of the best probiotics in Canada. Come in and let us prove it to you!

Probiotics for the Prevention of Clostridium difficile–Associated Diarrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Bradley C. Johnston, PhD; Stephanie S.Y. Ma, MD; Joshua Z. Goldenberg, BSc; Kristian Thorlund, PhD; Per O. Vandvik, MD, PhD; Mark Loeb, MD; and Gordon H. Guyatt, MD Ann Intern Med. 18 December 2012;157(12):878-888