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How effective is the use of probiotics?

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Quick Answer

Because there are different types of probiotics, their effectiveness depends on finding the right one for the condition. They are best used as a supplement to treat digestive diseases, but they are not replacements for the treatment a doctor prescribes, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.

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Full Answer

Many types of bacteria are probiotics, according to WebMD. They are in dairy products such as yogurt, buttermilk and soft cheeses. Pickles and sauerkraut also contain probiotics. Supplements that can support digestive health are available in capsules, liquids, tablets and powders from many grocery stores, health food stores and pharmacies.

The probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus is useful in treating common diarrhea, especially when it is caused by antibiotics disturbing the normal flora of the digestive tract, according to Drugs.com. It is also useful with conditions including diverticulitis, irritable colon and functional constipation. When combined with the probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum, it is useful in preventing traveler's diarrhea.

While there are few studies concerning the use of probiotics to treat conditions outside of the digestive tract, there is evidence that they have potential in promoting a healthy mouth, preventing some skin conditions and promoting urinary tract health. Research also indicates they are helpful in preventing some allergies in children, according to the AGA.

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