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What are probiotics used for?

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Quick Answer

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain good gastrointestinal health and a strong immune system. Probiotics have also been suggested to have positive effects on vaginitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and childhood illnesses like strep throat and colds, states WebMD.

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Full Answer

While probiotics are still under scrutiny, WebMD supports their use to treat diarrhea, colitis and dairy-related eczema. Probiotics also have a history of being used to treat yeast infections, with Harvard Medical School citing yogurt as a common folk remedy. People take probiotics in a variety of forms, as pills or powders, or through foods that naturally contain them.

According to WebMD, digestive disorders commonly occur because of an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, usually as the result of an infection, antibiotics or intestinal damage. Probiotics work by restoring the balance and fighting bacteria that cause diarrhea. However, not all probiotics have the same effects; certain strains of bacteria benefit different illnesses, while others demonstrate no effect.

Harvard Medical School considers probiotics safe, especially since they are already present in a healthy, functioning immune system. However, people with weakened immune systems should consult a doctor before supplementing their diets. The amount considered safe or recommended varies by person.

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