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For most people, taking the “typical” OTC probiotic supplement doesn’t result in any side effects because most products don’t really do anything after an hour or so due to the actuality that the good bacterias are destroyed by stomach acids and other biochemical factors in the GI system. If you have a pristine gut that just needs good flora, for example, if you just came off of antibiotics after being very healthy… you may only experience higher energy and better digestive health. But for some—particularly those whose gut bacteria has been out of balance for years—there can be a real tug of war in the gut where many existing symptoms like gas, bloating, loose stools and or constipation are exaggerated.

This aspect of taking probiotics isn't often discussed, which is unfortunate. Many people look at their worsening symptoms and conclude that not only is the supplement not working as expected, but it's actually making their situation worse. Consequently, they just stop taking the product. If you cannot tolerate a good probiotic supplement due to worsening symptoms, you owe it to yourself to address the underlying trouble which is intestinal dysbiosis. Contact a specialist, such as myself, for assistance in testing your gut and receiving a treatment program that will address these complexities. Intestinal dysbiosis refers to other bacterias that have taken up residence in the gut displacing the beneficial bacterias that should be there. These must be removed in order to “grow” a good, healthy microbiome.

If you're experiencing probiotic side effects, please understand that while the symptoms may be inconvenient (and, I'll admit, occasionally embarrassing), they also are a dramatic sign that your gut needs attention!

The normal pH (the acidity/alkalinity scale) of the colon should be between 6.7 and 6.9. A pH of 7.0 is neutral; anything below that is acidic and anything above is alkaline. To inhibit pathogenic bacteria and encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, your colon needs to be slightly acidic. Hypochlorhydria or low stomach acid is also a factor that frequently co exists with intestinal dysbiosis.

Stress, antibiotics, chlorine in the water supply, drugs (prescription and over the counter), are factors that wipe out gut bacteria and make the environment of the colon more alkaline. When you start taking a probiotic supplement, these newly introduced friendly bacteria change the pH to become more acidic—a much more hospitable environment for them. This can be a struggle in the beginning because the other bacteria are so firmly entrenched. I find that it isn’t much of a struggle if the pathogenic bacterias are treated concurrently.

If not, the colon’s pH changes from alkaline to acidic and the good and bad bacteria go through a type of war, whereas some people may begin to experience grumblings, pain, gas, loose stools, or other uncomfortable bowel symptoms.

How long this lasts can vary from individual to individual. For example, if you’re taking antibiotics or other drugs that kill good gut bacteria, the transition could take a long time or may never even happen. Common medications such as painkillers, analgesics, steroids, anti-inflammatories, sleeping pills, birth control pills, antacids, vaccines, and many others either kill or interfere with the growth of beneficial flora. If you can eliminate or, at the very least, minimize these drugs, you will have a much better chance of restoring your bowel flora to normal. Some highly stressed individuals suffer the same plight.

Discontinuing the probiotic may get rid of your worsening symptoms, but it won’t give your good bacteria a chance to take over. And, you won’t experience the health benefits associated with a healthy colon. Leave that to an expert, like myself, you will be glad you did! Contact us for an office or phone appointment at 847 577 4455. You can also email at, or fill out our new patient inquiry form on the appointment button. Next week, I will discuss ways to lower your blood pressure naturally. SignUP so you don't miss a thing. and please, as always, visit our store for great prices on hundreds of natural products. FREE shipping on every order! Wishing you all a healthy week!

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Taryn DeCicco, ND, LAc, LDN
Clinical Nutritionist
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Arlington Heights, IL

We specialize in Acne, Skin, and Digestive disorders! Please contact us for a free consultation! I do work long distance. Thank you from the bottom of our cart! We truly appreciate your product purchases, visits, and referrals! They enable us to give people the help they need and continue our valuable work.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Taryn DeCicco ND, LAc, LDN of Apple A Day Clinic in Arlington Heights, IL has been practicing Naturopathy and Acupuncture, specializing in acne, skin, and digestive disorders for over 18 years!