Review aims to translate probiotic research into practical primary care guidelines

Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

A new study published in the Journal of Family Practice summarizes the latest evidence on using probiotics for a variety of specific health conditions, providing practical recommendations to assist primary care physicians in advising their patients and answering questions about probiotics.

The study reviews evidence supporting the use of probiotics for the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, reducing crying time in infants with colic, improving the effectiveness of antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis, reducing the risk of Clostridioides (formerly Clostridium) difficile infections, treating acute pediatric diarrhea, and managing symptoms of constipation.

The recommendations include checking a product’s label to ensure that it includes the probiotic’s genus, species, and strains; the dose delivered in colony-forming units through the end of shelf life; and expected benefits.  

Probiotic supplements are widely available and are sometimes promoted as a general way to support the gut microbiome and promote health. A higher bar for probiotic use exists in medical settings, where probiotics are more apt to be used for specific purposes.

In addition to practice recommendations for primary care physicians, the article includes a table of probiotic strains with evidence supporting their use, answers for patients' frequently asked questions, and examples of probiotic recommendations by global medical organizations.