A recent study examined the effects of probiotics on cold and flu symptoms. Researchers randomized a controlled, double-blind industry supported clinical trial involving 326 healthy children ages 3-5 years old from a child care center in China. Children received either 1 strain of beneficial bacterial (Lactobacillus acidophilus alone), a combination of L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis, or placebo twice daily.
Significantly fewer children in the two probiotic groups had episodes of fever, cough, and runny nose compared to the placebo group as reported by their parents or day care providers during treatment. The children who took the combination probiotic had even less symptoms than the L. acidophilus alone group. For example, 46% of children in the L. acidophilus group had cough, 29% in the combination probiotic group had cough and 82% in the placebo group experienced cough. Also, significantly fewer children in the probiotic groups received antibiotics. There were fewer children absent from day care in the probiotic groups. No adverse effects of the probiotics were noted.
We may be familiar with the use of probiotics in treating colic, diarrhea and other medical problems, but the prophylactic use to lower the incidence of upper respiratory infections is unclear. We do know that these healthy bacteria have an immune-enhancing effect. More studies of this nature need to be duplicated. In the meantime, this is a perfect time to enhance your immunity with H1N1 and the seasonal flu at our doorstep.
I recommend taking a broad spectrum of bio-cultures of at least 10 billion organisms daily before meals. Don’t forget your Vitamin D, and stay healthy!
Reference: Journal Watch. “Prophylactic Probiotics for Cold and Flu Symptoms”, Vol.29, No. 18.