Probiotic side effects sometimes happen. They are mostly mild and harmless. Many people ask about reactions to probiotics so here is a collection of frequently asked questions.
You might be familiar with the old saying: “no pain, no gain.” Among athletes, muscle aches are viewed as a temporary discomfort bringing good results. Can something similar be said about probiotics side effects? Yes, it can.
Probiotics can cause a temporary discomfort to reach an improvement. However, this does not mean that side effects are necessary.
Why side effects?
Probiotics consumed help improve the gut environment and this can produce mild side effects. Why? One example: when some harmful microorganisms die, they release toxins causing reactions. Thus the term “die-off” symptoms has been coined.
Another reason is the elimination of toxins and waste. The body naturally uses several exit routes for waste and most probiotic side effects are believed to be associated with this cleansing process.
Here are four exit routs and how probiotics might activate them:
- Urination: higher frequency, strong smell, discoloring
- Bowel movement: diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas
- Sweating: odor, itchy skin, skin rash, eczema, pimples
- Breathing: running nose, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, a flue-like feeling
Such symptoms may be signs that the body’s exit routes are being activated to remove unwanted substances. Several exit routes can be active at the same time. Most side effects are mild and disappear after a few days or a week. Seldom longer.
In some cases, probiotic side effects are triggered by additives included in some probiotics supplements or a medical condition.
- Problems with the intestinal lining
- Sensitivity to soy, yeast, or lactose
- Anti-fungal medication
- Dietary changes
- Severe stress
Supporting the cleansing process
Some specialists recommend adding the following to promote a body cleanse and lessen probiotics side effects:
- Broccoli seed extract or fresh sprouts
- Cilantro (fresh, juiced, or tincture)
- Drink fresh vegetable juice
- Chlorella (binds toxins)
- Garlic (fresh or powder)
- Drink plenty of water
What are some probiotic side effects?
Acid reflux, heartburn
Acid reflux. Cleansing the gut can produce gas and bloating causing acid reflux. Some harmful microorganisms die violently, releasing toxins that cause gas, constipation, and bloating.
- The more the gut needs cleaning, the more side effects
Try consuming only small amounts of probiotics. Empty a probiotic capsule in a glass of water or juice and drink slowly during the day. Increase the at a pace that feels comfortable. For some, yogurt or kefir work better. Try homemade yogurt of kefir.
Allergic reactions from homemade fermented foods are rare. However, some commercially fermented foods contain biogenic amines (tyramine and histamine are common culprits). In sensitive ones they can cause a headache, depression, stomach problems, skin rash, and others symptoms. They are present in red wine, some fermented cheese, pickles, chocolate, beer and many other products. Spoiled food also contain large amounts of amines. (see this post.)
Food freshness is key—fresh vegetables and fresh meat. Avoid processed food and drinks containing the amine aspartame. Homemade fermented foods normally contain low amounts.
Burping is common when consuming probiotics, especially in the beginning. Gas is produced when the friendly bacteria enter the gut environment. This usually goes away after a few days. Try lowering the probiotic dose.
As a general rule: the more harmful microorganisms present in the digestive tract, the more symptoms when consuming probiotics.
Bloating refers to a feeling that the stomach is swollen, full or tight. Bloating might be accompanied by a pain that sometimes is mistaken for pain in the appendix, gallbladder or heart. The explanation below is a bit long, but it might give the wider picture.
Some causes for bloating: inflammation, food sensitivity, gastritis, and IBS. In addition, overeating and not chewing food properly often cause bloating. In such cases, the problem is easily solved just by eating less and chewing well. It’s amazing how many gut problems can be solved jut by eating slowly!
Bloating can also be caused by clogging—foods that get stuck in the digestive system and produce gas. Depending on the location, the level of pain can vary. Gas-producing foods are beans, cabbage, onion, garlic, and others. But such gas production is slow: when having the next meal, gas produced from the previous meal is often the cause of bloating.
What about bloating from probiotics? When introducing probiotics, the gut environment is affected—harmful microorganisms die and waste is removed. This can clog up parts of the gut, create gas and make the stomach feel like a balloon.
Fungi and yeast (like candida) are known to cause bloating. Causes for candida can be complex. Adding probiotics can cause bloating when candida die. In such cases, go slow with probiotics! For some it might be best to wait with probiotics and first use other strategies.
Try drinking more water as this can unclog the pipes. Cut down on sugar that harmful microorganisms like candida love. For some fresh vegetable juice works well for bloating.
Blood pressure changes
Studies on probiotics show that for those with high blood pressure, probiotics can lower it. I’ve not seen any studies indicating that probiotics could raise blood pressure. Probiotics can reduce cholesterol “consuming” it which can lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure. In addition, probiotics help reduce high blood sugar which in turn can lower blood pressure.
Some people suffer constipation because they consume too little fiber or drink too little water. Consuming probiotics can also cause constipation. Why?
Bowel movement is a main exit route to eliminate waste. But what happens if the body cannot eliminate all the waste quickly enough? The same happens when trash collectors go on strike and garbage is piling up on the streets. The whole neighborhood stinks creating a breeding ground for bugs, rats, and disease.
If the body’s cleansing system is not tuned well, or if the toxic load is too great, waste can pile up in the body and become a breeding ground for inflammation, infection, and disease.
What can be done!
Support the body’s ability to bring out the garbage! Here are a few suggestions:
- Consume chlorella in any form
- Probiotic supplements
- Fresh vegetable juice
- Intermittent fasting
- Physical exercise
- Hot baths, sauna
- Fermented food
- Eat more fiber
- Chia seeds
- Oregano oil
Probiotics is often used to lessen diarrhea. However, probiotics can cause diarrhea when removing bad bacteria, yeast, virus, or toxins from the gut. Diarrhea from antibiotics is also common. In one study, 63 out of 100 people who took probiotics no longer had diarrhea after three days.
Persistent diarrhea for more than two weeks is common in children. In case of adults, the reason might be stubborn bacterial infections or candida overgrowth.
Because probiotics stimulate a cleanse, this sometimes affects urination frequency, smell and color. Some suggestions:
- Drink more water and fresh vegetable juice
- Cut down on coffee and alcohol
- Consume chlorella
This can occur when harmful microorganisms die and release toxins causing headaches or muscle aches. In the case of Candida, the reaction can be stronger and it might be best to stop taking probiotics.
The violent death of harmful microorganisms often causes headaches. Probiotic headaches usually disappears after a few days. Even though symptoms are harmless, they are unpleasant. Lower the probiotic dose.
There are some reports about women who experience how periods return after consuming probiotics. Other women have reported healthier periods when adding probiotics to their diet and some have had periods starting again after an early menopause.
It is unclear why this occurs. However, some consider it a healthy sign. Recent research has revealed that probiotic bacteria affect the body much deeper than previously thought. Friendly bacteria work on a cellular level and promote many body functions, including the reproductive organs. This might be a reason why probiotics can affect women’s periods.
The state of the gut is as an underlying factor affecting a person’s mental state. We know that gut bacteria “communicate” with the brain via the vagus nerve. Studies confirm that consuming probiotics can improve mood. However, probiotic bacteria might temporarily worsen a condition before improvement is seen.
A natural protocol GAPS is used for autism, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, immune disorders, and digestive problems. This protocol includes probiotics. Even small amounts of probiotics can aggravate symptoms before they start to subside. Combining fermented food with bone broths is recommended by some. The recommended GAPS probiotic supplement is Bio-Kult. But Hyperbiotics and Mercola also work well.
A gut cleanse refers to the elimination harmful microorganisms and waste from the body. Sometimes eczema affecting hands and feet and can be related to this. Supporting the body’s natural ability to cleanse itself is important to eliminate whatever the body wants out. A body cleanse can take some time but has long-term health effects.
Symptoms of cold—sneezing, running nose
Common detox symptoms include symptoms similar to a cold or flu. Most symptoms are mild and harmless. However, in the case of candida overgrowth or bacterial infections, symptoms might be stronger. Many harmful microorganisms don’t die peacefully, but release powerful toxins as they die. These toxins can cause symptoms in all parts of the body. Try lowering the probiotic dose.
Most people have no side effects of probiotics, they just feel good. However, side effects can occur if the gut is in a poor state. Be sensible!