Antibiotics And Probiotics – Do They Cancel Eachother Out?

Probiotics and Antibiotics both have a major effect on the bacteria in your body.

Because of this, some people believe you shouldn't take both of them together.

This guide will take a look at some scientific studies and advice from doctors.

The Difference Between Probiotics & Antibiotics


Antibiotics work in two ways by stopping the reproduction of all bacteria and straight up killing the bacteria which gives your immune system a chance to work better. They may start to work straight away after taking them but take several days for you to feel better. (1)

Probiotics are totally different in that all they are is friendly bacteria that you can send through your digestive tract to your intestines and then multiply with prebiotic bacteria. The probiotic bacteria MAY help fight off bad bacteria as well but they can take up to a month to work. (2)

Can You Take Probiotics And AntiBiotics Together?

This article from Blake Rogers, MD, Kate Kirley, MD & Anne Mounsey, MD on the Journal Of Family Practice gives some great insights on taking both Probiotics and Antibiotics.

It starts by suggesting doctors should advise patient's to take probiotics during the entire course of antibiotic treatment to prevent diarrhea. Interestingly however diarrhea may also be a side effect of probiotics.

Taking Probiotics & Antibiotics Together Is Advised And May Help!

It has been well documented in the past that antibiotics may cause diarrhea for a number of people and there have been separate studies that confirmed some probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium & Saccharomyces helped with antibiotic associated diarrhea.

How Far Apart Should You Time Probiotics And AntiBiotics?

The previous article suggested taking the probiotic supplements a long side your antibiotic treatment but didn't offer any guidance for timing but did seem to hint at just taking it along at the same time to prevent diarrhea.

The good news is that probiotic bacteria will not hinder how well the antibiotic works and Dr Hoberman offered some guidance backing this up. Dr Hoberman suggested taking the antibiotic or probiotic 2-hours apart to give either a chance to pass through the intestines first.

Take Probiotics & Antibiotics 2-Hours Apart For Best Results!

After taking a course of antibiotics it is likely that all of the billions of good probiotic bacteria will be wiped from your gut flora so I would recommend also continuing to take probiotics with prebiotics even after your have finished your course of antibiotics.

Probiotics And AntiBiotics Reddit Threads

One of my favorite ways to research complicated matters is to use the Explain Like I'm Five (ELI5) subreddit. It's were you can get a complicated question explained easily enough for a 5-year old to understand.

In the ELI5 Subreddit on Dec 29, 2019, BurkeyBurkey wanted to know if their probiotics and antibiotics would cancel each other out.

MB34i provided the top rated answer and said that neither probiotics or antibiotics will cancel each other out. They said that Antibiotics work in the bloodstream and probiotics work in the intestines.

8 Years Ago in the ELI5 subreddit a user wanted to know if taking Antibiotics would make their probiotic supplement redundant by killing the beneficial probiotic bacteria.

One user who has now deleted their profile stated that the antibiotics might kill off some of the newly added bacteria but it also may not since different bacteria react differently.

They said if you keep taking probiotic bacteria you can eventually shift the composition of bacteria in your microbiome. This also backs up my point of continuing to take probiotics even after your have finished your course of antibiotics.

The Argument For Not Taking Probiotics & Antibiotics Together

I had to look very hard for a legitimate source arguing agains't taking both substances together and I nearly didn't find anything.

In the spirit of being impartial and making this the most informative guide possible I am going to mention this Israeli study even though I think it's extremely flawed.

The clinical trial tested people after they had followed a course of antibiotics and had them try a 11-multi strain probiotic supplement. It was claimed that those who didn't take the supplement had their microbiome flora return to normal faster than those who took the probiotic.

The major flaw in this study was that only one probiotic supplement was studied and we don't even know if it was resistant to stomach acid or what diets those who didn't take the probiotic followed.

We also do not know what kind of state their glut flora was in prior to antibiotic usage which is important as a vegan diet may lack dairy foods which are high in probiotic bacteria.

Closing Thoughts: Take Them A Few Hours Apart

Dr Osterholm’s Poor Take On Antibiotics And Probiotics

It's clear that more studies are needed on the effects of probiotics and antibiotics in relation to the microbiome and some Doctors like in the JRE podcast clip don't even understand probiotics in depth.

My advice would be to take probiotics once per day in the morning several hours after you have taken your antibiotics. This is when your stomach acidity will be at its lowest and give your gut the best chance of letting the probiotic bacteria grow. Do not take your probiotics with hot liquid or vinegar.

The consensus is that it's safe to take both together and people like Dr Hoberman suggest waiting at least 2-hours between both. Never use probiotics as a replacement to antibiotics and always consult with your doctor first if you plan to use both. I am not a doctor and this guide is purely informational.

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