Bacteria gets a bad rap, often headlining stories of tainted and deadly hamburgers, spinach, lettuce and other everyday foods. But there’s always two sides to a story. There actually exist a “friendly” bacteria, or probiotic, that fight for good in your body. We all have both good and bad bacteria, but sometimes harsh conditions such as excess alcohol, stress, antibiotics or other drugs, and illness can destroy the good bacteria, which may result in indigestion, diarrhea, infection, or other bowel-related maladies. Some people have been turning to yogurt, which contains a probiotic called Lactobacillus. The problem with supplemental probiotics though, is that many types don’t survive the harsh tunnel of our digestive tract, which includes being bathed in stomach acid and hustled along to quickly exit the body. You not only need a hardy strain, but also enough of the probiotic for the benefits to kick in. Lactobacillus in pill form is delicate and can die out if exposed to light or moisture.
Hence comes Culturelle, a multivitamin containing Lactobacillus GG, a well-studied strain of healthy bacteria. Research on the supplement has shown that it survives its journey through the stomach, and each pill is guaranteed to contain a specific, therapeutic amount of bacteria. Culturelle boasts a host of benefits that induce “enhancing the body's natural defenses” and “assisting with intestinal functioning.” It’s also reported to even be safe for infants and children. In fact, there’s a new version made just for kids, which purports to ease symptoms associated with occasional colic, diarrhea, and stomach upset.
Culturelle is fairly pricy ($19.99 for 30 capsules), with claims that aren’t endorsed by all health experts. However, unlike most supplements, the type of Lactobacillus in Culturelle is supported by several hundred clinical trials. There are also numerous anecdotal reports, including one from me. I first used Culturelle six years ago. A chronic sufferer of yeast infections since using oral contraceptives (which can destroy healthy bacteria) and tired of messy over-the-counter antifungal treatments, Culturelle successfully cleared up the infection within one week. I continued to use it whenever the infection reappeared. No longer a sufferer, I haven’t used Culturelle in years but wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to those with similar problems. However, everyone’s situation is unique so be sure to ask your doctor before trying these out. Visit www.culturelle.com for more info.