The Health Benefits of Saccharomyces Boulardii

A Yeast That May Help With Diarrhea and More

Mangosteens on a striped tablecloth with a wooden bowl in the background
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Saccharomyces boulardii is a type of yeast sourced from the skin of such plants as lychee and mangosteen. Long used in certain systems of medicine and now available in dietary supplement form, Saccharomyces boulardii is thought to aid in the treatment of a variety of gastrointestinal disorders.

Saccharomyces boulardii is considered to be a probiotic, a class of beneficial bacteria found to stimulate the immune system and protect digestive health.

Health Benefits

In alternative medicine, Saccharomyces boulardii is said to help with the following conditions:

  • Crohn's disease
  • diarrhea
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • ulcerative colitis

While Saccharomyces boulardii is typically used as a remedy for gastrointestinal problems, some individuals also use it for acne, canker sores, high cholesterol, urinary tract infections, and yeast infections.

Here is a look at the science supporting Saccharomyces boulardii's effects on various illnesses.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Saccharomyces boulardii may aid in the treatment and/or prevention of certain gastrointestinal disorders, according to a report published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2010. For the report, investigators analyzed 27 clinical trials testing the use of Saccharomyces boulardii for various diseases. They found significant evidence that Saccharomyces boulardii can help prevent both traveler's diarrhea and diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics.

In addition, the report indicates that Saccharomyces boulardii shows promise in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, acute adult diarrhea, and Crohn's disease. However, the authors note that more research is needed before Saccharomyces boulardii can be recommended for these conditions.

There's also some evidence that Saccharomyces boulardii may help treat ulcerative colitis. For instance, a pilot study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2003 found that patients with ulcerative colitis may benefit from using Saccharomyces boulardii in combination with mesalazine (an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat inflammatory bowel disease). For the study, 25 patients with a mild to moderate flare-up of ulcerative colitis took Saccharomyces boulardii three times a day for four weeks during maintenance treatment with mesalazine. Of the 24 patients who completed the study, 17 had gone into remission by the study's end.

Saccharomyces boulardii may also help treat acute diarrhea in infants, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. The study involved 186 infants hospitalized within 72 hours after the onset of acute diarrhea, each of whom received either Saccharomyces boulardii or a placebo for five days. Among the 176 infants who completed the study, those treated with Saccharomyces boulardii had a significantly shorter duration of diarrhea (compared to members of the placebo group).

Possible Side Effects

Like other supplements, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use due to a lack of research.

Saccharomyces boulardii may cause certain side effects (such as gas and bloating). In addition, there's some concern that use of Saccharomyces boulardii may lead to fungemia (a condition marked by the presence of fungi in the blood). Older adults, infants, immunocompromised or seriously ill patients, and people with colitis, cancer, central venous catheters, and any chronic or acute condition should avoid Saccharomyces boulardii, or use it only after consulting their primary care provider.

Since Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast, people with yeast allergies are advised to avoid its use.

Dosage and Preparation

There is not enough scientific data to provide a recommended dose of Saccharomyces boulardii. Various doses have been used when conducting scientific research.

For example, in a study investigating traveler's diarrhea, a dose of 250-1000 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii was used daily for one month. And in a study of to see the effects on diarrhea in people taking antibiotics a dose of 250-500 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii taken 2-4 times daily for up to two weeks is most commonly used. In most cases, daily doses do not exceed 1000 mg daily.

The appropriate dose for you may depend on factors including your age, gender, and medical history. Speak to your healthcare provider to get personalized advice.

What to Look For

Widely available for purchase online, supplements containing Saccharomyces boulardii are sold in many natural-food stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend Saccharomyces boulardii as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

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