Probiotics are often prescribed as part of holistic healthcare treatment by practitioners of Integrative Medicine. So why is this the case? Our digestive system is inhabited by approximately 100 trillion microbes.  The number and complexity of these microbial populations gradually increases from the stomach to the colon; the colon being more densely populated.

Probiotics in Integrative Medicine

Complementary and Alternative Medicine studies have confirmed that the microbial colonization of the gut commences immediately after birth with enterobacteria, enterococci and lactobacilli as the first colonizers. Anaerobic microorganisms such as Clostridium, Bifidobacterium emerge graduallyAt about 3 years of age, the gut microbiota or gut/intestinal flora reaches a composition and diversity similar to adults and remains stable over time in adulthood. Microbiota refers to the entire population of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, archaea, viruses, and protozoan.

Microbiota function

The primary function of the microbiota is to salvage energy from carbohydrate not digested in the upper gut. Intestinal bacteria also have a role in the synthesis of vitamins B and K and the metabolism of bile acids, other sterols and xenobiotics. Complementary and Alternative Medicine studies have also shown that probiotics also act as a barrier against the establishment of food borne pathogens.

Gut microbiota interacts with both innate and adaptive immune system, playing a pivotal role in “crosstalk” between the microbes in the human gut and other cells involved in the immune system and metabolic processes.  This further explains why practitioners of Integrative Medicine prescribe probiotics for holistic healthcare treatment due to its wide-reaching positive effects.

Probiotics for health

Diet and intestinal flora are intimately linked and chronic medication can have adverse effect on intestinal microbiota.

Probiotics are often prescribed in holistic healthcare treatment to help gastrointestinal conditions such as reflux, medication side-effects, bloating and other digestive complaints. There are also Complementary and Alternative Medicine research studies that have revealed that probiotics may be useful in treating heart health.

Probiotics for heart health

Although it seems implausible that probiotics may be useful in treating cardiovascular disorders, Complementary and Alternative Medicine studies have supported the use of probiotics in the treatment of certain heart disorders. For example, a study by DiRienzoin 2014 revealed that a specific strain of probiotics notably Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242, was found to lower LDL-C and total cholesterol in effects that were similar to effects seen from changing the diet.

Another 2015 research article published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that administering S.boulardii to ‘ heart failure patients ‘ with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of less than 50% resulted in reduced total cholesterol, uric acid and left atrial diameter while left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF)significantly increased. LVEF is the measurement of how much blood is being pumped out of the left ventricle of the heart.

Personalised healthcare treatment

So these findings demonstrate the value of prescribing probiotics in holistic healthcare treatment. However, whilst having probiotics in your Integrative Medicine clinical tool kit is of value, it is important that the correct probiotic strain(s), frequency and dose of the probiotic used is relevant to the disease pathology and immunological effects. This follows the Apple A Day RX maxim of personalised holistic healthcare treatment which is pivotal to the practice of Integrative Medicine.