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What is Saccharomyces boulardii? Benefits, Uses and Side Effects

Saccharomyces boulardii is a natural yeast, without genetic modifications, which is obtained from the bark of some plants such as lychee and mangosteen. Such plants are native to Indochina and are believed to have been used in traditional medicine in various countries.

The Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic strain. Unlike others, this is not a live bacteria, but a yeast that works as a probiotic in the body. These types of substances help fight “bad bacteria” in the body.

In most cases, Saccharomyces boulardii is used to prevent and relieve diarrhea, including rotavirus-induced diarrhea in children. It also appears to be effective in alleviating other gastrointestinal problems and acne, and in strengthening the immune system.

What is Saccharomyces boulardii?

As already indicated, Saccharomyces boulardii is a natural yeast. It was first described by the scientist Henri Boulard in 1923. At first it was believed to be a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast used to make beer and bread. Today it is known that they are two different species.

The Saccharomyces boulardii is listed as a “micromiceto” that is, very small fungus. However, it is five to 10 times the size of bacteria and is resistant to antibiotics.

In its lyophilized form (or dehydrated through application of low temperatures), Saccharomyces boulardii becomes the active principle of a probiotic medicine that is marketed in more than 100 countries.

How does it work?

The Saccharomyces boulardii has the ability to be stored quickly and in large numbers in the intestinal tract. Its levels remain stable. In other words, it adapts very well to the physicochemical conditions of the intestinal environment.

However, when the intestinal flora is normal, this yeast is eliminated from the body relatively quickly. Also, when treatment is stopped, it leaves the body in two to three days. Therefore, it exerts a protective function against negative microorganisms without causing additional problems.

Health Benefits of Saccharomyces boulardii

According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, a huge database that compiles verified research on natural drugs and substances, Saccharomyces boulardii could be beneficial to your health in the following ways.

Probably effective

It means that there is ample evidence that it offers benefits in the following cases:

  • Diarrhea. Reduces the duration of diarrhea by up to a day. However, some conventional medications appear to be more effective.
  • Diarrhea from rotavirus infection. In babies treated with Saccharomyces boulardii, diarrhea lasts for up to one day.

Possibly effective

It means that there is some evidence that it may be beneficial, but the available research is not conclusive on this. From that point of view, Saccharomyces boulardii is possibly effective for:

  • Diarrhea from antibiotics. One in nine patients treated with this yeast does not have diarrhea when taking antibiotics.
  • Gastrointestinal infection by Clostridium difficile. The use of Saccharomyces boulardii, together with antibiotics, appears to help prevent recurrence of diarrhea caused by this microorganism.
  • Infection that can cause ulcers. Ingestion of this yeast, along with conventional treatment for Helicobacter pylori, appears to be helpful.
  • Diarrhea in HIV / AIDS patients.
  • Severe intestinal disease in premature babies.
  • Traveler’s diarrhea.
  • Acne.

Insufficient evidence

It corresponds to cases in which there are certain indications that Saccharomyces boulardii contributes to the improvement or not, but there are not yet enough studies in this regard or the available studies do not clearly corroborate the effect. It includes conditions such as the following:

  • Anger. It doesn’t seem to have an effect.
  • Memory and cognitive abilities. It doesn’t seem to have an effect.
  • Crohn’s disease. In combination with mesalamine it appears to have a positive impact.
  • Cystic fibrosis. It doesn’t seem to have an effect.
  • Heart failure. It may help improve liver function in people with this disease.
  • High cholesterol levels. It doesn’t seem to have an effect.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome. The effect is ambiguous.
  • Parasitic infections. Along with antibiotics, it appears to lessen the effects of amoeba diarrhea.
  • Jaundice (yellowish skin) in newborns. In a small group of premature babies, ingestion of Saccharomyces boulardii reduces the need for an incubator and prevents jaundice.
  • Low birth weight. It appears to improve weight and have positive effects on premature babies.
  • Excess bacteria in the intestine. It appears to decrease the growth of bacteria in the gut, along with the use of antibiotics.
  • Ulcerative Colitis. It appears to be effective in mild to moderate cases, in combination with conventional treatment.
  • Others. More evidence is required in cases of: mouth sores, cold sores, rash, Lyme disease, lactose intolerance, urinary tract infections, yeast infections and others.

Available data indicate that Saccharomyces boulardii is possibly ineffective in treating blood infection, or “septicemia,” in premature infants.

Possible Side effects

Everything indicates that Saccharomyces boulardii is safe, when ingested by mouth, for most adults. However, its use should not be extended for more than 15 months. Only in some people does it cause gas and in rare cases it causes a fungal infection known as fungemia.

In the following cases, caution and consult your doctor before using this yeast:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Kids.
  • Seniors.
  • People with weakened immune systems.
  • Yeast allergy.

If Saccharomyces boulardii is used in combination with an antifungal or antifungal medication, it may reduce its effectiveness. There are no contraindications with any type of supplement, herb or food.

Dosage and recommendations

The available studies do not allow establishing a single dosage for this yeast. This may depend on the age, gender, and medical history of each person. That said, the usual doses for adults are as follows:

  • Diarrhea from antibiotics. 250 to 500 milligrams, two to four times a day, for a maximum period of two weeks.
  • Clostridium difficile infection. One gram dose, twice a day, for four weeks and in combination with antibiotic treatment.
  • Infection by Helicobacter pylori. 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day for four weeks.
  • Diarrhea in people with HIV. Three grams per day.
  • Traveler’s diarrhea. 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day for a month.
  • For children, the usual doses are as follows:
    • Diarrhea from antibiotics. 250 milligram dose, once or twice a day in combination with antibiotics.
    • Severe diarrhea. 250 milligram dose, once or twice a day.
    • Rotavirus diarrhea. 200 to 250 milligrams twice a day, for five days.
    • Severe intestinal disease in premature babies. 100 to 200 milligrams for every kilogram of weight, once a day, one week after birth.

It should only be ingested under medical supervision. Some of the trade names for Saccharomyces boulardii are the following: Probiotic, Probiotique, Saccharomyces, Cerevisiae boulardii, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Boulardii) HANSEN CBS 5926, Saccharomyces cerevisiae var boulardii, S. Boulardii, SCB.

Medical consultation is recommended

In general, the Saccharomyces boulardii is used to restore the balance of the microbiota. This balance is often broken when there are diarrhea or other disorders caused by pathogens.

The strains of probiotics are different. Therefore, medical advice is required before ingesting any of these substances, since the properties may not be correct for a specific case. It is the doctor who should recommend the use of Saccharomyces boulardii.

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