Intestinal Dysbiosis: What Is It? By Larry Newman

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Intestinal Dysbiosis: What Is It?
By Larry Newman Chief Operating Officer Technical and Regulatory Affairs Kirkman Group, Inc.
You may have heard the term intestinal dysbiosis used in relation to autism or other developmental disorders or special needs conditions. What exactly is intestinal dysbiosis? Dysbiosis is the opposite of the term “symbiosis” which refers to different species of organisms living in a harmonious relationship. In dysbiosis, we have different species of organisms living in a non-desirable relationship, causing a state of imbalance and disorder. So intestinal dysbiosis describes a state in which the microorganisms living in the intestinal tract are in this state of disorder in which the harmful microorganisms prevail over the beneficial ones, thereby creating intestinal disease conditions. These harmful microorganisms may include bacteria, yeast, viruses or parasites or a combination of them. When these harmful organisms prevail in the gut, negative consequences occur which can include: • • • • • • • • abdominal pain or cramping bloating constipation or diarrhea indigestion loss of appetite food cravings or allergies inflammatory conditions leaky gut syndrome
Many of these consequences are the result of the harmful microorganisms producing toxins that are then released into circulation and which can cause a variety of systemic conditions. When normal beneficial flora in the intestinal tract are overwhelmed by the bad flora, inflammation such as gastritis or colitis may occur, or leaky gut syndrome can develop, a condition where the intestinal contents can leak systemically into the bloodstream causing allergic responses. All of these conditions cause the immune system to try and compensate for the invading organisms and toxins, leaving the immune system compromised and vulnerable to other disease states.
Approaches to Correct Intestinal Dysbiosis
The main strategy is to remove the underlying cause since dysbiosis rarely occurs for no reason. A comprehensive laboratory stool analysis can help identify whether the dysbiosis is being caused by yeast, bacteria or other organisms or parasites. Once known, treatment is more straightforward because it will be known as to the type of product required, usually an antibacterial or antifungal agent. Concurrent use of a probiotic when being treated with a pharmaceutical antibacterial or antifungal can lessen the side effects of the drugs and prevent the killing off of beneficial bacteria which may be present. After the use of an antibacterial or antifungal agent, it is crucial to begin supplementation with probiotics in order to replace the levels of beneficial bacteria and prevent the future repopulation of the harmful organisms.
If the laboratory analysis positively identified the microorganism causing the dysbiosis, specific strains of probiotics may by beneficial such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus plantarum for clostridial species. When the identification of the intestinal invading organisms is not conclusive, multi-strain probiotics such as Kirkman's Pro-Bio Gold™, Multi-Flora Spectrum™ or Super Pro-Bio™ would be called for. In the absence of a laboratory analysis, starting one of the multi-strain probiotics would be a good first step. Antibacterial and antifungal agents can have negative side effects, so often treatment with pharmaceuticals can be delayed in hope that natural probiotics improve the dysbiosis satisfactorily on their own. Many treating physicians actually start with probiotics before resorting to the harsher, more problematic drugs. Another product useful in intestinal dysbiosis is Saccharomyces boullardii. Though often called a probiotic and usually classified as one, Saccharomyces boullardii is actually a strain of non-colonizing, non-pathogenic yeast related to baker’s yeast. This special strain of yeast has the unique property of often eliminating pathogenic bacteria in the gut by adhering to the invading pathogenic bacteria without actually colonizing in the intestine which traditional probiotics do. It also degrades toxins produced by certain pathogenic bacterial strains. Saccharomyces boullardii has been shown to be useful in acute diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and antibiotic associated diarrhea. In many cases, it is very useful in controlling intestinal dysbiosis. It is often used alone and is also used in conjunction with a more traditional probiotic in difficult cases. Like with probiotics, there are seldom any side effects with Saccharomyces boullardii unless the individual is sensitive to all yeast. Saccharomyces boullardii is not in any way related to the Candida species of yeast which is so problematic in dysbiosis conditions. Patients sensitive to Candida species generally tolerate Saccharomyces boullardii just fine. It is desirable to consult a physician when intestinal dysbiosis is suspected. Because it can be caused by numerous types of organisms, it can be very difficult to control and also tends to reoccur if treatments are discontinued.
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