As a dentist, I am often writing prescriptions for antibiotics for dental infections. When properly used, antibiotics prevent damage which could result from a severe infection, and thus save lives. Unfortunately, though, at the same time that antibiotics fight the infection, they also attack the “good bacteria” that we want in our bodies.

Probiotics arebacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines. Your digestive tract contains about 400 types of healthy probiotic bacteria that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. Many of us are familiar with the idea that it is good to have yogurt with “active culture.” Yogurt contains probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus. But if the yogurt is pasteurized, the healthy bacteria are killed. For this reason, some of the manufacturers will document on the container a seal – “Live and Active Cultures” – indicating that the probiotics are still alive. Nevertheless, the number of useful bacteria in yogurt is much less than the number of probiotics found in the better quality probiotic capsules which should contain 10 billion bacteria or more.

Probiotics have been shown to have interesting side benefits. Even Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome have been successfully treated with 50 billion probiotics. Besides improving digestion and treating constipation, gas, yeast infections, dandruff, boosting the immune system and increasing energy, in a surprising discovery probiotics have been found to help those suffering from athlete’s foot fungus. Patients taking probiotics for thedigestive tract noticed that the skin on their feet became smooth and stayed healthy as long as they took a daily dose of probiotics.