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Saccharomyces Boulardii - Probiotic for digestive health

Digestion, Diarrhoea | March 25, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

candida, antidiarrhoeals, Digestion

Saccharomyces Boulardii - Probiotic for digestive health

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘probiotic’—which refers to live bacteria in the gut that assists in healthy digestive function. While technically a healthy strain of yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii is classified as a probiotic which is helpful in reducing diarrhoea, restoring gut health after a course of antibiotics and crowding out harmful pathogens that can cause digestive symptoms. Further research has found this helpful yeast restores a healthy microbiome, increases intestinal enzyme production and improves intestinal barrier function.

More about this healthy yeast

More about this healthy yeastSaccharomyces boulardii (SB), a subspecies of S. cerevisiae, is a non-pathogenic yeast which is used as a probiotic with the purpose of introducing beneficial live cultures into the small and large intestine. S. Boulardii is non-systemic which means it remains in the gastrointestinal tract rather than spreading elsewhere in the body. In 1932 it was first isolated from the skin of lychees and mangosteen by French scientist Henri Boulard. This was after he observed natives of Southeast Asia chewing on the skin of these fruits in an attempt to control the symptoms of cholera.

Probiotics as medicine

S. boulardii can treat and prevent a range of gastrointestinal problems—from diarrhoea to intestinal inflammation. Another benefit of S. boulardii is that it is unaffected by antibiotics and can be taken in conjunction without being ‘killed off’.

Let’s look at what the evidence tells us about this beneficial yeast.

Reduces antibiotic associated diarrhoea

Antibiotics are a common medication prescribed for bacterial infections, but a common side-effect is diarrhoea and disruption to populations of healthy bacteria. A recent meta-analysis of 21 randomised controlled trials confirmed that S. boulardii is effective in reducing the risk of antibiotic associated diarrhoea in adults and children.

Reduces diarrhoea from other causes

However, it’s not just diarrhoea caused by antibiotics that benefits from SB supplementation. Researchers saw positive results when they used S. boulardii to treat both acute and persistent diarrhoea in children.

It’s also proved to be beneficial in treating diarrhoea associated with the HIV virus. In one study patients receiving S.boulardii gained weight, while the placebo group lost weight over the 18 month trial.

Another study found that it can prevent diarrhoea in critically ill patients who are fed via tube and at risk for diarrhea.

Overseas travel

Overseas travelA meta-analysis of 12 randomised controlled trials of various probiotics (including S. boulardii) for the prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea found a significant reduction in the risk of traveller’s diarrhea when probiotics are used. These studies indicate that probiotics may be more effective in preventing traveller’s diarrhoea, rather than treating diarrhoea once it becomes symptomatic.


Candida albicans is the most common opportunistic fungal pathogen isolated from the human body, causing both superficial and systemic diseases. It can be found in the gastro intestinal tract, skin and mucous membranes lining various body cavities like the nostrils, the mouth, the lips, the eyelids, the ears or the genital area.  S. boulardii should be considered as a treatment for candida due to its ability to inhibit the growth, adhesion and biofilm formation of this pathogenic yeast. This is due to the ability of S. boulardii to secrete a compound called capric acid which is effective in making candida less virulent.
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Clostridium difficile infection

Taking S. boulardii supplements helps prevent diarrhoea in people infected by Clostridium difficile bacteria. It also seems to prevent diarrhea caused by this bacteria from re-occurring in some people and may be effective for secondary prevention of C. difficile infection.

Elimination of helicobacter pylori

Some studies have found that adding S. boulardii to antibiotic triple therapy targeting H. pylori infection showed a significant increase in eradication rates. It was also observed that S. boulardii decreased usual side-effects of H. pylori eradication therapy including diarrhoea and nausea.
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Irritable bowel syndrome

S. boulardii may assist in the temporary relief of symptoms associated with medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) including bloating, flatulence and digestive discomfort. It was also found to improve quality of life.

More trials using S. boulardii for IBS are required to allow solid conclusions for its use in this condition.
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Probiotic therapy with S. boulardii seems to have a beneficial effect in protozoal infections such as amebiasis, giardiasis and bastocystis hominis. In a small clinical study of symptomatic children with Blastocystis hominis infection, S. boulardii had potential beneficial effects in symptoms and number of parasites. In giardia and amebiasis, S. boulardii when taken in conjunction with standard medications, improved clinical outcomes.
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Ulcerative colitis

Probiotics have been used as an adjunct treatment in an attempt to induce remission in patients with active ulcerative colitis flares.

In a small pilot study of 25 adults with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis that were treated with a combination of mesalazine and S. boulardii for 4 weeks, most of the patients responded to the probiotic treatment. In a small pilot study of 6 patients with ulcerative colitis, a therapeutic regimen including S. boulardii and rifaximin for 3 months seemed effective in preventing early flare ups of ulcerative colitis.

Further controlled studies on a larger number of patients treated for longer periods with this probiotic agent are needed.

Chron’s disease

Treatment with S. boulardii in patients with Chron’s disease resulted in a significant improvement in their symptoms and reduced their risk of relapse. They also experienced a significant reduction in intestinal permeability—which allows substances, such as bacteria to pass through the intestinal wall and cause disruption to the rest of the body.
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Improves digestion

In the GIT, S. boulardii increases the production of secretory IgA (slgA), short-chain fatty acids and the activity of brush border enzymes which aid digestion. It also reduces digestive inflammatory mediators and helps restores a healthy range of friendly bacteria referred to as our microbiome.

How to find S. boulardii

S. boulardii is available from naturopaths, pharmacies and health food stores as a supplement. It can be combined with other probiotics for a more targeted approach. Most varieties must be kept refrigerated but there ae some which are room temperature stable and suitable for travelling.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Szajewska HKołodziej M. Systematic review with meta-analysis: Saccharomyces boulardii in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Oct;42(7):793-801

Kelesidis T. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii for the prevention and therapy of gastrointestinal disorders. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2012 Mar; 5(2): 111–125

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