What is it?
Saccharomyces boulardii is most commonly used for treating and preventing diarrhea, including infectious types such as rotaviral diarrhea in children, diarrhea caused by gastrointestinal (GI) take-over (overgrowth) by "bad" bacteria in adults, traveler's diarrhea, and diarrhea associated with tube feedings. It is also used to prevent and treat diarrhea caused by the use of antibiotics.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for SACCHAROMYCES BOULARDII are as follows:
Likely effective for...
- Diarrhea. Research shows that Saccharomyces boulardii can prevent diarrhea in people with feeding tubes. It also helps decrease how long diarrhea lasts in infants and children by about 12 hours to 1 day. However, Saccharomyces boulardii seems to be less effective than conventional medicines for diarrhea, such as loperamide (Imodium).
- Rotaviral diarrhea. Research shows that giving Saccharomyces boulardii to infants and children can shorten the duration of diarrhea caused by rotavirus by about 1 day.
Possibly effective for...
- Acne. Research shows that taking Saccharomyces boulardii by mouth helps improve the appearance of acne.
- Diarrhea in people taking antibiotics. Most research shows that Saccharomyces boulardii can help prevent diarrhea in adults and children being treated with antibiotics. For every 9-13 patients treated with Saccharomyces boulardii during treatment with antibiotics, one less person will develop antibiotic-related diarrhea.
- Diarrhea caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii along with antibiotics seems to help prevent Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea from re-occurring in people with a history of recurrence. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii along with antibiotics also seems to help prevent first episodes of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. But experts don't recommend using Saccharomyces for preventing first episodes.
- Helicobacter pylori. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii by mouth along with standard H. pylori treatment helps treat this infection. About 12 people need to be treated with Saccharomyces boulardii for one patient who would otherwise remain infected to be cured. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii also helps prevent side effects such as diarrhea and nausea that occur with standard H. pylori treatment.
- Diarrhea related to HIV. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii by mouth appears to reduce diarrhea related to HIV.
- Traveler's diarrhea. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii by mouth appears to prevent traveler's diarrhea.
Possibly ineffective for...
- Damage to the intestinal tract in preterm infants (Necrotizing enterocolitis; NEC). Research shows that giving Saccharomyces boulardii to preterm infants does not prevent NEC or death from any cause.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Amoeba infections (amebiasis). Early research shows that taking Saccharomyces boulardii by mouth along with antibiotics reduces diarrhea and stomach pain in people with amoeba infections.
- Cholera. Saccharomyces boulardii does not seem to improve cholera symptoms, even when given with standard treatments.
- Crohn's disease. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii seems to reduce the number of bowel movements in people with Crohn's disease. Early research also shows that taking Saccharomyces boulardii along with mesalamine can help people with Crohn's disease stay in remission longer. But taking Saccharomyces boulardii alone does not seem to help people with Crohn's disease stay in remission longer.
- Cystic fibrosis. Early research shows that taking Saccharomyces boulardii by mouth does not reduce yeast infections in the digestive tract of people with cystic fibrosis.
- Heart failure. Early research shows that taking Saccharomyces boulardii might improve heart function in people with heart failure.
- High cholesterol levels. Early research shows that Saccharomyces boulardii does not seem to affect cholesterol levels.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Research shows that taking Saccharomyces boulardii improves quality of life in people with diarrhea-predominant or mixed-type IBS. But Saccharomyces boulardii doesn't seem to improve most IBS symptoms such as stomach pain, urgency, or bloating.
- Jaundice in infants. Some infants develop jaundice after birth due to high bilirubin levels. Giving Saccharomyces boulardii to term infants might prevent jaundice and reduce the need for phototherapy in a small number of these infants. But it's not known if Saccharomyces boulardii reduces the risk of jaundice in at-risk infants. Giving Saccharomyces boulardii to infants along with phototherapy doesn't lower bilirubin levels better than phototherapy alone.
- Low birth weight. Giving a Saccharomyces boulardii supplement after birth seems to improve weight gain and feeding in preterm infants with low birth weight.
- Ulcerative colitis. Early research shows that adding Saccharomyces boulardii to standard mesalamine therapy can reduce symptoms in people with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis.
- Canker sores.
- Fever blisters.
- High cholesterol.
- Lactose intolerance.
- Lyme disease.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Yeast infections.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
Special precautions & warnings:Children. Saccharomyces boulardii is POSSIBLY SAFE for children when taken by mouth appropriately. However, diarrhea in children should be evaluated by a healthcare professional before using Saccharomyces boulardii.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking Saccharomyces boulardii if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Elderly: The elderly might have an increased risk of fungal infection when taking Saccharomyces boulardii. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Weakened immune system: There is some concern that taking Saccharomyces boulardii might cause fungemia, which is the presence of yeast in the blood. The actual number of cases of Saccharomyces boulardii-related fungemia is hard to determine. However, the risk seems to be greatest for people who are very sick or who have weakened immune systems. In particular, people with catheters, those receiving tube feeding, and those being treated with multiple antibiotics or antibiotics that work on a wide variety of infections seem to be most at-risk. In many cases, fungemia resulted from catheter contamination by air, environmental surfaces, or hands that have been contaminated with Saccharomyces boulardii.
Yeast allergy: People with yeast allergy can be allergic to products containing Saccharomyces boulardii, and are best advised to avoid these products.
Are there interactions with medications?
- Medications for fungal infections (Antifungals)
- Saccharomyces boulardii is a fungus. Medications for fungal infections help reduce fungus in and on the body. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii with medications for fungal infections can reduce the effectiveness of Saccharomyces boulardii.
Some medications for fungal infection include fluconazole (Diflucan), caspofungin (Cancidas), itraconazole (Sporanox) amphotericin (Ambisome), and others.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.
Are there interactions with foods?
- There are no known interactions with foods.
What dose is used?
- For diarrhea in people taking antibiotics: 250-500 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii taken 2-4 times daily for up to 2 weeks is most commonly used. In most cases, daily doses do not exceed 1000 mg daily.
- For diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile: For preventing recurrence, 500 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii twice daily for 4 weeks along with antibiotic treatment has been used.
- For diarrhea caused by Helicobacter pylori: 500-1000 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii daily for 1-4 weeks is most commonly used.
- For diarrhea associated with HIV: 3 grams of Saccharomyces boulardii daily.
- For traveler's diarrhea: 250-1000 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii daily for 1 month.
- For diarrhea in people taking antibiotics: 250 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii once or twice daily for the duration of antibiotics has been used.
- For general diarrhea: For treating acute diarrhea, 250 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii once or twice daily for 5 days has been used. For treating persistent diarrhea, 1750 billion to 175 trillion colony-forming units of Saccharomyces boulardii twice daily for 5 days has been used. For preventing diarrhea in people receiving tube feedings, 500 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii four times daily has been used.
- For rotaviral diarrhea: 200-250 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii twice daily for 5 days has been used.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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