One Easy Way to Prevent the Common Cold, Flu and Other Common Ailments

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 My father-in-law, Dr. Shaul Cohen, has been telling me about the benefits of oral and topical probiotics for years. After my husband, son and I were sick with colds for most of November, I sat down with him to get more nuanced information and recommendations.  

My Key Takeaways on Probiotics

  • It is already well established that probiotics can prevent and help heal gastrointestinal issues.
  •  Now there is strong evidence that probiotics help to protect you from a host of other ailments, diseases and disorders, including the common cold (and even obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, see below for a more robust list).


  • Don't wait until you are sick to start a probiotic regimen.  Maintaining a good balance of gut bacteria can naturally protect you from many diseases.  
  • The benefits of oral probiotics are well established.  
    • Children can take a powder
    • A capsule is preferable for adults to help the probiotics survive the journey through the stomach
  • Spraying a topical liquid probiotic on your face and inserting some in your nostrils with a cotton swab may help prevent the common cold and flu (in lay terms, the probiotics crowd out the cold virus).  
  • Similarly, spraying a topical liquid probiotic on a wound can help to prevent an infection. 
  • A chewable probiotic may help with gum and tooth health.
  • Look for a probiotic with a high number of live cultures and strains.

Dr. Cohen's Personal Recommendations

  • My father-in-law hasn't gotten sick in the 2.5 years since he started taking both a capsule and chewable daily and using a probiotic spray twice daily (links are to the brands that he uses).  
  • He recommends this probiotic spray because it contains 12 strains of probiotics. 
  • When traveling, he always brings capsules containing 100 Billion CFU to take if he or his companions need to take antibiotics or get upset stomach.

What I Use for Myself and my Toddler


  • I take this capsule and give this powder to my toddler (safe from three months).  I prefer this brand as it doesn't contain additives.  
  • For my son, I generally mix the powder with his yogurt (you could also mix it with milk).  He likes it so much that he sometimes asks to eat it straight from the spoon.  

My pediatrician mentioned that all the GI doctors that she speaks with recommend this brand (they make capsules for adults, and for kids you can either spill out the capsule contents or buy packets).  I asked an acquaintence who is a pediatric GI -- she said that who said that it is rather expensive and not warranted unless you have specific major issues.  

An Interesting Tidbit on Probiotics and Obesity

In one study, probiotics were given to women in their last five months of pregnancy and until one month post birth, which reduced excessive weight gain in the mothers and in the children from birth to age ten!

Additional Indications for Probiotics

  • Gum health 
  • Cavity, ear and nose infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Stomach and Bowel infections and Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Skin infections
  • Bladder and Kidney infections
  • Autoimmune diseases: Lupus. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’ disease
  • Asthma and Allergies
  • Obesity
  • Increase longevity and improves quality of life
  • Increase good Cholesterol ( HDL)
  • Improve metabolic syndrome, and reduce markers of inflammation
  • Improve sugar control, decrease liver inflammation
  • Reduce DNA damage that can cause cancer
  • Protect against chronic diseases including diabetes, heart lung and blood vessel diseases

Click here for an article summarizing much current research on this topic.  


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This article doesn't constitute medical advice.  It is a summary of one physician's recommendations based on research that he has reviewed, as well as his personal experience, combined with my personal practices.