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Updated: November 1, 2018
My father-in-law, Dr. Shaul Cohen, has been telling me about the benefits of oral and topical probiotics for years. Two years ago, 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. We started the regimen outlined below and didn’t get sick again that winter. I was amazed (and converted) when I’d see every one of my son’s classmates with snotty faces and his perfectly clean.
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.
There may be benefits to topical probiotics
What Dr. Cohen Uses on Himself
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). The capsule can survive the journey through the stomach to promote gut health, while the chewable can promote gum, tooth and lung health.
He recommends this probiotic spray because it contains 12 strains of probiotics. He sprays his face, concentrating on nose and eye area and sprays his gums too. He also applies some of the liquid probiotics with a cotton swab to the opening of his nostrils. He theorizes that the probiotics monopolize the real estate and crowd out bad bacteria and viruses, which reduces risk of illness.
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.
Probiotics that I use for my family
We spray each of our faces at least twice a day with this probiotic spray, concentrating on nose and eye area. We try to also apply some of the liquid probiotics with a qtip to the openings of our nostrils (but honestly, mornings are sometimes too hectic).
Kids / Baby
Liquid per above
We have been mixing this probiotic powder into my now almost four year old son’s yogurts since he turned six months. One of his first sentences was “more probiotics, please.” It’s sweetened with fruit and he loves the flavor.
About a year ago, my son discovered these probiotic gummies. He loves the flavor, so we alternate them with the above powder.
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
Cavity, ear and nose infections
Stomach and Bowel infections and Irritable bowel syndrome
Bladder and Kidney infections
Autoimmune diseases: Lupus. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’ disease
Asthma and Allergies
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.