A Yeast Probiotic Helped My Diarrhea

Probiotics and I do not have a great history. I tried one right after my IBS-C diagnosis back in 2016, but after a year, it did nothing to change my symptoms. It was potent enough: 20 billion bacteria and 10 strains consisting of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium varieties. Since my symptoms remained the same, I abandoned the whole idea of probiotics, learning that they work for some people but not for others.

From 2016 to 2019, I struggled with a mix of constipation and diarrhea, with occasional accidents on the living room carpet and bathroom floor. I've been using 2 methods to manage my IBS-M (M=Mixed: both diarrhea and constipation):

  • Portion control, as a means of lessening abdominal distention, providing more comfort during digestion, and promoting weight loss. Portion control continues to work in my favor.
  • Imodium, as a means of inducing constipation to stop diarrhea and restore a normal bowel movement. This method of managing diarrhea and constipation, however, was neither consistent nor practical, causing a see-sawing effect. Diarrhea was always the baseline.

I was desperate for relief

Desperately wanting off the merry-go-round of Imodium, constipation, and diarrhea, I did a search on probiotics once again. After a month of trying a new treatment, I feel ready to share my experience and research with you. It’s called a yeast probiotic, and its Latin name is Saccharomyces boulardii, or S. boulardii.

Experiences with yeast

I stumbled onto S. boulardii in a strange way. I’m prone to vaginal yeast infections which results from an overgrowth of candida yeast. I get them every time I take an antibiotic and must ask my prescribing doc to also write a script for Diflucan (fluconazole), a potent anti-fungal. I get yeast so easily that I swear if you silently send me a curse of yeast, I’ll get it from your incantation.

When I started dating my now-boyfriend, he revealed that he suffers from systemic yeast, the same kind as my vaginal yeast, and must take yeast cleanse regularly. Yeast can dwell in the gut flora, and if it goes unchecked, it will leak through the intestinal walls and spill into the bloodstream, causing illness, organ failure, and worse.

Finding a yeast balance

There are several kinds of yeast both good and bad, but this one is Candida albicans, or what I’ve been calling Candida, the infamous mother of all bad yeast. An overgrowth of Candida increases the pH of its environment, making it very alkaline and the tissues easily inflamed. I know first-hand how that feels vaginally. Then I had a brainstorm. What if I have an overgrowth of Candida in my gut flora, and that is somehow related to my vaginal yeast infections? And could it be affecting my IBS symptoms? What can I take for it?

I found a probiotic that has 13 strains and 25 billion bacteria. Twelve of them are various Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains chosen for digestive health. The 13th strain is S. boulardii. I dug into the research hoping to find some solid science behind the health claims, and there’s plenty. (See 3 studies in the reference section below.)

What is S.boulardii?

Sources say that S. boulardii is a strain of baker’s yeast known as Saccharomyces cervisiae. S. boulardii has long been used as a medicine to cure pediatric diarrhea and antibiotic-induced diarrhea to positive affect. An added benefit is that it helps destroy Candida in the gut using 3 mechanisms that reduce the virulence of Candida by preventing its filaments from adhering to tissue, among other actions.

Moreover, a 2009 study acknowledges the application and efficacy of S. boulardii in preventing, treating and curing stomach bacterial infections such as clostridium difficile, better known as C. diff, and Helicobacter pylori, aka H. pylori.

How my IBS symptoms measure up to yeast

I don’t suffer from any of those infections, but I have had the classic symptoms of IBS that include bloating, painful gas, abdominal distention, constipation and diarrhea, and occasional incontinence, constantly and with no let-up for years.

One week after starting my new probiotic, diarrhea ceased. I have experienced 2 days of constipation now and then, but I suspect that is because I so completely empty my colon that it takes a couple of days for waste to build up again. This week there was no constipation. Now I have a bowel movement after each meal that consists of well-formed “logs.” From what I recall, this is what normal digestion is like.

I’m not peddling any supplements here and, of course, everybody who’s thinking about adding a supplement to their diet should consult with their doctors first. I’m just reporting my experiences. Here’s the list of ingredients for the probiotic I’m taking, including the brand name:

  • Brand: Vitamin Bounty. Product name: Pro-50. 13 probiotic strains, 50 billion organisms. 60 capsules. (You have to take 2 capsules a day, they are 25 each. I only take one a day and get the same benefit. So the bottle lasts 2 months for me. It also costs less this way.)
  • Ingredients: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, L. salivarius, L. paracasei, L. bugaricus; Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium brevis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Saccharomyces boulardii.

Saccharomyces boulardii is also available as a stand-alone probiotic that is easily found on health store sites and Amazon. If you’re interested in trying it and you already take a probiotic, this can supplement it.

Thanks for reading this far! All comments are welcome, of course. I wish better tummy days for all of us.

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