Research: Probiotics prevent cold and flu-like symptoms

In a very interesting study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found that taking probiotics 2x/day from November through May drastically decreased the incidence of fevers, coughs, and runny nose in 3 to 5 year olds. The study was done in China, and involved 326 children. 110 children were given a probiotic with Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM alone. 112 children were given a combination probiotic with Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactic Bi-07, and 104 children were given a placebo. Compared to the placebo group, the children who took the probiotic with only Lactobacillus had 53% reduced incidence of fever, 41% reduced incidence of cough, and 28% reduced incidence of runny nose. Those who took the probiotic with combined Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium had even better results – 72 % less fever, 62% less cough, and 59% less runny nose!

The particular combination of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium used in this study is found in Ultra Flora Plus, a probiotic made by Metagenics. Ultra Flora Plus is available in our office, although other high quality probiotics may work just as well to support the immune system in this way.

One thing to remember is that this study did not specifically address the incidence of influenza, so we do not know if the probiotics decreased the incidence of this disease or only other viral respiratory infections. It would seem logical that it would decrease the incidence of influenza as well, but we do not know this for sure. In any case, taking probiotics seems like a good idea for fending off those winter respiratory infections!