Yeast has the reputation for causing infection, so the notion of taking a few billion a day to be healthy may be difficult to swallow. One yeast in particular, Saccharomyces boulardii, has an indisputable role in the health of the digestive tract in mammals. This yeast is considered a probiotic. “Pro-biotic” literally means “for life.” Probiotics are live organisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”[sup]1[/sup] S. boulardii is a non-pathogenic yeast that has been used for over 50 years to treat diarrhea and dysentery. Without S. boulardii, our digestive system would be vulnerable to infection, inflammation, and dysbiosis (a microbial imbalance).
S. boulardii was first discovered in 1920 by French biologist Henri Boulard while traveling in southeast Asia in search of yeast that was heat-resistant for the production of wine. During Boulard’s stay, a cholera outbreak occurred. He noticed people would combat the diarrhea by chewing on the skins of lychee and mangosteen fruits, or boiling the skins in to tea. He discovered that the yeast could grow at an unusually high temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.[sup]2[/sup]
The yeast S. boulardii has broad, versatile gastro-intestinal and systemic benefits. It is best known to support healthy intestinal function in conditions including but not limited to: anti-biotic associated diarrhea, c.difficile disease, candida overgrowth, parasitic infection, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and traveler’s diarrhea.[sup]3,4[/sup] S. boulardii has also been found to effectively treat diarrhea associated with viral infections, including chronic diarrhea associated with the HIV virus.[sup]5[/sup]
Researchers have found S. boulardii confers anti-inflammatory protection in our body during an E. coli infection or overgrowth in the bowel. It does so by preventing the secretion of a chemical messenger that activates inflammatory markers in the gut, therefore reducing the severity and toxicity of E. coli invasion by 50 percent.6 Preliminary studies show S. boulardii reduces allergies to dietary proteins especially after recovery from acute gastroenteritis, decreasing the likelihood of persistent diarrhea.
When sourcing this yeast, be sure to find a reputable natural pharmacy or doctor’s office that maintains S. boulardii in cool temperatures to preserve product quality. I recommend two brands that have extensive 3rd party verification of product purity and potency, Prothera (Klaire Labs) and Florastor. This strain of yeast is not found in yogurts as with other probiotics. S.boulardii does not interact with any prescription medications and is safe for all persons with the exception of immuno-compromised ICU patients or those with indwelling central catheters.
S. boulardii is a unique probiotic with numerous beneficial properties. It defends our system from the toxic effects of antibiotics, and provides a wide-range of gastrointestinal support against infectious and inflammatory disorders. S. boulardii can be used on a regular basis to maintain normal gastrointestinal function.
Dr. Nicole Ortiz is co-owner of Live Well Clinic. For more info call 760-771-5970 or visit www.livewellclinic.org.
References: 1) World Health Organization AO/WHO: Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria. Report of the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food Including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria. 2) http://www.probiotic.org/saccharomyces-bouldarii.htm. 3) Buts JP, Bernasconi P. Saccharomyces boulardii: basic science and clinical applications in gastroenterology. Gastroenterol Clin North Am 2005;34:515-32, x. 4) Can M, Besirbellioglu B, Avci I, et al. Prophylactic Saccharomyces boulardii in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea: a prospective study. Med Sci Monit 2006;12:PI19-22. 5) Saint-Marc, T., Blehaut, H., Musial, C., and Touraine, J.L. (1995). “AIDS-related diarrhea; a double-blind trial of Florastor® (Saccharomyces boulardii)”. Semaine des Hopitaux. 1995; 71, N° 23-24: 735-741. 6) Czerucka D, Dahan S, Mograbi B, Rossi B and Rampal P (2000). “Saccharomyces boulardii Preserves the Barrier Function and Modulates the Signal Transduction Pathway Induced in Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli-Infected T84 Cells.”