Can Probiotics Cause Gas?

Gas and Bloating

Not all strains of probiotics are the same, and not all probiotic supplements contain the same strain. These variances, along with differences in other additives from one product to another, makes each supplement a unique product. Add this to the uniqueness of the flora found in each person's intestinal tract, and you have a recipe for diverse side effects. These differences can also lead to some strains being more effective than others.

Probiotic Strength

The strength of a product also influences its effect. Probiotics are measured in colony forming units (CFU) which refers to live microbes present in a dose. The CFUs vary from one product to another and as a result, the effects experienced when taking one product may not hold true with another.

Gas and the Die-Off Theory

Whole-health practitioners and some medical doctors often recommend probiotics to help treat a condition called intestinal dysbiosis, which is an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and/or fungus in the intestines. This condition is often due to a poor diet; however, it may also result from the use of antibiotics or as the consequence of a compromised immune system. Probiotics combined with dietary changes and other therapies are used to treat this problem. The result is that the bad intestinal organisms begin to die off. This die-off creates a whole set of possible symptoms including:

  • Bloating
  • Craving for sweets
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Stuffiness
  • Vomiting

To prevent severe symptoms, it is recommended probiotics be introduced slowly and gradually increased.

Probiotics and Gas

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), side effects in most people resulting from taking probiotics tend to be mild and digestive in nature. This includes gas and bloating. Good and bad bacteria can produce gas as they feed inside the body. Gas, and even diarrhea, may occur more when probiotics are first introduced. These symptoms can last for a few days or even a week for some people, while others never experience these side effects. Once the healthy flora takes over, these symptoms are said to subside.

Probiotic Foods and Gas

Foods such as yogurt and kefir are additional sources of these beneficial living organisms and provide a natural way to add probiotics to the diet. Reports related to gas and the use of these food products are similar to reports from people who take probiotic supplements. Adding probiotics to the diet through natural foods, such as yogurt and kefir, is said to help alleviate gas and bloating as well as promote regularity. However, anecdotal evidence suggests some people experience gas and bloating when consuming these products. Again, this differs from one individual to another, and there are no conclusive studies to support claims. However, in the case of yogurt and kefir, another thing to consider is the fact that both of these foods are dairy products. People who have trouble digesting lactose, often experience problems with gas.

Talk With Your Doctor

While probiotic dietary supplements are generally safe to take for most people, for individuals who have a history of poor digestive health, intestinal damage or other underlying illnesses, it is wise to talk with your doctor before taking probiotics. While these gut-friendly bacteria offer a number of health benefits, they are not for everyone.

Can Probiotics Cause Gas?