There are many varieties of probiotics accessible over-the-counter (OTC), which is why a doctor doesn’t need to write a prescription. They are available in several forms, such as capsules, packages, or dietary supplements. However, one type of probiotic, VSL#3-DS®, is available only by prescription. 

VSL#3-DS® is the only probiotic that is considered to be a type of medical food. It is primarily involved in the regulation of intestinal barrier function, which includes improving tight junction protein function, stabilizing intestinal microbiota composition, and regulating immune-related cytokine expression, among other things.

 

What Is the Best Probiotic Recommended by Gastroenterologists?

Several studies, including one conducted by Dr. Matthew A. Ciorba published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal, have found that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) is the most effective probiotic known to date, lowering both the intensity and length of diarrhea by as much as one day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, early use of LGG can shorten the duration of symptoms of acute infectious diarrhea.

 

Do Gastroenterologists Believe in Probiotics?

Practicing gastroenterologists and physicians with a specific interest in gastrointestinal illnesses in a large metropolitan area were asked to participate in a 16-question survey. A total of 100% of physicians stated that they believed probiotics were safe for most of their patients, and 98% responded that probiotics have a role in treating gastrointestinal disorders or symptoms. Probiotics are currently prescribed by 93% of physicians, with most patients taking them for irritable bowel syndrome.  

Most physicians who responded to the study suggested probiotics for antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome because the evidence supported their use for these conditions. On the other hand, physician practice patterns did not consistently connect with written, expert-panel-generated recommendations for evidence-based probiotic usage.

 

Are There Any FDA Approved Probiotics?

Probiotics are defined by the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as “live microorganisms that are intended to offer health advantages when consumed or administered to the body.” Therefore, no particular health claims for probiotics have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States.

 

Are Probiotics Medically Proven?

Probiotics are live microorganisms; typically bacteria believed to have beneficial health effects. Antibiotic-related diarrhea, tooth decay, digestive issues, allergies, dermatitis, liver illness, and even the common cold have been examined in conjunction with probiotics in the past several years. However,  there is no definite evidence that probiotics are medically proven effective for any of these conditions.

 

Can You Take Probiotics Without Consulting a Doctor?

Probiotics are safe to consume for the great majority of the population. Individuals who fall into one of the few prohibited groups should always obtain medical advice before using live culture supplements.

The contraindications to probiotics are frequently based on one or two isolated incidents of a bad health outcome following the administration of probiotics. These incidents might have been caused by other health issues just as readily as probiotics could have caused them in many situations. However, it is always prudent to be cautious, which is why the standards have been established in the first place.

 

Will Insurance Cover Probiotics?

Probiotics are not pharmaceuticals that require a prescription. Because they are classified as dietary supplements, they are not covered by medical insurance. Even with a doctor’s prescription, it is unlikely that health insurance will cover the cost of probiotics.

 

References:

    1. Cheng, Fang-Shu et al. “Probiotic Mixture VSL#3: An Overview Of Basic And Clinical Studies In Chronic Diseases”. World Journal Of Clinical Cases, vol 8, no. 8, 2020, pp. 1361-1384. Baishideng Publishing Group Inc., doi:10.12998/wjcc.v8.i8.1361. Accessed 24 Apr 2022.
    2. Wilkins, Thad, and Jacqueline Sequoia. “Probiotics For Gastrointestinal Conditions: A Summary Of The Evidence”. American Family Physician, vol 96, no. 3, 2017, pp. 170-178., https://www.aafp.org/afp/2017/0801/p170.html. Accessed 24 Apr 2022.
    3. Ciorba, Matthew A. “A Gastroenterologist’s Guide To Probiotics”. Clinical Gastroenterology And Hepatology, vol 10, no. 9, 2012, pp. 960-968. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2012.03.024. Accessed 24 Apr 2022.
    4. Thomas, Dan W., and Frank R. Greer. “Probiotics And Prebiotics In Pediatrics”. Pediatrics, vol 126, no. 6, 2010, pp. 1217-1231. American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP), doi:10.1542/peds.2010-2548. Accessed 24 Apr 2022.
    5. Williams, Michael D. et al. “Probiotics As Therapy In Gastroenterology”. Journal Of Clinical Gastroenterology, Publish Ahead of Print, 2010. Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health), doi:10.1097/mcg.0b013e3181d47f5b. Accessed 24 Apr 2022.