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Saccharomyces boulardii


What is it?

Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast, which is a type of fungus. Saccharomyces boulardii was previously identified as a unique species of yeast, but is now believed to be a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast). Saccharomyces boulardii is used as medicine.

Saccharomyces boulardii is used for treating and preventing diarrhea, including infectious types such as rotaviral diarrhea in children, diarrhea caused by gastrointestinal (GI) take-over (overgrowth) by “bad” bacteria in adults, traveler's diarrhea, and diarrhea associated with tube feedings. It is also used to prevent and treat diarrhea caused by the use of antibiotics.

Saccharomyces boulardii is also used for general digestion problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBD, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), Lyme disease, a bowel disorder called relapsing Clostridium difficile colitis, and bacterial overgrowth in short bowel syndrome.

Some people use Saccharomyces boulardii for lactose intolerance, urinary tract infections (UTIs), vaginal yeast infections, high cholesterol levels, hives, fever blisters, canker sores, and teen-age acne.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for SACCHAROMYCES BOULARDII are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Prevention of diarrhea associated with antibiotics.
  • Prevention of traveler's diarrhea.
  • Treating diarrhea in infants.
  • Prevention of HIV-associated diarrhea.
  • Preventing recurring intestinal disease caused by a bacterium called Clostridium difficile.
  • Treating acne, in combination with other treatments.
  • Reducing side effects of treatment for the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Crohn's disease. There is some evidence that Saccharomyces boulardii combined with mesalamine can help people with Crohn’s disease stay in remission longer. Remission is a period of time during which symptoms of disease are controlled. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii also seems to reduce the number of bowel movements in people with Crohn’s disease.
  • Preventing yeast infections in the digestive tract of patients with cystic fibrosis.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Yeast infections.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Hives.
  • Fever blisters.
  • Canker sores.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Lactose intolerance.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate Saccharomyces boulardii for these uses.

How does it work?

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Saccharomyces boulardii is called a "probiotic," a friendly organism that helps to fight off disease-causing organisms in the gut such as bacteria and yeast.

Are there safety concerns?

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Saccharomyces boulardii is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth. It can cause gas in some people. Rarely, it might cause fungal infections that can spread through the bloodstream to the entire body (fungemia).

Saccharomyces boulardii is POSSIBLY SAFE for children. However, diarrhea in children should be evaluated by a healthcare professional before using Saccharomyces boulardii.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of Saccharomyces boulardii during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Weakened immune system: There is some concern that critically ill people, people who have a weakened immune system, and people who are taking medicines that alter the immune system might have an increased risk for developing a yeast infection that spreads to the bloodstream and the rest of the body (fungemia) if they take Saccharomyces boulardii. Although Saccharomyces generally doesn’t cause disease, there have been numerous cases of fungemia following its use, primarily in people with a weakened immune system.

Yeast allergy: People with yeast allergy can be allergic to products containing Saccharomyces boulardii, and are best advised to avoid these products.

Are there interactions with medications?

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Minor

Be watchful with this combination.

Medications for fungal infections (Antifungals)
Saccharomyces boulardii is a fungus. Medications for fungal infections help reduce fungus in and on the body. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii with medications for fungal infections can reduce the effectiveness of Saccharomyces boulardii.

Some medications for fungal infection include fluconazole (Diflucan), terbinafine (Lamisil), itraconazole (Sporanox), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

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There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

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The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics: 250-500 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii two to four times a day.
  • For diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile: 1 gram of Saccharomyces boulardii daily for 4 weeks along with antibiotic treatment.
  • For Crohn's disease:
    • 250 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii three times daily has been used for up to 9 weeks.
    • 1 gram of Saccharomyces boulardii daily in combination with usual treatment has also been used.
  • For ulcerative colitis: 205 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii three times daily.
  • For treatment of infections due to the ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori bacterium: a dose of 5 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of Saccharomyces boulardii daily in addition to usual treatment.

Other names

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Brewer's Yeast (Hansen CBS 5926), Hansen CBS 5926, Levure de Boulangerie (Hansen CBS 5926), Probiotic, Probiotique, Saccharomyces, Saccharomyces boulardii, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, S. Boulardii.

Methodology

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To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).

References

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To see all references for the Saccharomyces boulardii page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/332.html.

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Page last updated: 27 October 2014