woman on a boat with a sea full of probiotics

My journey with probiotics and Crohn's Disease

When it comes to gut health, there's one word we always hear: probiotics.

If you're not savvy, probiotics are quite simply good bacteria. When we take antibiotics, we want to get rid of any nasty bacteria that could be causing infections. Unfortunately, in doing so, that can also deplete our good bacteria too; which is where probiotics come in.

Probiotics can be taken in the form of a supplement or fermented foods-like kefir and sauerkraut-which also contain these positive bacteria strains.

Are probiotics good for Crohn's and UC?

Therefore, given so much of our IBD is due to an inflamed and troubled gut, you might think probiotics are the answer to your prayers? Not necessarily.

I like to research things carefully when it comes to my Crohn's disease and unfortunately, when it comes to probiotics, I couldn't find a lot of definitive answers. When it comes to Crohn's Disease, a review of probiotics quoted: " Currently, there is no solid evidence supporting the efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of active Crohn’s disease, and data are limited regarding their benefit in the maintenance of remission,"1 but what about ulcerative colitis?

There do seem to be more studies in this area. For example, a trial of the probiotic VSL3 showed it could potentially help with remission1 while another study showed it didn't seem to improve the quality of life with those who had UC but did reduce their inflammatory markers.2 It seems there's far more hope in probiotics if you're living with UC than if you're living with Crohn's.

My experience of taking probiotics with Crohn's

Yet, like lots of these things, the studies only tell us so much, and speaking to others is important so I thought I'd share my experiences.

I've tried lots of different probiotics for my Crohn's and not had a great deal of success. I tried Symprove throughout my pregnancy (I had read probiotics can be beneficial to the baby so I thought I'd try it for those benefits if nothing else) and my IBD was relatively stable due to hormones. However, I did notice while taking this probiotic I fended off colds more easily and could eat a much wider variety of vegetables. However, this could be due to pregnancy itself.

VSL3 was another one I tried before my pregnancy but didn't notice much of a difference either way.

A focus on fermented foods

I'm now trying my best to focus on fermented foods instead. I had great success when I first tried sauerkraut (I wrote about this on my own blog). I felt so much better after a tablespoon or so a day, but strangely, the effect seemed to wear off after a few weeks almost as if I had gotten used to it. I'm now trying Kefir and have managed to drink a little more each day. I'm in remission but struggling with IBS. So far, it has made a little bit of a difference but it's too soon to tell.

I guess my findings show that there's no one solution for probiotics and Crohn's disease and, possibly, we need to keep varying and changing things so our gut doesn't get too used to one type of probiotic. While supplements can help, eating a wide and varied diet is probably the best solution and sadly for me, and those of you who are reading this, there really is no quick fix.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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