When we think of probiotics, we think of bacteria. However, soil-based probiotics, such as S.boulardii (pictured, isn’t it cute?!), are actually yeasts. These guys HATE pathogenic bacteria and over the years they have evolved a variety of compounds to keep bad bacteria away from them. We exploit them for these compounds.
As their name suggests, soil-based probiotics normally live in the soil but they can exist for a few weeks in your guts too. While there they release their awesome compounds which zap the baddies in our guts (but leaving the good guys alone….isn’t that nuts? Like a smart antibiotic).
For this reason, I use soil-based probiotics in dogs with chronic gut issues. I give them first for a couple of weeks before a few weeks on normal bacterial-based probiotics. I explain to people this is “clearing the weeds before you throw the grass seed down”.
But look what I just found, S.boulardii also seems to affect that horrible little protozoan Giardia (in humans, anyway)!!! This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study (the best) of 65 patients with giardiasis. One group took metronidazole with S. boulardii while the other got metronidazole with a placebo. The patients were re-examined at 2 and 4 weeks after treatment. After two weeks, the S.boulardii group had zero infections while the other group were still 17% infected.
These may sound like small numbers guys but you don’t want to be in that 17% where the broad spectrum antibiotics lays waste to your gut flora and you don’t get better. Now the infection has a field day and you could be in the shit for the long haul.
I couldn’t help but wonder how S. boulardii would perform without the antibiotic assistance…so I got to looking, and found this:
“The effect of treatment with S. boulardii with or without metronidazole on the intestinal mucosa, the antioxidant defence system and the parasitic load was determined in experimental giardiasis. Eight groups of animals with infection and/or treatment with the probiotic and/or drugs for 1 week after infection with Giardia lamblia were used. A reduction of approximately 90% in the parasitic load was observed in all the treated groups. Saccharomyces boulardii attenuated the damage caused by infection in the intestinal mucosa preserving its architecture and inhibiting the oxidative stress induced by parasite and metronidazole.
Conclusions: Saccharomyces boulardii was effective alone or in combination with metronidazole in resolving already established G. lamblia infection.
In short, soil-based probiotics are well worth a shot for stubborn gut infections and now giardia. Also effective against Giardia (at least in rats) are extracts of cinnamon and ginger.
These treatments work alongside the conventional, should you have gone that way already. If in a multidog household, you might consider these as a prevention in the others while the patient recovers, Giardia loves to spread.
Dr Conor Brady
“After college where I earned in a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of mammals, I spent five years in guide dogs as a pup supervisor and guide dog trainer, first in Ireland and then Perth, Australia. It was while I was in Australia that the true powers of raw feeding came to light. That was 16 years ago.
The time since, bar a couple of years as a producer myself, I have spent as a full-time writer, speaker and dedicated advocate for natural canine feeding and health. Much of my work you will find at my website www.dogsfirst.ie and for the nerds, there is in my 2020 book Feeding Dogs: Dry or Raw? The Science Behind the Debate, which proudly remains the #1 rated manual on canine nutrition on BookAuthority.com.”