How Long Does It Take for Probiotics To Work?

How Long Does It Take for Probiotics To Work?

Have you considered taking a probiotic? People take these popular supplements for many reasons, including to look and feel better. Probiotics have been theorized to provide a wide range of benefits, but how long does it take those benefits to show up?

The truth is that many probiotics may not immediately provide the advertised benefits. This does not mean that they aren’t effective. In this guide, you’ll learn what factors determine how long it takes probiotics to work. You’ll also learn some data-backed estimates for how long it takes for some popular probiotics to work.  

First, let’s quickly review what a probiotic is and why the time it takes to work may matter to you.

Table of Contents

  • What is a probiotic?
  • What does science say about how long it takes for probiotics to work?
  • What does science say about how fast probiotics work?

  • What is a Probiotic?

    A probiotic is a type of ingestible that carries good bacteria. Your body relies on a large number of healthy bacterias it does not produce to manage digestion, fight illnesses, and resolve inflammation.

    These bacteria typically form colonies where your body allows them. For example, your gut is home to as many as 500 different kinds of bacteria. These gut bacteria break down foods that your stomach acids can’t and convert foods into other types of hard-to-get nutrients.

    The naturally occurring probiotics in your body can be harmed. For example, long-term antibiotic use, food poisoning, and other traumatic medical events can deplete the populations of these bacteria in your body. 

    When these colonies become weakened, you may experience unpleasant symptoms, including diarrhea, thyroid issues, rashes, fatigue, heartburn, and unexplained sluggishness. Many people choose to supplement with probiotics to resolve these symptoms. 

    What Factors Determine How Quickly Probiotics Work?

    Several important factors may determine how fast probiotics work for you. 

    • The strain: Different strains of bacteria may be more or less effective at colonizing areas in your body. Different strains may take longer to grow or be more susceptible to dangers.
    • The concentration: Your probiotic may never work properly if you aren’t taking a large enough dose. Make sure that you follow instructions completely.
    • The destination: Some probiotics are designed for the intense acids of the stomach. However, some probiotics are needed in the intestines. Probiotics manufacturers have struggled with making formulations that can survive the trip with enough strength.
    • What you’re trying to treat: Probiotics may produce sudden results when used to target some problems and act slowly when targeting others. It’s normal for results to take as long as 12 weeks. 
    • The probiotic you’re using to treat the problem: It’s possible that you accidentally took the wrong probiotic. You may not notice any improvements over time if you’re using a probiotic cultured to treat a different problem.
    • Whether you’re supporting the probiotics: Many decisions you make while taking probiotics have the potential to support or undermine the results. For example, consuming alcohol can kill gut bacteria and may have a worse effect on colonies that are fragile and still growing. You can support probiotics by avoiding alcohol, consuming more fermented/pickled food, and getting enough water.
    • The quality of the probiotics: Probiotics are formed from live cultures. These cultures need to be strong to be effective, but they aren’t always manufactured to be strong enough. Other dangers that may impact them during shipping, such as humidity, heat, and light, can also reduce the effectiveness.

    What Does Science Say About How Long It Takes for Probiotics to Work?

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    Example 1: Diarrhea reduction in 2 days

    This study combined probiotics and rehydration therapy over time to determine how long it would take to show results. 

    The researchers found that the duration and frequency of diarrhea were reported as down only two days after starting treatment for the test group. These results are potentially important for those who can’t safely take antibiotics but may be endangered by diarrhea symptoms when infected.

    Example 2: IBS reduction in 4 weeks

    This study of the probiotic Saccharomyces Boulardii examined the effect it had on irritable bowel syndrome over time.

    Researchers put test subjects—who were all IBS-diagnosed patients—on a 4-week dosage of probiotics. The test group reported that their symptoms had significantly improved by the end of the test run.

    Is It Time to Start Taking Antibiotics?

    Is now the time for you to start taking probiotics? In this guide, you learned some facts to help you make better decisions about whether to begin or keep using these supplements.

    First, you learned what makes something a probiotic and why it matters whether they work quickly or not. You’ve learned some of the factors that decide whether a probiotic works quickly or not. You know that the quality of the products you choose may play a role in whether the probiotics are healthy enough to survive.

    Finally, you’ve seen some of the science behind probiotics. You know that there is scientific support for certain results and that sometimes, probiotics may be effective in only a few days.



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