Frequently Asked Questions
I’m immunosuppressed. Are probiotics safe?
We do not recommend that individuals who are immunosuppressed take live cultures supplements, due to a lack of clinical evidence.
Patients who are severely immunocompromised or immunosuppressed do not have the ability to mount an appropriate response to any microbe that they come in contact with. Specialised cells in the intestine (M Cells & Peyers patches) are continually sampling the intestinal lumen for antigens (food or microbes). Microbes, even those that are normally neutral or considered beneficial, can sometimes cross the gut barrier and grow in the blood or in the internal organs where the nutrients are high and the competition for nutrients is low. Growth in these areas can cause septicaemia, fungemia, abscesses, myo-endocarditis (infection of the heart), or pancreatitis.
There may in fact be a benefit in taking probiotics for patients with severe immunosuppression, but the risk is also thought to be high in many circumstances. Because there is currently insufficient clinical evidence in this area, we would not recommend probiotics for individuals who are severely immunocompromised or immunosuppressed.
Make sure you discuss this with your treating physician.
Reference: This FAQ has been answered by Joanna Scott-Lutyens, BA (hons), DipION, Nutritional Therapist.