Chances are if you are diagnosed with bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe amoxicillin. While that’s generally good news for your primary recovery, what does it mean in terms of side effects? Does a dose of “good” bacteria in the form of probiotics help counteract those side effects? Lets get into it.
Amoxicillin is, by the CDC’s numbers in 2020, the most-prescribed antibiotic in the US along with azithromycin. It is prescribed for a very wide range of bacterial infections, ranging from pneumonia, through dental abscesses, to UTIs and more. There’s practically nothing amoxicillin can’t do. It’s easy to see why it is such a standby for prescribing doctors; it is the very model of a “broad spectrum antibiotic” as favored in a majority of simple infection cases.
Amoxicillin and Its Role As An Antibiotic in Killing Good Bacteria
There are few classes of bacteria that amoxicillin doesn’t attack. From opportunistic bacteria such as H. Influenzae to the digestive-focused Helicobacter pylori, it searches and destroys the cultures that cause some of the worst symptoms of food poisoning, meningitis and strep throat. When paired with clavulanic acid, it is particularly effective in breaking down stubborn respiratory tract infections. And while all of this makes it highly useful, it also means that some “good” bacteria will get pulled down in the crossfire.
Therefore, it is worth considering whether amoxicillin and probiotics can be choreographed in such a way that you get the benefits of the former with no side-effects (or, at least, a reduction).
Is it safe to take amoxicillin and probiotics together?
Taking a probiotic while you're taking amoxicillin won't likely do damage, however your probiotics might not be as effective – likely because they're not strong enough to survive an antibiotic attack.
Which is the best probiotic to take with amoxicillin?
For the best results, the ideal probiotics for amoxicillin users will include the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain and yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii. If you are suffering digestive discomfort as a result of using amoxicillin, lactobacillus should be part of any probiotic treatment you use to mitigate the effects.
Also to get the benefit of probiotics, you should consider what result you are looking for. In most of our cases, the most notable side effect of amoxicillin is digestive disturbance; within days of taking the antibiotic, or even sooner, you may begin to feel uncomfortable in the stomach, and even experience diarrhea. If you’re being treated with amoxicillin, probiotics can restore your gut flora and help maintain digestive balance.
When is the best time to take probiotics after amoxicillin?
To some extent, this depends on the dosage recommendations for the antibiotic itself. Often it will be recommended that you take an antibiotic three times a day, at six-hour intervals (for example at 8am, 2pm and once more at 8pm). In this case, the wisest move will be to take probiotics after amoxicillin at a three-hour interval (at 11am, 5pm and 11pm) This ensures that there is time for the probiotic to work unhindered - as far away as possible from each dose of the antibiotic.
Allowing a window when taking probiotics with antibiotics is beneficial not just because it gives maximum functionality to the former, but because the latter will also be able to work on the bacteria it really needs to be killing, without its task being further complicated. If the gap between doses is shorter than six hours, then it is important to also narrow the window for doses of the probiotic. The optimum time to take lactobacillus is half-way between antibiotic doses.
Let’s wrap up
No one can dispute the obvious and invaluable beneficial impacts of amoxicillin and its use as a broad spectrum antibiotic for disease control. With that said, any prolonged period of use can leave you feeling severely under the weather for different reasons, and in need of a probiotic.
Look into your options for an effective probiotic that boosts gut flora and enhances the digestive system’s workings - ones with lactobacillus and beneficial yeasts are particularly good in this respect. Amoxicillin and probiotics, if used correctly, can be the perfect tandem to ensure that you come swiftly through a period of infection feeling much better.