Gut health is essential for whole body health. In addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle, supplementation with probiotics can help support gut balance.
Probiotics are beneficial, live microbes that survive in your intestine after ingestion and exert positive effects. A healthy gut microbiome contains a balance of good and bad bacteria. Probiotics, whether through supplements or food, help maintain that balance, keeping your system neutral.
It can be common to experience some digestive symptoms, like gas, bloating, or diarrhea, while your system adjusts to the good microbes “cleaning house.” These symptoms typically resolve within the first two weeks.
Sometimes, there may be stronger effects experienced. An adjustment period of detoxification can occur when probiotics are initially introduced into your system. This is known as a Herx reaction or the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, discovered by Austrian dermatologist, Adolf Jarisch and German dermatologist, Karl Herxheimer. Detoxification is the body’s natural process to rid itself of toxins. When the friendly bacteria are introduced, they make room by killing the bad bacteria. When this die-off occurs, an endotoxin is released that then triggers an immune response. During this process, as your body is working to rid itself of the dead, bad bacteria, you may experience flu-like symptoms, such as achiness, headaches, fatigue, along with gas and diarrhea. The more extreme symptoms can be experienced when a large amount of pathogens are killed and the body does not eliminate them quickly enough.
This time is also known as a “healing crisis,” and it is recommended to take care of yourself, ensuring hydration and rest are supported. Typically, after this period, your side effects should be replaced by side benefits of a more supported gut.
As we all have a unique microbiome, experiences vary. Should the effects be extremely intense or not subside after a couple of weeks, it is recommended to check in with your health care professional to ensure there is not something more serious happening.