Side Effects of Culturelle

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Patient speaking with doctor in office. (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

Culturelle is a probiotic supplement that contains high levels of Lactobacillus GG, bacteria normally present in the human digestive tract. The idea behind probiotics is that the "normal" bacteria push out disease-causing bacteria, preventing infections.

Common Side Effects

Culturelle is an example of a probiotics supplement, which means that it's made up of bacteria that are considered to be "non-pathogenic" (meaning they don't cause disease). Because these bacteria are designed to colonize the digestive tract, the most common side effects are related to this system and tend to be fairly mild. Common side effects include gas, bloating or abnormal "gurgling" of the digestive system, as the body adjusts to the changing levels of bacteria.

Abnormal Side Effects

Because using Culturelle (or any form of probiotics) involves exposing your digestive tract to large quantities of bacteria, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine warns that there is the risk (though small) of developing a serious infection from these bacteria. This risk is greater for people with weak immune systems, such as infants, elderly people, some cancer patients and people with AIDS. Although the bacteria in probiotics are generally not harmful, they could potentially overgrow in the digestive system and cause pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and blood in the stool.

Other Concerns

Culturelle, because it is a probiotic supplement that is taken orally, is regulated by the FDA as a food, not a medication. This means that its effectiveness and safety is not as carefully examined. In addition, probiotics and other alternative therapies should not be used to replace conventional treatments. It's also important to mention to your physician that you are taking probiotics.

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