Do Probiotics Kill Parasites

Do Probiotics Kill Parasites & Worms?

Dr. Dimitar

Medically reviewed by Dr. Dimitar Marinov, September 15, 2023

At least 4 million Americans take probiotics for a healthy tummy, knowing that these products can give their tummies a healthy boost of the so-called “good gut bacteria.”

But did you know that the benefits of probiotics go beyond just helping balance your gut microbiome?

Studies have shown that some probiotics could even help create a “barrier effect” in the intestinal epithelium, creating a chemical and physical barrier to pathogen invasion.

Aside from inhibiting pathogens from passing through the intestines, probiotics might also kill them through strain-specific mechanisms that rely on molecule secretion, immune induction, and/or competition.

Helminths (worms such as Ascaris and Trichuris) and protozoans (such as Cryptosporidium and Eimeria) are among the parasites that can be potentially killed or inhibited by probiotics.

How do probiotics kill parasites and which brands are the best choice?

Key Highlights
  • Probiotics can create a barrier effect in the intestinal epithelium to prevent pathogen invasion and kill or inhibit parasites through strain-specific mechanisms.
  • Probiotics may potentially fight nematodes, helminths, protozoans, and ameba infections.
  • However, NOT all probiotics are created equal, and it’s important to choose the right bacterial strains.
  • Caution should be exercised when taking probiotics, especially for severely immune-compromised patients.
  • Click here for the BEST PRICE of our recommended probiotics supplement.

What Are Probiotics & Can They Kill Parasites?

Probiotics are live organisms or products that contain these live organisms which can be beneficial to the body, particularly the gut.

They’re usually composed of specific strains of bacteria. Each of these bacterial strains can have varied effects on your tummy. But they’re generally considered to be good and recognized for their positive effects on your health and immune system.

probiotics foods and pills

Although probiotics are often associated with helping improve your gut’s microbiome to deal with certain imbalances, constipation, or bacterial infections, studies have also shown that they can be beneficial against parasites.

Let’s discuss how that happens below.

Parasites Vs. The Good Bacteria In Your Tummy

Parasitic infections have long been among the most prevalent infections affecting humans, particularly in developing countries. Yet they’re also present in developed countries.

They might be small and seemingly insignificant, yet parasitic infections have caused significant illnesses and deaths, mostly due to nutritional deficiencies that subsequently affect the host.

How Probiotics Work: Reducing The Parasites’ Pathogenicity

Different probiotics have varied ways of working to protect your body against parasites. But most of the time, they work by reducing the parasites’ pathogenicity (their ability to cause disease).

Studies show that probiotics can counteract the bad effects of these parasites by improving your tummy’s microbiome and killing the bad guys with strain-specific mechanisms.

These special mechanisms use competition, immune induction, and molecule secretion to fight these parasites off.

In the fight for resources in your tummy, it seems that the probiotics are stronger than the parasites, so they might have a higher chance of winning (as these studies have shown).

Probiotics can even help prevent these parasites from entering by assisting in the creation of a chemical and physical “barrier” in the intestinal epithelium.

Let’s discuss some of the specific modes of action that probiotics might do against common parasites below.

1. Fighting Nematodes & Helminths (Worms)

Probiotics might kill or inhibit helminths (worms like Ascaris and Trichuris).

Some studies have shown that the intestinal parasitic nematode Trichuris muris’ life cycle can be inhibited by probiotics.

The introduction of the probiotic Lactobacillus casei ATCC 7469 was shown to work against Trichinella spirali (a nematode that causes trichinellosis) with a parasite reduction of as high as 58% in tests.

The probiotic Zymomonas mobilis appeared to provide 60% infection protection from Schistosoma mansoni (a blood-dwelling worm that causes bilharziasis) when given as treatment 7 days after infection.

Surprisingly, the same study showed that the probiotic worsened the Schistosoma infestation when given as a prophylactic treatment 7 days before infection.

Can probiotics kill the parasitic eggs? Let’s discuss that in the next section.

Parasitic Egg Eviction Is Disrupted When Given Oral Probiotics

The ascarid Toxocara canis (worms that primarily infect dogs) usually transfer to humans from animal hosts through the parasitic eggs from contaminated food or geophagy (accidental or intentional ingestion of soil).

Amazingly, Enterococcus faecalis CECT 7121 reduced larva development by apparently killing the parasitic eggs at a rate as high as 90% just 48 hours after administration.

2. Fighting Protozoan Infection (Microscopic Parasites)

Aside from worms, probiotics appear to be effective against microscopic parasites such as protozoans.

The following are some of the protozoans that were reduced or killed by probiotics in some studies:

  • Cryptosporidium

Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that can cause diarrhea after invading the epithelial gastrointestinal cells.

A 2011 clinical study showed that regular intake of probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri) may be efficient in preventing intestinal colonization by Cryptosporidium parvum (C. parvum).

Researchers believe that this positive action could be due to the secretion of still-unidentified antimicrobial products.

In vitro studies have also demonstrated that the viability and infectivity of parasites C. parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis were inhibited by probiotic strains L. acidophilus NCFM and L. reuteri strain 23272 by as much as 95%.

Another study showed that oocyst persistence of C. parvum can also be inhibited by Pseudomonas alcaligenes, Bacillus brevis, and Enterococcus faecium.

  • Eimeria

Aside from killing Cryptosporidium, probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus Lb33ac and Lactobacillus salivarius Lb14c7 Lb16c6 have also been shown to inhibit another protozoan, Eimeria.

  • Giardia

Lactobacillus johnsonii LA1 was shown to control the protozoan Giardia lamblia in a study, but six other Lactobacillus acidophilus strains didn’t appear to fully work.

Researchers concluded that probiotic activity against parasites depends on a particular strain. Finding the right probiotic strain to target a specific parasite could be challenging and requires more trials.

3. Fighting Ameba Infection

The probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii may help reduce the severity of Entamoeba histolytica infection symptoms, including fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It also appears to reduce the presence of cysts in stools.

4. Other Parasites That Probiotics Can Inhibit Or Kill

Aside from the common parasites we discussed above, a number of probiotics were also shown to work against various parasites.

Lactobacillus casei ATCC 7469 was shown in studies to work against the following non-gut parasites:

  • Plasmodium chabaudi AS (the malaria parasite)
  • Babesia microti (can cause hemolytic anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells)
  • Trypanosoma cruzi (agent of Chagas disease)

Safety Warning About Probiotics In Killing Parasites

In general, probiotic use doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription, and various products, in different forms, are readily available over the counter or on grocery store shelves and fridges.

However, exercise caution if you’re sick. Certain probiotics might not be appropriate or safe for some severely immune-compromised patients. If that’s the case, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking probiotics.

Which Probiotics Are Best For Parasites?

Not all probiotics are created equal. The following are my top picks of the best probiotics for parasites:

YourBiology Gut+

My number one probiotic choice for men and women, YourBiology Gut+ has all the features that ensure you’ll get the best value for your money.

Probiology supplement fact

Let’s dive into each feature below.

1. Potent Bacterial Strains

As we discussed above, bacterial strains matter when it comes to fighting off infection and parasites.

That’s why YourBiology teamed up with top scientists and nutritionists to pick the right ones to include in the product. For the brand, quality matters more than quantity.

So, they didn’t pick a bunch of random bacteria. Instead, they chose four live and potent strains of good gut bacteria:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Bifidobacterium lactis

This potent product delivers as many as 40 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of these potent bacterial strains (per serving of 2 capsules) safely and without stomach issues.

2. Protection Against Stomach Acids

While many of the competition end up having a lot of their bacterial strains possibly killed off by your stomach acids, YourBiology Gut+ uses the patented MAKtrek® Bipass Technology made from brown seaweed.

This shields the probiotics from stomach acids until they reach the small intestines, so you get every bit of the product’s good gut bacteria right where you need them.

3. Prebiotics (Food For Your Probiotics)

Prebiotic fibers (fructooligosaccharides) help nourish the probiotics, providing them with food after their long journey down across your stomach to your small intestines.

Think of prebiotics as your probiotics’ packed lunch. It would certainly be easier for good gut bacteria to thrive even after that long trip across acidic environments.

4. Safe & Shelf-stable Probiotics

Aside from these top benefits, we also love that Yourbiology Gut+ is a safe yet shelf-stable probiotic supplement. Each easy-to-swallow capsule has the following top features:

  • Clinically backed bacterial strains
  • Zero preservatives
  • Doesn’t require refrigeration
  • GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) Certification
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Soy-free
  • Eliminates bloat
  • Strengthens immune support
  • Improves digestion
  • Supports a good mood

Plus, the brand also offers 100% satisfaction and a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8

If you’re looking for targeted nutrition especially designed for men, then Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8 might be the right one for you.

Biotics 8 probiotics

The following are some of the best benefits of this probiotic:

1. 10 Bacterial Strains

A blend made for men, it offers high-performance gut support with a blend of 10 carefully picked probiotics:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus fermentum
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Saccharomyces boulardii

Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8 can deliver as much as 20 billion CFUs per serving (three capsules).

2. Prebiotics

Bauer Nutrition also gives their probiotics some packed lunch with dietary fiber inulin from chicory and fructooligosaccharides.

3. Other Benefits

Aside from these top benefits, Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8 also offers the following:

  • 10 mcg of vitamin D
  • 25 mg of lipase
  • 20 mg of amylase
  • 10 mg of protease

With regular use, this probiotic product can help:

  • Support a healthier immune system
  • Boost your mood
  • Promote better digestion
  • Increase energy and focus
  • Eliminate gas & bloating

Can Parasites Live In A Healthy Gut?

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), as many as 25% of the world’s population may be infected by parasitic worms, including hookworms, roundworms, or whipworms.

But these worms can thrive both in a healthy and unhealthy gut.

You might be surprised to learn that some people who have parasitic worms don’t even exhibit symptoms of infection. The parasites co-exist with their good gut bacteria without issues or causing harm.

And while good gut bacteria can fight off parasites, the strains in your tummy might not be the right ones that can inhibit or kill the parasites that enter your system.

How Long Can Parasites Live In Your Gut?

Parasites can live for many years in your gut, without you knowing they’re there. Once they do cause an infection, you might experience symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood loss

They might also cause nutritional deficiencies because they compete and use up your nutrients instead of getting absorbed by your body.


Can Probiotics Feed Parasites?

Most of the time, probiotics can be useful for fighting parasites and making sure they lose their pathogenicity (power to cause infection). Yet some studies have shown that probiotics might actually feed these parasites and worsen the infection.

For example, in a 2018 study, a probiotic with 15 bacterial strains (including Streptococcus thermophilus and different strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus) appears to worsen the infection caused by the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium parvum (a major cause of infant diarrhea).

The probiotic Zymomonas mobilis also appears to worsen Schistosoma mansoni (the blood-dwelling worm that causes bilharziasis) infestation when it’s given as a prophylactic treatment 7 days before infection.

However, it does work and appears to inhibit the parasite, as long as it’s given as treatment 7 days after infection.

How Do You Kill Parasites In Your Body Naturally?

Some natural remedies that can kill parasites in your body naturally:

  • Raw garlic
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pomegranates
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Barberry
  • Goldenseal
  • Wormwood
  • Anise
  • Oregon grape
  • Curled mint
  • Black walnuts

Just be careful before you take these natural remedies if you’re taking medications, diet pills, dietary supplements, or other over-the-counter drugs because these remedies might interfere with their effectiveness or cause dangerous interactions.

Can Yakult Kill Parasites?

Yakult contains active strains of Lactobacillus casei Shirota or L. paracasei strain Shirota.

Some studies show that the Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain can kill or significantly reduce the number of Trichinella spiralis (nematodes or roundworms) in the body.

Wrap up

So, do probiotics help kill parasites? The answer is yes, but there are a lot of different factors to consider when it comes to using probiotics for parasite eradication. Probiotics can help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, which may help reduce symptoms of parasitic infection.

While more research is needed in this area, the initial studies are promising and suggest that probiotics could be an important tool in combating parasitic infections.

But remember, always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment regimen.

Have you ever used probiotics to treat a parasitic infection?

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