Who should not take probiotics

Who Should Not Take Probiotics Supplements? (EXPERT GUIDE)

We all know that probiotics supplements are good for us, but did you know that not everyone should take them? In this blog post, we will discuss who should not take probiotics supplements and why.

Although probiotics, aka “good bacteria,” are beneficial for improving gut health, they may not be a suitable choice for people who are on a specific medication, have weak immune systems, or have serious ailments.

Hence, the subsequent headings enlist the scientific evidence on why probiotics can be harmful to these people and what could be the possible side effects.

Let’s get to it!

Probiotics Supplements – Who Should Not Take Them?


Probiotics are generally safe for most people as these are the lab-grown colonies of friendly bacteria that already occur naturally in your intestines.

However, the scenario can be different in some cases, like for those having an underlying health disorder or a severe disease.

That is why I recommend consulting your doctor before taking probiotics if you have any health issues, especially related to the immune system.

You might be more harmed than benefitted by probiotic supplementation if you:

1. Have Weakened Immunity

Probiotic side effects are most significantly seen among people who have a suppressed immune system.

Due to lowered immunity, these people cannot brush off the mild effects of bacterial products. Thus, a surplus of bacterial intake (even if they are the “friendly gut bacteria”) can lead to serious infections and gut issues.

Scientific evidence also concludes that probiotics are well-tolerated in healthy persons but should be cautiously used in severely immunocompromised patients.

2. Just Had A Surgery

When you undergo major surgery, your body strength decreases as most of your energy is being used for wound healing and managing stress. Plus, your health is likely to be downgraded by the disorder or ailment you got surgery for.

Hence, your body would also show weakened immune responses in this state.

And as we discussed above, probiotics can harm immunosuppressed individuals.

A recent (Jun 2022) case study of a 46-year-old woman inferred the development of pyelonephritis (a urinary tract infection) when she was supplemented with Lactobacillus strains after thyroid surgery.

3. Are Taking Antibiotics

Let me tell you an interesting scientific fact; bacteria can transfer their DNA to other bacteria.

But this characteristic raises a major concern relating to probiotics as these microbes have drug-resistive genes which keep them safe from the anti-bacterial effects of antibiotics.

Drug resistance increases if these resistive genes get transferred to pathogenic bacteria. This concern is also stated in a research paper, indicating that rampant and unregulated use can make infection treatment more difficult.

Another suspicion about probiotic use is their interaction with the drugs.

Though probiotics usually do not interact with or are affected by antibiotic medicines. Even so, taking probiotics two or three hours before or after your medicines is generally recommended to ensure that these substances do not cancel out each other’s effects or lead to some unpleasant consequences.

4. Are Seriously Ill Individual

Probiotics do not suit severely ill individuals as their immune system has become relatively weak.

Studies that analyzed the outcomes of using probiotic therapies in patients admitted to ICUs show that probiotics, especially S. cerevisiae, can do more harm than good for critically ill patients.

A clinical review documented the observations about infectious diseases in severely ill persons. It reported that 26 out of 57 patients who had infections were given S. cerevisiae supplements, and out of these, 17 patients died.

Another study shows that the mortality rate is higher in patients with acute diseases who were given probiotics compared to placebo groups.

All in all, probiotics have benefits and side effects just like all other supplements and drugs. Hence, talking to a health expert can help in deciding whether taking them is safe for you are not because using them, even if you do not need them, may lead to side effects (as described below).

What happens if you take probiotics if you don’t need them?

Digestive unrest

Digestive problems like bloating, flatulence, and abdominal pain are probiotics’ most common side effects.

Usually, these symptoms show up when you start taking the supplement and fade away as your system gets used to it. These are generally not of severe intensity and are well-tolerated by most.


We know that probiotics supplementation can backfire if a person is too weak to handle the mild bacterial processes, leading to infections and tissue inflammations.

Researchers consider Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria strains to be causative agents of such infections.

But like other side effects, it is a rare event and is reported in immunocompromised individuals mostly.

For example, a man at 66 developed a septic urinary infection from lactobacillus, and the research shows that being diabetic and having urinary stasis are the main predisposing factors.

Skin rash

Usually, skin condition improves through probiotic activities. In fact, many people have used them to cure eczema.

But on the other side, some people experience skin rash and itching when they take probiotics, as reported by this research conducted on IBS patients.

Two participants reported skin rashes, and one had to drop out of the trial because of the itch severity.


What happens when you stop taking probiotics?

Simply put, the effects you had from using the probiotics would disappear by quitting the supplementation.

But these effects of probiotics vary from person to person depending upon their gut health and the natural gut microbiome. 

  • If you were taking probiotics to treat IBS or any other gastrointestinal problem, the symptoms might reappear when to stop taking them.
  • On the other side, if you took probiotics but ended up with any side effects, as mentioned in the previous section, the adverse effects would fade away by quitting the dose.
  • However, if you didn’t notice any difference from using probiotics, quitting them would likely not affect your health either.

Should a woman take a probiotic daily?

Yes, women can safely take probiotics every day. But there could be exceptions for pregnant women and those breastfeeding their infants.

A lady taking probiotics would see the best result if she uses them daily. It involves no risk for females.

Instead, women get the additional benefit of better vaginal health because probiotics not only help women improve the quality and efficacy of gut microbiota but also their vaginal microbiota.

Does it matter when I take a probiotic?

Yes, for some strains, you get a better result if you take them at a particular time, but most probiotics work well, irrespective of the time you take them.

If you are looking for the best time to take them, it is generally recommended that you take them about half an hour before breakfast or before you go to bed at night.

Can you take probiotics with blood pressure medication?

Yes, you can use probiotics if you are taking blood pressure medicines. There is no study proving the interaction or negative outcome of taking probiotics and hypertension medicines together.

However, to ensure complete safety, I recommend consulting your physician before opting for these supplements if you take any medication.

Who should take probiotics?

Probiotic intake can induce positive health outcomes for most people. Commonly these supplements are used to treat digestive problems like IBS, diarrhea, and constipation.

But taking probiotics can also help you improve your skin, mental well-being, cholesterol management, immune function, and susceptibility to inflammatory diseases.


Probiotics are famous for their health benefits, and their popularity is well justified. But like anything else, there are some side effects of probiotic usage as well.

Nonetheless, the adverse outcomes are rare and are mostly reported from severely immunosuppressed and ill persons.

Resultantly, there is a low probability that you would get ill by using probiotics if you are generally healthy. But you may experience mild effects like abdominal unrest or skin rash.

Therefore I suggest taking help from a medical expert while selecting a probiotic supplement or diet.

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