Probiotics and antibiotics are often linked in people's minds due to their similar names. Where do antibiotics come from? How are probiotics and antibiotics related? And can they be used together? Let's find out.
New and old
The birth of modern antibiotics began with a famous accident. In 1928, the scientist Alexander Fleming returned from holiday to find that a culture of Staphylococcus bacteria he'd left out by chance had become contaminated by the fungus Penicillium notatum. Where the fungus had grown, the bacteria were dead, offering a new way to fight against infection.
Over the next decades, the use of penicillin and other antibiotics revolutionised the treatment of bacterial infection, wiping out strains that had previously been untreatable, and saving countless lives1.
While Fleming's discovery marked the beginning of the golden age of antibiotics, we've been harnessing nature to fight infection for a long time. In Ancient Egypt, wounds were dressed with honey, which contains high levels of bacteria-killing hydrogen peroxide. And in many ancient societies, old bread was pressed against wounds, in the hope that it contained the right antimicrobial mould.
Rivals or partners?
So where do probiotics fit in? Probiotics consist of beneficial bacterial strains designed to support the health of the microbiome, the complex living ecosystem inside us. A broad spectrum probiotic can assist with normal immune system health and can help to maintain general wellbeing.
The names we've given to antibiotics and probiotics make them sound like mortal enemies. However, unlike such divisive issues as pro-Vegemite and anti-Vegemite, there's no need to choose a side here. Both these words can be traced back to βίος ('bíos'), the ancient Greek word for 'life'. So, whereas antibiotics are named after their ability to discourage harmful forms of bacterial life, probiotics contain living organisms that support a healthy microbiome.
The two are therefore not enemies. In fact, it’s believed probiotics can serve a useful purpose following antibiotics2.
The perfect match
Antibiotics are a pretty blunt instrument. While helping your body fight off harmful bacteria, antibiotics can simultaneously reduce the levels of beneficial bacteria in the microbiome.
To the contrary, probiotics can assist in the restoration of intestinal microflora, which can be beneficial after antibiotic therapy. Life-Space Broad Spectrum, Double Strength or Triple Strength Probiotic are premium probiotic formulas containing 15 beneficial strains of bacteria to help maintain healthy digestive flora following the use of antibiotics and are available in both capsule and powder form.
And when you're not on antibiotics, probiotics can also be useful by supporting the immune system and helping maintain healthy levels of friendly bacteria.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use.
 McFarland, L., Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea and the treatment of Clostridium difficile disease.
 McFarland, L., Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea and the treatment of Clostridium difficile disease; Rodgers et al., Prescribing an antibiotic? Pair it with antibiotics.