Can You Combine Probiotics

Written by: Kari Raman, PharmD, RPh
Published August 28, 2023

I get asked at the pharmacy counter a lot if you can combine different probiotics. The answer is yes, you can take multiple probiotics if you are an otherwise healthy individual. Of course, I always recommend talking to your doctor or pharmacist before beginning a supplement regime! Let’s dig in more around how to take multiple probiotics, and when to consider it.

Combining Different Probiotics: A Deep Dive

While understanding CFUs and the quality of probiotics is essential, it’s also crucial to consider the diversity of strains. (I’ve got a whole article on Colony Forming Units – CFUs – it’s basically the amount of live cultures in the supplement. In general, you are going to want to take 1 billion to 10 billion CFUs – big numbers, but thankfully bacteria and yeast are small.) Just as every individual is unique, the microorganisms that benefit one person might differ from another. Here’s an in-depth look into the concept of combining different strains of microorganisms for enhanced gut health.

The Importance of Strain Diversity

The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, each playing a distinct role in maintaining a balanced and healthy gut environment. There is a lot of press about keeping your gut microbiome in balance; eating a healthy diet is the first step and what I always recommend to my patients. )Of course, then I probably eat some chips when no one is looking). Similarly, different probiotic strains may offer various health benefits. For instance:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus might support nutrient absorption and the digestion of dairy products. Learn more about L. adidophilus in my article here.
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum may help with the digestion of complex carbohydrates. I’ve written an overview of the Bifidobacterium genus here.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast, has been found to be potentially beneficial for certain types of diarrhea. This one is easily available at most pharmacies in a supplement by the Florastor brand. Learn about the Saccharomyces boulardii yeast here.

Considering the multitude of roles these microorganisms play, it becomes evident that a diverse supplement might offer broader benefits than one with a single strain.

Can You Combine Different Probiotics?

Yes, you can combine different probiotics. Taking multiple probiotic supplements or a multi-strain brand might be beneficial if they contain different strains of microorganisms. This approach could help populate the gut with a more diverse range of beneficial bacteria, thereby potentially offering a wider array of health benefits. 

However, always ensure the total CFU count remains within the recommended daily range. Remember the earlier advice about not overwhelming your system with too many CFUs!

And follow the dosage directions on the packaging, or ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Benefits of Combining Probiotics

By combining different strains, you might:

  1. Maximize Gut Coverage: Since different strains thrive in various parts of the digestive tract, a diverse supplement might provide more comprehensive gut coverage.
  2. Broaden Health Benefits: As mentioned earlier, different strains might offer different health advantages. A combination could mean you’re potentially benefiting in multiple ways of getting a more diverse range of possible health supplementation.
  3. Enhance Resilience: Having a diverse gut microbiota might increase the resilience of your digestive system, helping it recover faster from stressors like antibiotics or illness.

Points to Remember

  1. Start Slow: If you’re new to probiotics or combining strains, start with a lower CFU count to gauge tolerance. You can always increase the dosage or diversity as your body gets accustomed. 
  2. Be patient: It can take weeks for any benefits to start to be noticeable. You can read my article on how long it takes probiotics to work; it can be quite a while. 
  3. Consult a Healthcare Professional: While probiotics can be beneficial, they may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with compromised immune systems. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting to take supplements.
  4. Research the strains: While taking a probiotic with a high CFU count is important, it’s equally crucial to ensure the presence of diverse strains that might cater to various health needs. Learn which strains might be best to help you with your particular needs by doing some research or asking your pharmacist.

What are Probiotics?

Before we wrap up our article on “can you combine probiotics, let’s take a brief moment to understand what they really are. Probiotics are live microorganisms, often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria (or yeasts), that when consumed in adequate amounts, may confer health benefits, particularly in the gut. These beneficial bacteria help in a variety of ways, from aiding digestion and absorption to fending off harmful pathogens. Many patients I talk to at the pharmacy don’t realize that you can naturally eat them in foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables, kim chi and others. So you don’t have to fork out money on supplements, you can just use your fork.  I have an entire article on the types of beneficial bacteria and yeast in Chobani yogurt, for example.

Probiotics are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Different strains might have specific roles and benefits. Hence, it’s essential to identify the right strains for your needs, and sometimes, like we wrote about here, a combination might serve best.

Always remember, while probiotics offer potential health benefits, they are just one part of a holistic approach to health. A balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and managing stress are equally vital components of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re curious about incorporating probiotics into your regimen, always start with a chat at your pharmacy counter or with your healthcare provider.

Some of my Probiotic Reviews

I’ve written up some reviews of different, popular probiotics, using my experience at the pharmacy counter, my medical knowledge of gut health and some “user testing.” You can read up on Biotics Research’s Lactozyme here – let me know what you think! Dive deep into the specifics of two notable products: Bio Complete 3 Review and Microbiome Plus+ Review. Discover their potential benefits, ingredients, and how they might fit into your daily regimen.

Pharmacist Kari Raman

I’m Kari Raman PharmD, RPh, and I am a licensed, practicing pharmacist. I hold a Doctorate in Pharmacy from The University of the Pacific, and I’ve served patients in retail, compounding and hospital pharmacies.

Probiotics are confusing!

One of the most common questions I get asked by patients is about probiotics. And the truth is, probiotics are not as well understood by the healthcare community as they should be.

So I’ve been reading a lot of probiotic clinical trials, and sharing what I’m learning here.

I hope Pharmacist Probiotics helps you find out if there is a type of probiotic that works for you!