As a retail pharmacist, I can attest that Florastor and Culturelle are among the most commonly asked-about probiotics at the pharmacy counter – at pretty much every retail pharmacy I’ve worked at in three different states!
Florastor vs Culturelle – the TLDR
- Both Florastor and Culturelle are quality probiotic manufacturers
- Otherwise healthy people should feel comfortable trying either, or even taking both at the same time
- Florastor’s best known product, Florastor Daily (the one that says “thrives during antibiotics” contains a well-studied probiotic yeast that a lot of research says helps make diarrhea go away faster, and also that can help keep your gut more stable during an antibiotic treatment (we’ll dig in more later)
- Culturelle’s best known supplement, their Digestive Daily Probiotic, has a well studied bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, that is considered good for fighting diarrhea and that is often recommended for use during antibiotic treatments.
- Healthy people can take both at the same time
Culturelle and Florastor – a Pharmacist’s Perspective
Their wide availability and popularity speaks to a few important things that patients looking for probiotics should think about: quality of manufacturing, ability to quickly get more to keep your supplementation going if you run out, and the trust that major pharmacies and retailers like Walmart and Target put into their brands.
BUT, Florastor and Culturelle are not exactly the same. Their most popular lines have totally different types of living organisms – yeasts vs bacteria – and these particular strains are known to treat different symptoms and conditions.
Let’s dig into the difference in both the most common probiotic supplements sold by Florastor and Culturelle. Then we’ll talk a bit about each company, so you can understand why they are considered quality producers. Finally, we’ll get a bit into the science behind the specific microorganisms that each uses. I’ll link out to my other articles on the bacterias and yeasts they use so you can learn more if you want.
Florastor Probiotics – Florastor Daily
1. Active Strain:
Florastor Daily contains the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, which makes it different from many other probiotics that contain bacterial strains. The specific strain is S. boulardii lyo CNCM I-745. I’ve written an entire article on Saccharomyces – it’s one of the OG probiotics, and there are a lot of good studies showing it helping digestive issues.
- Florastor’s active ingredient may help maintain the natural balance of the intestines.
- Often recommended during antibiotic treatment as it is not affected by antibiotics.
- Can be used to treat diarrhea resulting from antibiotics, traveling, or infections.
3. The Science
I’m actually pretty impressed by how many scientists have studied this strain. Predominantly, S. boulardii is celebrated for its role in bolstering gut health. Research strongly suggests its effectiveness in mitigating inflammation and bacterial-induced diarrhea. It seems to be able to fight against specific “bad bacteria” that can be a problem when you are taking antibiotics like Clostridium difficile, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli. By directly competing for vital nutrients and attachment spots, this yeast helps suppress the proliferation of these harmful bacteria. At least, that’s what the research is suggesting. Saccharomyces boulardii may also assist in stimulating the immune system which may reduce the incidence of infection (research here).
4. Allergen Warning
Florastor contains lactose, which many probiotics do. So if you are lactose intolerant, this may not be the best option for you.
4. Shelf Life and Storage:
Florator doesn’t require refrigeration but should be kept below 77°F (25°C).
5. When to Take Florastor Probiotics
Florastor suggests that adults take 2 capsules daily, 1-2 times a day. I’d suggest taking one in the morning before you eat (even before you have coffee!) and one in the evening before bed. You don’t have to space these out when you are taking antibiotics, since they should not be killed by antibiotics (if you are taking a bacteria probiotic I suggest two hours in between antibiotics and the probiotic).
6. Additional Benefits:
- Won’t be killed by antibiotics because it’s a yeast.
- Generally safe for all ages.
- Available everywhere.
7. What Time of Day to Take Florastor:
The best time of day to take Florastor is when you can consistently take it – whatever works best for your schedule. Unlike bacteria probiotics, you don’t have to spread out the timing from when you take an antibiotic. I’ve dug into what the medical literature says about the best time of take to take a probiotic, and to be honest, there isn’t great research on it. So I would default to whatever time is easiest for your schedule to do consistently – and evening is a great time, since your stomach acidity will go down at night, hopefully helping the yeast live better.
8. Side Effects:
Generally well-tolerated, but there’s potential for gas or bloating. If you experience any serious side effects, stop taking them and talk to your doctor. My guinea pig (it’s my brother in law) has taken this yeast before and has not experienced any side effects, and he seems to think it’s helpful whenever he has a diarrhea bout.
Culturelle Probiotics – Digestive Daily Probiotic Capsules
1. Active Strain:
Culturelle primarily contains the bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. The L. rhamnosus bacteria naturally lives in many people’s guts, and the specific strain Culturelle uses in their best known product was actually isolated from a person’s gut (ok, if you must know the details, it was from the person’s poop. Which totally makes sense, since how else are you going to safely get their gut bacteria? And this is totally not gross, Culturelle’s bacteria has been produced in a quality manufacturing facility and it is very clean!).
- Promotes digestive health by balancing the number of good bacteria in the digestive system.
- Boosts the immune system (research here).
- Can be used to reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (research here).
3. The Science:
L. rhamnosus has the scientific potential to offer many healthy benefits. It’s believed to be present in many healthy digestive systems and could support gut health by possibly counteracting harmful bacteria, producing substances like lactic acid that might deter pathogens. Beyond the gut, some studies suggest it may help boost the immune system, with potential benefits to the respiratory system’s defenses. The probiotic also shows some promise in reducing anxiety levels (read my article on “can probiotics make you happy”). It also seems like it may really be able to help some people dealing with diarrhea, especially when associated with antibiotics or travel. Of course, I always recommend talking with a healthcare professional before beginning to take any supplements. This is no exception.
4. Shelf Life and Storage:
No refrigeration required for Culturelle Digestive Daily Probiotic Capsules – although other products may require refrigeration, so check the label. Keep them at reasonable temperatures, nothing too hot.
5. When to take Culturelle Probiotics?
I suggest taking bacterial probiotics like Culturelle’s Digestive Daily two hours before or after antibiotics, so that the antibiotics do not kill the bacteria. Culturelle says to take one a day, so I’d probably take them in the morning before eating, or at night. Culturelle also suggests that you can take them twice a day if you are feeling digestive discomfort.
6. Additional Benefits:
- Contains 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per dose; that is a solid amount.
- Pretty affordable, in general.
7. What Time of Day to Take Culturelle
Patients do sometimes ask if they should take Culturelle in the morning or at night, and my response is that 1) whatever time they can do consistently is best, and 2) to make sure they don’t take it within 2 hours of taking an antibiotic, since that can kill the bacteria in the Culturelle supplement. However, as I mentioned earlier, the research isn’t all that clear; night time is probably the time when I’d default recommend it, but morning is also fine.
8. Side Effects:
Potential side effects include gas, bloating, or changes in bowel habits. If you experience any serious side effects when taking Culturelle probiotics, see a doctor.
Can you take Florastor and Culturelle at the same time?
Yes, you can take both Florastor and Culturelle at the same time, although it may be a good idea to ask your doctor first. Culturelle (which contains the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG) and Florastor (which contains the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii) are often taken to promote gut health. They have different mechanisms of action and target different aspects of the gut microbiome. At the pharmacy, I have even sometimes suggested that someone who is worried about getting diarrhea while taking an antibiotic prescription should take both.
There’s no known harmful interaction between the two, and some healthcare professionals might even recommend taking both simultaneously, especially if trying to target a broader spectrum of the microbiome or in specific clinical scenarios. Taking a combination of different probiotics (and a probiotic with a beneficial yeast) can provide a more comprehensive approach to gut health in some cases.
Of course, consult with your doctor if you are having any serious health issues or concerns.
What Are Probiotics Like Florastor and Culturelle?
Probiotics are live microorganisms, primarily bacteria and yeasts, that may confer health benefits to the person taking them when consumed in adequate amounts.
The human body, interestingly, is a complex ecosystem of countless microorganisms. While some microbes can lead to diseases, many are crucial for our health, aiding in processes like digestion and immunity. Your gut is full of living bacteria, yeasts and fungi. The right probiotics are thought to help keep the beneficial players in your microbiome going strong. Despite being such an important part of the body, the microbiome is not fully understood, which makes it hard to say for sure if any specific probiotic like Florastor or Culturelle will work for any specific patient. That being said, both Florastor and Culturelle use well researched strains and I feel good suggesting to my healthy patients both brands.
More on probiotics
1. Source and Types: Probiotics can be naturally found in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. They can also be consumed as dietary supplements. There are several types of probiotic bacteria, but the most common belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Additionally, certain yeasts, such as Saccharomyces boulardii, are also classified as probiotics.
2. Function and Benefits: At their core, probiotics support gut health. They can help balance the “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep the body working as it should. This balance is crucial, especially when it’s disrupted, like after taking antibiotics or during illness. Beyond digestion, emerging research hints at a broader spectrum of benefits, including supporting immune function, enhancing mental well-being, and potentially alleviating skin conditions.
3. Choosing the Right Probiotic: With the myriad of probiotic products on the market, choosing the right one can seem daunting. It’s essential to note that different strains offer different benefits. Thus, understanding one’s health needs and discussing with a healthcare professional is crucial before starting any probiotic regimen. If your doctor or pharmacist recommends Florastor or Culturelle, they are probably making a well-considered recommendation. Both are quality brands.
Probiotics with Antibiotics: The Florastor and Culturelle Connection
When you’re got a bacterial infection and your doctor gives you antibiotics, it’s to help get rid of harmful bacteria causing the illness. However, these antibiotics can sometimes also get rid of the good bacteria in our stomachs, which often causes diarrhea. This is where probiotics, like the ones found in Florastor and Culturelle, might come in handy.
Both Florastor and Culturelle are well-known brands that offer probiotics that are considered helpful when you are taking antibiotics. By using them, you can help maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in your stomach while you’re on antibiotics.
Here’s a simple way to think about it: Antibiotics clear out bacteria, including some of the helpful ones. Probiotics help either keep bad bacteria from taking over, or replace those good bacteria. One interesting thing when comparing Culturelle vs Florastor is that they work differently – Culturelle’s bacteria probiotic likely helps replace the bacteria that are killed by the antibiotic, and also produces lactic acid, which, in theory, makes your gut less hospitable to bad bacteria. Whereas Florastor’s yeast simply makes your gut less of a happy place for bad bacteria that can give you diarrhea.
Always remember to follow your doctor’s advice when taking any medication. If you have questions or are unsure about something, don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist or doctor. It’s always better to be informed and safe.