jill1114bTaking a natural approach to the treatment of any condition, including interstitial cystitis, makes certain sense. And if you look at the American Urological Association guidelines for the treatment of IC, they embrace the use of nutraceuticals in Step One of their treatment guidelines along with other self-help strategies. But, we should not assume that “natural” products are always safe.

Earlier this Fall, an infant died after being given some ABC Dophilus powder produced by Solgar. It was apparently contaminated with the mold Rhizopus oryzae and the infant developed an invasive fungal disease, gastrointestinal mucormycosi. Today, the FDA issued yet another warning about this supplement and supplements that contain live bacteria or yeast, urging caution in their use in immunocompromised patients.

Acidophilus and other probiotic products are usually recommended for use during and after the use of antibiotics. Why? Antibiotics don’t differentiate between good vs. bad bacteria. It kills them all and, unfortunately, that then disrupts our normal and natural gut function. Using an acidiphilus product helps to restore the good bacteria that keep bad bacteria in check and, of course, control yeast growth. But, they do contain “live” bacteria that, if given to patients who are immunocompromised, can result in additional infection and sepsis.

Because many interstitial cystitis patients have been prescribed long courses of antibiotics for their bladder conditions and/or who may take antibiotics prophylactically to prevent UTI, the use of probiotics is widespread. Many IC patients, myself included, have struggled with painful yeast/candida infections resulting from antibiotic use thus using a probiotic has become habitual. I have some Solgar Advanced Acidiphilous in my refrigerator right now. But, this recall is important reminder that we should be more cautious when using probiotics.

The American Gastroenterological Association made a key point about supplement quality and safety.

“Keep in mind that probiotics are considered dietary supplements and are not FDA-regulated like drugs. They are not standardized, meaning they are made in different ways by different companies and have different additives. How well a probiotic works may differ from brand to brand and even from batch to batch within the same brand. Probiotics also vary tremendously in their cost, and cost does not necessarily reflect higher quality.”

Solgar is the largest supplement manufacturer in the USA with 22,000 products and sales over $3 billion per year. Their credibility, up to this point, has been solid. But this recalls reminds us that supplements thought to be benign and safe, such as acidophilus, can be compromised. My elderly mother takes acidiphilus daily. I’m going to have to rethink if this is safe for an 86 year old woman to take. Your thoughts?

12/9/14 FDA Warning Information on ABC Dophilus

Kroll. D. “Children’s Probiotic Supplement Contaminated With Disease-Causing Fungus” – Forbes.Com 11/18/2014