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Ask Dr. Donnica:
The Benefits of Probiotics for Women

Q. What is a probiotic?

A. Probiotics are not drugs or vitamins. Rather, they are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, which may benefit human health.1 Probiotics are referred to as friendly or good bacteria. 1 The human body, and particularly the lower gastrointestinal tract, contain a complex and diverse community of bacteria. 1 Although we sometimes think of bacteria as germs, many actually help the body work properly. 1 More than one hundred years ago, a Nobel laureate named Elie Metchnikoff first suggested that consuming these good bacteria, or “probiotics,” could have substantial health benefits. 1

Q. What’s the role of good bacteria and how does it benefit health?

A. Good or “friendly” bacteria are permanent residents of body surfaces such as the skin, the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and the tissues that line the vaginal walls. 2 These good bacteria comprise the body’s normal flora. 2 Unfortunately, because of factors such as antibiotic use, changes in hormone levels, spermicides, 3 and diet, 4 normal flora can be easily disrupted which can negatively impact certain body functions. In the GI tract for example, an imbalance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria can lead to occasional gastrointestinal disruptions. Probiotics are one option that can be used to help reestablish the balance between good and bad bacteria. 5

Q. What can probiotics do for women?

A. Women today are constantly making choices to balance their busy lives. Maintaining digestive, feminine and immune health is no different. Probiotics can help. Certain bacteria are known to be beneficial to women; for example, lactobacilli are part of the normal vaginal flora. They support urogenital health and aid proper digestion. 6,7 Bifidobacteria, as a normal inhabitant of the intestines, have gastrointestinal benefits and support healthy immune responses. 8

Q. There are so many probiotic choices available, which one is best suited for women?

A. Not all probiotics are created equal or are specifically designed for women to support their unique needs. This can pose a challenge for women to decide which one is best for them. Your health care professional may recommend probiotic options, including Provella™, a new probiotic dietary supplement specifically designed for women to promote digestive, feminine and immune health. Provella™ helps restore and maintain balance of good bacteria to support digestive and vaginal health.* Taken once daily by mouth with or without food, Provella™ tablets contain a proprietary blend of six bacteria strains that were chosen specifically for women, including several strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium bifidum. For more information about Provella™, visit www.provella.com.

Q. What makes Provella™ unique?

A. It has been estimated that as few as 20-40% of certain probiotic bacteria survive passage through the gut. Stomach acid is a major threat to probiotic survival. 9 The patented controlled-release technology in Provella™ helps protect its good bacteria from harsh stomach acid and is designed to help ensure that active bacteria get to the intestines, where they can begin working. 10,11

Q. Where can I find Provella™?

A. Provella™, a probiotic dietary supplement, is available without a prescription at pharmacy counters and at www.drugstore.com. Consumers can also ask any local pharmacist to order Provella™ using List Number 0245-1060-30. Provella™ is distributed by Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc. You can find more information about Provella™ at www.provella.com.

Sponsored by Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

1National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine “Oral Probiotics: An Introduction.” http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm. Accessed February 27, 2012.
2 “Normal Flora.” Medical Microbiology & Immunology. 7th edition. Pages 23-26.
3FAQ. Frequently asked questions. FAQ028. Gynecologic problems. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Web site. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq028.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120508T1248015541. Accessed March 7, 2012.
4Sanz Y. Effects of a gluten-free diet on gut microbiota and immune function in healthy adult humans. Gut Microbes. 2010; 1(3):135-137.
5Benefits of Probiotics in the Management of Gastrointestinal Disease. Power-Pak C.E. http://www.powerpak.com/course/print/108027. Accessed December 20, 2011.
6Lactobacillus. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/790.html. Accessed March 2, 2012.
7Acidophilus. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lactobacillus/NS_patient-acidophilus. Accessed February 14, 2012.
8Bifidobacteria. MedlinePlus Web site. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/891.html. Accessed March 2, 2012.
9Bezkorovainy A. Probiotics: determinants of survival and growth in the gut. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73 (2 suppl): 399S-405S.
10BIO-Tract Delivery System [product label]. Redmond, WA: Nutraceutix, Inc.
11Turner SJ, Hite M, Federici C. Novel design of a monolithic oral controlled-release delivery formulation for probiotic organisms. AAPS PharmSci. 2002; 4(4): abstract W4200.

Created: 5/29/2012  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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