Thursday, January 21, 2010

Probiotics -- Do Doctors Get It?

Tina, my wife and the Spark Nutrition counselor, is working with a parent whose child has noticeable issues. Let's call this child, "Mary." Part of the regiment she recommended for Mary includes the use of a daily probiotic.

Why would Tina recommend such a thing? Well, first of all, Mary has stomach issues. The probiotic would help with stomach issues.

Also, Mary is prone to colds. Recent research has demonstrated that individuals taking probiotics actually are less prone to colds and flu, and, should they get a cold or flu, their symptoms are less severe and they recover faster.

For these two reasons, alone, the probiotics are important and useful. This is why the addition of probiotics to manufactured food has become such a big selling point.

Finally, there is research connecting possible gut issues, immune system deficiences, and issues ranging anywhere from ADD to ASD. Probiotics are used nearly universally by those treating these disorders through, among other things, diet and nutrition interventions.

But, Mary recently stopped taking probiotics.

Was it because the parent saw no benefit? No.

Was it because Mary had a bad reaction to the probiotic? No.

Was it because there was some issue in the administration of the probiotic? No.

Why? Because Mary's parent was told by the pediatrician that Mary's "red blood count was normal," and therefore Mary "didn't need a probiotic."

What does the red blood count have to do with probitics? Hell if we know. Any consideration of the other reasons a probiotic was suggested? Can't imagine there was. Why tell parents to stop giving their child something that couldn't hurt them and could, and probably was, helping? Can only guess that it was because it wasn't a doctor prescribed "medicine."

We try to help, but how do you overcome the socialization that makes people listen to whatever a doctor says, even if the doctor is discussing a subject about which he has no idea?

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