Yogurt, unfortunately, is not the answer for thrush

The curative power of yogurt to prevent cases of thrush when taking antibiotics has been debunked by a University of Melbourne researcher.

Dr Marie Pirotta from the Department of General Practice has said a clinical trial involving 235 Melbourne women has shown that lactobacillus acidophilus bacterium – an “active” ingredient in many yogurts - is ineffective as a thrush preventative when taking antibiotics, despite the confidence that many patients, including some of Dr Pirotta’s own, show in the probiotic.

She says the findings from the study, published today in the prestigious BMJ (British Medical Journal), serve as a reminder that all medicines, including natural ones, need to be scientifically tested for effectiveness.

Dr Pirotta says the findings surprised even her, but were so conclusive the study was cut short.

Participants in the trial took probiotic or placebo medicine orally and vaginally until four days after completion of an antibiotic course, recorded symptoms and provided vaginal swabs. Results showed no difference in the incidence of thrush that occurred among the women from the probiotic or placebo groups.

A practicing GP in Melbourne and a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, Dr Pirotta was inspired to look at the effectiveness of probiotic treatments following her earlier study showing that around 40% of women with a past history of thrush had used yogurt, or lactobacillus, to try to prevent outbreaks of thrush when prescribed antibiotics.

“The outbreaks are not life-threatening but can be very distressing and uncomfortable for women, and in some cases a woman will choose not to take a necessary antibiotic rather than suffer from thrush”.

Dr Pirotta says she was disappointed the natural remedy was shown to be ineffective, especially as a survey she conducted shows more than two thirds of GPs and pharmacists believe that yogurt works.

“The bad news is that currently no clinical trials have shown proven effective medicines to prevent thrush. There are effective treatments, however, so women should discuss their options with their health care provider. Yoghurt, unfortunately, is not the answer”.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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