Pharmacists dispense more than prescription drugs.
They also dole out recommendations on dietary supplements including probiotics.
As a group, these front-line healthcare specialists have a powerful voice when it comes to what is known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), a category separate from conventional types.
A recent survey explored what pharmacists had to say about probiotics (as well as vitamins, minerals and other alternative supplements.) The article titled How do pharmacists use and recommend vitamins, minerals, herbals and other dietary supplements? was published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in August of 2019.
A total of 639 pharmacists in Arizona in the United States completed the survey; questions included personal use, reasons and recommendations.
- 59% thought the dietary supplements in the survey were safe
- 32% reported they were effective
- 53% used probiotics
- Reason for probiotic use was most often for stomach or intestinal illness.
Pharmacists in this survey indicated that they would recommend many of the dietary supplements to patients, friends, and family.
… a new important finding from our study was that these products were used at higher rates than previously reported, which suggests use of dietary supplements is increasing and may have clinical implications for the identification of potential interactions and counseling on the appropriate use of these products. Our study also identified pharmacists’ reasons for use, which concurred with previously published studies.Marupuru, Srujitha et al. “How do pharmacists use and recommend vitamins, minerals, herbals and other dietary supplements?.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine vol. 19,1 229. 22 Aug. 2019, doi:10.1186/s12906-019-2637-y
It’s satisfying that pharmacists are recommending probiotics for stomach and intestinal illnesses. But probiotics have potential in improving health well beyond those areas. Evidence-based research implicates disturbances in microbiota to oral, mental, metabolic, bone, heart and immune health among others. Probiotics may alleviate dysbiosis by fighting pathogens, boosting immunity and fortifying cell walls. Metabolites produced by their metabolism are also crucial to benefits.
Education then is paramount. IPA consistently reports on the myriad ways that probiotics are involved across the arc of health. Targeting pharmacists and other healthcare practitioners with education is a worthy goal.