oa SA Pharmaceutical Journal - Evidence-based Pharmacy Practice (EBPP) : probiotics and prebiotics : evidence-based pharmacy practice

Volume 77, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2221-5875
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1017



Microorganisms living within the body can either be probiotic, pathobiotic or eubiotic. A probiotic is a microorganism that contributes positively to the body's health. These "friendly" bacteria are also called flora. A pathobiotic, on the other hand, harms or impedes the body in one way or another. A eubiotic can be either harmful or helpful to the body, depending upon their colony size and location. A healthy body contains a substantially greater number of probiotics than pathobiotics.

Probiotics are designed for, and most effective in the small intestine. Prebiotics are specifically targeted to act on the flora of the large intestine. Synbiotics are a combination of a prebiotic and a probiotic in a single product. The rationale is that the product contains a beneficial agent in the small intestine (the probiotic) and one in the large intestine (the prebiotic), and that the two therefore act synergistically (hence the name "syn"-biotics).
There is growing public and scientific interest in probiotics and prebiotics. Researchers are studying whether these products taken as foods or supplements can help treat or prevent illness. Probiotics will be discussed first, followed by a discussion on prebiotics.

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