In this article:
Saccharomyces boulardii is a fungus used to treat certain health conditions and ailments. Notably, this fungus is known for its role in helping restore gut dysbiosis, making it a common remedy for gastrointestinal disorders and other conditions stemming from the gut. Given the relationship between gut health and autoimmune diseases, evidence suggests that Saccharomyces boulardii may be helpful for people with Hashimoto's disease.
Classified as a fungus, Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii) is a type of yeast found on the skin of certain plants. The French scientist Henri Boulard first isolated this yeast on lychee and mangosteen fruit. Boulard realized the health benefits of S. boulardii when he observed people in Indonesia chewing on the skin of these fruits to prevent cholera, an infectious and sometimes fatal bacterial disease in the small intestine.
Since its discovery, S. boulardii has become one of the most studied types of probiotics. From the past few decades of research, it's known that it plays a supportive role in the digestive system by healing the gut environment. But, its benefits may extend well beyond the gut and into the rest of the body as well.
As a probiotic, S. boulardii is known for its ability to restore microbial balance in the gut. It is highly effective because it fights opportunistic and pathogenic organisms (such as yeast, bacteria, and parasites) without multiplying in the gut. Indeed, its role is to help facilitate the removal of harmful microorganisms without taking over and multiplying in the gut itself. By removing these organisms, S. boulardii can help treat current infections while preventing new ones from occurring. S. boulardii may contribute to treating or preventing:
- Antibiotic-associated diarrhea
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections
- Side effects associated with H. pylori treatment
- Traveler's diarrhea
- Pediatric and adult acute onset diarrhea
Furthermore, some evidence (although studies are limited) suggests that S. boulardii may help people with acne, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis.
S. boulardii is likely effective for treating diarrhea because it stimulates the release of antibodies and cytokines (which are messengers in the immune system) while also helping immune cells mature. And, because it helps round up the organism's immune system overactivation, S. boulardii can help calm the immune system down, thus restoring the body to normal functioning.
Perhaps one of the more exciting roles of this yeast is that it may help normalize secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in the small intestine. IgA is an antibody that allows mucosal membranes like the respiratory tract or the GI system to neutralize any pathogens or toxins that enter the body. When IgA levels are low, it is harder for the body to defend itself against invaders.
What is surprising to many of us is that most of the immune system resides in the gut, and thus, it can throw off our immune system when our gut health is compromised.
One of the leading theories behind Hashimoto's is the notion that toxins leak out of the gastrointestinal membrane and into the body. The leaky gut theory is considered one of the primary root causes behind many autoimmune diseases.
From this theory, autoimmunity may occur because long-term toxin exposure leads to chronic inflammation and overactivity by the immune system. As a result, specific organs are targeted and eventually fail.
Intriguingly, some research suggests that people with autoimmune thyroid diseases like Hashimoto's have lower IgA levels, making it harder to keep pathogens and toxins from leaking out of the digestive tract and entering the bloodstream.
For people with Hashimoto's, the potential combination of low IgA levels and gaps between tight junctions in the intestinal lining means that it is imperative to ward off opportunistic and pathogenic infections in the gut. After all, when the gut is in dysbiosis, it can increase thyroid inflammation and make Hashimoto's symptoms flare up.
Therefore, if you have Hashimoto's, you may benefit from taking S. boulardii, especially when they may be prone to overgrowth of harmful pathogens such as while traveling or on antibiotic treatment. Some people may also choose to use it regularly to keep their gut (and immune system) as healthy as possible.
Saccharomyces boulardii is considered safe for most adults to treat acute diarrhea or prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. However, people who are immunocompromised, pregnant or breastfeeding, or those with a yeast allergy, should consult their doctor before starting this probiotic.
Additionally, you should inform your doctor about taking S. boulardii if you take other medications, such as antifungals or treatment for H. pylori.
Suppose you have Hashimoto's and plan to take S. boulardii regularly to support your gut health. In that case, it helps to check with your thyroid doctor first before adding to your health regime. Supporting your thyroid health with natural remedies like probiotics can be highly beneficial in reducing inflammation and managing your symptoms. However, it is helpful to verify dosing and safety with your provider first.
If you are looking for a thyroid doctor that is up-to-date with various treatment options for Hashimoto's, meet with a Paloma Health thyroid doctor. Our doctors specialize in treating hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's and aim to create an individualized health plan to help optimize your thyroid function.