Can You Overdo it on Probiotics?

We love probiotics, our digestive system enjoys the live bacteria and yeast to help keep its gut healthy. Probiotics assist with multiple problematic symptoms or conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (among other types of diarrhea), Inflammatory Bowel Disease, skin conditions, urinary and vaginal health, oral health and numerous other ways in which probiotics can be beneficial.

My question is, after taking probiotics for years on a regular basis, is it possible to overdo it? What happens to our bodies when there’s too much good bacteria?

According to WebMD, “the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates probiotics like food, not like medications. Unlike drug companies, makers of probiotic supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or that they work.” Any cleanse you put your body on to clean out your digestive system can result in the same symptoms as when you start taking probiotics. Symptoms including an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea and bloating for the first few days are completely normal. Our bodies make it very hard to overdose on good bacteria, as it normally is a host of over 100 trillion bacteria.’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD (assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine and co-founder of Tula Skincare) suggests there’s a wide range of how much probiotics from food or supplements healthy adults can consume daily, 20 billion CFUs were stated to be the average, however, everyone’s micro-biome is different. Roshini said there was one exception to this, “ People with depressed immune systems, such as those with HIV, cancer or other illnesses, should talk to their physicians before starting them. In rare instances, if your immune system is very weak, probiotics may cause serious infection.”  

We know now probiotics aren’t the best idea for those under certain conditions, whether that’s daily or entirely. I’m still curious to know whether or not there are consequences in regards to ingesting what could be too much good bacteria for your body.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has documented that there are some risks from taking probiotics that should be taken into consideration when doctors are discussing them with patients. Noted in an article on Labdoor Magazine, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was sourced for these possible risks:

  • Sepsis (“Overwhelming immune response to bacterial infection”)

  • Heart infection

  • Bacterial or fungal infection of the blood

  • Extent or severity of immunomodulation being hard to predict

  • Effects on metabolism

  • Probiotics may interact ad interfere with medications

  • Severe allergic reaction   

These risks have been recorded from very few, if only one, documented cases for the accumulated list above. Without having the conditions mentioned earlier in this article, and apart from the rare risks involved, most noted sources imply it’s difficult to quantify how much probiotics are too much, as it depends on each individual’s body. Nonetheless, consuming an overabundant amount of good bacteria for your body type can inevitably result in digestive consequences. These consequences are usually after you notice the regular symptoms start to escalate or come back after a period of time taking probiotics.

Overdoing it on probiotics may just mean your gut has already reached a ‘happy place’ and your digestive system is functioning at such a high level that you are more sensitive to what you eat and how fast your body takes care of any bad bacteria or processed foods. After researching various sources to answer the question, “can you overdo it on probiotics?,” I’ve discovered there hasn’t been enough evidence found to say a certain amount is bad for every human to ingest overtime. In conclusion, using your best judgement and paying attention to what your body tells you will let you know once it’s time to take a break or cut back on taking probiotics. You’ll most likely realize this once you take bathrooms breaks too often and your stomach is often upset or sensitive.