Icon Based on Science BASED ON SCIENCE
Home Acknowledgments

Can probiotics help fight COVID-19?

CLAIM: Probiotics can help your body fight COVID-19.

UNLIKELY. There is currently no evidence that taking probiotics can prevent or treat COVID-19.

icon

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are living microbes (e.g., bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that may provide health benefits when they are consumed or applied to the body in adequate amounts. There are many kinds of probiotics and they can be found in some foods, such as yogurt. Probiotics can also be taken as dietary supplements.

Probiotics have potential to benefit your heath in different ways. For example, the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles in yogurt have been found to help with the digestion of lactose in people who usually have a hard time digesting lactose. Other ways probiotics may benefit human health include:

  • Regulating the immune system
  • Promoting cell growth in the lining of the intestines

However, the evidence that probiotics may provide these health benefits is not very strong. When studying probiotics, scientists try to figure out which probiotic works best and how much needs to be taken to help with a particular health condition—for example, a chest cold or a case of diarrhea. Sorting out what, if any, effect a probiotic has in a system as complex as the human body is difficult.

Also, even though some probiotics (like those found in yogurt) have been consumed safely for a long time, few studies on the safety of probiotics or possible side effects have been done. People with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems are at greater risk for harmful side effects from probiotics.

 
icon

There is no evidence that probiotics can help prevent or treat COVID-19.

Taking probiotics probably won’t keep you from getting an infection if you are exposed to the novel coronavirus. Currently, there is no evidence that probiotics could destroy the coronavirus inside your body.

Some scientists think it is possible that probiotics could help reduce some COVID-19 symptoms. However, this has not been proven, and it is unlikely that probiotics could fight the viral infection itself. Beware of false claims about COVID-19 cures.

 
icon

There is currently no vaccine or drug specifically for COVID-19.

Many drugs, some of which were developed for other illnesses, are being tested for treating COVID-19. And there are several vaccines in development. Tests of drugs and vaccines take many weeks or months to ensure that they are safe and effective.

The best way to stay healthy is to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus.

  • Maintain physical distance (at least 6 feet) from people outside your home and stay home if possible. If someone in your home is sick, avoid contact as much as possible and wear a face mask if you cannot maintain physical distance.
  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water, scrub for 20 seconds, and rinse well. Use hand sanitizer if you are not near a sink.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
 

Published on: June 30, 2020