How to wipe out strep throat without antibiotics

GuinsyMany of my patients ask me whether they can give their kids supplements. And my answer is always yes.

But I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you. You probably remember that my very first book was called Feed Your Kids Well. So obviously, children are a part of my practice—and not such a small one, either.

That’s why I always keep a look out for studies like the one I want to tell you about today.

This was a 90-day clinical trial. Researchers recruited 61 kids with a history of recurrent viral and streptococcal pharyngeal infections. (Which parents know better as strep throat.)

Researchers divided the kids into two groups. One group was given a probiotic supplement each day for three months. The other group acted as a control.

And get this: By study’s end, the 30 children taking a probiotic had significantly fewer episodes of strep infection, when compared to their infection rates from the previous year. And by significant, I mean by more than 90 percent.

But that’s not all. The kids who supplemented with a probiotic also benefited from an 80 percent decrease in viral throat infections. (Versus a reduction rate of just 14 percent among the control group.)

This research focused on Streptococcus salivarius K12—a strain of bacteria that colonizes in the mouth, where it releases key antimicrobial peptides. This, in turn, boosts defenses against bacterial infections like strep throat and otitis media—that is, ear infection. (Which any parent will recognize as another hugely common health issue for kids.)

The takeaway? A simple probiotic could be the answer to your household’s prayers. Your kids won’t miss school. (Much to their chagrin, I am sure.) And you won’t have to miss work, only to end up getting sick yourself a few days later.

But here’s the best part: Fewer infections mean fewer trips to the doctor and fewer antibiotic prescriptions. And that makes me very happy.

Antibiotic overuse is becoming a major modern health crisis. One that’s leading to more resistant infections, with fewer drugs to cure them. So why aren’t more doctors promoting probiotics as a form of prevention?

The evidence in favor of taking probiotics to prevent infections was pretty clear cut in this case. Yet, I would bet you that most pediatricians didn’t hear a thing about this study. And when asked, they would probably only grudgingly say that probiotics may be useful…but only ifyour kid has diarrhea.

I’ve got more than a few thoughts on most doctors’ ignorance about supplements. But I’ll save that discussion for tomorrow. For now, let me just say this one more time, since no one else seems to realize it…

Probiotics are an essential cornerstone of total body health. Your gut is the hub of your immune system. So a healthy gut = a healthy person. And that’s true for people of all ages.

Look for a probiotic that delivers multiple strains of bacteria. Because as I’ve mentioned before, diversity is key when it comes to your gut’s microbiome.

Once again, Dr. Ohhira’s is my absolute favorite probiotic on the market, for this very reason.  This product employs special composting and fermentation processes to deliver ten different strains of live bacteria. These bacteria also come with their own food (called prebiotics), which makes them more effective and longer lasting. Dr. Ohhira’s even includes lactic acid bacteria and bacteriocins, which work to kill off the bad bugs while your body grows the good ones.

In other words, Dr. Ohhira’s a one-stop shop for your gut. And if your child is able to swallow capsules, taking just one a day will do the trick. If not, you can simply break the capsule open and mix the contents in with your child’s food.


“Use of Streptococcus salivarius K12 in the prevention of streptococcal and viral pharyngotonsillitis in children.” Drug Healthc Patient Saf. 2014 Feb 13;6:15-20.