Are Probiotics good or bad for celiac patients?

Are Probiotics Good or Bad for Celiac Patients?

Increased intestinal permeability is inevitable in celiac disease patients. Researchers and physicians have known this for a long time. What’s more, if it is a cause or a consequence remains a mystery, but gut microbiota is somehow involved in the process.

This link raises some interesting questions about the use of probiotics for celiac disease patients. Are probiotics good or bad for celiac patients?  Can their regular use help these patients in the long term? Are they actually harmful in some cases? Can they have a real impact to prevent intestinal permeability and help healing?

Microbiota and celiac disease

Our gut microbiota is a beautiful and dynamic system, made up of millions of friendly bacteria which help keep invading pathogens at bay. However, the balance between friend and foe can be difficult to maintain. Excessive numbers of hostile bacteria (typically Gram-negative) can make the organism less tolerant to gluten. The worrying part is that, in genetically predisposed individuals, this can mean celiac disease. The theory goes that problems in the intestinal mucosa, such as increased permeability, can create conditions that favor nasty Gram-negative instead of helpful Gram-positive bacteria.

Can probiotics play a role in the treatment of celiac disease?

As every celiac disease patient knows, the only treatment for this condition is a strict gluten-free diet, excluding every source of gluten. No exceptions. However, this is not easy to achieve, and many researchers are looking for alternative treatments that could help celiac disease patients.

In theory, given the importance of gut microbiota in these patients, probiotics seem like a good idea. These products claim that live microorganisms can reach the gastrointestinal tract and help tip the balance towards good bacteria. Initial studies in the lab produced exciting results, and probiotics were able to reverse the adverse effects of the celiac disease in mice.

Unfortunately, the same trend was not present in clinical trials. Participants in several studies reported only limited improvements in indigestion and constipation and a complete failure to prevent diarrhea or abdominal pain. What’s more, the in-depth analysis also failed to detect any improvements regarding intestinal healing or nutrient absorption.

Are probiotics gluten free?

Researchers from Columbia University presented preliminary findings from a small study showing that more than half of the top-selling probiotic supplements contained some gluten, including ones that were labeled as gluten-free.

Columbia’s Peter Green, who presented the data at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Washington, DC, told the New York Times that he was baffled as to why these supplements contained any gluten at all: “The question is: Why are companies putting wheat or barley or rye in probiotic supplements?” Dr. Green said. “People use these natural products in an attempt to be healthy.” Caution should be used if a celiac patient decides to purchase probiotics. Make sure the probiotic you chose is truly gluten free.


What about a probiotic specifically designed for celiac disease patients?

Despite the initial problems, researchers still like the idea that probiotics can help celiac disease patients.

What if the problem is with commercial products available? What if it was possible to develop a specific probiotic tailored to celiac disease patients? A few years ago, Italian researchers concocted a product containing bacteria able to digest or alter gluten. According to the researchers, this preparation would be perfectly capable of colonizing the intestine and target gluten before it triggered an immune response.

Unfortunately, commercial products available are not yet capable of doing this. However, this idea opens an exciting door for future products specially developed for celiac disease patients.


For celiac disease patients, exposure to gluten means intestinal damage. This can take the form of increased permeability and changes in the gut microbiota. The good news is that preliminary studies found types of friendly bacteria in probiotics with the ability to degrade gluten. In practical terms, this could mean a unique probiotic for celiac disease patients.

At this stage, however, this is nothing more than an idea and researchers need to conduct further research. We await further developments!



Comments ()

  1. Elizabeth Scherer says:

    I use Jarrow femdophilus, not to treat diarrhea but otherwise, as the name suggests. It claims gluten free and works well for my needs.

  2. Elizabeth Scherer says:

    Just to add to former comment – I am not celiac but suffer the results of intensive radiation. I am finding a gluten free diet a great deal of help after years of difficulties.

    The femdophilus does not aggravate my condition.

  3. Aileen Tinneny says:

    Is there anything you can suggest to treat diarrhoea for a celiac sufferer Thank you

    1. Anita says:

      My son is gluten intolerant he is strictly on gluten free diet and has no more diarrhea

  4. Pamela Wright says:

    I am a Celiac sufferer. I took a bad turn for the worse back in March of this year & weighed 175 lbs. I now weigh 120 only 7 months I have lost 55 lbs. I have had a colonoscopy & endoscopy & all kinds of tests run since then. Have come to conclusion that this is Celiac killing me. I am looking for some way something to help me. My doctors just seem to not care or maybe I just do not have the right one. What else can I do to try to reverse this if possible? Anything I eat which is not much anymore turns to diarrhea. I am following the gluten free diet. Thank You

    1. Anita says:

      Gluten free diet is the only thing possible
      For now . It’s been helping my son
      Stay strict with it

    2. Liz says:

      I’ve been Celiacs for 14 years. I find that after being “glutened” accidentally, I need to take a break from other inflammatory foods. I cut out dairy, other grains, and try to avoid sugar as my gut heals. You might try this route for a few weeks, focusing on eating mainly veggies, meats, etc. until your body has time to heal.

    3. Sheri says:

      Hi Pamela,

      I’ve been diagnosed with Celiac for 3 years and have been struggling to get back on track. I try to eat all organic non processed foods. I would definitely go see a functional doctor or an allergist who can test you for other food sensitivities, intolerances. You should even get your supplements tested for gluten. I’m still having issues getting my iron up and my D3 is lower than I would like. The allergist or functional doctor will run blood tests to check other nutritional deficiencies, hormone, thyroid issues. Please let us know how you are doing.

      God Bless,

    4. Alexia says:

      Cut out other grains! I had the same problem

    5. Annie says:

      You need to make sure there is no cross contamination going on. If something is gluten free make sure it is not cooked with food that contain gluten. I cannot eat something that has been cooked in the same fryer with other gluten food. I wash all my dishes at home because I don’t want kids to accidentally not wash them properly. I have a separate peanut butter and butter containers so they do not put the knife in and then spread it on the bread and then get another scoop of peanut butter. Once you rule cross contamination out you might have a secondary food allergy start a food log. You should try the FOD map.

  5. Gillian MacDonald says:

    Have you tried a few foods diet. Every time mu coeliac son has been glutened or has a stomach bug he needs this to reset his stomach. After 2-3 weeks you can introduce 1 food every 3 days to see if you have an intolerance to other foods. My son didn’t so now 2 weeks on the diet gives his stomach a break and time to recover.

  6. Kathy Sikora says:

    Hi Pamela,

    I recommend that you try the Paleo Autoimmune Diet I found on the website. It has been a lifesaver for me. It is a elimination diet in which you eat only whole foods in their natural state – nothing processed or packaged. Also I found it helpful to eliminate known allergy triggers (dairy,soy,egg,corn,nuts)as well as cross-reactive foods that can mimic the protein gluten in the body (rice,quinoa,millet,yeast,hemp,buckwheat,sorgum,teff,oats,aramath,tapioca,sesame,coffee,potatoes,rye,spelt and again soy and corn). I also found it helpful to only eat foods that are from the Low FODMAPS (Fermantable Oligo-,Di-,Mono-saccharides And Polyols). For people like myself with gastrointestinal symptoms, a diet high in FODMAPS can induce diarrhoea and or constipation, bloating, and abdominal pain. Lastly, find a new doctor and a good DVD Dietician. is a wonderful resource to find help along your journey to recovery.

    Wishing you well,
    Kathy Sikora

  7. Kurt lee says:

    I gave up dairy after reading 70% of Celiacs have a cross-reaction to a protein in dairy products. For me it causes my skin to itch very bad as a symptom.

  8. Carol says:

    We gave up certified gluten free by GFCO probiotics after eliminating everything else and finally we eliminated my child’s probiotics and then she stopped having loose stools and leaks, she is doing much better but we did stay off grains and dairy and high fod map items as she took breathing test and has frutose problems also. She has no feelings of having wheat and her Bm movements are not liquid. Lots of seafood and we move natural grocery has grain free tortillas and tortillas chips and pizza crust

  9. Arvind Poswal says:

    Is homemade curd not have all good probiotics?
    It is helpful to know research going on in this field. I have been gluten intolerant for 4 years. I am a doctor myself and I feel angry when gastroenterologist take it so lightly.
    BTW most medicines also contain gluten, I recently developed fever and taking a Diclomol, I had a gluten reaction. So please search for gluten free medicines and if you fall ill tell the doctor that you will need only gluten free medicines… doctors are clueless but you should google it and put pressure on pharma companies to specially label which medicines are gluten free just as they write sugar free.
    Before probiotics became a fad people used to eat homemade curd or yogurt.

  10. Arvind Poswal says:

    Gluten free medicines are important

  11. Pacita says:

    Putting too much trust in doctors is a danger. You must be your own advocate. I found through constant research and always getting a copy of my own labs, that i am always anemic and Vitamin deficient. Not absorbing nutrients is a from and symptom of Celia/Gluten intolerance. You don’t need to go through hours waiting for the procedure, co-pay and specialists, what your “gut” and intelligence can. I as on deaths door when I changed primary doctors. She was going to put me on home health! My looks changed (degraded) dramatically! Fortunately, I recovered enough to start the Mediterranean /Anti-inflammatory Diet and slowly improved. Sadly, gluten is easily accessible, addictive and habitual, so I suffered again. Best not to buy it, so its easier to avoid. Try having the whole household involved for mutual support.
    My best to all of you!

  12. hamedshh says:

    hey all
    i have diarrhea too, but i haven’t been diagnosed by laboratory tests, because the result of tests indicates that i don’t have this disease. due to this, i’v recently noticed that yogurts containing strain named bifidobactruim lactis are quite useful for patients with celiac disease. at leat you will maybe no longer suffer from diarrhea when eating foods containing gluten when you eat a bowl of that yogurt after eating gluten.

  13. Sandy says:

    Hello all,
    I do have celiac disease and I do eat gf with a very rare
    cross contamination. I suffer from constipation on a weekly basis and am trying to drink Miralax on a daily routine, nothing is helping. My next idea is to try probiotics and see if that helps. I just read that you can’t trust if they say they are gf even if labeled gf. I’m so tired
    of this situation. Any true help would be very helpful. Thank you,

  14. Sarah Wheeler says:

    Bottled water will cause me to have diarrhea. I can drink spring water.

  15. Heather D Nigro says:

    A lot of patients don’t realize the condiments we eat have wheat flour in the sauces.

  16. Madeleine says:

    Please consider giving up corn if you are eating gf and it is not working. My daughter is celiac and cannot have corn either. All pills have corn in them in form of vegetable starch, maltodextrin, etc. Annato used to make cheese yellow is corn. Many yeasts are corn based and come from sorbitan etc, code for corn. Many GF foods use corn as costing. People are glue that corn contains no gluten but the zein protein behaves very similar in some celiacs. Many celiacs must give up corn. It is hard. It is hidden. Eve tables can be sprayed with it and you would never know. So we eat organic, are brand loyal and do,our best to avoid corn. Overall my daughter is much better now. This took 15 years to diagnose. Doctors almost killed my daughter. We get medication custom compounded, and are very brand loyal and write manufacturers. Some say GF for flour but run corn on the same line. Since the FDA dies not count it as allergen it is not on the label so you think you are ok but there can be trace amounts. If GF does not work start eliminating many foods, then add them back one by one. My daughter has issues with Apple, and can only eat certain brands of strawberries. Starbuck disposable stirrers are made from corn too. We have no idea what we are being fed. On good note my daughter is 99 percent good right now. Also as a word of hope there is a study out there somewhere fro. Sweden or Switzerland back in 50s or 60s where 15 people went on strict gluten free diet for 6 months. No contamination at all. They were cured. This was tested via multiple biopsies. Impossible to do here unless you grow your own food because rice is shipped in trucks that can carry wheat beforehand and white rice is polished, sometimes using corn to do it. Hope this helps. Write every manufacturer. We rarely eat out but when we do as a group:my daughter brings her own meal and her own water and explains under ADA she should be allowed to. Most restaurants understand as long as everyone else is ordering food but with flour flying in air and on the table….and it only taking 10ppm to get sick, we try to eat at homes. Just know every pill you take has corn in it and many celiacs cannot have corn. We are trying very expensive $100 probiotics with no filler from / coorganics. We have to avoid Apple etc and fillers so did a lot of research. For that fee you get 150 servings so we’ll worth it. And you do not need to take it every day. Peace.

  17. James says:

    I have found eating Greek Yogurt daily helps along with a strict gluten free diet. I was still losing weight, but in my case adding probiotic, I began gaining weight. Normally, I drink weight gain shake to maintain weight, but the Naturemade 5 million strain gummies, must have something going because I gained weight for the first time in a year. I have a strange variation of Gluten Intolerance, one Dr. called a different type of Cyliac.

  18. Handbook_2022 says:

    in the diet might not allow coeliac disease patients to consume normal gluten-containing food permanently, but could be beneficial in cases with, for example, poor response to a gluten-free diet. Moreover, intake of might speed up mucosal recovery after adoption of a gluten-free diet or provide protection to the small-intestinal mucosa against the traces of gluten in some supposedly gluten-free products. Thus consumption of

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