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Probiotics and xylitol gum can’t replace antibiotics

Using probiotics and xylitol chewing gum to alleviate sore throats as an alternative to antibiotics appears to have no effect, a study shows


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Using probiotics and xylitol chewing gum to alleviate sore throats as an alternative to antibiotics appears to have no effect, a study shows.

Previous studies suggested over-the-counter probiotics and xylitol, a birch sugar that prevents bacterial growth, can help reduce recurrence of upper respiratory tract infections.

But the University of Southampton study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found no significant benefits of either the gum or probiotics.

Alternative approaches

Some 689 participants completed a symptom diary, recording the number of probiotic capsules and sticks of chewing gum used each day and the severity of symptoms.

There were no significant differences between the xylitol and probiotic groups, which suggests that neither helped control acute symptoms.

Co-author Michael Moore said: ‘It is a priority to find alternative approaches to treatment that don’t involve antibiotics… We were hoping one or other would prove beneficial in sore throats, but unfortunately not.’


Little P et al (2017) Probiotic capsules and xylitol chewing gum to manage symptoms of pharyngitis: a randomized controlled factorial trial. Canadian Medical Association Journal. doi: doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.170599

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