Oral probiotics are living microorganisms that, if in large numbers, can provide various health benefits. Evidence has found that it is very likely that taking probiotics has a positive effect on one's overall health, especially gastrointestinal health, oral health, and the immune system. Oral probiotics can protect the mouth, gums, teeth, and throat from the bad bacteria that cause inflamed tissue, decay and bad breath. For one, probiotics target ulcer-causing (and bad-breath causing) bacteria, like h.pylori, by making hydrogen peroxide, and also improves the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which takes pressure off of the digestive system. In turn, this can improve a person's bowel function and relieve gas and bloating. Some gastrointestinal illnesses that probiotics may aid in are inflammatory bowel diseases, antibiotic-related diarrhea, Clostridium difficile toxin-induced colitis, infectious diarrhea, hepatic encephalopathy, irritable bowel syndrome and food allergies. They can help decrease the problem with food allergies by reinforcing the barrier function of the intestinal lining. Probiotics help the immune system function by increasing the amount of "good" bacteria in the body, helping fight off bad organisms that may try to gain a foothold in the system. They also can prevent and fight yeast and fungal infections (i.e. candida, oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections and athlete's foot). They even can help reduce lactose intolerance because they can break down lactose and produce the enzyme lactase. Probiotics can also be used after or during a session of taking antibiotics; they can immediately recolonize the beneficial gut flora that are destroyed by antibiotics. The problem with antibiotics is that they attakc both good and bad bacteria, thus sometimes leaving the immune system needing to be detoxified. They can increase levels of circulating antibodies and enhance the responses of circulating immune cells. Some have been found to secrete antimicrobial substances known as "bacteriocins" which inhibit the strength of harmful bacteria. It is even recommended that while traveling to take probiotics in order to combat foreign micro-organism that could reside in the food and water. The success rate of oral probitics depends on their ability to survive the acid of the stomach and the alkaline conditions in the duodenum, stick to the intestinal lining and colonize the colon. Related terms: AB-yogurt, acidophilus, acidophilus milk, antibiophilus, bacillus, Bifidobacteria, enterococcus, escherichia, fermented soymilk, flora, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), Helicobacter pylori, L. acidophilus milk, L. acidophilus yogurt, Lactobacillaceae (family), lactobacilli, lactobacillus, lacto bacillus, oligofructose, oral bacteriotherapy, prebiotic, Saccharomyces boulardii, yogurt.