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How Long Does It Take for Probiotics to Work?

By Christopher Walker

How Long Does It Take for Probiotics to Work?

We all want to feel relief immediately. Unfortunately, even the most effective medicines require time to fully kick in; probiotics are no exception. You can’t expect instant digestive relief after consuming yogurt. The same is also true of probiotic supplements. How long does it take for probiotics to work? Search the web for the answer and you get a ballpark estimate ranging from minutes to weeks.


  • Factors That Determine Effect Time
  • Probiotic Generation Time
  • How To Speed Up The Effect Time
  • Identify The Probiotic Strains
  • Factors That Determine How Long It Takes Probiotics To Work

    We wish we could just say it takes X amount of time for probiotics to start working. However, too many variables are at play. It comes down to the type of strain and each strain’s generation time (more on this later).

    Other factors include:

    • The total colony-forming unit (CFU) count
    • The types and quantity of food consumed with the probiotics
    • The stomach’s pH level
    • The amount, if any, of prebiotics in the stomach

    Some probiotic supplements also use freeze-dried technology, which extends the life of the probiotics inside the capsule. While this is a definite plus, this puts the strains in a lyophilized state, or lag phase. This means it may take some time for the probiotics to “wake up” and begin germinating once ingested.

    You can see now why we can’t just say it takes X minutes or Y hours to begin noticing changes.

    Probiotic Generation Time

    How long do probiotics take to work depends largely on the generation time of the strain you’re taking. So, what is all this talk about generation time? The term is defined as the time it takes for a bacterial strain to reproduce and double its numbers.

    READ MORE: Probiotics for Weight Loss: Does Gut Bacteria Contribute to a Slimmer Waistline?

    For probiotics to have a beneficial effect, it has to outnumber the foreign and pathogenic bacteria. This is why the generation time is such a relevant factor.

    Two of the more common strains include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, both of which are present in Floracil50. These two are known for having a relatively short generation time, usually two to three hours once they enter the intestinal tracts. A short generation time is beneficial for digestion, especially of the foods you consumed the probiotics with, if any.

    Another important point is that the generation time does not necessarily equate to the time it takes to see results. If you’ve been living a fairly unhealthy lifestyle, then your body may be teeming with foreign pathogens. In this instance, the bad bacteria may outnumber the probiotics even if the latter doubles their reproduction.

    Even if the probiotics are working within hours, you may not notice results until days or weeks. In fact, even healthy folks shouldn’t expect noticeable results from a single serving of yogurt or probiotic supplement.

    How To Speed up The Effect Time Of Probiotics

    How long does it take for probiotics to work? If you want results in as little time as possible, then we suggest following a few tips to expedite the effects.

    First, we suggest seeing our post on when to take probiotics. The timing does influence bioavailability and how quickly you may feel relief. The best time is about 30-minutes before a meal, though this is by no means an ironclad rule.

    We also recommend taking probiotics with vitamin C. It’s actually not unusual to see these two combined as a single supplement. Studies1 show that these two taken together prevent respiratory tract infections in preschool-age children. This is not definitive proof that vitamin C increases probiotic bioavailability. However, the two do appear to have a synergic effect.

    Another possibility is to consume apple cider vinegar, which in its unfiltered form contains probiotics of its own. Though highly acidic, ACV actually has an inverse effect on the stomach and creates a more alkaline environment. In other words, it raises the stomach pH level. A low pH level means high acidity, which can be detrimental for probiotics.

    Finally, you should also consume prebiotics with probiotics. The former essentially acts as the food or fertilizer for good bacteria. See our previous post for a list of prebiotic foods and supplements.

    Identify The Probiotic Strains

    How long for probiotics to work also depends on the probiotic strains that are in your food or supplement. Strains have their respective benefits. Bifidobacterium, for example, is especially known for colonizing the digestive tract and alleviating symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome. If your food or supplement lacks this specific strain, then it may take longer to notice relief from diarrhea, constipation and gas.

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    Likewise, the strain lactobacillus acidophilus is known to colonize the vaginal walls in women. Women taking probiotics to prevent vaginal or urinal tract infections should be sure L. acidophilus is among the strains or else desirable results may not manifest in a timely manner, if at all.

    How Long Does It Take For Probiotics To Start Working? Our Final Thoughts

    Regardless of whether you’re taking Floracil50 or eating probiotic-rich foods, don’t expect instant results. Some people do notice a difference within an hour or two. However, the majority should have reasonable expectations and wait for several days. Rest assured, though, that the probiotics are hard at work as long as you’re consistent with the foods or supplementation.


    Citations and Sources

    Garaiova I, Muchová J, Nagyová Z, et al. Probiotics and vitamin C for the prevention of respiratory tract infections in children attending preschool: a randomised controlled pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015;69(3):373-379. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25205320.