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8 hours $7.98
12 hours $6.98
20 hours $5.98
30 hours $4.98

Probiotics: Silent Partners in Health

2.0 Contact Hours
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to describe what probiotics are (and are not), how they affect our health, the various categories of probiotics, the risks and benefits of their use, how to select a probiotic, pertinent regulatory considerations, and the current research on their use.
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Probiotics are live microbes believed to be beneficial for the host organism. They are used globally to improve the health and well-being of animals and humans. Sales of probiotic supplements have soared in recent years on the basis of intriguing research that demonstrates potential benefits for many chronic conditions, including cancer. With the rise in interest in integrative health as well as complementary and alternative therapies, this trend is likely to continue.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Describe the role of microorganisms in our body.
  • Differentiate between normobiosis and dysbiosis.
  • Define probiotics.
  • Differentiate between what probiotics are and are not in terms of characteristics, uses, and other microbes.
  • List the subcategories of probiotics.
  • Describe prebiotics and their role in health.
  • Identify food products that contain probiotics.
  • Explain the health uses for probiotics.
  • Identify risks and considerations when using probiotics.
  • Identify regulatory issues related to probiotics.
  • Describe items that should be listed on a probiotic product.
  • Identify current areas of probiotic research.

According to the American Academy of Microbiology (2006), probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that are “making an impact in research; they are also turning heads in the global marketplace” (p. 3). Manufacturers of probiotic supplements claim they can help constipation, prevent or decrease fatigue, prevent cancer, and treat high cholesterol, among other effects. Traditional probiotic foods such as kefir and kombucha are widely believed to reduce symptoms ranging from indigestion to migraines, while other probiotics are used in farm animals and even our pets.

Probiotic therapies have been developed to address the health concerns of both diseased and healthy individuals. While there is no conclusive evidence that changing the microbiota of a healthy human adult (the microorganisms that typically inhabit a bodily organ or part of the body) is beneficial, probiotics that change the microbiota of farm animals are widely and routinely used to prevent certain conditions such as gastrointestinal illnesses (Venugopalan, Shriner, & Wong-Beringer, 2010). Evidence about the health-enhancing properties continues to increase.

Are probiotics the future of medicine? Are they as beneficial as their proponents claim? Can they help us become healthier or prevent diseases in the first place? Since pathogens (or “unhealthy” microorganisms) are linked to many diseases, can beneficial microorganisms be used to treat disease? Current research is examining these questions and discovering some interesting possibilities. “The buzz about probiotics has become a roar” (American Academy of Microbiology, 2006, p. 3).

Probiotics: A Burgeoning Industry

Both national and global interest in probiotics has skyrocketed in recent years, as shown by the sales of these products. Global sales of probiotic ingredients, supplements, and foods are expected to exceed $24 to $28 billion and it is expected to reach almost $37 billion in the next several years (BCC Research, 2014; BioMed Trends, 2016). In Latin America as well as the United States, probiotics are mostly consumed as pills and tablets, but sales of probiotics in food (such as yogurt and kefir) are increasing (Crawford, 2015). Increasingly, probiotics are being added to baked and dairy products such as chocolates, cheese, muffins, and sausages. Technological advances are predicted to provide opportunities to add probiotics to other products as well (BioMed Trends, 2016).

The global H1N1 pandemic, the growing interest in preventive medicine, and rising healthcare costs have all contributed to the rise in probiotic use. Europe represents the largest and fastest growing market, with Germany and the United Kingdom accounting for almost half of the total market. Japan is the second largest market (BioMed Trends, 2016).

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • NCBTMB -National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • Florida Board of Massage Therapists


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Domain of OT

Course Expires:

July 11, 2019

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.