Probiotics, often referred to as “good” bacteria, have gained popularity in recent years for their numerous health benefits. They mainly work on the digestive system, promoting gut health and enhancing overall well-being. Emerging research suggests that probiotics may also play a role in maintaining joint health. The gut-joint connection has attracted scientists and health enthusiasts alike, exploring the potential of probiotics in alleviating joint discomfort and supporting joint function.

While some studies have demonstrated promising results for specific strains of probiotics, there is still much to uncover in terms of understanding their impact on joint health. In the quest to maintain healthy joints, combining probiotics with a well-balanced diet and exercise may provide a holistic approach. As scientists continue to explore this fascinating link, individuals seeking to support their joint health are increasingly turning to probiotics as a natural and effective way to incorporate these beneficial microorganisms into their daily routine.

Key Takeaways

Probiotics and Joint Health

Inflammation and Immune System

Probiotics play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut environment, which is directly linked to the immune system and inflammation levels in the body. Certain probiotics, specifically strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, have been shown to modulate the immune response and promote anti-inflammatory effects1. By balancing the gut microbiota, probiotics can help maintain an optimal immune function, thus preventing chronic inflammation that may lead to joint issues.

Arthritis and Autoimmune Disease

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease affecting the joints, often causing severe pain and stiffness. Research suggests that probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus acidophilus, can help in the management of RA2. These probiotics are thought to improve the gut barrier function, preventing the migration of harmful bacteria and reducing the chance of autoimmune reactions. Furthermore, probiotics have been shown to reduce joint inflammation in collagen-induced arthritis, a model of RA, by modulating the immune response3.

Joint Pain and Inflammatory Markers

Joint pain is a common symptom in individuals with osteoarthritis (OA). Probiotics have been found to reduce the severity of joint pain in experimental OA models1. Additionally, a clinical study demonstrated potential benefits of probiotics in arthralgia (joint pain) in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases4. Probiotics may help decrease joint pain by reducing inflammation and maintaining a healthy immune system. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and develop specific probiotic treatments for joint pain and inflammation.

Types of Probiotics for Joint Health

Joint health can be supported by the use of specific probiotic strains. Here are some of the most common types of probiotics that have been observed to have a connection with joint health:


Lactobacillus is a well-known genus of bacteria often found in probiotics. Some strains of Lactobacillus have been shown to enhance immune responses and reduce inflammation, potentially alleviating joint pain in conditions like osteoarthritis1.


Another common group of probiotic bacteria is Bifidobacterium. These strains have been found to possess immunomodulatory effects, helping to balance the immune system and consequently reduce inflammation2. Bifidobacterium may, therefore, have a positive impact on promoting joint health.


Bacillus probiotics are another type of probiotic linked to joint health. In particular, Bacillus coagulans is considered one of the most common Bacillus strains3. This strain has shown potential in supporting overall health, and while more research is needed, it may also hold promise in promoting joint health.

Saccharomyces Boulardii

Saccharomyces Boulardii is a probiotic yeast known for its numerous health benefits. Its ability to balance and strengthen the immune system4 may indirectly contribute to healthy joints. Although more research is required to confirm the effect of Saccharomyces Boulardii on joint health, the current findings are promising.

Remember, it is essential to consult your healthcare professional before starting any new supplements, including probiotics, to ensure they are the right choice for you and your particular needs.

Sources of Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide numerous health benefits, including improved joint health, when consumed in adequate amounts. There are two primary sources of probiotics: supplements and fermented foods.


Probiotic supplements are available in various forms such as capsules, tablets, and powders. These supplements contain a wide variety of beneficial microorganisms tailored to address specific health concerns. Some popular strains include Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus acidophilus which have been shown to ameliorate rheumatoid arthritis1.

In addition to the probiotics, some supplements also contain prebiotics – substances that promote the growth and activity of good bacteria. When combined, probiotics and prebiotics are known as synbiotics, which work together to improve overall gut health and immune function.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are rich sources of naturally occurring probiotics, as they undergo a process where microorganisms convert carbohydrates into alcohol or organic acids. Here are some examples of fermented foods that contain probiotics:

  • Yogurt: A popular dairy product made by fermenting milk with beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
  • Kefir: A fermented milk beverage with a tart taste, similar to yogurt, made by adding kefir grains containing beneficial yeast and bacteria to milk.
  • Kombucha: A fermented tea drink made by adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) to sweetened black or green tea.
  • Sauerkraut: Fermented cabbage, high in natural probiotics, fiber, and various nutrients.
  • Kimchi: A Korean dish made by fermenting vegetables (often cabbage) with probiotic lactic acid bacteria.

It’s important to note that not all fermented foods contain live probiotics due to processing methods such as pasteurization, which kills live microorganisms. Always look for labels that mention live or active cultures.

The Gut-Joint Connection

Gut Microbiome

The gut microbiome consists of a complex community of microorganisms living in our digestive system. These microbes play a crucial role in maintaining our overall health by aiding digestion, producing vitamins, and protecting us against harmful pathogens. Research has indicated that the gut microbiome may also influence joint health, as changes in gut bacteria composition have been linked to inflammatory joint conditions, such as arthritis1.

Digestion and Intestinal Permeability

During digestion, the food we consume is broken down into nutrients and absorbed by the body. The large intestine, which houses most of the gut microbiome, plays a vital role in this process. When the gut bacteria are in balance, they help maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining, preventing harmful substances from passing into the bloodstream and potentially causing inflammation2.

However, disruptions in the gut microbiome can lead to an increased intestinal permeability, a condition commonly known as “leaky gut.” This allows bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles to cross the intestinal barrier and enter the bloodstream. Consequently, this triggers an immune response, which, in turn, results in inflammation and has been associated with joint pain and arthritis3.

incorporating probiotics into one’s diet or using supplements can help maintain gut health and potentially alleviate joint issues.

Some promising evidence indicates that probiotics, which are live microorganisms intended to benefit host health, can play a role in improving gut microbiome function and positively impact joint health4. By introducing beneficial bacteria into the digestive tract, probiotics may help restore the gut microbiome’s balance, reduce intestinal permeability, and ultimately alleviate joint inflammation^[5^].

Potential Health Benefits and Side Effects

Benefits for Joint Health

Probiotics have been studied for their potential benefits in various aspects of health, including joint health. Some research suggests that probiotics may help alleviate joint symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis5. This may be due to their ability to reduce inflammation, as evidenced by a decrease in C-reactive protein levels6. Moreover, probiotics are known for supporting a healthy gut microbiome, which is crucial for overall health and well-being.

Beyond joint health, probiotics have shown promising benefits in other areas:

  • Digestive health: Probiotics may help manage symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis7. They can also alleviate antibiotic-associated diarrhea and bloating8.
  • Immune system support: Some strains of probiotics, such as Streptococcus, have demonstrated potential for strengthening the immune system in healthy people9.
  • Nutrient absorption: Probiotics may also aid in the digestion of food, allowing for better absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients10.

Possible Side Effects

While probiotics are generally considered safe for most individuals, some potential side effects have been noted in rare instances:

  • Systemic infections: Although very uncommon, there have been reports of systemic infections caused by probiotics, particularly in people with weakened immune systems11.
  • Deleterious metabolic activities: In some cases, probiotics may contribute to metabolic imbalances or other unwanted side effects12.
  • Adjuvant side effects: Some individuals may experience side effects due to the addition of probiotics in their diet, such as gastrointestinal discomfort or an increase in gas13.

It’s important to remember that the safety and efficacy of probiotics can vary depending on the specific strain and dosage. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or supplement regimen.

Choosing and Using Probiotics

Dosage and Potency

When selecting a probiotic for joint health, it’s crucial to consider factors like dosage and potency. Probiotic supplements typically have a specific quantity of colony-forming units (CFU), which are an indicator of viable bacteria in the product. Researchers suggest starting with a low dose of around 5-10 billion CFU to see how your body reacts, and then adjusting the dosage accordingly if necessary. Higher dosages, reaching 50-100 billion CFU, may be appropriate for those with more severe digestive issues like IBS and IBD.

Storage and Expiration

Probiotic supplements often contain live bacteria and yeast, which means they are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. That’s why it’s crucial to store them properly to maintain their potency. Some probiotics require refrigeration, while others are more shelf-stable due to freeze-drying techniques. Always check the product label for proper storage and expiration recommendations. Expiration dates provide information about how long the product is guaranteed to maintain its potency, assuming optimal storage conditions.

Safety and FDA Regulations

Probiotics are generally considered safe for most individuals, but it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before introducing new dietary supplements. People with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions may be more susceptible to infection from harmful bacteria in contaminated probiotic products.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the safety and labeling of probiotics, but they do not approve or disapprove their use for specific health conditions. As a result, it’s essential to do your research and choose reputable brands. Look for products that contain well-established probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which have been studied for their potential positive effects on joint health and other conditions like constipation and antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Keep in mind that probiotics can be obtained through dietary sources, like yogurt and fermented foods, too. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help support a healthy gut microbiota and promote overall wellbeing. Remember, always consult your healthcare provider before adding probiotics to your regimen, especially if you have any existing health issues.

Additional Considerations

Consultation with a Healthcare Professional

Before starting probiotics for joint health, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or registered dietitian. They can help determine if probiotics are suitable for you based on your medical history, medications, or other factors like allergies and specific health conditions. For example, patients undergoing chemotherapy might need to avoid certain probiotics because they can increase the risk of infections due to a weakened immune system.

Individual Factors and Variability

The use of probiotics for joint health is subject to the specificity of the strains, with some strains having better results than others. Probiotics contain live microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these organisms might not be suitable for individuals with specific health issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a weakened immunity, or a history of Clostridioides difficile infection.

Different people might also react differently to probiotics due to factors like age, weight, and genetics. The CFUs (colony-forming units) and expiration date of the probiotics will also affect their efficacy. Some individuals might experience weight loss as a side effect of specific bacterial strains in probiotics. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to find the right probiotic product that fits your needs.

It is also worth considering other microorganisms present in your environment, such as viruses and protozoa, which might interact with the probiotics and affect your joint health. Additionally, keep in mind that probiotics may have variable effects on joint health, and it’s crucial not to rely solely on them for joint pain management. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is also vital for promoting joint health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best probiotic for rheumatoid arthritis?

There isn’t a definitive answer to this question as various probiotics may be beneficial for different individuals. However, some studies suggest that probiotics like Lactobacillus rhamnosus could help in reducing joint pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.

Which probiotics are recommended for inflammation?

Probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, are found to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Some examples include Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. These strains may help in reducing inflammation in the body.

How does L. casei probiotic help with rheumatoid arthritis?

Although research on the topic is limited, L. casei may help alleviate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by positively impacting gut microbiota and producing anti-inflammatory molecules. Consequently, it might contribute to the reduction of joint inflammation and pain.

Are there probiotics specifically beneficial for autoimmune diseases?

Some probiotics may be advantageous for different autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus casei have shown potential in reducing inflammation and alleviating symptoms in these conditions.

Do probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties?

Yes, some probiotics exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, such as Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, have shown potential in reducing inflammation in the body.

Can probiotics improve psoriatic arthritis symptoms?

There is limited research on probiotics’ direct effects on psoriatic arthritis symptoms. However, as they can help alleviate inflammation in the body, they might indirectly provide relief from joint pain and inflammation associated with psoriatic arthritis. Further research is needed to establish probiotics’ full potential in managing psoriatic arthritis symptoms.


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