Prebiotics act as food for "good" bacteria in the intestine. They pass undigested into the colon where they increase bowel mass and promote growth of certain bacteria.
People use GOS for eczema, colic, hay fever, food allergies, constipation, obesity, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
Don't confuse GOS with other prebiotics, such as fructo-oligosaccharides, inulin, and polydextrose. Also, don't confuse prebiotics with probiotics such as lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, and saccharomyces, which are live organisms.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis). Giving formula fortified with GOS to infants at risk for allergies seems to help prevent eczema from developing.
- Excessive crying in infants (colic). Giving a formula that contains prebiotics, including GOS, to infants with colic might help reduce crying.
- Inability to properly digest the sugar lactose (lactose intolerance). Taking GOS by mouth might improve symptoms like stomach pain, cramps, and bloating in people who are lactose intolerant.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Hay fever. Feeding a formula containing GOS and probiotics to infants at risk for allergies doesn't seem to reduce the risk of developing hay fever.
- Food allergies. Feeding a formula containing GOS to infants at risk for allergies doesn't seem to reduce the risk of developing food allergies by the age of 1-2 years.
- Upper airway infection. GOS don't seem to help prevent upper airway infections or reduce their symptoms in healthy infants or college students.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: GOS are commonly consumed in foods. GOS are possibly safe when taken by mouth as medicine in doses of 4.5 grams daily, starting at 25 weeks of pregnancy and continuing until delivery.
Children: GOS are possibly safe when added to breast milk or infant formula at concentrations of no more than 7.2 grams/L and consumed as needed for 4-12 months. Side effects might include constipation or diarrhea.
"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: GOS might cause the immune system to become more active. This might increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have an auto-immune condition, it's best to avoid using GOS as medicine until more is known.
Allergies: GOS might cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to a species of dust mite called Blomia tropicalis.
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES (GOS)
GOS can increase the activity of the immune system. Some medications, such as those used after a transplant, decrease the activity of the immune system. Taking GOS along with these medications might decrease the effects of these medications.
Be cautious with this combination
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.