Introduction: Acute diarrhea continues to be a leading cause of morbidity, hospitalization and mortality worldwide and probiotics have been proposed as a complementary therapy in the treatment of acute diarrhea. Regarding the treatment of acute diarrhea, a few probiotics including Saccharomyces boulardii seem to be promising therapeutic agents.
Areas covered: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis regarding the use of S. boulardii in the treatment of acute infectious diarrhea with relevant studies that searched with the PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Google Scholar, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Library, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews through October 2011. This review describes the effects of S. boulardii on the duration of diarrhea, the risk of diarrhea during the treatment (especially at the third day) and duration of hospitalization in patients with acute infectious diarrhea. This review also focused on the potential effects of S. boulardii for acute infectious diarrhea due to different etiological causes.
Expert opinion: S. boulardii significantly reduced the duration of diarrhea approximately 24 h and that of hospitalization approximately 20 h. S. boulardii shortened the initial phase of watery stools; mean number of stools started to decrease at day 2; moreover, a significant reduction was reported at days 3 and 4. This systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of S. boulardii in the treatment of acute infectious diarrhea show that there is strong evidence that this probiotic has a clinically significant benefit, whatever the cause, including in developing countries. Therefore, with S. boulardii, the shortened duration of diarrhea and the reduction in hospital stay result in social and economic benefits.