Baker's Yeast, Dried Yeast Fermentate, Faex, Faex Medicinalis, Levadura de Cerveza, Levure, Levure de Bière, Levure de Bière Inactive, Levure de Boulangerie, Levure Fermentée, Levure Médicinale, Levure Sèche Déshydratée, Medicinal Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, S. cerevisiae.
Brewer's yeast is a kind of yeast that is a by-product of brewing beer. Dietary supplements containing brewer's yeast often contain non-living, dried yeast. People use brewer's yeast to make medicine.
Brewer's yeast is taken by mouth for respiratory problems, including the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections, influenza, seasonal allergies, and swine flu. Brewer's yeast is also taken by mouth for diarrhea, swelling of the colon (colitis) due to the bacteria Clostridium difficile, high cholesterol, loss of appetite, acne, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), recurring boils on the skin (furunculosis), and type 2 diabetes. It has also been used as a source of B vitamins, chromium, and protein.
How does it work?
Due to the chromium content of brewer's yeast, there is interest in using it for lowering blood glucose in people with diabetes. Chromium may help the body use insulin more effectively. This can lower blood sugar levels.
Additionally, brewer's yeast seems to stimulate chemicals (intestinal enzymes) that could help relieve diarrhea.
Brewer's yeast is a source of B vitamins and protein.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Early research shows that taking 500 mg of a specific brewer's yeast product (EpiCor by Embria Health Sciences) for 12 weeks reduces nasal symptoms associated with seasonal allergies during high pollen counts. However, the product doesn't seem to improve eye symptoms. Also, it doesn't seem to improve nasal or eye symptoms during allergy season if the pollen count is lower.
- Swelling of the colon (colitis) due to the bacteria Clostridium difficile. There is a report that taking brewer's yeast by mouth for 4 months along with vancomycin for 30 days may help treat colitis caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile and prevent recurrence.
- Diabetes. Early research suggests that taking brewer's yeast containing chromium by mouth for 8 weeks can reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It may also reduce the need to use certain diabetes medications.
- High cholesterol. Early research suggests that taking brewer's yeast containing chromium by mouth for 8 weeks decreases blood levels of total cholesterol and increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.
- The common flu (influenza). Some early research shows that taking a specific brewer's yeast product (EpiCor by Embria Health Sciences) for 12 weeks reduces the possibility of getting the flu in people who have not received the flu vaccine. But it doesn't seem to reduce the duration or severity of flu symptoms in these people who do get sick. However, other early research shows that taking this same brewer's yeast product reduces the risk of the common cold or flu and helps symptoms resolve faster in healthy people who recently received flu shots.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Taking a specific brewer's yeast preparation (Sillix Donna by Giuliani) that also contains vitamins and minerals by mouth might decrease distress symptoms of PMS.
- Loss of appetite.
- Other Conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Brewer's yeast is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth short-term. A specific brewer's yeast product (EpiCor by Embria Health Sciences) has been safely used in doses of 500 mg daily for 12 weeks. In some people, brewer's yeast can cause headache, stomach discomfort, and gas (flatulence).
Not enough is known about the safety of long-term use of brewer's yeast. Stick with short-term use.
Crohn's disease: Brewer's yeast can make Crohn's disease worse. Don't use brewer's yeast if you have Crohn's disease.
Diabetes: Taking brewer's yeast that contains chromium can lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and take medications to lower your blood sugar, adding brewer's yeast might make your blood sugar drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar carefully.
Medications for depression (MAOIs)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Brewer's yeast contains a chemical called tyramine. Large amounts of tyramine can cause high blood pressure. However, the body naturally breaks down tyramine to get rid of it. This usually prevents the tyramine from causing high blood pressure. Some medications used for depression stop the body from breaking down tyramine. This can cause too much tyramine in the body and dangerously high blood pressure.
Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.
LithiumInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Some brewer's yeast contains lithium. Taking brewer's yeast along with lithium might increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Brewer's yeast might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking brewer's yeast along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Medications for fungal infections (Antifungals)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Brewer's yeast is a fungus. Medications for fungal infections help reduce fungus in and on the body. Taking brewer's yeast with medications for fungal infections can reduce the effect of brewer's yeast. However, this is probably not a big concern.
The appropriate dose of brewer's yeast depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for brewer's yeast. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Anderson, R. A. Nutritional role of chromium. Sci Total Environ. 1981;17(1):13-29. View abstract.
Babu, S. and Srikantia, S. G. Availability of folates from some foods. Am.J Clin.Nutr. 1976;29(4):376-379. View abstract.
Bahijiri, S. M., Mira, S. A., Mufti, A. M., and Ajabnoor, M. A. The effects of inorganic chromium and brewer's yeast supplementation on glucose tolerance, serum lipids and drug dosage in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Saudi.Med.J. 2000;21(9):831-837. View abstract.
Bahijri, S. M. and Mufti, A. M. Beneficial effects of chromium in people with type 2 diabetes, and urinary chromium response to glucose load as a possible indicator of status. Biol.Trace Elem.Res. 2002;85(2):97-109. View abstract.
Elias, A. N., Grossman, M. K., and Valenta, L. J. Use of the artificial beta cell (ABC) in the assessment of peripheral insulin sensitivity: effect of chromium supplementation in diabetic patients. Gen.Pharmacol. 1984;15(6):535-539. View abstract.
Elwood, J. C., Nash, D. T., and Streeten, D. H. Effect of high-chromium brewer's yeast on human serum lipids. J.Am.Coll.Nutr. 1982;1(3):263-274. View abstract.
Ghoneum, M. and Gollapudi, S. Induction of apoptosis in breast cancer cells by Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the baker's yeast, in vitro. Anticancer Res. 2004;24(3a):1455-1463. View abstract.
Ghoneum, M., Hamilton, J., Brown, J., and Gollapudi, S. Human squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue and colon undergoes apoptosis upon phagocytosis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the baker's yeast, in vitro. Anticancer Res. 2005;25(2A):981-989. View abstract.
Hayter, J. Trace elements: implications for nursing. J Adv.Nurs. 1980;5(1):91-101. View abstract.
Jensen, D. P. and Smith, D. L. Fever of unknown origin secondary to brewer's yeast ingestion. Arch.Intern.Med. 1976;136(3):332-333. View abstract.
Kimura, K. [Role of essential trace elements in the disturbance of carbohydrate metabolism]. Nippon Rinsho 1996;54(1):79-84. View abstract.
Li, Y. C. Effects of brewer's yeast on glucose tolerance and serum lipids in Chinese adults. Biol.Trace Elem.Res. 1994;41(3):341-347. View abstract.
Liu, V. J. and Morris, J. S. Relative chromium response as an indicator of chromium status. Am.J Clin.Nutr. 1978;31(6):972-976. View abstract.
Offenbacher, E. G. Chromium in the elderly. Biol.Trace Elem.Res. 1992;32:123-131. View abstract.
Rolls, R. Brewer's yeast and diabetes. Br.Med.J. 4-2-1977;1(6065):905. View abstract.
Schrauzer, G. N. and de, Vroey E. Effects of nutritional lithium supplementation on mood. A placebo-controlled study with former drug users. Biol.Trace Elem.Res. 1994;40(1):89-101. View abstract.
Subbiah, M. T. and Abplanalp, W. Ergosterol (major sterol of baker's and brewer's yeast extracts) inhibits the growth of human breast cancer cells in vitro and the potential role of its oxidation products. Int.J.Vitam.Nutr.Res. 2003;73(1):19-23. View abstract.
Alic M. Baker's yeast in Crohn's disease—can it kill you? Am J Gastroenterol 1999;94:1711. View abstract.
Borriello SP, Hammes WP, Holzapfel W, et al. Safety of probiotics that contain lactobacilli or bifidobacteria. Clin Infect Dis 2003;36:775-80. View abstract.
Facchinetti F, Nappi RE, Sances MG, et al. Effects of a yeast-based dietary supplementation on premenstrual syndrome. A double-blind placebo-controlled study. Gynecol Obstet Invest 1997;43:120-4. View abstract.
Ferreira IMPLVO, Pinho O, Vieira E, Tavarela JG. Brewer's Saccharomyces yeast biomass: characteristics and potential applications. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2010;21(2):77-84.
Hallmark MA, Reynolds TH, DeSouza CA, et al. Effects of chromium and resistive training on muscle strength and body composition. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28:139-44. View abstract.
Hennequin C, Thierry A, Richard GF, et al. Microsatellite typing as a new tool for identification of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains. J Clin Microbiol 2001;39:551-9. View abstract.
Jensen GS, et al. Antioxidant bioavailability and rapid immune-modulating effects after consumption of a single acute dose of a high-metabolite yeast immunogen: results of a placebo-controlled double-blinded crossover pilot study. J Med Food. 2011;14(9):1002-1010. View abstract.
Kovacs DJ, Berk T. Recurrent Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea and colitis treated with saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast) in combination with antibiotic therapy. A case report. J Am Board Fam Pract 2000;13:138-40. View abstract.
Marteau P, Seksik P. Tolerance of probiotics and prebiotics. J Clin Gastroenterol 2004;38:S67-9. View abstract.
Minerals for diabetes. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter 2000;16(2):160212.
Moyad MA, Robinson LE, Kittelsrud JM, et al. Immunogenic yeast-based fermentation product reduces allergic rhinitis-induced nasal congestion: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Adv Ther. 2009;26(8):795-804. View abstract.
Moyad MA, Robinson LE, Zawada ET Jr, et al. Effects of a modified yeast supplement on cold/flu symptoms. Urol Nurs 2008;28:50-5. View abstract.
Moyad MA, Robinson LE, Zawada ET, et al. Immunogenic yeast-based fermentate for cold/flu-like symptoms in nonvaccinated individuals. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(2):213-218. View abstract.
Munoz P, Bouza E, Cuenca-Estrella M, et al. Saccharomyces cerevisiae fungemia: an emerging infectious disease. Clin Infect Dis 2005;40:1625-34. View abstract.
Rabinowitz MB, Gonick HC, Levin SR, Davidson MB. Effects of chromium and yeast supplements on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic men. Diabetes Care 1983;6:319-27. View abstract.
Saner G, Yuzbasiyan V, Neyzi O, et al. Alterations of chromium metabolism and effect of chromium supplementation in Turner's syndrome patients. Am J Clin Nutr 1983;38:574-8. View abstract.
Schrauzer GN. Lithium: occurrence, dietary intakes, nutritional essentiality. J Am Coll Nutr 2002;21:14-21.. View abstract.
Sinai Y, Kaplun A, Hai Y, Halperin B. Enhancement of resistance to infectious diseases by oral administration of brewer's yeast. Infect Immun 1974;9:781-7. View abstract.