Brewer's Yeast

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Brewer's yeast is a group of specific strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. The yeast is used for brewing ales and as an ingredient in some dietary and nutritional supplements. Brewer's yeast is used as a dietary source of chromium, B-complex vitamins, and selenium. Brewer's yeast is used orally for various respiratory disorders, including common cold, upper respiratory tract infections, allergic rhinitis (hayfever), influenza, and swine flu. It is also used orally for diarrhea, Clostridium difficile colitis, hypercholesterolemia, loss of appetite, acne, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), furunculosis, and type 2 diabetes. Brewer's yeast has also been used as a source of B vitamins and protein.

Also known as:  Baker's Yeast, Dried Yeast Fermentate, Faex, Faex Medicinalis, Levadura de Cerveza, Levure, Levure de Biere, Levure de Bière Inactive, Levure de Boulangerie, Levure Fermentée, Levure Médicinale, Levure Sèche Déshydratée, Medicinal Yeast, Nutritional Yeast, S. cerevisiae

Diseases and Conditions

Originating from New Guinea, Breadfruit has been extensively used as a traditional medicine. It was believed to treat tongue thrush, skin infections, sciatica, diarrhea low blood pressure, and asthma. There is not enough scientific research to assign an effectiveness rating to this supplement.


Brewer’s yeast is possibly safe when used orally, appropriately, and in the short-term. Brewer’s yeast products can be safely taken in doses of 500mg daily for up to 12 weeks. There is insufficient information about the overall safety of brewer’s yeast for children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women. Short-term use of brewer’s yeast is generally well-tolerated. Sensitive individuals are more prone to side effects including allergic reactions, headaches, flatulence, and intestinal discomfort. Dietary or occupational exposure to brewer’s yeast may increase the risk for developing Crohn’s disease.

Medication Interactions

Brewer's yeast might have additive effects when used with antidiabetes drugs in some patients. Monitor blood glucose levels closely. Dose adjustments might be necessary. Some antidiabetes drugs include:

  • Glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase)
  • Insulin
  • Pioglitazone (Actos)
  • Rosiglitazone (Avandia) and others.

The mechanism of action is likely related to the constituent chromium. Antifungals can reduce yeast activity, some antifungals include fluconazole (Diflucan), terbinafine (Lamisil), itraconazole (Sporanox), and others. Theoretically, lithium-containing brewer's yeast might cause additive effects and side effects when taken with prescribed lithium. Caution is advised. Brewer's yeast is contraindicated with Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), because concomitant use can increase blood pressure. Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.

Supplement and Food Interactions

Because brewer's yeast contains chromium, taking it with chromium supplements or chromium containing herbs, like cascara, bilberry, and horsetail, may heighten the risk of chromium toxicity. Brewer's yeast can also lower levels of blood glucose. This effect may combine with those of other herbs and supplements with hypoglycemic effects, such as guar gum, Panax ginseng, and fenugreek, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia.


For allergic rhinitis, a specific brewer's yeast preparation (EpiCor, Embria Health Sciences, Ankeny, IA) 500 mg once daily for twelve weeks has been used.

For diabetes, brewer's yeast providing chromium 23.2 mcg daily for eight weeks has been used.

For hypercholesterolemia, brewer's yeast twenty grams containing chromium 48 mcg daily for eight weeks has been used.

For Influenza, a specific brewer's yeast preparation (EpiCor, Embria Health Sciences, Ankeny, IA) 500 mg daily for twelve weeks has been used.


Brewer's yeast is often a living yeast used for brewing or baking.

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