About Probiotics

Polly: Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that promote the health of the gastrointestinal tract. Lactobacillus L. acidophilus is one of the better-known probiotic bacteria that most of us will recognize as being used in yogurt. However, there are many different kinds of probiotic bacteria with odd sounding names like Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Streptococcus thermophilus. When in the gastrointestinal tract, these beneficial bacteria create B vitamins for us and help us digest our food. They also interact with our immune system. When we have the wrong bacteria in our intestines, it is a strain on our immune system, our nutrition, and on our detoxification system.

To help get rid of the wrong bacteria in our intestines, we can ingest good bacteria from food sources or from capsules and powders. We can also employ soil-based microorganisms to help us recover. (Soil-based microorganisms are normal residents of the soil, not our intestines.) All of these are classified as probiotics because they improve the properties of the indigenous microflora of the gastrointestinal tract. When used properly they can help us recover. Please be careful with children. For infants and toddlers, you don’t employ the same bacteria as for adults. Get a product made especially for them.

Brush Your Gums With Probiotics

Sunny, PEP Japan: (PEP stands for Parents for Exceptional Progress) I just wanted to share with you this simple oral care to make your own and your child’s gums healthier. Two weeks ago, I saw on TV, the effectiveness of brushing with flora. All the persons who have tried brushing their gums with L. acidophilus, etc reported improvement within 3 days. I’ve tried this for a week and my gums are firmer. My autistic son has had swollen gums and after brushing with L. acidophilus for 2 days we saw improvement. It has saved us a few trips to the dentist. One dental assistant commented that after a week or so, she no longer has a “white” tongue. The dentist that developed this idea (Nagoya, Japan) says that it is good for periodontal disease. (Many adults simply brush with unsweetened yogurt, but this is not recommended for our autistic kids that can not tolerate the casein in milk.)

Recommended protocol: After brushing your teeth, apply powdered flora on your toothbrush and gently brush your gum. In the beginning, brush 5 times a day (morning, after each meal, before bedtime). After seeing some improvement, reduce to twice a day (morning/night). Do not rinse after brushing with flora.

We have seen improvement with our son brushing his gums only once a day, before going to bed. Hope this is helpful to some of you.

Polly: I wonder which probiotics are most likely to help or harm the enamel of the teeth? Some bacteria produce stronger acids than others do. I also wonder if the brushing with bacteria could affect the immune system.

Sunny PEP Japan: I’m not aware of any harmful probiotic for this brushing purpose. The TV program that introduced this said any probiotic sold at health food stores would do. I have tried it with Kirkman’s probiotic since most of what we have here have lactose in them. I wouldn’t brush the enamel, only the gum, though.

Polly: I found conflicting opinions on the Internet, with one site saying that the acid produced by L. acidophilus when it acts on sugar in the mouth could be a problem. Yet the Natren site had an article where they suggested that it would be a good idea to use a mixture of bacteria, including L. acidophilus as a mouth rinse. This could prevent cavities by lowering the yeast population in the mouth. I guess if the teeth are first cleaned, and you are using a product that doesn’t contain sugar or FOS, then there would be nothing on the teeth for the bacteria to convert to acid. I’d only use the normal intestinal flora resident bacteria for the gum brushing. I’d be afraid to use soil-based probiotics brushed into the gums, since some would get into the bloodstream, and I have no idea on what it would do to the heart.

Infant/Toddler Probiotics

Polly: Lactobacillus GG has been studied extensively, and has been used with infants as well as adults. Giving Lactobacillus GG to formula fed infants for six months or giving Lactobacillus GG to the moms who were breast feeding cut the babies’ incidence of eczema in half. [5] Lactobacillus GG was also found to reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children. [6] This product is often suggested to control clostridia overgrowth.

The only brand of Lactobacillus GG is Culturelle. Website http://www.culturelle.com and phone 1-888-828-4242. Each pill contains 10 billion microorganisms or more. Be aware that presently, they only offer their product in a base of inulin. No problems have been reported using the inulin with infants, however, inulin may increase the growth of some harmful bacteria and yeast. Once in a while, adults have reported a problem with inulin/FOS. So be on the lookout for an unusual situation where things seem to get worse instead of better.

The company states that refrigeration is not needed with their product; you can just store their product in a cool dry place and use it before the expiration date. However, I suggest that you leave all probiotic products in the refrigerator, including this one. Especially during the summer, I’d request that this product be shipped with dry ice. You never know when and if the product will be sitting in a hot truck all day. Culturelle can also be purchased from other places, like Kirkman, who ship using dry ice.

Kirkman carries another product that can be used with infants that contains L. rhamnosus. Website http://www.kirkmanlabs.com and phone 800-245-8282. Natren carries a Bifidus probiotic for infants and toddlers. Website http://www.natren.com and phone (800) 992-3323. Both of these latter products do not contain FOS or inulin. Kirkman and Natren ship their probiotics with ice or dry ice.

Although it seems logical that the same strains of probiotics can be used with infants as with adults, I’d be careful and only use those strains that have been tested in infants and toddlers. Also, don’t give more than the recommended amount. The mucin layer in the intestines is not fully formed until two years of age. More probiotics will get through the layer and into the blood stream. Too much would cause an infection. The composition of the flora growing in a infant is a little different too, since the mucin layer supports the growth of different bacteria.

Protect Your Probiotics

Polly: Probiotics, especially the normal flora variety, are sensitive to both heat and moisture. (The soil-based probiotics are much more stable.) You have the best chance of purchasing a live product if your manufacturer has been careful to keep them dry and refrigerated. After you receive your probiotics, keep them refrigerated in a sealed container. Don’t mix you probiotics in chlorinated water or in hot food. This will kill them. Taking them with digestive enzymes is okay. However, don’t take them with garlic, oregano or other strong herbs that are known to kill microorganisms. Too strong of an acid can kill the bacteria too. To protect the probiotics from the stomach acid, some people have suggested taking probiotics on an empty stomach with an antacid. You can also drink some water when your stomach is empty. This will wash out the stomach acid. Then you can take the probiotics a few minutes later. Some people suggest rectal implantation. An interesting idea is to use the right oil to protect the probiotics from the stomach acid, as done in the Natren Healthy Trinity product.

If you find a probiotic product just sitting on the shelf in a store, and not refrigerated, I’d be very wary of it being a decent purchase, even if the company claims the product is heat stable. Similarly, if you purchase a product mail order and it was not shipped in dry ice, then I’d worry about the attitude of the company that sold you the product. They might not take care of the product before shipment. Yet, if you accidentally leave your product outside the refrigerator for a few days, or even if you leave it out a week when the weather is cool, don’t think that you have to throw out the product. Most of the potency should still be there.

Probiotic Test Results

Polly: A Belgian study of 55 probiotics showed that more than a third of the powdered products contained no living bacteria. The results are to be published later in the year 2001 in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. (This information is from one of Dr. Mercola’s articles.) I don’t have that list to show you. However, a while back, Harry Bronozian commissioned a private survey, and posted the results at this forum. I have a copy of those original lab papers. The testing was done in September 2000 by Deibel Laboratories. Custom Probiotics (Harry’s company), Natren, Ethical Nutrients, Wakunaga, Nature’s Way, and Jarrow had a very good to acceptable showing. Three other well-advertised products were quite disappointing, with less than a quarter of the bacteria alive at the time of testing. A test done in March of 2002, on the new VSL product showed acceptable results.

What Do Good Bacteria Live On?

Marilyn in Seattle: What do good bacteria live on? Do carbohydrates feed good bacteria?

Polly: Carbohydrates can feed both good and bad flora. Sugars/carbohydrates are important for establishing the initial good flora in the gut. Breast milk helps the correct bacteria get established because it is low protein with plenty of sugar, which tends to make the chyme more acidic. Breast milk also contains immune factors that promote the establishment of the correct bacteria.

The type of bacteria that predominate will depend on the total environment as well as the mix and type of fats, protein, and carbohydrates present. In rats, sugar promotes more yeast, lactobacilli, enterococci, enterobacteria, and peptostreptococci. Fat promotes enterobacteria, lactobacilli and peptostreptococci. Protein promotes more Clostridia. [7] According to Dr. Baker, wheat, oats, and casein will promote Clostridia. [8] This interaction between food and the flora mix may help explain why different individuals will tolerate some foods better than others will.

To a large extent, our body’s health determines what flourishes in the intestines. A healthy mucin layer in the gut promotes the correct bacteria. Our body grows this mucin layer that coats the intestines and feeds the residents. Hence, our general health and the vitamin and nutrient content of our food will make a difference in the health of this mucin layer in which bacteria flourish. In infants, things are a bit different because the mucin layer isn’t fully developed until about 2 years of age. Yet I suspect the secretions from the gut and the general health of the body play a big role at this early age too.

Probiotics And The Immune System

Polly: Be aware that some probiotics push the body’s immune system towards the Th1 side and others push it towards the Th2 side. You want a balance in your immune system between Th1 and Th2. People with dysbiosis tend to have a weak Th1 immune system and an overactive Th2 system. Dr. Cheney explains how people with CFIDS, viruses, or yeast overgrowth can get stuck on the Th2 side. The pathogens move you there to protect themselves from being destroyed. Here is an article about Dr. Cheney’s work with shifting the immune system.


Jarrow has a new product called Th1 that addresses this situation by trying to activate the Th1 system. Their TH-1 Probiotics contains the tyndallized (heat killed) probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum, along with organic fermented soy-milk and live Bifidobacterium longum BB536 (Morinaga strain). It may seem strange that with all this concern for keeping the bacteria alive in other products, that this product contains heat-killed bacteria. There is a reason. For people with severely compromised immune systems (like AIDS), the fear is that the live bacteria will be too great a strain. Just the DNA and protein from the bacteria will modulate the immune system. The hope is that this is sufficient to make a difference. (Jarrow can be found in most stores, or it can be ordered at their website, http://www.Jarrow.com and phone 800-726-0886. Many of these same pro-Th1 bacteria are found in Custom Probiotics‘s Adult Formula CP-1 product, only at a higher potency per capsule and containing live bacteria. Either of these products might be good choices, depending on the situation.

Because part of the benefit of the probiotics is the way your immune system reacts, it has been suggested to use the probiotics for a while, then give yourself a break from them, and then reintroduce them again — like a vaccine. It takes at least a few weeks to normally make a difference, so maybe a month on the probiotics and a few weeks off might be something to try. Or rotate the type of probiotics that you employ.

Probiotic Suppositories

Harold: My advice is to use your probiotics as suppositories, as in most cases they will not survive the trip through the digestive system. I got absolutely nowhere until I did. Over the years I spent thousands of dollars on supplements and basically got zilch results until I used the probiotics as suppositories — AND, it worked quickly.

Mrs. Generic: Which brand do you recommend, and do you purchase a special type for suppositories?

Harold: I have used various brands of probiotics with good results. The best was Natren, which I would prefer, but in my area it is not easy to get it in the powder form any more. When I could get it in powder form, I would get gel capsules and fill them myself. At first you will probably have to insert one or two caps 2 or 3 times a day. I modified an applicator from a Monistat 7 kit to make it easier to insert. As they take effect you find that you can spread them out and eventually go for days without trouble. I also would take the probiotics orally too because your stomach more than likely has H-Pylori bacteria too. H. Pylori aids and abets candida. Besides, H. Pylori is the main cause of ulcers; and it is linked to some intestinal cancers. The only time I have to go this route now is if I weaken and go out for meals and eat all the wrong things for maybe 6 months. You must realize this is not an overnight cure, but it has worked for me where nothing else would.

Sorry, I almost forgot. There are two kinds of capsules, one is a quick dissolving one made of vegetable gelatin and the other is slow to melt. You must use the one that dissolves quickly. The best way to know the difference is to test by putting them in water and see how fast they dissolve. In the event you don’t have enough moisture in the bowel to do the job, then open the capsules, put the probiotics in warm water, and then use as an enema. I had to do this at the beginning to jump-start the action. I would say to get a few billion and as many kinds as possible. The ones I used had in them: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum; and S. faecium. These three were in capsule form by Protec. The following was in a powder by Natren that I put in capsules: B. longum, L. rhamnosus RO11, L. acidophilus, S. thermophilus, L. rhamnosus RO49, Enterococcus faecium, L. delbreucki Subspecies P Bulgaris.

Polly: Notice that Harold only used a couple of billion microorganisms in his suppository experiments. This is the amount found in low dose probiotic pills. Don’t try a high dose product, at least, not at first. The shock could make you very ill. The most prevalent microorganism in the colon, and therefore probably the safest to use in this manner is Bifidus. I would be afraid to try the soil-based probiotics. Also, I wouldn’t use a product that contained Enterococcus faecalis or Enterococcus faecium. Instead of a suppository, some people get a baby enema bulb and fill it with non-chlorinated water and microorganisms.

Yeast As A Probiotic?

Polly: Believe it or not, the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii can be used to alter the flora to a more favorable composition. Using this yeast as a treatment has been dubbed “yeast against yeast.” It crowds out the more harmful yeast while allowing good bacteria to take over. The amount employed is 1 to 9 billion organisms per day. Jarrow and Allergy Research/Nutricology are two of the companies that make a supplement of this.

Parasites As Probiotics

Polly: Parasites can also be used to shift the immune system and get rid of intestinal inflammation. Joel Weinstock of the University of Iowa has successfully treated inflammatory bowel disease with the eggs of porcine helminthic parasites. (The parasites do not reproduce in the intestinal track and are eliminated in a few months.) Preliminary results look promising. However, the eggs are not a cure-all. People, who have these eggs present in their stool, still may have intestinal inflammation.

Another parasite used for medicinal purposes is part of traditional Vietnamese medicine. This parasite is found in the soil and is called Earth Dragons, earthworms, or lumbricus. These parasites have been used to treat stroke, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, malaria, fever, blood infections, seizures/epilepsy, urinary problems, acne, cough, joint pain, migraines, insomnia, skin infections, and inflammatory bowel disease. [16] These earthworms are available from Allergy Research/Nutricology, in a tonic preparation with herbs. Website http://www.nutricology.com phone (800) 782-4274. I would not want to purchase parasites from just any company. The source of the eggs or parasites has to be carefully controlled so that viruses are not present.

When All Else Fails

Polly: There is an unusual probiotic treatment that is producing some very good results, especially when there is an infection of Clostridia. If you have tried everything else without success, here is one more option. The Probiotic Therapy Research Center in Sidney Australia is employing donor intestinal flora from a healthy relative or friend to implant in the colon. This is their reasoning:

“It should be noted that commercially available oral probiotics are currently incapable of implanting permanently into the bowel flora as they have lost their capability to adhere to epithelial cells through the process of culturing in the commercial laboratory. Only fresh human probiotics from another human being that retain that capability and hence can be implanted to reverse bacterial deficiency and eliminate invading infections.”

They feel that sometimes this is the only way to completely eradicate the spores and infection of Clostridium.

They do not use this treatment on every patient. They are very careful to first identify the pathogens using colonoscopy before deciding on a course of action. Eg, sometimes it is a parasite that needs eradication, and therefore this probiotic treatment is not warranted. I think you will find all the articles at their site highly informative. They delineate the types of infections found most commonly with each type of bowel disorder.


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2. Hanson, Lars a., and Yolken, Robert H., Probiotics, Other Nutritional Factors, and Intestinal Microflora, Nestle Nutrition Workshop Series, Vol. 42, Lippincott-Raven Publishers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1999, Phone (800) 638 – 3030

3. Mitsuoka T, Hidaka H, Eida T, “Effect of fructo-oligosaccharides on intestinal microflora,” Nahrung 1987;31(5-6):427-36

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5. Kalliomaki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi H, Kero P, Koskinen P, Isolauri E, “Probiotics in primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomised placebo-controlled trial.” Lancet. 2001 Apr 7;357(9262):1076-9. Dr. Mercola summarized this article. At his website: http://www.mercola.com/2001/apr/14/probiotics.htm.

6. Arvola T, Laiho K, Trokkeli S, et al. “Prophylactic Lactobacillus GG reduces antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children with respiratory infections: A randomized study.” Pediatrics. 1999; 104(5):64. Found at http://www.slackinc.com/child/idc/200001/diarhea.asp

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8. DAN! 2000 Conference Tapes. They are available from Insta Tapes, P.O. Box 908, Coeur D’Alene, ID 83816-0908, or phone (800) 669-8273 or (208) 667-0226.

9. Walker, Morton, DPM, “Homeostatic Soil Organisms for One’s Primal Defense,” Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, February/March 2001, #211/212]

10. Gracheva NM, Gavrilov AF, Solov’eva AI, Smirnov VV, Sorokulova IB, Reznik SR, Chudnovskaia NV [The efficacy of the new bacterial preparation biosporin in treating acute intestinal infections]. Article in Russian, Zh Mikrobiol Epidemiol Immunobiol 1996 Jan;1:75-77

11. Vollenbroich D, Özel2 M, Vater J, Kamp R M, Pauli G, “Mechanism of Inactivation of Enveloped Viruses by the Biosurfactant Surfactin from Bacillus subtilis,” Biologicals. 1997 Sep;25(3):289-97.

12. Lebbadi M, Galvez A, Valdivia E, Martinez-Bueno M, Maqueda M “Purification of amoebolytic substances from Bacillus licheniformis M-4.” Arch Microbiol 1994;162(1-2):98-102

13. Konlee M, Report No 16 Spring Issue (1998), Positive Health News http://www.execpc.com/~keephope/report16.html

14. Wostmann BS, Larkin C, Moriarty A, Bruckner-Kardoss E. “Dietary intake, energy metabolism, and excretory losses of adjult male germfree Wistar rats. Lab Anim Sci 1983; 33:46-50 as mentioned in the book by Dunitz M, Gut Ecology, published by Martin Dunitz Ltd., http://www.dunitz.co.uk

15. Galland, Leo, MD, “Gut Parasites,”Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization Conference, October 1995 http://www.food-allergy.org/root3.html

16. “Parasitic Worm May Be Beneficial in the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease” by Nutricology, Copyright1999-2001. http://www.nutricology.com/Newsletter/earthdragon1.htm

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