Tag Archives: sinus microbiome

 An amazing new study is about to start in Sweden - this study will see if "snot transplants" work for the treatment for chronic sinusitis! Will this turn out to be a permanent treatment? While studies show that probiotic supplements tend not to stick around in the gut (they're gone after about a week), people receiving a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) find that these microbial communities do stick around (colonize).  So there is something about getting an entire microbial community (bacteria, fungi, viruses) that is more effective than just a few species that are in typical probiotic supplements.

We have found the same problem in sinusitis treatment - the Lactobacillus sakei treatment works to treat sinusitis, but then doesn't stick around - as evidenced by having to treat again after a cold or sore throat.  And so we treat again - and again it's successful. And this happens again and again. Sooo.... it's important to find out if a transplant of the entire microbial community of snot (the sinonasal microbiome) works. And if works, will the treatment be a permanent one? I also wonder.... Several people have mentioned this idea to me, but has anyone with sinusitis tried a "snot transplant" at home? (And yes, this is self-experimentation.)

The description and purpose of the study refer to what this site has discussed for several years: the sinus microbiome is out of whack (dysbiosis) in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), whether due to antibiotics or something else (viruses, etc). The study will enroll 30 people, start May 15, 2017, and end December 31, 2018. The purpose of the study is to have patients with chronic rhinosinusits without nasal polyps (CRSsNP) receive microbiome transplants from healthy donors without any sinus problems. They would receive a snot transplant for 5 days in a row. Unfortunately we'll have to wait at least 1 1/2 years for any results. Excerpts from clinical trails.gov:

Sinonasal Microbiome Transplant as a Therapy for Chronic Rhinosinusitis Without Nasal Polyps (CRSsNP)

Purpose: Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a disease associated with impaired quality of life and substantial societal costs. Though sometimes co-appearing with other conditions, such as asthma, allergy, and nasal polyps, many cases present without co-morbidities. Micro-biological diagnostic procedures are frequently undertaken, but the results are often inconclusive. Nevertheless, antibiotics are usually prescribed, but invariably with limited and temporary success. Accordingly, there is a need for new treatments for CRS.

Recent studies indicate that the sinuses are colonized by a commensal microbiome of bacteria and that damage to this natural microbiome, by pathogens or antibiotics, may cause an imbalance that may promote CRS. Therefore, treatments that restore the commensal microbiome may offer an alternative to current protocols. Arguably, as suggested by studies on patients with intestinal infections (next paragraph), one such possibility may be to transfer a "normal microbiome" to patients with CRS.

A disrupted microbiome is linked to intestinal clostridium difficile infections. Probiotic restitution therapy may be effective even in cases recalcitrant to antibiotic treatment. However, a key to effective probiotic restitution is selecting the bacteria that facilitate regrowth of normal microbiome. As an answer to this, researchers have chosen to simply transplant the entire microbiome from a healthy donor. In the case of clostridium difficile infection in the form of faecal transplants.

In this study, we will examine the possibility to treat patients with chronic rhinosinusitis without polyps (CRSsNP) with complete sinonasal microbiomes obtained from healthy donors. Our analysis will focus on symptoms and signs of disease as well as on nasal inflammatory and microbiological indices.

Detailed DescriptionOver the last few years the theory of a damaged microbiome as a cause or promoting factor behind chronic rhinosinusitis has gained increasing interest from the scientific community. A number of studies aimed at investigating the microbiota of the nose and paranasal sinuses in health and disease has been published with very varying outcomes. Furthermore, other studies have been aimed at probiotic treatment of sinonasal disease either locally or through immunologic manipulation via the gastrointestinal microbiota.

A problem common to all these studies is that studies examining the normal nasal microbiota have identified a great amount of different bacterial species. It is as of today not known which individual species or combinations of species that promotes health

In this study the investigators aim at recruiting patients suffering from chronic rhinosinusitis without polyps (CRSsNP) and healthy participants without any history sinonasal disease. The patients and the healthy participants will be examined for infectious diseases in a manner similar to other medical transplant procedures to minimize the risk for the recipients. The patients will then be treated with antibiotics to reduce the bacterial load of the nose and the paranasal sinuses. After the patient has finished the antibiotic treatment a microbiome transplant will be harvested from the healthy participant as a nasal lavage. The raw lavage fluid will then be used to transplant the microbiome to the patient. The procedure will be repeated for five consecutive days.

The outcome measures analysed will focus on subjective sinonasal health and symptoms of the patients but also include nasal inflammatory and microbiological indices.

New research that found that microbial communities vary between the sinuses in a person with chronic sinusitis. This is a result that many sinusitis sufferers already suspect based on their sinusitis symptoms. The researchers also found that bacterial communities in the sinuses vary between people with chronic sinusitis. It is frustrating though for me to read study after study where the researchers focus on describing the types of bacteria found in chronic sinusitis sufferers (and then just saying that the sinus microbiomes or community of microbes vary from person to person) rather than studies comparing the sinus microbiomes (bacteria and other microbes, such as fungi) between healthy individuals and sinusitis sufferers.

Since research finds that sinusitis sufferers have altered sinus microbiomes, then what would be really helpful now is finding more beneficial or keystone species (besides Lactobacillus sakei) that are needed for healthy sinus microbiomes. This would be an important step towards then adding (perhaps using a nasal spray) these missing microbes to the sinus microbiome. From Frontiers in Microbiology:

Bacterial communities vary between sinuses in chronic rhinosinusitis patients

ABSTRACT: Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a common and potentially debilitating disease characterized by inflammation of the sinus mucosa for longer than 12 weeks. Bacterial colonization of the sinuses and its role in the pathogenesis of this disease is an ongoing area of research. Recent advances in culture-independent molecular techniques for bacterial identification have the potential to provide a more accurate and complete assessment of the sinus microbiome, however there is little concordance in results between studies, possibly due to differences in the sampling location and techniques. This study aimed to determine whether the microbial communities from one sinus could be considered representative of all sinuses, and examine differences between two commonly used methods for sample collection, swabs and tissue biopsies. High-throughput DNA sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene was applied to both swab and tissue samples from multiple sinuses of 19 patients undergoing surgery for treatment of CRS. Results from swabs and tissue biopsies showed a high degree of similarity, indicating that swabbing is sufficient to recover the microbial community from the sinuses. Microbial communities from different sinuses within individual patients differed to varying degrees, demonstrating that it is possible for distinct microbiomes to exist simultaneously in different sinuses of the same patient. The sequencing results correlated well with culture-based pathogen identification conducted in parallel, although the culturing missed many species detected by sequencing. This finding has implications for future research into the sinus microbiome, which should take this heterogeneity into account by sampling patients from more than one sinus. It may also be of clinical importance, as determination of antibiotic sensitivities using culture of a swab from a single sinus could miss relevant pathogens that are localized to another sinus.

CRS can be a debilitating condition that is recalcitrant to treatment. Bacterial colonization of the sinuses is likely to play an important role in the pathogenesis and perpetuation of the disease; however different studies have yielded contrasting results with respect to which bacterial taxa are characteristic of the disease (ref). We observed bacterial communities dominated by different taxa in CRS patients; for example some have sinuses colonized primarily with Haemophilus, while others are dominated by Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus, or Pseudomonas. Some patients’ sinuses contain anaerobic bacteria such as Anaerococcus, Finegoldia, and Peptoniphilus, while these were absent from others. Indeed, our results have shown, for the first time, that it is possible for a patient to simultaneously have different bacterial communities in different sinuses, pointing to distinct, localized microbiomes within the same patient. Understanding this variation in the sinus microbiome could prove critical to the appropriate selection of treatments for CRS in the future.

The weighted unifrac distances between samples within patients (Figure 1) demonstrate that at least some CRS patients have substantial variation of bacterial communities between sinuses, although it is significantly smaller than the variation observed between different individuals. While this variation was related to abundance rather than the presence or absence of dominant community members, some of these variations were large: for example Corynebacterium sequences dominating the right sinuses of patient 003 (60.7 and 41.7% of all sequences), while the left sinuses had much smaller abundances (9.8 and 6.2%) and were dominated by the anaerobic bacteria Anaerococcus, Finegoldia  and Peptinophillus.


 (UPDATED APRIL 2017) Probiotics and sinusitis treatment go hand in hand. In the last few years researchers found that one probiotic (beneficial bacteria) that chronic sinusitis sufferers lack and that treats and cures sinusitis is Lactobacillus sakei. The researchers Abreu et al found in their 2012 study that not only do sinusitis sufferers lack L. sakei, they have too much of Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum (normally a harmless skin bacteria), and they also don't have the bacteria diversity in their sinuses that healthy people without sinusitis have. In other words, the sinus microbiome (microbial community) is out of whack (dysbiosis). A number of studies found that there is a depletion of some bacterial species, and an increase in "abundance" of other species in those with chronic sinusitis. Of course researchers are working on a beneficial bacteria nasal spray to treat or prevent sinusitis, but that will take a while.

Luckily Lactobacillus sakei is found in some foods (such as some brands of live fermented kimchi), in "starter cultures" (for sausages) called Bactoferm F-RM-52 and B-2, and also in Lactopy. One reason it is used in sausage starter cultures is because it dominates over and inhibits growth of pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria. [Note that treating sinusitis with beneficial bacteria (rather than just antibiotics, corticosteroid nasal sprays, and surgery) is a major shift or paradigm change in sinusitis medical treatment, but it is the future in sinusitis treatment.]

More than 4 years ago I started using a very easy kimchi sinusitis treatment (basically dabbing and smearing kimchi at certain stages of fermentation into my nostrils like a very messy eater) and found that it cured my chronic sinusitis of many years within several weeks. Obviously it contained L. sakei. Then the rest of my family also tried the kimchi treatment and were also cured of chronic sinusitis! It felt miraculous, especially because it was so easy to do. (See SINUSITIS TREATMENT page for our background story, and see SINUSITIS TREATMENT SUMMARY page for different treatment methods.)

After 4 years we still feel great! Generally all 4 of us only need to treat again with a product containing Lactobacillus sakei after a virus which goes into sinusitis, or if for some other reason we feel like we're sliding into sinusitis. The last 2 years we've needed to do this far less than the first year. Because we no longer have chronic sinusitis, we have NOT taken antibiotics or any other bacteria killing spray or product (such as xylitol) for the last three and a half years. We do not use cortisone or antihistamine nasal sprays either.

A number of you have contacted me to report your own progress with various sinusitis treatments. Thank you! The following are the results from those commenting on this web-site or to me privately. People used terms such as "miraculous", "transformative", and "fabulous" when they had positive results with a product containing L. sakei. I am also starting to hear from you about other some other probiotic (beneficial) bacteria species that may treat sinusitis. When a treatment works, then all sinusitis symptoms go away, including post nasal drip, sinus headaches, "clogged ears", bad breath, and sinusitis-related coughs. Even tonsil stones! (Please note that trying such products to treat sinusitis is self-experimentation - effects can be positive or negative. One should always be very cautious.)

OVERALL RESULTS: The majority of people writing to me with results reported positive results (chronic sinusitis greatly improved or totally gone) from some form of L. sakei treatment. Most have been from the USA or Canada, but successes have also been reported to me from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. But since it's from self-experimentation and not a clinical trial, then I don't know the actual percentage of positive results. (Please write!) Some of the people reporting success have had multiple operations, some currently have deviated septums, some with nasal polyps, and all have had long-standing chronic sinusitis, some for decades. Those same chronic sinusitis sufferers also reported that the same treatments also worked after acute sinusitis (e.g., after a cold). It seems that after colds, etc. they (including myself) develop acute sinusitis again and need re-treatment (apparently the L. sakei doesn't stay or colonize in the sinuses from earlier treatments) . But a minority of people reported that nothing has helped and there could be a variety of reasons for this (see below).

KIMCHI - A number of people reported that kimchi helped them (without naming brands), while others named brands that helped them. And one person reported a homemade kimchi worked great (he was finally symptom free after 8 years). A few have even mentioned that kimchi has helped sinusitis with fungal problems. Kimchi brands that people reported helping their chronic sinusitis: Sinto Gourmet brand kimchi, Mama-O's Premium Kimchi, the white Napa kimchi made by Choi's Kimchi Company (in Portland, Oregon), Farmhouse Culture Kimchi (in California), Sunja's Kimchi  (medium spicy cucumber kimchi and mild white kimchi), in the United Kingdom the brand Mr Kimchi, and in Australia Kehoe's Kitchen white kimchi. We still use Sunja's Kimchi (the first year we used Sunja's medium spicy cabbage, but when that stopped working we switched to the medium spicy cucumber kimchi, and now also the mild white kimchi). I'm sure some other brands also contain L. sakei.

(Please note that not all kimchi brands or types of kimchi within brands contain L. sakei - finding one that has it is due to self-experimentation. We found that kimchi may contain L. sakei from about day 14 to about 2 to 2 1/2 months (from the day it's made). When the kimchi contained L. sakei we felt the same or started feeling better within one or 2 days. If we felt more mucusy or phlegmy over the next 2 days, or the acute sinusitis kept getting worse, than it did not contain L. sakei.)

Some people wrote in that kimchi did not help them, including various types of Sunja's kimchi. One person said that Hawthorne Valley Kim Chee had no effect, and that it was more like a sauerkraut product. (Sauerkraut had not worked for anyone until recently a person said that they improved with a homemade sauerkraut. Some researchers feel that it's the garlic in kimchi that encourages L. sakei growth, and sauerkraut typically doesn't contain garlic.)

BACTOFERM F-RM-52 - A number of persons reported that a mixture of bottled water and the sausage starter culture Bactoferm F-RM-52  (Lactobacillus sakei and Staphylococcus carnosus), has successfully worked for them. This product is produced by the Danish manufacturer Chr. Hansen and sold by various sausage-making suppliers. We first tested it in January 2015 and found that - yes, it definitely does work, but it is not as gentle as kimchi. It is reliable and effective, like an army that marches in to attack the sinusitis causing bacteria. (See SINUSITIS TREATMENT SUMMARY page for details). While my family use it by dabbing/smearing or spooning the mixture into the nostrils, others reported using it in a neti pot (e.g., first Comment on the CONTACT page), and one person even a nasal aspirator (bulb syringe) for a large one time dose. Sometimes a side effect on the day we used the product was a dry mouth and throat (and they can be very dry when we overused it - so it's important to use only a little in a treatment). The person who used the nasal aspirator reported a temporary decrease in her sense of smell.

One concern is that Bactoferm F-RM-52 contains a second bacteria besides L. sakei. Very little is known about Staphylococcus carnosus - but it is considered non-pathogenic, and also no one has reported negative effects from it. Such are the perils of self-experimentation - effects are unkown.

However, several people (one in Europe) reported that Bactoferm F-RM-52 did not work for them, but then the issue is - did the L. sakei die during shipping or did it not work for some other reason? One possibility is that  L. sakei does not work against all types of pathogenic bacteria. Even my family has had problems with Bactoferm F-RM-52  - one time it died during shipping. We knew because that batch had zero effect when we used it. If one batch is no good because the L. sakei has died, then I reorder or will try ordering from another source.

---[Please note: One sausage culture seller (sausagemaker) has been so upset (afraid of lawsuits?) that the Bactoferm F-RM-52 they sell has been used "off label" to treat sinusitis that they now have applied their own warnings to the back of the product package. The warnings state that the product also contains manganese sulfate monohydrate, which is used in tiny amounts as a food additive (a food grade nutritional supplement). However, the warnings listed are from the Safety Data Sheet for people handling large batches of manganese sulfate monohydrate (for "science education applications" or "laboratory and manufacturing use"). It's as if they are warning that the package contains nothing but the powdered form of manganese sulfate monohydrate, in case people might stick their heads in the package and inhale for prolonged periods. By the way, manganese can be sold in a variety of forms, and is an essential dietary nutrient for humans which is best obtained from food.]

B-2  - Several persons from Australia and New Zealand have reported good results with B-2. The manufacturers of Bactoferm F-RM-52 also make a Lactobacillus sakei only product called B-2. It is part of their SafePro product line of bio-protective cultures for meat. It is used exactly like the Bactoferm F-RM-52, but a person who has used both products liked the effects of B-2 more than Bactoferm F-RM-52 ("less irritating and more effective"). Unfortunately I have not seen this culture available anywhere in the U.S., but I know B-2 is available in New Zealand (netropolitan.co.nz) and can be (and is) shipped  to Australia.

LACTOPY - The Korean L.sakei probiotic Lactopy has worked well for most people who have tried it. One person reported "pouring the powder on the tongue and also rubbing it on the roof of her mouth" when needed, and this has worked successfully for her for several years. Note that Lactopy, which is sold for digestive and skin health, must be stored in the refrigerator. People had difficulty getting this product in the U.S. during 2015, so the March 24 and April 19, 2016 Comments by Keif  (scroll down) of it being available again but now called Lactopy Prime, how to get it (from either the manufacturer or Gmarket) with quick airmail shipping, is welcome news. I have used it similar to kimchi (dissolved a little in bottled water and smeared/dabbed in nose like a "messy eater"), also swished it in my mouth, and found it to work well. All 4 family members like this product - it's effective, yet feels gentle.

BACTOFERM  SM 160 - One person (outside of North America) recently tried Bactoferm SM 160, which contains Lactobacillus sakei, Staphylococcus carnosus and Debaryomyces hansenii, and is finding very good results in treating chronic sinusitis that he had for years. The third microbe Debaryomyces hansenii is considered "non-pathogenic", and is common in food products (cheeses, processed meat, and early stages of soy fermentation). One study said D. hansenii secretes toxins capable of killing other yeasts, and it is used on an industrial scale to produce vitamin B2. However, it is a yeast species (a fungi) so it is unknown if it can cause problems (and so he's being cautious in its use, and so far all is good).

PRIMAL SK NATUR 50 - The European company VAN HEES makes a starter culture PRIMAL SK natur 50 with the same ingredients as Bactoferm F-RM-52. The ingredients are: Lactobacillus sakei and Staphylococcus carnosus, with a carrier base of dextrose (to feed the bacteria when used as a starter culture). They ship to various European countries. I do not have any feedback yet on this product.

BITEC STARTER LS 25 (also called BITEC LS-25) - One person from Denmark wrote that they have been using the product BITEC LS-25 which contains the same 2 bacteria as Bactoferm F-RM-52, but here the ingredients listed are Staphylococcus carnosus first and Lactobacillus sakei second. This product is also sold as a sausage starter and is made by Frutarum (a global "flavor, fragrances, and fine ingredients" company) that is based in Israel and Europe. The person liked the product, but still had some ongoing problems with sinusitis, so it is unclear how good a product it is (as compared to Bactoferm F-RM-52).

SOME L.SAKEI ISSUES: I still think of L. sakei as fairly fragile - it is killed off by antibiotics, by oxygen within a week of opening a kimchi jar, and even the culture Bactoferm F-RM-52 package says that it dies off within 2 weeks at room temperature (therefore store in freezer). Please note that the L. sakei in the product can also die off during shipping if it takes too long or some other reason. Thus we order 2 day shipping (if possible) and hope for the best.

WHY DIDN'T L. SAKEI WORK FOR SOME PEOPLE? Some other possibilities to explain why some people trying L. sakei mixtures (both kimchi and Bactoferm F-RM-52) has not resulted in their sinusitis improving is that perhaps some other "keystone species" (a very important microbial species for a normal healthy community) besides L. sakei is also missing in their sinus microbiomes. Or perhaps they have microbes or biofilms that the Lactobacillus bacteria cannot overcome, even though it is viewed that some Lactobacillus species are anti-biofilm and anti-pathogenic. Or perhaps not enough L. sakei is getting into the sinuses or the dose is too low for some sinus problems? (see Beth's comment after the post Three Years of Sinusitis Treatment Success). It is unclear whether the results are different if there are also nasal polyps. [Researchers now suspect that those with nasal polyps also have a problem with "primary inflammation".] We (modern medicine) know so little about the normal healthy sinus microbiome that there are many unanswered questions. (NOTE: click on the Category SINUSITIS for more posts on recent sinusitis research.)

PROBLEM WITH KIMCHI OVERUSE- Two people reported that a kimchi brand that originally worked for them suddenly stopped working, but they had used it daily or several times a day for a long time. That is why we use L.sakei products sparingly these days - only as needed.

OTHER PROMISING PROBIOTICS - Seven people have reported that multi-strain probiotics  (but they did not contain L. sakei) treated their sinusitis. One woman tried Pure Encapsulations Probiotic 50B in her nose (I assume similarly to how we use Bactoferm F-RM-52) and reported major improvement. This product (which must be refrigerated) contains the following bacteria:  Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum, Bifidobacterium longum and B. lactis. Another person successfully treated his sinusitis by mixing a saline solution with a probiotic containing: Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactisL. casei, B. bifidum, B.breve, and Streptococcus thermophilus. Note that the first 4 bacteria listed here are the same as in the first person's probiotic. (Scroll down to the Comment written by Martin for more details).

Some researchers are focusing on Lactobacillus sakei, L. rhamnosus, L. plantarumL. casei, and L. Johnsonii in the treatment of sinusitis and sinus health (see below Promising Probiotic Nasal Sprays and also the June 29, 2016 post).

OTHER PROBIOTICS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS - On the other hand, a few people (including my family members) reported trying various multi-strain probiotics containing various Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species in such a manner, but it did not treat the sinusitis, even though it resulted in some improvement usually (but not always). We tried Flora Udo's Choice Advanced Adult's Probiotic supplement with Lactobacillus casei, L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. breve, and B. longum (at florahealth.com). Since sinusitis sufferers don't have the bacteria diversity of healthy people, and the sinus microbial community is different in each person, then adding what are viewed as beneficial bacteria to the sinus microbial community might help some people.

The possibility remains that perhaps one or more bacteria species, or a combination of species, has effects similar to L. sakei. But which ones or which combinations of bacteria? (Just remember, trying L. sakei products or multi-strain probiotics is self-experimentation, and results are unknown and can vary - can be positive, negative, or no effect.)

STILL UNKNOWN: People have written in about 3 products that contain L. sakei, but no one has reported results. (1) From a person in Australia: Danisco's CHOOZIT® FNR 1 - a cheese starter culture that contains L. sakei and Staphylococcus vitulinus. The bacteria S. vitulinus is considered benign, but I could find almost nothing about it. So self-experimentation results are totally unknown - could be negative or positive. (2) Multi-strain Probiotic by Innovix Labs - tablets containing 26 probiotics, including L. sakei. However, I have 2 concerns with this product: A) This product does not require refrigeration, but all other L. sakei products require refrigeration (even the freezer), because at room temperature L. sakei dies within a few weeks. B) L. sakei is considered anaerobic  - doesn't live when exposed to oxygen. So...while the L. sakei may be alive when the product is produced, is it alive weeks or months later at room temperature?  (3) Pro-Kids ENT by Hyperbiotics are chewable tablets containing 5 strains of bacteria, including L. sakei and S. salivarius K12. I have the same concerns with this product as with product #2. In addition, the S. salivarius K12 has caused problems for some people (scroll down to "Problems With BLIS K12?") If purchasing product #2 or #3 I would consider refrigerating them to slow down the decline of bacteria numbers (which always happens over time), and add a desiccant to deal with the moisture from refrigeration (if it's not already included).

PROMISING PROBIOTIC NASAL SPRAYS - The original sinusitis researchers (Susan Lynch, A. Goldberg) are still working on a probiotic nasal spray containing L. sakei. Another research group (at the Univ. of Antwerp in Belgium) is developing a nasal spray with Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus caseiand other Lactobacillus species, including L. sakei. They are calling the nasal spray "Oronasopharyngeal probiotics", and say that these Lactobacillus  species (especially L. rhamnosus) are "anti-pathogenic and antibiofilm agents". 

NO EVIDENCE FOR JUST SWALLOWING PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS: Evidence (my family, people writing in, research) so far has been that only directly dabbing/smearing/spraying probiotics in the nose, or even swishing a paste of probiotics (such as Lactopy) in the mouth may help treat sinusitis. I have not found any studies finding that ingesting/swallowing a probiotic pill has helped sinusitis (including a 2009 study looking at swallowing L. rhamnosus tablets 2 times daily for 4 weeks).

PROBIOTICS TO AVOID - The product NatureWise Maximum Care Time-Release Probiotics: 30 Strains, 30 Billion CFU contains a number of probiotic bacteria, including L. sakei. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria are generally viewed as beneficial. However, it also contains E. faecium (Enterococcus faecium) which is considered very controversial. This is because strains of this specific bacteria show multi-drug resistance (including to antibiotics). (See my Sept 2, 2016 Comment after the August 30, 2016 post for more information.)

PROMISING PHAGE THERAPY - Some researchers in the USA and Australia are currently testing phage therapy to see if it could be used as a treatment for various conditions, including chronic sinusitis. A bacteriophage is a virus that infects bacteria, and the name literally means "bacteria eater". Phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections. See the June 3, 2016 post Phage Therapy May Help Sinusitis Sufferers for more information. The authors of one study I posted there said that they had found evidence for people having "virus-like particles" in their sinuses, which they thought were bacteriophages.

PROBLEMS WITH BLIS K12 ? - On a side note, two of us, plus one person writing in, tried BLIS K12 bacteria tablets (containing Streptococcus salivarius BLIS K12) for several weeks because scientific research had found it to be an immune booster, that it is good for oral health, and it lowers the incidence of upper respiratory infections. However, from the first tablet (ate it by slowly dissolving it in the  mouth) there were problems - feeling phlegmy and yellow mucus. After several weeks, we stopped the experiment and had to do kimchi treatments to recover. Two persons reported similar negative effects with PRO-dental tablets, which also contains BLIS K12. The message here is clear: that specific bacteria did not react well with our sinus and oral bacterial communities. Remember, whenever one introduces new bacteria into the human organism, there can be positive or negative effects.

PLEASE WRITE!  I would really like to hear how you are treating and curing your sinusitis, especially chronic sinusitis. Or even what hasn't worked. It all adds to the knowledge base. And let me also know if you've had additional problems or complications such as sinus operations, nasal polyps, a fungal problem, diagnosed with antibiotic resistant bacteria (for example: Pseudomonas aeruginosa), etc. Has L. sakei or another probiotic helped? Write to me privately, or can comment after any post.  (Note that most comments are after this post, the SINUSITIS TREATMENT SUMMARY page, the CONTACT page, and  other sinusitis posts - see category SINUSITIS).

Yesterday I read and reread a very interesting journal review paper from Sept. 2013 that discussed recent studies about probiotics and treatment of respiratory ailments, including sinusitis. Two of the authors are those from the Abreu et al sinusitis study from 2012 (that I've frequently mentioned and that guided our own Sinusitis Treatment) that found that Lactobacillus sakei protects against sinusitis and treats sinusitis. Some of the things this paper discussed are: microbial communities in the airways and sinuses vary between healthy and non-healthy individuals (and each area or niche seems to have distinct communities), that lactic acid bacteria (including Lactobacillus sakei) are generally considered the "good guys" in our sinus microbiomes (the communities of microbes living in our sinuses), and that treatments of the future could consist of "direct localized administration of microbial species" (for example, getting the bacteria directly into the sinuses through the nasal passages with a nasal spray, or dabbing fermented kimchi juice like I did). They also mentioned that maybe one could also get probiotics to the GI tract (e.g., by eating probiotics) and maybe this would have some benefits. So far it seems that administering something containing L.sakei directly (by nasal spray or dabbing kimchi juice - as I did) seems to work best for treating sinusistis.

They also discussed that lactic acid bacteria are found in healthy mucosal surfaces in the respiratory, GI, and vaginal tract. They then proposed that lactic acid bacteria (including L.sakei) act as pioneer, or keystone species, and that they act to shape mucosal ecosystems (the microbiomes), and permit other species to live there that share similar attributes, and so promote "mucosal homeostasis". It appears that having a healthy sinus microbiome protects against pathogenic species.

So yeah - the bottom line is that microbial supplementation of beneficial bacteria seems very promising in the treatment of respiratory ailments. And for long-term successful sinusitis treatment, one would need to improve the entire sinus microbial community (with a "mixed species supplement"), not just one bacteria species. (By the way, maybe that is also why using kimchi in our successful Sinusitis Treatment works - it is an entire microbial community with several lactic acid species, including the all important Lactobacillus sakei. (NOTE: See Sinusitis Treatment Summary page and The One Probiotic That Treats Sinusitis for some easy methods  using various probiotics to treat chronic sinusitis. These articles get updated frequently.) From Trends in Microbiology:

Probiotic strategies for treatment of respiratory diseases.

More recently, Abreu et al. profiled the sinus microbiome of CRS (chronic rhinosinusitis) patients and healthy controls at high resolution [2]. Microbial burden was not significantly different between healthy subject and CRS patient sinuses. Moreover, known bacterial pathogens such as H. influenza, P. aeruginosa, and S. aureus were detected in both healthy and CRS sinuses; however, the sinus microbiome of CRS patients exhibited characteristics of community collapse, in other words many microbial species associated with healthy individuals, in particular lactic acid bacteria, were significantly reduced in relative abundance in CRS patients. In this state of microbiome depletion, the species C. tuberculostearicum was significantly enriched. This indicates that composition of the microbiome is associated with disease status and appears to influence the activity of pathogens within these assemblages.

Although sinusitis patients in the Abreu study exhibited hallmark characteristics of community collapse, the comparator group – healthy individuals – represented an opportunity to mine microbiome data and identify those bacterial species specific to the sinus niche that putatively protect this site. The authors demonstrated that a relatively diverse group of phylogenetically distinct lactic acid bacteria were enriched in the healthy sinus microbiota [2]. As proof of principle that the sinonasal microbiome itself or indeed specific members of these consortia protect the mucosal surface from pathogenic effects, a series of murine studies were undertaken. These demonstrated that a replete, unperturbed sinus microbiome prevented C. tuberculostearicum pathogenesis. Moreover, even in the context of an antimicrobial-depleted microbiome, Lactobacillus sakei when co-instilled with C. tuberculostearicum into the nares of mice afforded complete mucosal protection against the pathogenic species. Although this is encouraging, it is unlikely that a single species can confer long-term protection in a system that is inherently multi-species and constantly exposed to the environment. Indeed, previous studies and ecological theory supports the hypothesis that multi-species consortia represent more robust assemblages, and tend to afford improved efficacy with respect to disease or infection outcomes [44,45]. This study therefore provides a basis for the identification of what may be termed a minimal microbial population (MMP) composed of multiple phylogenetically distinct lactic acid bacteria, including L. sakei. Such a mixed species assemblage would form the foundation of a rationally designed, sinus-specific bacterial supplement to combat established chronic diseases or, indeed, be used prophylactically to protect mucosal surfaces against acute infection.

Therefore, although site-specific diseases such as chronic sinusitis may well be confined to the sinus niche and be resolved simply by localized microbe-restoration approaches, it is also entirely plausible that an adjuvant oral microbe-supplementation strategy and dietary intervention (to sustain colonization by the introduced species) may increase efficacy and ultimately improve long-term patient outcomes. This two-pronged approach may be particularly efficacious for patients who have lost protective GI microbial species due to
administration of multiple courses of oral antimicrobials to manage their sinus disease.

Although it is impossible to define the precise strains or species that will be used in future microbial supplementation strategies to treat chronic inflammatory diseases, there is a convergence of evidence indicating that healthy mucosal surfaces in the respiratory, GI, and vaginal tract are colonized by lactic acid bacteria. We would venture that members of this group act as pioneer, keystone species that, through their multitude of functions (including bacteriocin production, competitive colonization, lactate and fatty acid production), can shape mucosal ecosystems, thereby permitting co-colonization by phylogenetically distinct
species that share functionally similar attributes. Together, these subcommunities promote mucosal homeostasis and represent the most promising species for future microbe-supplementation strategies.

It is now more than 69 weeks since I first successfully started using kimchi to treat the chronic sinusitis that had plagued me (and my family) for so many years. I originally reported on the Sinusitis Treatment on Dec. 6, 2013 (the method is described there) and followed up on Feb. 21, 2014.

Based on the sinus microbiome research of N. Abreu et al (from Sept. 2012 in Sci.Transl.Med.) that discussed Lactobacillus sakei as a sinusitis treatment, I had looked for a natural source of L.sakei and found it in kimchi. Since dabbing the kimchi juice in our nostrils as needed, all 4 of us are still free of chronic sinusitis and off all antibiotics at close to a year and a half (I'm optimistic). So how is year two shaping up?

Well, it is different and even better than year one. Much of the first year seemed to be about needing to build up our beneficial bacteria sinus community (sinus microbiome) through kimchi treatments, eating fermented foods (such as kimchi, kefir, yogurt), whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. And of course not having to take antibiotics helped our sinus microbial community.

But now in year two we notice that we absolutely don't need or want frequent kimchi treatments - even when sick. Daily kimchi treatments, even during acute sinusitis (after a cold), actually seems to be too much and makes us feel worse (for ex., the throat becomes so dry, almost like a sore throat). But one treatment every 2 or 3 days while sick is good. In fact, this year we have done so few treatments, that even when ill, each time the sick person stopped doing kimchi treatments before he/she was fully recovered, and any sinusitis symptoms kept improving on their own until full recovery! Amazing!

To us, this is a sign that all of us have much improved sinus microbiomes from a year ago. And interestingly, we are getting fewer colds/viruses than ever.  Our guiding principle this year is: "Less is more." In other words, at this point only do a kimchi sinus treatment when absolutely needed, and then only do it sparingly. Looking back, we think we should have adopted the "less is more" last year after the first 6 months of kimchi treatments.

The other thing we've done is cut back on daily saline nasal irrigation, especially when ill and doing kimchi treatments. We've started thinking that the saline irrigation also flushes out beneficial bacteria.

The conclusion is: YES, a person's microbiome can improve, even after years or decades of chronic sinusitis. It is truly amazing and wonderful to not struggle with it, and to feel normal.

(UPDATE: See Sinusitis Treatment Summary page and The One Probiotic That Treats Sinusitis for more information, more probiotics one can use, and more L. sakei treatment information.)



The following is a quick summary of the method we use (from the Dec.6, 2013 post - Sinus Treatment page).   Please read the original post for complete descriptions and explanations. We use live (fermented and not pasteurized) vegan (no seafood added) kimchi. Choosing vegan (no seafood added) kimchi is a personal preference. Lactobacillus sakei is found in meat, seafood, and some vegetables.

Treatment Method: 1) Wash hands, and then use a clean teaspoon to put a little juice from the kimchi jar into a small clean bowl. 2) Dip finger in the kimchi juice and dab it or smear it along the insides of one nostril (about 1/2" into the nostril). 3) Dip finger in kimchi juice again and repeat in other nostril. 4) Do this several times. If I needed to blow my nose at this point I would, and afterwards I would put more kimchi juice up each nostril (again repeating the procedure) and then not blow my nose for at least an hour (or more). 5) Afterwards, any unused kimchi in the little bowl was thrown out and not replaced in the main kimchi jar. (Note: Put the main kimchi jar back in the refrigerator. Also, once opened, take kimchi juice from it for no more than 6 days.)

My rationale was that I was inhaling the bacteria this way and that it would travel up the nasal passages on their own to my sinuses. I did this regimen once or twice a day initially until I started feeling better, then started doing it less frequently, and eventually only as needed.

I spent time this past week searching the medical literature (US National Library of Medicine - Medline/PubMed) for the latest in sinusitis research. I wish I could tell you that amazing research has been happening recently, especially with the sinus microbiome (which could mean treating sinusitis with microbes), but I was disappointed. Really disappointed.

I did four searches: one for "sinusitis" (looked at 600+ studies dating back to summer 2013), then "chronic sinusitis" (going back to fall 2012), then "sinusitis, probiotics", and finally "sinusitis, microbiome". The "sinusitis, probiotics" search turned up 10 studies dating back to 2002. The "sinusitis, microbiome" search turned up a grand total of 13 studies, with the oldest dating back to 2004. Of course the sinus microbiome research by Abreu et al from September 2012  discussing Lactobacillus sakei and which I based my personal (and successful) kimchi sinusitis treatment was on the list (see my Dec. 5 post for a discussion of their research). But none of the other studies looked at Lactobacillus sakei (which is in kimchi).

Some of the findings among the many chronic sinusitis studies: microbial diversity is lower in antibiotic treated chronic sinusitis sufferers (than in healthy controls) and the microbial communities more uneven (meaning some microbes dominated over others), and greater Staphylococcus aureus populations among those with chronic sinusitis. After antibiotic treatment patients typically became colonized by microbes that are less susceptible to the prescribed antibiotics. One study found that Staphylococcus epidermidis (SE) may have some effectiveness against Staphylococcus aureus (SA) in the sinusitis microbiome in mice. Lactobacillus rhamnosus was not found to be effective against sinusitis. A number of studies reported biofilms in the sinuses which are highly resistant to medicines. Some studies found that smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke is linked to chronic sinusitis. (June 2016 UPDATE: I should have said that Lactobacillus rhamnosus (R0011 strain) was not effective against sinusitis when taken orally (a tablet) twice a day for 4 weeks in the study. There have been no further studies since then looking at L. rhamnosus for sinusitis treatment. It is unknown whether spraying or smearing/dabbing L. rhamnosus directly into the nostrils would have a positive effect)

Everyone agreed that state of the art genetic analyses found many more microbial species than older methods (the least effective was the traditional culture method). Several studies suggested that perhaps chronic sinusitis is due to immunological defects and one suggested that it was due to "immune hyperresponsiveness" to organisms in the sinuses. Surprisingly, some studies reported that there are more microbes or microbial species in chronic sinusitis patients than in control patients and that Staphylococcus aureus may be dominant (NOTE: These results may be due to not having been done with state of the art genetic analyses which would have picked up more microbial diversity. Another issue is where in the respiratory tract the samples were taken from, because it seems that the different areas have different microbial communities).

There was frequent mention that chronic sinusitis affects millions of people each year in the US, that little is known about its exact cause, and that there is controversy over appropriate treatment. Originally doctors thought that healthy sinuses were sterile, and it has taken a while to realize that is untrue. It is clear that researchers are only now trying to discover what microbial communities live in healthy individuals compared to those with chronic sinusitis.

But it appeared to me that the majority of the studies from the last 2 years indicated that treatment of chronic sinusitis is still: first try antibiotics, then antibiotics plus inhaled corticosteroids and perhaps nasal saline irrigation, then followed by endoscopic sinus surgery (or sometimes balloon dilation), then perhaps steroid drip implants (steroid-eluting sinus implants), and then there may be revision surgeries.

So I'm sticking with my easy-to-do, inexpensive, and fantastically successful kimchi (Lactobacillus sakei) sinusitis treatment. Of course! (see my Dec. 6, 2013 and Feb. 21, 2014 posts or click on the Sinusitis Treatment link for further information).

It is now over a year since I successfully started treating chronic sinusitis with kimchi, and almost a year for the other 3 family members. The kimchi treatment continues to be amazingly effective. We all continue to feel great and we have not taken any antibiotics in all this time. (See my December 6, 2013 post or the Sinusitis Treatment Summary page for details on how we do various easy Sinusitis Treatments.)

No more symptoms of acute or chronic sinusitis! We have made some recent changes though. We decided to stop doing frequent kimchi "booster" or "maintenance" treatments. Instead, we decided to only use kimchi when there is a definite need, for example after a cold or other virus when we have gone into acute sinusitis, or when our sinuses don't feel right for several days. Since adopting this policy we haven't done a kimchi treatment in over a month and continue to feel great. (Our new motto: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.)

We came to this decision because in December two of us noticed we were only getting a partial response to the brand of kimchi we had been using for almost a year, but when we switched to a new kind of kimchi (but again vegan) we once again felt fantastic. Why did this occur? I have two possible hypotheses: 1) Since kimchi contains so many types of bacteria, perhaps frequent "booster applications" also increased other bacteria in the sinuses that competed with the Lactobacillus sakei, and switching to a new kind of kimchi corrected this problem. OR 2) Perhaps the kimchi company changed their kimchi recipe or ingredients, and thus the Lactobacillus sakei numbers went way down.

We think that since we still get acute sinusitis after a cold or flu-type virus means that our sinus bacterial communities (sinus microbiome) are still not quite right, even thought they must be better than they've been in years (after all, we feel great and not ill, and have not taken antibiotics in over a year). Thus we are making every effort to eat fermented and pickled foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, raw cheeses, and kefir to naturally increase our beneficial bacteria numbers. We are not taking probiotics because no brand of probiotics currently available contains Lactobacillus sakei. We are also planning to test other brands of kimchi to see what brands are effective. And, of course, I'm always looking for new sources of Lactobacillus sakei and other effective natural sinusitis treatments.

This is the story of my family's successful Sinusitis Treatment using an all natural, easy home remedy. (UPDATE: The treatment worked so well that we all have been cured of chronic sinusitis, and we have been off all antibiotics for over 3 years.)

Ten months ago my family was struggling with chronic sinusitis that no longer responded well to antibiotics. My oldest son had just been told to get another CAT scan and to prepare for ENT surgery to "open up the sinuses more". We were desperate for something that would help us that didn't involve antibiotics or surgery.

Background: This story started many years ago when we (husband, myself, 2 sons) moved into a house with an incorrectly installed central air conditioning system. We all developed mold allergies and repeated bouts of acute sinusitis, which then led to chronic sinusitis. Eventually we discovered the problem, ripped out and replaced the air conditioning system and all ductwork, but by then the damage was done. Even though antibiotics helped acute sinusitis symptoms which occurred after every cold and sore throat, we always felt like we had chronic sinusitis. Over the years we tried everything we could think of, including antibiotics, decongestants, allergy pills, nasal sprays, daily sinus rinsing with salt water, vitamins, steam inhalation, etc. Both sons even had balloon sinuplasties, which had helped for a short while, but no longer. We had avoided sinus surgeries because we didn't know of anyone who had been "cured" going that route, even with repeat surgeries.

The research:  But then last winter I read with great interest all the latest research about bacteria and how all of us have hundreds of species of microorganisms (our microbiome), and how they may play a role in our health.  In fact we are more microbes than cells!

Especially exciting was a small study published in September 2012 which looked at 20 patients about to undergo nasal surgery - 10 healthy patients (the controls) and 10 chronic rhinosinusitis (sinusitis) patients. The researchers found that the chronic rhinosinusitis sufferers had reduced bacterial diversity in their sinuses, especially depletion of lactic acid bacteria (including Lactobacillus sakei) and an increase in Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum (which is normally considered a harmless skin bacteria). They then did a second study in mice which found that Lactobacillus sakei  bacteria protected against sinusitis, even in the presence of Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum. The researchers were going forward with more research in this area with the hope, that if all goes well, of developing a nasal spray with the beneficial bacteria, but that was a few years away. (Source: Nicole A. Abreu et al - Sinus Microbiome Diversity Depletion and Corynebacteriumt uberculostearicum Enrichment Mediates Rhinosinusitis. Science Translational Medicine, September 12, 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22972842 )

But we were desperate now and didn't want to wait. What to do? 

The Experiment: I thought that the answer lay with Lactobacillus sakei (or L.sakei) and I read everything I could find on it. I tried to find a natural and safe source for it, and eventually decided on kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable product which can be made with varying ingredients, usually with cabbage. According to studies done in Korea, many (but not all) brands of traditionally made kimchi contain L. sakei  (as well as many other species of bacteria) after fermentation. It seemed to me that my best bet was to try an all natural kimchi made with cabbage, without any additives, preservatives, and no fish or seafood in it (this last was personal preference). The kimchi brands I bought had to be refrigerated before and after opening. They could not be pasteurized because it was bacteria that I wanted, lots of bacteria. Kimchi fermentation is carried out by the various microorganisms in the kimchi ingredients, and among the bacteria formed are the lactic acid bacteria, one of which can be L. sakei.

In February of 2013 I was off all antibiotics, but feeling sicker (with sinusitis) each day, when I decided to go ahead with the Sinusitis Experiment and purchased several brands of cabbage kimchi (all natural, vegan). Over the next  2 weeks I tried two brands, one after another. Not only did I eat a little bit every day , but I also smeared a little bit of the kimchi juice in my nose, going up about 1/2" in each nostril - as if I were an extremely messy eater. I did this once or twice a day initially. And yes, I was nervous about what I was doing for this was absolutely NOT medically approved. Obviously I did not discuss this with any doctor.

What if harmful bacteria got up in my sinuses and overwhelmed my system?  What if the microbes in the kimchi did harm, even permanent harm?  What really was in the kimchi? Even if the kimchi contained L. sakei, it also contained many other species of bacteria. The studies said that the bacteria in kimchi varied depending on kimchi ingredients (and each brand was different), length of fermentation, and temperature of fermentation.  L.sakei is found in meat (and used in preserving meat), seafood, and some vegetables, but I was nervous about other microbes found in sea food. This was a major reason I avoided any kimchi with seafood in it. After all, the labels on the kimchi I purchased said it was a "live product" (fermentation). When I opened the jars sometimes the liquid inside was bubbling and sometimes even overflowed down the sides of the jar. It takes a leap of faith to put a bubbling strong smelling liquid in the nose!

Results of the Sinusitis Experiment: By the end of the week I found that the one brand worked and it truly felt like a miracle!  Within 24 hours of first applying it I was feeling better, and day by day my sinusitis improved. All the problematic sinusitis symptoms (yellow mucus, constant sore throat from postnasal drip, aching teeth, etc.) slowly went away and within about 2 to 3 weeks I felt great - the sinusitis was gone. After a few weeks the rest of the family followed, one by one, in the Sinusitis Experiment. All improved to the point of feeling great (healthy) and have been off all antibiotics since then. All four of us feel we no longer have chronic sinusitis. We are very, very pleased with the results.

To continue reading the story...

Last year a small study by Abreu et al raised the exciting possibility that the sinus microbiome (the microbial community in our sinuses) being seriously out of whack could be behind chronic sinusitis. Which some day could result in sinusitis treatment being the restoration of beneficial microorganisms that should be there, perhaps with a nasal spray. From Science Daily, September 12, 2012:

Sinusitis Linked to Microbial Diversity

A common bacteria ever-present on the human skin and previously considered harmless, may, in fact, be the culprit behind chronic sinusitis, a painful, recurring swelling of the sinuses that strikes more than one in ten Americans each year, according to a study by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco.

The team reports this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine that sinusitis may be linked to the loss of normal microbial diversity within the sinuses following an infection and the subsequent colonization of the sinuses by the culprit bacterium, which is called Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum.

In their study, the researchers compared the microbial communities in samples from the sinuses of 10 patients with sinusitis and from 10 healthy people, and showed that the sinusitis patients lacked a slew of bacteria that were present in the healthy individuals. The patients also had large increases in the amount of Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum in their sinuses, which are located in the forehead, cheeks and eyes.

The team also identified a common bacterium found within the sinuses of healthy people called Lactobacillus sakei that seems to help the body naturally ward off sinusitis. In laboratory experiments, inoculating mice with this one bacterium defended them against the condition. 

"Presumably these are sinus-protective species," said Susan Lynch, PhD, an associate professor of medicine and director of the Colitis and Crohn's Disease Microbiome Research Core at UCSF. What it all suggests, she added, is that the sinuses are home to a diverse "microbiome" that includes protective bacteria. These "microbial shields" are lost during chronic sinusitis, she said, and restoring the natural microbial ecology may be a way of mitigating this common condition.

Though the sinuses' underlying purpose is still unclear, they are all too familiar to American doctors and their patients because of what happens when the thin tissues lining them become inflamed, as occurs in chronic sinusitis -- one of the most common reasons why people go to the doctor in the United States. There are about 30 million cases each year, and the cost to the healthcare system is an estimated $2.4 billion dollars annually.

The pain of sinusitis can last for months. Doctors typically prescribe bacteria-killing antibiotics and, in more severe and long-lasting cases, conduct sinus surgeries. However, said Andrew Goldberg, MSCE, MD, the director of rhinology and sinus surgery at UCSF and a co-author on the paper, "the premise for our understanding of chronic sinusitis and therapeutic treatment appears to be wrong, and a different therapeutic strategy seems appropriate."