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Another Probiotic That Treats Infections?

I'm always on the lookout for probiotics (beneficial bacteria) that can somehow  suppress or dominate Staphylococcus aureus  - because that bacteria is implicated in many illnesses, including sinusitis. Some strains of S. aureus are antibiotic resistant and the cause of serious illnesses, such as MRSA  (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). However, S. aureus is also found in the microbiomes (microbial communities) of healthy people - including on the skin, nose, and gut - but it appears to reside there harmlessly in healthy people.

So finding species of bacteria that suppress or controls S. aureus is noteworthy. Researchers (from National Institute of Health and Thailand) found that in both humans and mice strains of Bacillus, especially B. subtilis, which is already added to many probiotic products, suppressed all strains of S. aureus. Interestingly, the researchers found no S. aureus in any of the gut and nasal samples from humans where Bacillus species were present.The researchers think that the Bacillus species eradicate S. aureus - in both the gut and nasal passages. So the researchers tested further using mice - they gave B. subtilis to the mice every 2 days, and it eliminated S. aureus in the guts of the mice.

But why did I title this post '"another probiotic" ? Because from research and personal experiences told to me - Lactobacillus sakei seems to have the same effect against S. aureus (a frequent problem in sinusitis). Studies find some strains of L. sakei (such as Lactobacillus sakei proBio65 - found in Lanto Sinus) to be especially effective against Staphylococcus aureus.

Stay tuned for more research with B. subtilis and other probiotics versus S. aureus. [UPDATE: Since I posted this, I've read some concerns over B.subtilis. Be careful.]  From Science Daily:

Probiotic bacillus eliminates staphylococcus bacteria 

A new study from National Institutes of Health scientists and their Thai colleagues shows that a "good" bacterium commonly found in probiotic digestive supplements helps eliminate Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that can cause serious antibiotic-resistant infections. The researchers, led by scientists at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), unexpectedly found that Bacillus bacteria prevented S. aureus bacteria from growing in the gut and nose of healthy individuals. Then, using a mouse study model, they identified exactly how that happens. Researchers from Mahidol University and Rajamangala University of Technology in Thailand collaborated on the project.

Staphylococcus infections cause tens of thousands of deaths worldwide each year. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is familiar to many people as a cause of serious disease. Less well known is that S. aureus often can live in the nose or gut without causing any harm. However, if the skin barrier is broken, or the immune system compromised, these colonizing bacteria can cause serious infections.

One strategy to prevent Staph infections is to eliminate S. aureus colonization. However, some decolonization strategies are controversial because they require considerable amounts of topical antibiotics and have limited success, partly because they target only the nose and bacteria quickly recolonized from the gut.

The scientists recruited 200 volunteers in rural Thailand for the study. This population, they speculated, would not be as affected by food sterilization or antibiotics as people in highly developed urban areas. The scientists first analyzed fecal samples from each of the study participants for bacteria correlated with the absence of S. aureus. They found 101 samples positive for Bacillus, primarily B. subtilis -- the type found mixed with other bacteria in many probiotic products. Bacillus bacteria form spores that can survive harsh environments and commonly are ingested naturally with vegetables, allowing them to temporarily grow in the intestine. The scientists then sampled the same 200 people for S. aureus in the gut (25 positive) and nose (26 positive). Strikingly, they found no S. aureus in any of the samples where Bacillus were present.

In mouse studies, the scientists discovered an S. aureus sensing system that must function for the bacteria to grow in the gut. Intriguingly, all of the more than 100 Bacillus isolates they had recovered from the human feces efficiently inhibited that system.

Using chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques, the scientists identified fengycins, a specific class of lipopeptides -- molecules that are part peptide and part lipid -- as the specific Bacillus substance that inhibited the S. aureus sensing system. Additional tests showed that fengycins had the same effect on several different strains of S. aureus -- including high-risk USA300 MRSA which causes most community-associated MRSA infections in the United States and is an increasingly common cause of healthcare-associated MRSA infections.

To further validate their findings, the scientists colonized the gut of mice with S. aureus and fed them B. subtilis spores to mimic probiotic intake. Probiotic Bacillus given every two days eliminated S. aureus in the guts of the mice. The same test using Bacillus where fengycin production had been removed had no effect, and S. aureus grew as expected.

The NIAID and Thai scientists next plan to test whether a probiotic product that contains only B. subtilis can eliminate S. aureus in people. They plan to enroll more Thai volunteers for the project. Michael Otto, Ph.D., the NIAID lead investigator, says, "Ultimately, we hope to determine if a simple probiotic regimen can be used to reduce MRSA infection rates in hospitals."

6 thoughts on “Another Probiotic That Treats Infections?

  1. Yan Wang

    I noticed some product use Bacillus probiotic to clear acne. It is an interesting topic. If B.subtilis is not safe, how can we spray it since we can breathe them in.
    Probiotic Action's Clarity In Balance - Topical Probiotic Treatment - "The best probiotic technology for the best skin. Acne supplements. Concentrated probiotic ready to germinate on the skin - Bacillus Subtilus - the good bacteria - 50 millions per 1 mL The best solution for several skin conditions, with the push of a button. Hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested, this treatment spray works on sensitive and inflamed skin."

  2. Kelly

    Where's the research that shows that l. sakei has "the same effect" as b. subtilis?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Sima

      A number of studies in the last 15 years, including food industry studies, find L. sakei to kill or suppress pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus.
      L. sakei is diminished in the sinuses of people with chronic sinusitis according to a number of microbiome studies. Abreu et al (2012) found L. sakei treats sinusitis,and they and other researchers since then call L. sakei a "keystone bacteria" in maintaining sinus health.
      This beneficial effect has been confirmed by hundreds of people reporting to me over the past 7 1/2 years (self-experimentation, citizen science).

      The researchers of the above article admit that other studies have not found this result (when B. subtilis is present, S. aureus is not), writing that "no correlation between the absence of S. aureus and the presence of B. subtilis".
      By the way, since this study was posted, no study has found B. subtilis to be effective against sinusitis.

      B. subtilis is ingested from foods and then passes through the gut. A food that contains B. subtilis naturally is natto, which is a traditional Japanese food made with fermented soybeans.

  3. E

    Do you have references on the dangers of Bacillus subtilis? You ended your article saying 'be careful'. Wanted to follow up and look more into the safety.

    1. Sima

      I just looked over some recent research articles, and as with other bacterial species - it depends on the strain of the bacteria. The concern is that some strains may be/become antibiotic resistant.
      Overall, B. subtilis seems beneficial and it's found in foods (esp. fermented foods such as natto).
      If one takes the bacteria in a supplement - just don't overuse it. Stop once you feel better.
      This is because we have hundreds of species in the gut, not just one - so don't want to flood with just one species.
      There is research that routine use (daily) of probiotics taken weeks and months on end can have negative effects on the gut microbiota (microbiome).


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