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What can the amazing beneficial bacteria Lactobacilus sakei treat? We know it can treat sinusitis (sinus infections) - based on the original Abreu et al (2012) research, personal experiences, and feedback from hundreds of people since I started this site in 2013. Can it treat bronchitis? Earaches? How about skin infections? L. sakei dominates over and inhibits growth of pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. Instead of using antibiotics - what else could L. sakei be used for?

I've been hearing interesting stories from people - a number of people have found that it (kimchi, sauerkraut with garlic, or a L. sakei product such as Lanto Sinus) works to treat coughs (bronchitis), or prevents upper respiratory infections from developing into serious sinus infections, gets rid of fungal balls in the sinuses, treats earaches, and even treats small skin infections. People have been using the various products in creative ways - all self-experimentation!

The experiences of some people contacting me, as well as family members (including myself) - is that it treated bronchitis and coughs for which they would have taken antibiotics in the past - by swishing L. sakei powder (such as Lanto Sinus) in the mouth (but not in the nose). For example, one person reported that she occasionally gets bronchitis, but never sinusitis - and she successfully used Lanto Sinus to treat the bronchitis by swishing it in the mouth. The first two days she used it 2 x per day, and after that once per day until she felt better, but not totally well - and when she stopped the bronchitis (cough, phlegm) came back. So she used the L. sakei again until she felt totally healthy - and this time the cough stayed away. Since I personally know this person (we take walks together) I was able to observe her progress - cough & phlegm, then improvement, then backwards slide, and then total health when she used the product again. Hmmm... Definitely wasn't an imaginary effect or wishful thinking (placebo effect).

Not wanting to dab kimchi juice in the nostrils (the usual way to use kimchi) some gargled with kimchi juice and also swished it in the mouth and then didn't eat or drink for a while - but I don't know how the results compare to the usual kimchi method. One person dabbed kimchi juice in the ear for an earache and thought it helped (see Sinusitis Success Stories). For skin infections some individuals mixed L. sakei with a little water and applied to infection - this has been reported for both frozen Bactoferm F-RM-52 and refrigerated Lanto Sinus. But at any rate, the reports from people of various ways to use a L. sakei product are interesting. Just remember - this is all self-experimentation - which means results can be positive, negative, or no effect. And please be cautious!

For ways people use the various Lactobacillus sakei products to treat sinus infections (both chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis) see the Sinusitis Treatment Summary page. The Best Probiotic For Sinus Infections gives an in-depth look at the different L. sakei products and results.

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Today's topic: sinusitis success stories. For those suffering from chronic sinusitis or frequent sinus infections it sounds incredible, doesn't it? For more than 5 years I've posted about the probiotic Lactobacillus sakei and how it can successfully treat sinusitis - both chronic sinusitis and  acute sinusitis (sinus infections). Back in January 2013 I read a study by Abreu et al (2012) that the sinus microbiome (microbial community) in people with chronic sinusitis was imbalanced and that this beneficial bacteria could be a possible treatment. I had suffered from chronic sinusitis for years, so of course I went searching for Lactobacillus sakei. It wasn’t in any probiotics at the time, but I did find it in kimchi. Through experimentation I (and my family) successfully treated our sinusitis by dabbing and smearing a little of the kimchi juice in the nostrils once or twice a day. It felt miraculous!

By the end of 2013 I started this blog to get the word out about Lactobacillus sakei, and to also hear the experiences of others. (See results post) In the last 5 years I have heard from hundreds of people, including lots of sinusitis success stories with Lactobacillus sakei – especially using kimchi, sauerkraut made with garlic, sausage starter cultures such as Bactoferm F-RM-52, and recently with the sinusitis probiotic Lanto Sinus, which was introduced in 2018. When a Lactobacillus sakei product works as a sinusitis treatment for a person it feels absolutely wonderful and amazing. Sinus health after years of suffering! Unfortunately, it appears that Lactobacillus sakei may not work for everyone - only trying it determines if it works and how well.

The following are excerpts of some of the sinusitis success stories that people have reported - almost all are from comments after posts on this site, and a few from emails to me. Sometimes we need to hear successful treatment stories, especially if we’ve been struggling with sinusitis for a long time. Just keep in mind that these are stories of people experimenting on their own - how they used Lactobacillus sakei varies and their experiences vary. (See Sinusitis Treatment Summary for methods). Note that in Feb. 2019 the Lacto Sinus name was changed to Lanto Sinus in order to get a trademark - but the product remains exactly the same.

J. October 2017
So glad I found this site! Have been struggling with chronic sinus and gut issues go over 20 years after several rounds of antibiotics.
Immediately after reading thru this I put a dab of Kimchi juice up each nostril (had some on hand, as I eat a lot of fermented veggies). I could tell almost immediately that something was happening. Almost felt as if there was a duel going on in my sinuses between the kimchi probiotics and the nasties in my sinuses. Had some stuffiness and stiff neck but went to bed and slept great last night and woke up this morning with clearer sinuses and feeling better!

Jo. October 2015
Through the years I've tried everything for sinus infections and nothing but antibiotics helped. When I read about kimchi helping I tried that too. To my utter delight and relief, Sunja's white kimchi worked a miracle! I bought another 3 jars and keep it in the refrigerator for the next bout.

M. November 2018
I had great success in treating my chronic sinusitis with Lacto Sinus.
I’ve had sinus problems for 2 decades and tried all sorts of medicines and treatments, but nothing helped. Every single sore throat and every cold, no matter how minor, led to full-blown sinusitis and having to take antibiotics for weeks. I was always in fear of getting sick. And even when I was “healthy” I really wasn’t, I always had some symptoms. I would frequently wake up with a sore throat and with thick phlegm dripping down my throat.
I was desperate when I tried Lacto Sinus and was thrilled to see improvement within a day! I used it daily for over a week, then every other day for about 2 more weeks. And then I stopped because I didn’t need it anymore.
Getting my life and health back feels like a miracle! I don’t dread getting a cold or virus anymore – I just use some Lacto Sinus again if I get some sinus symptoms. I will always keep a bottle in my refrigerator.

T. January 2017  ...continue reading "Sinusitis Success Stories"

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Probiotics are the future of sinusitis treatment. Research found that a probiotic (beneficial bacteria) that is lacking in those with chronic sinusitis and which successfully treats sinusitis is Lactobacillus sakei. This article is the full summary of what has been learned over the past 6 years: the best L. sakei  products (such as kimchi and Lanto Sinus - which can treat even the worst recurring sinus infections), results of people trying various L. sakei products, ways to use the products, and other possible probiotics for sinusitis and sinus health.

Back in 2012, a study by Abreu et al suggested Lactobacillus sakei as a possible treatment for sinusitis. In the past 6 years those conclusions have been supported by the experiences of hundreds of people contacting me, and my family's experiences with L. sakei products. It really is the best sinusitis treatment for most people!  When Lactobacillus sakei works as a treatment - it can seem miraculous as sinusitis symptoms gradually disappear or greatly improve. Many times within days! Unfortunately it doesn't work for everyone - for a minority there seems to be no effect, and it is not clear why. It also doesn't treat seasonal allergies or allergy symptoms. (See Treatment Summary page for different ways to use products.) Lactobacillus sakei works best when it is used only when needed, when there are sinus symptoms.

Sinusitis research in the last decade has found that not only do sinusitis sufferers lack L. sakei, they have too much of some other 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) in chronic sinusitis -  with a depletion of some bacterial species, and an increase in "abundance" of other species.

Luckily Lactobacillus sakei is found in some foods (such as some brands of live fermented kimchi), some sausage starter cultures (such as B-2), and recently in some probiotic supplements (e.g. Lanto Sinus). One reason it is used in sausage starter cultures is because L. sakei dominates over and inhibits growth of pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus.

BACKGROUND STORY: Six years ago there were no probiotics containing L. sakei. None. So instead members of my family experimented using a very easy kimchi sinusitis treatment (basically dabbing and smearing kimchi at certain stages of fermentation into the nostrils like a very messy eater) and found that it cured  chronic sinusitis of many years within several weeks. Obviously it contained L. sakei. It felt miraculous, especially because it was so easy to do. (See Sinusitis Treatment Story page for our background story).

After 6 years we still feel great! Generally we only need to treat again with a product containing Lactobacillus sakei (we've been using refrigerated Lanto Sinus) after a virus which goes into sinusitis, or if for some other reason we feel like we're sliding into sinusitis. The last few years we've needed to do this far less (and more minimally - usually only a few days) than the first year because every year we have improved – fewer colds and viruses, and an improved sinus microbiome. Because we no longer have chronic sinusitis and can easily treat sinusitis if it occurs with L. sakei, we have NOT taken antibiotics or any other bacteria killing spray or product (such as xylitol) for over 6 years. We do not use cortisone or antihistamine nasal sprays either.

WHEN A TREATMENT WORKS: Many of you have contacted me to report your own progress with various sinusitis treatments. Thank you! People used terms such as "miraculous", "transformative", and "fabulous" when they had positive results with a product containing L. sakei. I’ve also heard from a few people of some other beneficial bacteria species that may treat sinusitis. When a treatment works, then all sinusitis symptoms go away  or there is major improvement - frequently within a few days. Symptoms that go away include 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. Best results are to use L. sakei only when needed.)

OVERALL RESULTSThe majority of people contacting me with results reported positive results (chronic sinusitis greatly improved or totally gone) from some form of L. sakei treatment. Successes have been from the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, 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. 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 to treat acute sinusitis. It seems that after colds, etc. they (including myself) may develop acute sinusitis again and need re-treatment (apparently the L. sakei frequently doesn't stay or colonize in the sinuses from earlier treatments). However, the sinuses do continue improving over time so our experience has been that fewer and more minimal treatments (perhaps only a few days) are needed over the years. Another very small group reported that other probiotic strains helped (but it is not always clear whether they also tried a L. sakei product), and minority of people reported that nothing has helped and there could be a variety of reasons for this (see below). Some people reported that one product helped, but not another - whether kimchi or a L. sakei product.

THREE MAIN PRODUCT CATEGORIES: Currently there are 3 main categories of products containing live Lactobacillus sakei, and which people have reported success in treating sinusitis: kimchi (and some sauerkraut), refrigerated products (e.g. Lanto Sinus), and frozen products. Note that at this time the FDA does not allow any probiotics to be sold as a medical treatment – they can only be sold as a supplement. Using the following products to treat sinusitis is self-experimentation (results are unknown and can vary). Always be cautious when testing a new product. (See Sinusitis Treament Summary page for treatment methods.)

KIMCHI - Many people report 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: Sunja's Kimchi (medium spicy cucumber kimchi and mild white kimchi), Sinto Gourmet brand kimchiMama-O's Premium Kimchi, the white Napa kimchi and cabbage kimchi made by Choi's Kimchi Company (in Portland, Oregon), Farmhouse Culture Kimchi (in California), Mother-in-law's KimchiOzuke Kimchi (in Colorado), in the United Kingdom the brand Mr Kimchi, and in Australia Kehoe's Kitchen white kimchi. I'm sure some (many?) other brands also contain L. sakei.

(Not all kimchi brands or types of kimchi within brands contain L. sakei - finding one that has it is due to self-experimentation. The kimchi must be live, and not pasteurized. We found that kimchi may contain L. sakei from about day 14 (or earlier) 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 researchers feel that it's the garlic in kimchi that encourages L. sakei growth.

SAUERKRAUT - Sauerkraut has worked for some people if it is sauerkraut made with garlic. Some researchers feel that it's the garlic in kimchi that encourages L. sakei growth, and sauerkraut typically doesn't contain garlic.]

REFRIGERATED LACTOBACILLUS SAKEI PRODUCTS  – A high-quality refrigerated L. sakei product specifically meant for the sinuses and treatment of sinusitis is sold by Lanto Health. The kimchi derived Lactobacillus sakei product called Lanto Sinus is meant to be used when needed. Lanto Sinus  is sold as a dietary supplement, holds up well in the refrigerator, is effective, reliable, and easy to use. This product ships well because it holds up for a while (days) without refrigeration.

People have reported success using it mixed with bottled water (dabbing, smearing, spooning a little in nostrils), or swishing it dry in the mouth. I’ve been a consultant with Lanto Health on this product and have been testing and using this product successfully for over 2 years (self-experimentation!).    ...continue reading "The Best Probiotic For Sinus Infections"

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Figured I'd post an article discussing a recent study that tested a new chronic sinusitis treatment, since so much of this site is devoted to sinusitis  - both the latest research and treatments. Eh... I wasn't impressed with the study. Once again research was aimed at treating symptoms, rather than the actual microbial imbalance (dysbiosis) in the sinuses. No wonder it didn't work so well. The researchers added the corticosteroid drug budesonide to daily nasal saline irrigation in one group vs the other group just did daily nasal saline irrigation - both for 30 days. There were no statistically significant differences - both groups basically improved the same. 

The researchers felt that the budesonide group "trended" toward more of an improvement, but statistically there wasn't a difference. The study was nicely done: it was double-blind (no one knew who got what), it had a placebo group (the saline irrigation only group), and people were randomly put into one or the other group. The budesonide (a corticosteroid) was meant as an alternative to, and to see if it was better than using a corticosteroid nasal spray -  which many people with chronic sinusitis try for a while.

For those interested, here is the Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-22) that people took before and after the 30 days of nasal irrigation, and which is used in many sinusitis studies.  Note that some of the questions, in my mind, are bizarre as a measure of sinusitis symptoms and totally not appropriate, especially these 3 questions: Sad? Embarrassed? Frustrated/restless/irritable? And some of the questions are too vague. They list "post nasal drip" which is vague. Where is a question about "phlegm dripping down the throat", and even perhaps "gagging on phlegm" or "constantly clearing throat"? Where is "waking up with a daily sore throat"? How about "constant headaches", or "constantly feeling sick", or "need to sleep semi-sitting up"? These are descriptions people give me again and again. So eh... the test could use improvement.

Bottom line: People with chronic sinusitis have for years been doing nasal saline irrigation to help treat sinusitis symptoms. It helps the symptoms a little, but typically doesn't cure.  From Medscape:

Does Budesonide Improve Outcome of Nasal Irrigation in Chronic Rhinosinusitis?

 In patients with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), addition of budesonide to daily large-volume, low-pressure saline sinus irrigation might lead to improved outcome, but the findings are not clear-cut.  ...continue reading "Adding Budesonide to Nasal Sinus Irrigation Does Not Help In Chronic Sinusitis"

People ask me: what's going on with research in the treatment of sinusitis with probiotics? Well, the answer is that things are moving along slowly - very slowly, but there are good signs. Earlier this year an interesting article by researcher Anders U. Cervin at the University of Queensland (Australia) was published that specifically talked about "topical probiotics" as a potential treatment for chronic sinusitis. By this he means that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) could be directly applied to the nasal passages in the nose, such as a nasal spray. And he discussed how the prevailing view nowadays, based on scientific evidence, is that in sinusitis there is an "imbalance of the sinus microbiome" - the community of microbes living in the sinuses. Yes!!!

Cervin mentioned all sorts of research showing beneficial effects of using different strains of probiotics for various illnesses, mentioned the Abreu et al study (which is the reason I focused on Lactobacillus sakei as a sinusitis treatment, and which works successfully for many people), but.... nowhere did he mention Lactobacillus sakei by name. What??? There are already excellent L. sakei probiotics out there for chronic sinusitis treatment such as Lanto Sinus.

Cervin discusses how studies are needed to test nasal sprays for the treatment of sinusitis, and made a lot of good points. He looked at studies already done, wondered what bacterial strains might be beneficial, but obviously didn't read the Abreu et al study carefully to see that L. sakei might be a good candidate to test. And he didn't do an internet search to see what probiotics people are using already as a successful treatment for sinusitis (see Sinusitis Treatment Summary page). He did mention that the only good trial using nasal spray probiotics in humans with sinusitis found no effect - because they tested the wrong Lactobacillus strains - they were honeybee strains, and not ones found in humans.

Eh... So once again I'm heartened by the focus on the microbial community in sinusitis, and heartened that he said there it was time to get out of the laboratory and start testing probiotics as treatments on people. But I'm dismayed that the focus is so narrow that he's missing what is in front of him - what is already out there. He also missed that a "snot transplant" study is now going on in Europe, which is sure to have interesting results.

By the way, some of the questions the article raises are ones which, based on the experiences of myself and others over the past 5 years, we can already answer: living bacteria as a treatment are better than dead bacteria (using dead bacteria doesn't work), nasal treatments work but just swallowing a probiotic pill doesn't, Lactobacillus sakei works as a treatment for many, the L. sakei bacteria reduces inflammation in the nasal passages, the probiotic can be used in place of an antibiotic, and only treat when needed and not continuously (continuously treating can also result in an imbalance in the sinus microbiome). [See post The Best Probiotic For Sinus Infections where these issues are discussed and the best L. sakei products.] ...continue reading "Researcher Sees Potential for Sinusitis Nasal Probiotics"

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Big announcement today! The high quality product Lanto Sinus, which contains the probiotic Lactobacillus sakei specifically for sinus support (for sinusitis symptoms), is now available. This product contains an excellent strain of Lactobacillus sakei that is kimchi derived. Lactobacillus sakei is the one probiotic (beneficial bacteria) that has successfully treated sinusitis (both chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis) of many people, including all members of my family. It has been an amazing journey - and since using Lactobacillus sakei our sinuses feel great, and we have not had to use antibiotics in 6+ years! A win-win.

More than 6 years ago I read research about the sinus microbiome (microbial community), and how chronic sinusitis sufferers lack the keystone bacteria Lactobacillus sakei that successfully treats sinusitis. There were no probiotics with L. sakei available back then. None. But we (my family) were able to successfully treat chronic sinusitis with live kimchi, which can contain Lactobacillus sakei (see Sinusitis Treatment Story). Kimchi is a wonderful product, but... with kimchi you never know if you're getting L. sakei, and even then it dies off rapidly. We went on to experiment with other products for years, with none of them ideal. So it is great that finally, after all these years, a product like Lanto Sinus is now available.

Nice things about Lanto Sinus are that the Lactobacillus sakei strain is kimchi derived (an excellent strain!), the product holds up well, it is in powder form, easy to use, and it only needs to be refrigerated. (That's right, it's meant to be refrigerated, and not frozen.) Since it also holds up well for a time without refrigeration, it also ships well. After all, L. sakei lives and multiplies in our body at about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. [Please note: Even though it is shipped with an ice pack, shorter shipping (1 or 2 day shipping) in hot summer months is always preferable. Keep in mind that USPS delivers to mailboxes while UPS typically delivers packages to the door.]

Lanto Sinus is sold by Lanto Health, and shipped from the NJ/NY metro area. Lanto Sinus is a high quality product that is produced with Good Manufacturing Practices, and is lab tested and verified.

It feels gentle, yet it is strong. It is being sold as a probiotic dietary supplement. It comes in powder form with directions stating to mix with a little bottled water or take it dry, and swallow - after all, it is a dietary supplement. Lanto Sinus comes with a little spoon for ease of use. The product is meant to be used when needed for sinus support - that is, when there are some sinusitis symptoms.

I want to mention that I have been a consultant to the company, and have been testing and using the product for over 2 years. As usual, I self-experimented various ways to see what works best for me - but of course, only using it when needed (for example, if I start to slide into sinusitis after a cold). After 6 years of self-experimentation in various ways my sinus microbiome has improved, so at this point I only need to use a little bit for successful results. What works for me is swishing a little of the dry powder in the mouth, then swallow it, and not drinking or eating for a least 30 minutes after that (to let it travel to the sinuses). Yes, I like the product a lot!

By the way, the advice to use only when needed - should be applied to any probiotic  supplement that is used as a sinusitis treatment or for sinus support. And as I describe in The One Probiotic That Treats Sinusitis - based on my family's experiences and many people contacting me - most people are helped by Lactobacillus sakei, but not all. Unfortunately there is no way to know if L. sakei will treat a person's sinusitis unless it is tried. This is because everyone's sinus microbiome (microbial community) is different - and so how one reacts to different probiotics can vary. By the way, L. sakei does not appear to treat allergies or allergy symptoms.

Finally, I want to point out that currently all probiotics in the United States are sold as dietary supplements and not as treatments. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) at this time does not allow any medical treatment claims for any probiotic sold. Using a probiotic dietary supplement in ways other than label directions is SELF-EXPERIMENTATION. [See Sinusitis Treatment Summary page for self-experimentation details - the different ways people use L. sakei products.]

[FEB. 2019 UPDATE: Lanto Sinus was originally called Lacto Sinus. On February 3, 2019 the company changed the name to Lanto Sinus in order to get a trademark. It is the exact same product - the only change is the name. This post has been updated to reflect the name change.

Read the The Best Probiotic For Sinus Infections - results from many people using Lactobacillus sakei and other probiotic sinusitis treatments.]

And on a final note, some other news about L. sakei: According to several studies, when taken orally (swallowed) Lactobacillus sakei appears to be beneficial in certain skin conditions such as atopic eczema-dermatitis syndrome and atopic dermatitis. Another study found that patients with ischemic strokes had decreased numbers of Lactobacillus sakei in the gut (as compared to healthy individuals).  It's an interesting microbe!

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It's official. This month is 5 whole years being free of chronic sinusitis and off all antibiotics! Yes, that's correct - 5 whole years for all 4 family members, and our sinuses feel great!

Back in February 2013 - first I, and then the rest of my family, started using easy do-it-yourself sinusitis treatments containing the probiotic (beneficial bacteria) Lactobacillus sakei. Now we only treat with a L. sakei  product when occasionally needed - and it still works great. In fact, the best way to use Lactobacillus sakei is to use only when there are sinusitis symptoms, and not when feeling well. The whole process still feels miraculous.

After reading the original ground-breaking research on sinusitis done by Abreu et al (2012), it led to me trying L. sakei as a sinusitis treatment. Of course, there is an entire community of microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) that live in healthy sinuses - the sinus microbiome - but L. sakei seems to be a key one for sinus health. Since that original 2012 study, other studies have also found that in people with chronic sinusitis, the sinus microbial community is out of whack (dysbiosis). 

The one thing different this past year is that our sinus microbial community (sinus microbiome) seems better. If we need to treat (for example, after a virus that goes into sinusitis, or when sliding toward sinusitis for whatever reason), then all four of us noticed that we need to use much less of a product than in the past. Incredibly little. So it seems that our sinus microbial community has definitely improved over time.

The post The One Probiotic That Treats Sinusitis (originally posted January 2015 and with many updates since then) contains information using my family's experiences (lots of self-experimentation!) and all the information that people have given me over the years. Thanks everyone! The post has a list of brands and products with L. sakei, treatment results, as well as information about some other promising probiotics (beneficial bacteria).

Thank you all who have contacted me  - whether publicly or privately. Please keep writing and tell me what has worked or hasn't worked for you as a sinusitis treatment. If you find another bacteria or microbe or product that works for you - please let me know. It all adds to the sinusitis treatment knowledge base. I will keep posting updates. 

(NOTE: I wrote our background story - Sinusitis Treatment Story back in December 2013, there is a  Sinusitis Treatment Summary page with the various treatment methods quickly discussed, and the latest information on The Best Probiotic For Sinus Infections. One can also click on SINUSITIS under CATEGORIES to see more posts about what is going on in the world of sinusitis research.)

A recent study tested a variety of probiotic (beneficial) Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species of bacteria as a treatment for chronic sinusitis. Unfortunately, it found that the microbes tested had NO effect on chronic sinusitis symptoms. It was a nice study conducted in Sweden, with 21 people with chronic sinusitis (but without nasal polyps) randomly assigned to receive a nasal spray (that they used 2 x daily for 14 days) containing either a mixture of 13 bacteria or a "sham" nasal spray. No one knew who received what, and then after a few weeks they did a crossover - meaning who got what was switched for another 2 weeks.

But...the main finding is that after 14 days of using the nasal sprays, there was no improvement in either group, no improvement in symptoms, no effect on the sinus "microbial flora", and no effect on inflammation. In fact, 2 individuals wound up taking antibiotics while testing the bacteria nasal spray. In other words, a big fat zero.

The bacteria tested were what the researchers called a honeybee lactic acid (LAB) microbiome, with both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species: Lactobacillus apinorumL. melliferL. mellis, L. kimbladiiL. melliventrisL. helsingborgensisL. kullabergensisL. kunkeei, L. apisBifidobacterium asteroidesB. coryneforme, Bifidobacterium Bin7N, and Bifidobacterium Hma3N. These species are not typically found in probiotic supplements.

Why did they choose those strains of bacteria? Because "in vitro" testing (meaning in a test tube or culture dish) suggested that they would be effective against the pathogenic bacteria frequently found in chronic sinusitis (that they were antimicrobial). But real world testing in actual humans in this study showed that those specific Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria microbes had no effect on sinusitis symptoms. Their premise was good - that the sinus microbiome was "disturbed" or out of whack (dysbiosis) in chronic sinusitis, but unfortunately they chose the wrong bacteria to test as a treatment.

The SNOT-22 questionnaire that asked questions of sinusitis sufferers at several points in the study to see if there was improvement in sinusitis symptoms, is one typically given to those with chronic sinusitis. [By the way, when reviewing the questionnaire, I realized it left out some major sinusitis symptoms such as "gagging on phlegm", "waking up with sore throat", "teeth hurt", "headache" - all of which are frequently mentioned by many contacting me, and which I remember well from pre-L. sakei days. In other words - it is incomplete, yet it is the questionnaire typically used to assess quality of life and symptoms for those with chronic sinusitis.]

The researchers end the journal article by stating "Further studies are warranted to explore whether other tentative probiotic assemblages [other bacterial species] can confer positive health effects to patients suffering from inflammatory conditions of the upper airways." Huh... If only they had asked...  I've been writing about Lactobacillus sakei as an excellent treatment for chronic sinusitis since 2013 (based on results of Abreu et al study), and I've been getting positive feedback from others about L. sakei since early 2014. For those who find that L. sakei works as a sinusitis treatment, the results seem miraculous - typically with major improvement within a few days. (Please note: Perhaps other microbes may also work as a sinusitis treatment.) Excerpts from Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology:

Clinical efficacy of a topical lactic acid bacterial microbiome in chronic rhinosinusitis: A randomized controlled trial

A locally disturbed commensal microbiome might be an etiological factor in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) in general and in CRS without nasal polyps (CRSsNP) in particular. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been suggested to restore commensal microbiomes. A honeybee LAB microbiome consisting of various lactobacilli and bifidobacteria have been found potent against CRS pathogens in vitro. Recently, we examined effects of single nasal administrations of this microbiome in healthy subjects and found it inert. In this study, we examined effects of repeated such administrations in patients with CRSsNP.

The study was of a randomized, double‐blinded, crossover, and sham‐controlled design. Twenty patients received 2 weeks' treatment administered using a nasal spray‐device. The subjects were monitored with regard to symptoms (SNOT‐22 questionnaire, i.e., the primary efficacy variable), changes to their microbiome, and inflammatory products (IL‐6, IL‐8, TNF‐, IL‐8,a, and MPO) in nasal lavage fluids.

ResultsNeither symptom scores, microbiological explorations, nor levels of inflammatory products in nasal lavage fluids were affected by LAB (c.f. sham). Conclusion: Two weeks' nasal administration of a honeybee LAB microbiome to patients with CRSsNP is well tolerated but affects neither symptom severity nor the microbiological flora/local inflammatory activity.

 In this study, involving patients with well‐defined CRSsNP, we demonstrate that repeated nasal administration of a LAB microbiota composed of several species of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria over 2 weeks neither affects symptoms as assessed by SNOT‐22 questionnaire nor the bacterial composition or the inflammatory activity in the nasal cavity. The observations are of relevance to the evaluation of topical LAB treatment in the management of upper respiratory tract conditions such as CRS.

Just read a small study that compared the microbes in the sinus microbiome between 12 healthy people with no sinusitis (controls) and 14 with chronic sinusitis, their neurotransmitter levels (serotonin, dopamine, and GABA), and also looked at depression scores in the 2 groups. Well, of course they found some microbial differences between healthy people and those with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), but they also found that those with the most severe chronic sinusitis tended to have the most depressive symptoms, and lower amounts of the neurotransmitters studied, but they did not find significant differences overall.

I found their summary and conclusions problematic, since they discussed that "possibly" the sinus microbes influence brain neurotransmitters. And they pointed out that as certain disease associated microbes increased (especially Moraxella), the neurotransmitter concentrations tended to decrease in those with sinusitis. But since there were no significant group differences, they did not prove their hypotheses, and conclusions can not be made. So saying there is "the potential for downstream effects of the sinonasal microbiota on neural signaling and, subsequently, brain function and behavior" is misleading and overreaching. The researchers also said it was "difficult to discern disease associations from natural variation." Hah!

It should be obvious that the worse the chronic sinusitis, the more depressive symptoms, because having chronic sinusitis is DEPRESSING. One suffers with it. Some people have told me how chronic sinusitis has destroyed their life - whether their health, financially, with relationships, etc. Of course they will have higher depressive scores! And when a Lactobacillus sakei product or other probiotic successfully treats sinusitis (usually very quickly), then the mood is one of elation as symptoms go away (finally health!).

All one can say (based on studies) is: the sinus microbiomes in healthy people (normal sinus microbial community) are somewhat different from those with chronic sinusitis (out-of-whack microbial community or dysbiosis). And one would expect that those with less severe/milder sinusitis have a "better" community of sinus microbes - that is, more microbes that are associated with health, and fewer of those associated with sickness, than sicker people. Which is what this study suggested. Excerpts from the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology:

The sinonasal microbiota, neural signaling, and depression in chronic rhinosinusitis

The complex relationships between the human microbiota, the immune system, and the brain play important roles in both health and disease, and have been of increasing interest in the study of chronic inflammatory mucosal conditions. We hypothesized that the sinonasal microbiota may act as a modifier of interkingdom neural signaling and, subsequently, mental health, in the upper respiratory inflammatory condition chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). In this study we investigated associations between the sinonasal microbiota; local concentrations of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA); and depression severity in a cohort of 14 CRS patients and 12 healthy controls.

Several commonly “health-associated” sinonasal bacterial taxa were positively associated with higher neurotransmitter concentrations and negatively associated with depression severity. In contrast, several taxa commonly associated with an imbalanced sinonasal microbiota negatively associated with neurotransmitters and positively with depression severity. Few significant differences were identified when comparing between control and CRS subject groups, including neurotransmitter concentrations, depression scores, or sinonasal microbiota composition or abundance. Conclusion: The findings obtained lend support to the potential for downstream effects of the sinonasal microbiota on neural signaling and, subsequently, brain function and behavior.

SOME OTHER EXCERPTS: Depression scores were also not significantly different between controls and CRS patients. .... The serotonin levels in CRS patients compared with control subjects tended to be lower, but not significantly so. Although median values for dopamine, GABA, and serotonin were generally lower in CRS patients than controls, all 3 neurotransmitters had a greater range among those with CRS, and no differences were significant. ... For both CRS and control individuals, bacterial communities were generally dominated by OTUs of the genera Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus.

Correlation analyses identified associations between members of the genera Staphylococcus, Finegoldia, Propionibacterium, Peptoniphilus, and Anaerococcus, as well as bacterial community diversity overall. Members of these genera have been previously identified as representative of more “health-associated” sinonasal bacterial community types, whereas their depletion has been associated with lower bacterial community diversity, increased bacterial load, increased rates of asthma, and elevated markers of inflammation. Similarly, members of the genera Burkholderia and Propionibacterium have been identified as 2 potential “gatekeepers” that help maintain bacterial community stability in the sinonasal tract. In the present study, several of these same bacterial taxa were significantly positively correlated with neurotransmitter levels and negatively with depression severity, whereas several other OTUs (including members of Streptococcus, Rothia, Enterobacteriaceae, Corynebacterium, and Moraxella) showed the opposite pattern (negatively associated with neurotransmitter levels and positively with depression severity). 

A number of people contacting me have indicated that living in a house or apartment with a mold problem led to their chronic sinusitis. And it wasn't the dreaded toxic black mold (varieties of mold which can cause serious neurological symptoms), but common molds that triggered their inflammatory reactions, respiratory symptoms, allergies, and eventually chronic sinusitis. All due to excessive mold exposure.

This summer's flooding caused by hurricanes and tropical storms will result in major mold growth in residences after the water recedes. What will be the health consequences? Article excerpts about mold (and with impressive photos) from The Atlantic:

The Looming Consequences of Breathing Mold

But the impact of hurricanes on health is not captured in the mortality and morbidity numbers in the days after the rain. This is typified by the inglorious problem of mold. Submerging a city means introducing a new ecosystem of fungal growth that will change the health of the population in ways we are only beginning to understand. The same infrastructure and geography that have kept this water from dissipating created a uniquely prolonged period for fungal overgrowth to take hold, which can mean health effects that will bear out over years and lifetimes.

The documented dangers of excessive mold exposure are many. Guidelines issued by the World Health Organization note that living or working amid mold is associated with respiratory symptoms, allergies, asthma, and immunological reactions. The document cites a wide array of “inflammatory and toxic responses after exposure to microorganisms isolated from damp buildings, including their spores, metabolites, and components,” as well as evidence that mold exposure can increase risks of rare conditions like hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, and chronic sinusitis.

Twelve years ago in New Orleans, Katrina similarly rendered most homes unlivable, and it created a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, and caused a shortage of potable water and food. But long after these threats to human health were addressed, the mold exposure, in low-income neighborhoods in particular, continued. The same is true in parts of Brooklyn, where mold overgrowth has reportedly worsened in the years since Hurricane Sandy. In the Red Hook neighborhood, a community report last October found that a still-growing number of residents were living in moldy apartments.

The highly publicized “toxic mold”—meaning the varieties that send mycotoxins into the air, the inhaling of which can acutely sicken anyone—causes most concern right after a flood. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew in South Carolina last year, sludge stood feet deep in homes for days. As it receded, toxic black mold grew. In one small community, Nichols, it was more the mold than the water itself that left the town’s 261 homes uninhabitable for months.

The more insidious and ubiquitous molds, though, produce no acutely dangerous mycotoxins but can still trigger inflammatory reactions, allergies, and asthma. The degree of impact from these exposure in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is still being studied.

Molds also emit volatile chemicals that some experts believe could affect the human nervous system. Among them is Joan Bennett, a distinguished professor of plant biology and pathology at Rutgers University, who has devoted her career to the study of fungal toxins. She was living in New Orleans during the storm, and she recalls that while some health experts were worried about heavy-metal poisoning or cholera, she was worried about fungus.

The smell of the fungi in her house got so strong after the flooding that it gave her headaches and made her nauseated. As she evacuated, wearing a mask and gloves, she took samples of the mold along with her valued possessions. Her lab at Rutgers went on to report that the volatile organic compounds emitted by the mold, known as mushroom alcohol, had some bizarre effects on fruit flies. For one, they affected genes involved in handling and transporting dopamine in a way that mimicked the pathology of Parkinson’s disease in humans. “More biologists ought to be looking at gas-phase compounds, because I’m quite certain we’ll find a lot of unexpected effects that we’ve been ignoring,” said Bennett.

 Mold in ceiling.  Credit: CDC