The word "probiotic" literally means "good life," and the real world applications are very much in line with that definition. Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that live in the digestive system of mammals and aid the body in a variety of ways. Lactobacillus sporogenes is one such bacterium.
The name Lactobacillus sporogenes is actually a misidentification of the bacteria which is now known as Bacillus coagulans. The confusion originated because the bacterium has characteristics of both the Lactobacillus genus and the Bacillus genus. In 1974, it was reclassified into the Bacillus genus. Bacillus coagulans does produce lactic acid, just as bacteria in the Lactobacillus genus do. Bacillus coagulans, however, is also a spore-forming bacterium. Since Lactobacillus bacteria do not, by definition of their scientific classification, form spores, Bacillus coagulans can not belong to that genus.
So, Bacillus coagulans is known to be a spore-forming bacterium. What does that mean scientifically and to consumers? The bacterium forms an endospore, a thick wall which surrounds its DNA and other internal cell structures. This tough wall allows these bacteria to survive stressful environments such as those with extreme temperatures, chemicals, high acidity, and certain types of radiation. Because of this characteristic, Bacillus coagulans has the potential to survive industrial processes which other probiotics may not.
Several strains of Bacillus coagulans have been consumed around the world for many years. It is part of a 1978 patent for a method of improving the flavor and shelf-life of natto, a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. In addition, Bacillus coagulans is used as a veterinary nutritional supplement, particularly with cats, pigs, and shrimp.
Bacillus coagulans is also used for many health applications. These include treatment of infectious diarrhea, diarrhea caused by antibiotics, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and as a cancer preventative. However, extensive research on the effect of Bacillus coagulans on these conditions is limited.
There are, however, several very recent studies on the particular probiotic strain named Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086. These studies were at least partially funded by Ganeden Biotech, which markets the GBI-30, 6086 strain under the commercial name GanedenBC30, but were performed by medical doctors.
One of these studies showed that Bacillus coagulans could be an effective deterrent to viral respiratory tract infections. The study used ten healthy men and women, who each took one capsule of the strain of Bacillus coagulans known as GBI-30, 6086 once a day with water. Blood from participants was tested in vitro before and after the study's completion. T-cell production increased significantly with exposure to adenovirus and influenza A, though no significant response was shown to other forms of influenza. Along with the fact that no serious adverse effects were reported during the entire duration of the study, this data offers a basis for a safe and effective therapy to increase T-cell production and reduce the risk of certain viral respiratory tract infections in humans.
Another 2009 study investigated the effect of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder which involves chronic abdominal pain and changes in bowel results. Because IBS sufferers usually have reduced amounts of good bacteria in their digestive tract, probiotics are becoming a common treatment. A variety of probiotics have been shown to restore a proper balance of these helpful bacteria and decrease inflammation of intestinal mucosal tissues. This particular eight-week study analyzed 44 men and women with IBS symptoms, half of whom received a placebo and half a preparation of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086. The severity of self-reported bloating and abdominal pain decreased significantly in the patients receiving Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086, but not in those receiving the placebo.
Results of another study conducted on the same Bacillus coagulans strain demonstrated the safety of this strain for human consumption. This data was published in the May issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology and reported that Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 is safe for humans even in large consumption amounts. In the study, this strain was administered to rats in amounts almost 100,000 times beyond the recommended dosage for humans, yet produced no harmful effects. Given the safety of its use and that it has been shown to survive manufacturing processes that produce extremes of heat and cold, use of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 is expected to increase.
Baron, Mira. (2009). Postgraduate Medicine. A Patented Strain of Bacillus coagulans Increased Immune Response to Viral Challenge. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2009.03.1971.
Endres, J.R. et al. (2009). Science Direct. Safety Assessment of a Propietary Preparation of a Novel Probiotic, Bacillus coagulans, as a Food Ingredient. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2009.02.018.
Hun, Larysa. (2009). Postgraduate Medicine. Bacillus coagulans Significantly Improved Abdominal Pain and Bloating in Patients with IBS. doi:10.3810/pgm.2009.03.1984.
Medical News Today. (2009). New Study Highlights Safety of Probiotic Strain Bacillus coagulans Consuming Large Doses of Bacillus coagulans Safe for Humans.
Natural Products Insider. (2009). Bacillus coagulans Probiotic Strain Boosts Immune Response. naturalproductsinsider.com/news/2009/03/bacillus-coagulans-probiotic-strain-boosts-immune.aspx>
Taylor, John R. and Mitchell, Deborah. The Wonder of Probiotics. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 2007.
Trenev, Natasha. Probiotics: Nature's Internal Healers. Garden City Park, New York: Avery Publishing Group, 1998.
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