Most of us associate the use of probiotics with gut health. Various strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus plantarum (299v) have been proven to effectively treat such gut disorders as bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain. Indeed L. plantarum has even been shown to decrease gut permeability and even help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
But, more recently two strains in particular have been studied for their positive effect on the immune system. Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) (which has traditionally been used to treat skin conditions, such as eczema and food allergies in infants, and to reduce the frequency of diarrhoea), and Lactobacillus paracasei (LP-33).
These two strains help to promote immune regulation by interacting with cells within the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) stimulating the production of immune fighting cells such as T Cells and increasing production of regulatory cytokines such as IL-10 and TGF-beta. LGG also promotes a shift towards enhanced anti-inflammatory response by a heightened secretion of anti-inflammatory cells and decreased secretion of pro-inflammatory cells.
LP-33 interacts with hyperactive inflammatory cells, reducing their number and strengthening gut mucosal barrier integrity.
A double-blinded, randomised, placebo-controlled trial on 425 subjects with allergic rhinitis compare the effects of LP-33 or placebo over a five-week period. The LP-33 group demonstrated significant improvements in their Rhinitis Quality Of Life (RQOL) score, nasal and ocular symptoms.
Furthermore, a combination of a new strain of L. plantarum (HEAL-9) together with L. paracasei 8700:2 has been shown in multiple clinical trials, to induce specific (acquired) immunity, helping to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold.
A randomised, parallel, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study supplemented 272 subjects with either 500 million each of HEAL9 and 8700:2 or a placebo for 12 weeks. Those who were taking this exclusive probiotic combination experienced a 28% reduction in the duration of their cold and a reduction in total symptom score by 24%.
The above illustrates the vital importance of choosing the right strain and strength of your probiotic. Better results are always achieved with specific probiotic prescribing.