Certain bacillus probiotics can help to heal your gut. We have all likely heard of lactobacillus probiotics, but there are four less commonly discussed probiotics that you should include in your probiotic regimen.
Dr. R’s Fast Facts
Is there a difference between soil-based and spore-forming bacteria?
The general term soil-based organism does not mean that all of these organisms will function in the gut. The distinction for spore-based organisms is that they are found within the soil and have the natural capability to survive through the gastric system. They have been shown to colonize and live in the gut.
Just Thrive probiotic is currently conducting studies for:
- Patients with elevated triglycerides
- Glucose intolerance/pre-diabetic
- Autoimmune diseases
- 2 Autoimmune studies – RA and Hashimoto’s
- Autoimmune complex
- Patients who are at risk of autoimmunity and rescue them from a diagnosable AI disease
- Clostridium Difficile
Further research about these spore-based organisms reveals that
- The soil is not actually their native home. The gut is their native home and they use the soil as a vector to transfer from host to host
- In the soil they are in this “spore form” meaning they are metabolically inactive, they form a coating around themselves to protect them.
- This same capsule is what helps them survive through the gastric system
- Once they arrive in the gut, within 8 minutes they bust out of the spore-like capsule and become a live functioning probiotic.
Probiotic Strains in Just Thrive
- Just Thrive contains Bacillus (B). indicus, B. subtilis, B. clausii, B. coagulans – all native to the human microbiome
- B. subtilis and B. coagulans have been studied the most
- B. indicus is one of the most unique strains
- First official probiotic strain that has been shown to produce high levels of 12 different carotenoids in the gut which gets absorbed into the system.
Are probiotics antibacterial?
- B. subtilis, B. clausii, and B. coagulans were originally released to treat gut infections many decades ago
- The combination of the 4 strains in Just Thrive can produce up to 25 different antibiotics to kill off bad bacteria
- They also produce compounds to grow a significant amount of your good commensal organisms
Where to find more about or purchase Just Thrive Probiotic?
- Get help with probiotics.
- Get your personalized plan for optimizing your gut health with my new book.
- Healthcare providers looking to sharpen their clinical skills, check out the Future of Functional Medicine Review Clinical Newsletter.
Background … 00:02:24
Current Studies … 00:07:00
Soil-based Probiotics Explained … 00:13:09
Just Thrive Probiotic Strains … 00:18:18
Are Probiotics Antibacterial … 00:26:13
Histamine … 00:32:51
Episode Wrap-up … 00:36:41
Download Episode (Right click on link and ‘Save As’)
*Thank you to Kiran Krishnan from Just Thrive Probiotic for sponsoring this episode and for his insightful interview today.*
Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC: Hey everyone. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio radio. This is Dr. Ruscio. Today I am here with Kiran Krishnan. And we are going to be talking about soil based probiotics and getting kind of deep into that world. So welcome to the show and thanks for being here today.
Kiran Krishnan: Thank you so much for having me and it is great to have this opportunity to talk with you.
DrMR: It is always nice to discuss probiotics. I think the audience has come to a fairly supportive probiotic narrative on the podcasts, but also one that is careful and discerning. And before we were recording, we were kind of talking about some of the marketing fallacies that circulate regarding probiotics. And I think it will be nice to dispel some of those myths, because there is a lot marketing out there. And if the consumer can be guided through that cloud of marketing with some sort of guiding light, they can hopefully use probiotics to feel better, rather than just literally pooping money away.
KK: Exactly. Yeah, there is a lot of pooping money away going on, you know. But the great thing about it is probiotics hold significant promise. We know the gut microbiome controls such a vast aspect of our health. And if we can modulate the microbiome in a positive way using these effective strains, we can make a significant impact on so many chronic illnesses. So these kind of dialogues or narratives are so important, I think, to people, to their health and wellness.
DrMR: Absolutely. Can you tell people a little bit about your background before we get into some of the nitty gritty regarding soil-based probiotics?
KK: Yes. I am trained as a research microbiologist. I was working in bacteriology and virology, with the focus on something called molecular medicine. My research work before went into industry was focused on HIV retroviruses and then also certain types of bacteria. Then when I left university research, my goal was to start a clinical research organization, to be able to offer high level clinical trials to nutritional companies.
Because most of the clinical research organizations out there are designed to conduct pharmaceutical studies. And they are very expensive. And they have disease end points. So you really cannot even talk about the results once you complete the study.
So my whole focus was to create an opportunity for nutritional companies to do good studies, but at a reasonable cost. And that is how I got into the nutritional space and even the probiotic space.
About 12 years ago, I was hired by a large multi-national company to study the probiotic market for them and basically come up with here is what is working in the industry, here is what is not working, here are the issues that I see with the way probiotics are manufactured and formulated and then also to give them a preview on what I think are the next generation of really effective probiotic strains. So that is how is I ended up diving head first into the probiotic and microbiome space.
DrMR: Awesome. That is such a laudable goal of trying to make high quality clinical trials available to those working in nutrition. And I think everyone in the audience is probably nodding their head in agreement that that is an area that we need more and more of.
As I have said in the past, it is good to be evidence based, but not evidence limited. Sometimes we don’t have quality evidence for a natural treatment, but if we had evidence we would likely see some very positive effects. And so is that I why I believe in be evidence based, but also not evidence limited, meaning if there is not any evidence, we have to be forward thinking and draw some inferences when and where we can.
KK: Absolutely, yeah.
DrMR: And now you are working with Just Thrive. And can you explain how you have been consulting or involved with them, because that is one of the handful of soil-based probiotics that I have endorsed? And we had a previous episode for our audience all about soil-based probiotics and you went into the evidence about which strains have been studied and where we have best evidence, where we may have the least amount of evidence. And you kind of gave a purview and made a few recommendations. And Just Thrive probiotic was one of those. How are you interfacing with this company?
KK: Yes. So I actually helped them create the formulation. I was the original guy that went out and sought the strains that they currently use in the product. And I found those strains at Royal Holloway University of London. They were in the lab of Dr. Simon Cutting. He is one of the preeminent bacillus endospore researchers in the world.
And I formed a partnership with him almost 10 years ago, to help commercialize and bring his strains to market. He had been developing those strains and identifying them and doing all of the metagenomics, DNA studies, the protein studies and all of those on the strains for almost a decade. And he was actually looking for a research group to partner with to bring those to market.
So I made that connection and developed the formulation for the folks at Just Thrive and started the relationship that way. And then I am also organizing and running all of the clinical trials that are associated with the product. So we have got 11 human clinical trials going on right now. We published one last year. So I am the guy that is helping with the universities to design the trials and help them initiate and conduct the science. So I am kind of developing the scientific strategy and the clinical strategy around it as well.
DrMR: That is fantastic! Can you tell us a little bit about some of the trials that are occurring? I know you can’t say too much. But are there studies looking at blood pressure? I am sure there are some that are looking at IBS, maybe IBD. Can you tell us a little bit about what you are trying to answer?
KK: Yes. So, there are a few really interesting and exciting things. From the leaky gut study that we published last year, we saw a few effects that actually reached statistical significance and we want to study in depth in a larger group.
One of those things was triglyceride. We saw a significant drop in triglycerides in as little as 30 days in the study we published last year. And these were people with the average triglyceride level, I think, was 189. So they are not even high triglyceride subjects and yet we saw a significant 35% drop in 30 days. So we wanted to see what is the effect then on people with very elevated triglycerides, over 200, over 300 even in many cases. So we are doing a 90 patient study just on elevated triglycerides, looking at the ability of the probiotic to actually reduce triglycerides in a 90 day period.
We are doing the same thing with glucose intolerant people, because the other thing we saw was postprandial insulin response to the food. So the insulin response to the same meal after you eat was reduced dramatically in 30 days. And because we know we affect the leaky gut in such a positive way and we know there is significant tie to the inflammation from leaky gut and insulin resistance, we are doing a glucose intolerant or pre-diabetic study as well. We are also doing 2 autoimmune studies. One is rheumatoid arthritis. One is Hashimoto’s.
And then actually a third one is with something called autoimmune complex. One of the interesting things about autoimmune disease is once you can identify the disease, meaning you can say it is Hashimoto’s or you can say it is lupus or you can say it is a skin disorder like psoriasis or eczema, the disease has already gone too far. But for a while before that, the immune system is moving towards an autoimmune type of response, like a Th17 response.
And the tissue hasn’t been damaged yet, so it is hard to pinpoint a name to the disease. But when you look at it, you look at total immune complex, you can look at it going in the wrong direction. So what we are looking for is can we identify people who are at high autoimmune risk, look at the immune shifting in the wrong direction and then rescue it before it actually becomes a diagnosable autoimmune disease.
We are also doing an acne study with the University of California-Davis. We are doing a C. diff, a Clostridium difficile infection study with Cleveland Clinic. We are doing a metformin and diabetes study with Thomas Jefferson University. And very interestingly, we are doing a gingivitis and gum disease study with a bunch of dentists. We have got 6 dental offices across the U. S., so it is a multi-centric study. We also are just finishing a weight loss study, weight management.
DrMR: Coming back for a moment. The periodontitis study, is that with Al Danenberg?
KK: Yeah, exactly, with Al. He is our principal investigator on that.
DrMR: He was on the show a few weeks back, talking about his study. And so I figured there can only be so many of those studies happening at one time.
KK: Exactly, yeah. It is a small world. But it is so fascinating, because he has got some great case studies with his patients and we are seeing that connection between leaky gut, the inflammation associated with it, LPS and then what is happening in the gums. And when you look at the statistics and you see that 94% of Americans have some degree of gum disease or gingivitis, it is essentially the canary in the coal mine yelling out that something is wrong internally with most people.
KK: So we are looking at if we can fix that connection. So, yeah, a whole vast number of studies. What is so interesting about our current clinical strategy is that we are studying things that are so vastly different in terms of disease outcome. We are looking at rheumatoid arthritis, we are looking at acne and we are looking at gum disease all with the same product. And when you look at it at a glance, it almost makes no sense. Like how can the same product affect your knees, your skin and your teeth, your gums? But it does.
DrMR: You are preaching to the choir here.
KK: Yeah, absolutely.
DrMR: Hey, guys. We’ve discussed at length the benefits of probiotics. But it can be hard to know which specific probiotic products to use. One probiotic that I endorse is Just Thrive Probiotic. Just Thrive is one of the few category three (aka soil-based) probiotics I recommend. In fact, one exciting study has found that the strains in Just Thrive Probiotic can begin healing leaky gut. They also have some very exciting research coming in the future.
And good news! If you’d like to try Just Thrive, they’re offering 25% off your first purchase when you use the code RUSCIO at checkout (R-U-S-C-I-O). They’re available at ThriveProbiotic.com or on Amazon. Check them out.
Soil-based Probiotics Explained
DrMR: Certainly, the impact of the leaky gut is just so far reaching, it is truly humbling.
KK: Absolutely. And what we are seeing is we are able to make certain fundamental changes within the gut with these particular strains that we can see that kind of broad spectrum benefit. And we will be publishing another study this year, actually showing the changes in the microbiome that occur once you add these type of spores into the system, which are very, very exciting changes.
DrMR: That is fantastic. I commend the work that you are doing. And please, keep me abreast as these studies get published. Please keep me abreast, because I want to make sure I don’t miss any of these.
DrMR: Now for the audience, if they haven’t heard of soil-based or spore forming, can you outline what that means and if there is any difference between soil-based or spore forming? Potentially are there some people using those as I have been interchangeably and is there potentially a nuance there that we need to clarify? Or is maybe that just an academic nuance, but clinically it is somewhat irrelevant? And also, just in general, what do those terms mean?
KK: Yeah, I think that is really, really an important question, because there is a nuance there. And I think it often gets conflated.
So, when we were looking at probiotics, we thought that there were numerous companies doing lacto and bifido strains. There are a lot of big, well-funded companies that are doing amazing research on that side of the probiotic space. So we wanted to look at other bacteria that can potentially have a different effect than the conventional strains that people are used to and used to seeing and using.
So we just took a step back and looked at evolutionary biology to a certain degree. And we said, okay, where did our ancestors get daily exposure to bacteria throughout the course of human evolution? And after the birthing period and the initial inoculum passing through the vaginal canal, with breast milk and so on, for the rest of your life you are exposed to bacteria in the environment. So we took a deeper dive into environmental bacteria to see what type of bacteria within the environment could actually serve as a protective probiotic.
Now when you dig into soil bacteria, and I have actually studied soil bacteria as a microbiologist, one of the things that you know is that the vast majority of soil organisms function in the soil. You know, their job is to break down plant matter, to fix nitrogen for roots, to break down organic matter from dead and dying animals and so on. Their job is to breathe life into the soil essentially, which is a very important of the cycle of life. But a vast majority of those bacteria won’t actually do much of anything in the gut itself.
And so what we wanted to do was we created criteria for the types of bacteria that can exist in the soil that can also perform a significant function in the gut. So one of those aspects is the ability of the organism to naturally survive through the gastric system. Because if our ancestors were inadvertently swallowing a lot of bacteria from the environment because they ate dirt, they didn’t sterilize their environment, only a certain number of those microbes actually could survive through the harsh gastric system, get into the intestines and live there and function as a probiotic.
So when we were going through the criteria to figure out what type of organism within the soil can actually survive through the stomach, survive through the small intestine, get to parts of the small intestine and predominantly the large intestine, actually colonize in the large intestine and then perform beneficial functions to the host, we boiled it down to these endospore-forming bacteria. That is what those bacillus endospores are.
But then when you dig into the research, what you come to find out about these strains is that the soil is not actually their native home. The gut is actually their native home. And they use the soil as a vector to transfer from host to host. There was a study published in 2009 by Hong out of Royal Holloway, London University. And she basically showed that when you look at the native concentration of bacillus endospores in the human gut, it is a magnitude of 2 higher than what you find natively in the soil. So they actually use the soil as a way to get from host to host. But their actual home is in the gut.
So in the soil, they are in this spore form, which means they are metabolically inactive. They basically put this thick protein, calcified coating around themselves so they can exist in this environment outside of the body, which is an environment that would kill most of the bacteria that lived inside the gut. And they can live under irradiation, under desiccation, under things like being in competition with soil organisms and so on. And then when they are swallowed, that same spore-like capsule allows them to survive through the gastric system. And then once they get into the gut, within about 8 minutes, they bust out of this spore-like capsule and become a live functioning probiotic for you in the gut.
So the general term, soil-based organism does not necessarily mean that all of those organisms are going to be functioning in the gut. What is distinctive about the spore base is that they are organisms found within the soil that have the natural capability to survive through the gastric system and have been shown to colonize and live in the gut. So what we did is we wanted to find the more refined population within the soil that actually acts as a probiotic. That is where the spores came from.
Just Thrive Probiotic Strains
DrMR: Gotcha. Now let’s talk about the formula specifically. Actually, let me first ask a question, has there been a slight update to the Just Thrive within the last maybe 3 to 6 months?
KK: No. There shouldn’t have been, no.
DrMR: Okay, I wasn’t aware of the Just Thrive containing the Bacillus indicus until just lately. And when I was on their website looking into it, and perhaps I made an oversight, but I am fairly certain there were just 3 strains until just recently.
KK: Oh no. It has always been 4 strains. There is another product out there with 3 strains. So maybe that is the one you had seen previously. We had always had the 3 strains especially with indicus, because the carotenoid by the indicus is a really important aspect of helping heal that leaky gut. So we have always had it in there. And so we do all our research studies with the presence of the indicus as well.
DrMR: Gotcha. Okay. So do you have 2 different types of probiotics? Or are you referring to a different company’s probiotic altogether?
KK: Yeah, a different company’s probiotic altogether. There are other spore-based probiotics out there, typically with 1 or 2 strains. I have seen another one with 3 strains in it, but none of those have that indicus, that carotenoid-rich probiotic in them. So there are a few out there right now as spores become popular.
DrMR: Gotcha. So I will have to apologize to the audience and I am going to have to go back and update our previous podcast. And perhaps I was looking at a Google image search where the last probiotic strain was cropped out of the image I was looking at. So, to set the record straight then, there are 4 strains in Just Thrive, the Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus cloace, Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus indicus.
And as we discussed, and I am curious to get your thoughts on this also, in one of our last podcasts, the Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus cloace have probably the most studies on them out of all the soil-based strains. Although there are studies on the other strains, it seems like the predominant number of studies have been on B. subtilis and B. cloace. And then there are many strains that are kind of bidding for the third and fourth most studied strains. Any thoughts on that?
KK: Yeah, you are absolutely right. And the reason for that is because both subtilis and cloace have both been prescription drugs since 1952. So Sanofi-Aventis had launched their Bacillus cloace based drug called Enterogermina back in 1952. And it is still on the market today. There are at least a dozen Bacillus subtilis based prescription probiotic drugs in a combination of Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia as well. And so because of all of that heavy use in the pharma industry, those 2 strains have had a lot of studies behind it.
In fact, Bacillus subtilis is one of the most well-studied bacteria in all of microbiology. There are 2 bacteria that are extremely well studied in microbiology. As a microbiologist, one of the first bacteria you get to work with are E. coli and Bacillus subtilis.
KK: So, those 2 strains have had a lot of studies. But what we are trying to do is prove out the synergy with having multi-spores in a single product. So all of our studies are based on this multi-spore formulation.
DrMR: And the indicus, is there something unique about that strain?
KK: Yeah, this is one of the most unique bacteria you will find on the market place. So the way it was discovered, there was a European consortium project called the color spore consortium. It was funded with grant money from the EU. It was, I think, almost 6 million Euros funded. There were 8 different universities involved.
And the whole idea was to find bacteria that lived naturally in the digestive tract of humans and other animals that produce really interesting metabolic compounds. In particular, they were looking at carotenoids. These are colored antioxidants like alpha carotene, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin.
And the way that this idea even came about was that if you look at animals that express a lot of carotenoids on their skin, like salmon is pink. Healthy salmon is very pink and that pink comes from a carotenoid. Shrimp with orange bands around it, that comes from a carotenoid. Flamingoes with the pink feathers comes from carotenoids in the brine shrimp that they eat.
The question always was, you know, these animals don’t consume fruits and vegetables. So where are they are getting their carotenoids at such high levels so that it expresses on the skin? And as it turns out, these animals all have probiotic bacteria in their gut that actually produce such high levels of carotenoids that it actually shows up and can change the color of their skin.
And so they looked for the same kind of probiotic bacteria in humans, because they were doing some studies on bioavailability of carotenoids through the diet and through supplementation and found them to be really low.
And sure enough, they discovered 3 strains within the human digestive tract that actually produce high levels of these antioxidants. And not only are these antioxidants produced and utilized in the intestinal lining, but they are also absorbed into the system and concentrated in the liver and other organs within the body itself. So Bacillus indicus is the first commercial probiotic strain that has been shown to produce high levels of 12 different carotenoids in the gut, which gets absorbed into the system.
DrMR: Gotcha. And just to reiterate something, the B. subtilis and B. coagulans, to make a correction, are the 2 most studied forms. And the B. cloacae is also well studied, but not as much. It just wanted to correct that. I flopped those on the audience. I apologize for my being a little bit off here today.
But the B. subtilis and B. coagulans, as we discussed in our last podcast are probably the most well studied. And then there are a number of other soil-based probiotics that are contenders for your third, fourth and fifth most well studied. And the indicus, that is a very interesting piece on the indicus. And the cloace is also one of the more commonly found soil-based or spore-forming organisms in human stool. Correct?
KK: Yeah, exactly. And all of these strains, the subtilis, coagulans, cloace and indicus, are all native to the microbiome. If you check your average person’s stool, you will find about 10 to the 6th CFUs per gram of stool, so right around 100,000 colony-forming units per gram of stool. So they are a normal part of the human commensal flora. Our biggest problem in the modern age is we have dramatically reduced our exposure to these types of strains because we live in a sterile world and eat a sterile food supply.
Are Probiotics Antibacterial
DrMR: Thank you. Thank you for pointing that out. That is exactly where I was going with that, which is these are not foreign organisms. They are made, most of them anyway, to go through the gut.
KK: Exactly. Right.
DrMR: So one thing that comes up in this conversation is the impact of probiotics to the antibacterial. And I am curious to get your thoughts on that. And I would be inclined to think that there is certainly an antibacterial aspect. I am not inclined, I do think some of the research has clearly shown this, one clinical trial with the ability of soil-based probiotics to combat SIBO as one example and also just a knowledge that soil-based organisms do secrete antimicrobial peptides.
That is the one component I would be curious to get your expansion on. And I am wondering if embedded in with that, you have any thoughts or feelings on the impact on histamine. For the audience, I think there is a lot marketing regarding probiotics around histamine. I will let you kind of weigh in and then I will come back with my thoughts on histamine.
But I would take a deep breath if you read a bunch of stuff on the internet about certain probiotics being special or better before of their impact on histamines specifically. But, Kiran, thoughts on antibacterial and histamine-modulating aspects of either Just Thrive probiotics specifically or the category of soil-base organisms and potentially juxtapose that if you have any thoughts compared to a more traditional probiotic.
KK: Yeah. Those are both really interesting and important questions. On the antimicrobial side, the drugs that have been released using Bacillus subtilis or Bacillus coagulans or cloacae, they have all been released as early as 1952 to treat gut infections specifically. So they have been used as precision antibiotics to treat overgrowth of certain types of bacteria within the gut.
In fact, the story behind how the first one was discovered is actually quite interesting. And this was discovered by the German army in World War II. When they were in North Africa, the soldiers within the German army were actually dying more of dysentery than the actual battles. And one of the things that was observed was that when the locals would get sick, especially sick to the gut, they would actually consume dried camel dung as a medicine to alleviate the gut infection and the diarrhea.
So then, they took a bunch of camel dung back and they researched it. And they basically found Bacillus subtilis in really high concentrations. And they showed that the Bacillus subtilis had the ability to inhibit the growth and kill off dysentery-causing bacteria. And so that is when they launched the very first drug to fight dysentery using Bacillus subtilis.
DrMR: That is going to be a tough sell for the first few people online.
KK: Exactly. Yes. I know you are sick, but just eat some camel dung. But somebody was brave enough to do it. And we are all thankful for it.
But the 4 strains that are in Thrive, the combination of them, they can produce up to 25 different antibiotics in the gut to kill off bad bacteria. And they use a specialized mechanism called quorum sensing, where bacteria read one another’s signature. And because of this quorum sensing, they have the capability of finding overgrown or pathogenic organisms, sit next to them and actually produce the antibiotics to kill them off.
Now here is what is really interesting, and I alluded to his as a paper we are submitting for publication this year, not only are they killing off bad bacteria, but we are going to be publishing a paper showing that they also produce compounds to grow a significant amount of our good commensal organisms. So one of the ways you measure that is through the Simpson diversity score in the microbiome. And then we all know through microbiome research that the one thing that holds true is the diversity in the microbiome is really important.
And what we were able to show was when you add these 4 strains into a microbiome, it dramatically increases the diversity in the microbiome. In particular it increases certain classes of bacteria like Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, which we know is a really important microbe that protects against Crohn’s and IBD, akkermansia muciniphila, which we know is a very important microbe that protects against metabolic disease and weight issues. Also, it helps regrow bifidobacteria and numerous other species of bacteria that are critical to the microbiome.
So these guys are going in there. Not only do they have the capability of killing off bad bacteria. But they seem to be regrowing the good bacteria as well.
DrMR: That is a fantastic point. Just one thing I want to add in there, and I am so glad you made that point. This is something I discuss in my book also, which is the concept that something that is antibacterial may actually have an overall favorable effect on the entire microbiotic community, because sometimes you have to get rid of the players that are causing a pro-inflammatory environment that is killing off the other good bacteria. So sometimes, ironically, an antibacterial treatment of some sort can actually lead to a healthier and even more diverse microbiota in subsequent fashion to that stimulus.
KK: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, in some ways it can help level the playing field for some of the low performing bacteria. And we are seeing that. So we are publishing that study, which will be exciting.
On the histamine thing, it is a really interesting discussion, the histamine. One of the things we know is that certain fermented foods do have levels of histamine. There are certainly certain bacteria, certain genres of lactobacillus that produce higher amounts of histamine during the fermentation process. Histamine is a very common and important compound that bacteria use to communicate with one another. One of the things we do see is that the spores do produce much lowers level of histamine. How that affects an individual is still a little bit up in the air.
KK: Right? The whole thing of histamine intolerance and dietary sources of histamine and how that impacts someone’s immune response, we still don’t know. Right? Histamine is a compound that is actively produced by the microbiome in relatively large amounts to communicate with the intestinal epithelial cells to propagate an immune response against bad bacteria, viruses and so on.
The other thing that is produced is indole as well. So histamine and indole kind of go hand in hand. But I think people are very quick to jump on this histamine intolerance and this is bad and that is good. But I think we just don’t know enough about it yet.
DrMR: Yeah, and I want to echo your statement again. And I will provide for the audience what I tell my patients, because invariably someone is going to come in having had read, “Oh this and that strain of probiotic are better because they don’t produce any histamine.” And my comment, very much akin to yours, is there is more to how your net impact in your biological system of human being will be from a probiotic than just if it secretes or does not secrete histamine.
DrMR: And as an example, it depends on what type of immunomodulatory impact that probiotic has on someone’s gut and immune system. Additionally, it has to do with likely–I don’t think we have any of these answers pinned down–but I think we will discover these things to be at least in part true. Also, we know that the colonization or potentially the overgrowth of certain bacteria, and some evidence suggests this with SIBO, may lead to a higher histamine environment.
So, if a probiotic that produces histamine is also having a very strong antibacterial effect and an immunomodulatory effect, then yes, even though that probiotic is producing some histamine, you may see a net anti-histamine effect. So I would just caution people not to get too wrapped up in the details here and just take a big step back, run some experimentation on yourself and go with what subjectively makes you feel better. And then use that as your main barometer.
KK: Yeah, absolutely. And because a strain will produce histamine in the lab, it does not mean it is going to do that in your gut either, because the metabolic response of the bacteria is highly dependent on the environment that it is in. And it doesn’t mean that once it is in your gut it is going to do that. And again, histamine is a really potent signaling molecule to your own immune system, which can then help fight against chronic infections. So it is not necessarily bad.
So, yeah, that is the internet making quick jumps to conclusions, to always say this is bad and this is good and this is good and this is bad. That is an unfortunate thing.
DrMR: Yeah, there is a quick knee-jerk to the dichotomy and the nuance is often overlooked. But that is why we are having this conversation right now, is to help people navigate that. And it is understandable that if you are not feeling well and you have brain fog and you read that histamine can cause brain fog, it is a logical series of conclusions to come to and connections to make.
DrMR: We want to provide people with the nuance, so that they don’t spend a bunch of money on a probiotic that may be more expensive just because it is low histamine, when a more standard probiotic may suffice.
DrMR: As we move to a close, are there any final thoughts that you would like to leave people with?
KK: Yeah. You know when we were looking at functions of the probiotic, when we were looking to do our clinical plan, we were debating what to study. And then a lot of probiotic companies would study things like gas and bloating and regularity and so on. And those are all very important symptoms to deal with and issues.
But what we wanted to look at is something that we think is the most important role of a probiotic. And that is to protect the host and to protect the host from things that we do inevitably every day that have a long term impact on our health outcomes. And so that is why we focus on the leaky gut.
We know that hyperpermeability in the intestines and the migration of that endotoxin, LPS, from the lumen of the gut into the circulatory system plays a significant role in the vast majority of chronic illnesses. So we simplified our clinical plan to say, “Okay, can we find a probiotic combination that stops that leaky gut, that stops the migration of endotoxins from the lumen of the intestine into the circulatory system?” So that is what we were able to prove with our publication last year. And we are expounding on that.
So what is so fascinating to me about the spores is they have this really unique protective capability within the gut. And the elegance of biology and nature is that we didn’t have to do anything to these strains. We didn’t engineer them. We didn’t add special encapsulation or any of that stuff. They are just designed by nature to be able to do this and put out there on earth for us. We just have to be smart enough to consume them.
And fortunately for us, our ancestors were smart enough to eat dirt. It speaks to the elegance and beauty of biology and nature that these protective organisms have already been created for us. And we were just fortunate enough to find them and start studying them. So a lot of exciting stuff coming up with the spores and I think it will give us plenty of things to talk about in the future.
DrMR: Absolutely. And I really appreciate the work that you are doing. And I think you are currently taking such an important next step after the leaky gut study, which is tying it to a number of human outcomes. And I am very, very curious to see what comes back. So please do keep me posted. And once a few of these studies are published, if you want to come back on the show and discuss some of the highlights from the findings, I would be more than happy to have you come back on.
KK: Yeah, I would love to do that. Thank you for that.
DrMR: Awesome. Well thank you again for taking the time. This has been a very insightful conversation.
KK: Thank you.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
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