Your Guide to Bacillus Subtilis Benefits for the Gut and Beyond

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Your Guide to Bacillus Subtilis Benefits for the Gut and Beyond

Soil-Based Probiotics Provide a Unique Role in Our Well-Being

Key Takeaways:

  • Soil-based probiotics (including Bacillus subtilis) are stand-out strains for gut health, particularly in treating IBS.
  • Bacillus subtilis benefits include improved digestive health and IBS symptoms, immune system function, and lipid metabolism.
  • The beneficial effects of soil-based probiotics are not restricted to the digestive tract.
  • Bacillus subtilis and other soil-based probiotics are safe (in spite of some controversy).

While the popularity of soil-based probiotics like Bacillus subtilis is relatively new, the increasing amount of research on their beneficial health properties is promising. These powerful probiotic bacteria have demonstrated their ability to significantly improve digestive health, and they even have a role in preventative healthcare with their ability to lower lipid levels and improve immune response.

Traditionally used as preservatives, this unique category of probiotics gets its name from the fact that these beneficial, spore-forming bacteria are naturally found in our soil and water supply. However, as our modern lifestyles come with a side effect of decreased interaction with our soil and environment, our natural exposure to these beneficial bacteria is greatly reduced. 

Fortunately, soil-based probiotics are now widely available in supplement form so we can experience their numerous health benefits.

Bacillus Subtilis benefits: hands holding a tiny plant in soil

B. Subtilis and Gut Health Benefits: How Soil-Based Probiotics Can Help

The Bacillus family contains many important probiotic species, including bacillus coagulans, bacillus subtilis, and bacillus clausii — all of which show significant success in reducing digestive complaints. Bacillus subtilis in particular has been shown to help reduce symptoms of IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders, restore microbial balance in the gut, and reduce inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract. 

Historically, Bacillus species have been used for their antimicrobial effects and in the fermentation of foods. More recently, they’ve been used for many types of GI ailments, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), while healing underlying inflammation and disturbance in the gut microbiota. 

These mighty microbes have many gastrointestinal health benefits, primarily in their ability to combat the symptoms of IBS and other gut health conditions. Research shows that they can:

  • Improve symptoms of indigestion [1]
  • Reduce excessive belching [2]
  • Reduce gas and bloating [3]
  • Maintain the remission of symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [4]
  • Improve gut bacteria balance and relieve symptoms of SIBO [5]
  • Help fight infections including C. difficile and H. pylori [6, 7]
  • Prevent relapse in acid reflux symptoms [8]
  • Relieve generalized abdominal pain [9]
  • Help prepare for a colonoscopy and decrease related side effects [10]
  • Produce gut-healthy postbiotics and metabolites, such as butyrate [11]

Bacillus Subtilis and IBS

Hands holding a stomach in pain

Research shows that Bacillus subtilis benefits, and those of other soil-based bacteria, include lessening the difficult symptoms of gut issues, especially IBS.

While Bacillus coagulans is the most strongly researched strain when it comes to helping with IBS symptoms, other Bacillus species like B. subtiliis have also been shown to help. 

Studies show that soil-based probiotics significantly improve IBS symptoms including [12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]:

  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Urgency
  • Diarrhea 

Perhaps even more importantly, patients diagnosed with IBS reported an increase in their quality of life, less worry over their health concerns, and even improvement in their anxiety and depression after using soil-based probiotics [12, 18, 19].

Soil-based bacteria may be even more effective in reducing IBS-related symptoms when implemented as adjunctive therapy, meaning when they are used with other treatments. 

They demonstrate success in treating IBS when used alongside a low FODMAP diet [20] and when combined with medications designed to reduce bloating and abdominal pain, such as simethicone [21]. Whether used concurrently or as a stand-alone therapy, we’ve seen impressive research supporting the benefits of soil-based bacteria in treating IBS.

The gut benefits of Bacillus probiotics aren’t limited to those diagnosed with IBS. Clinical studies show that B. coagulans effectively reduces the severity of chronic constipation (with or without IBS). Along with increasing the speed and number of bowel movements, it reduces the discomfort that is commonly experienced by those struggling with constipation [22, 23, 24].

Other members of the Bacillus family, including Bacillus clausii and Bacillus subtilis strains, can help with loose stools, like those seen in chronic diarrhea and antibiotic-associated diarrhea [25, 26, 27, 28]. Soil-based probiotic supplements have even been shown to protect against other side effects that are commonly experienced with antibiotic use, such as nausea, abdominal pain, and gut dysbiosis [28, 29].

How Soil-Based Probiotics Help Heal the Gut

How do soil-based probiotics like Bacillus subtilis help to improve so many symptoms and conditions? Soil-based probiotics can help to balance the gut microbiome, reduce inflammation, and heal the intestinal lining [30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35].

Soil-based probiotics help to balance gut bacteria. Soil-based microorganisms can successfully help fight the effects of certain bad bacteria in the GI tract, such as C. difficile infection [6] and H. pylori — especially when used alongside conventional antibiotic therapy [7]. Their capability in combating these pathogens, along with their ability to colonize the GI tract, helps them to effectively restore the natural microbiome in the digestive tract [30, 31, 32].

Their ability to help reestablish gut microflora is probably a factor in why they are so helpful when used alongside other therapies for relieving small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) symptoms [5].

Bacillus subtilis helps to reduce intestinal inflammation and heal “leaky gut”. When our digestive mucosa becomes unhealthy and inflamed, it causes the cells lining our gut to separate from each other, creating a disruption in our digestive barrier. This allows for food particles and toxins to enter into the bloodstream, creating a condition called “leaky-gut syndrome.” Research on Bacillus subtilis benefits shows  that they lower intestinal inflammation, heal the mucosal lining, and improve barrier function. This results in reduced blood levels of toxins that are a hallmark of leaky-gut syndrome [30, 33, 34, 35]. 

The powerful ability of these tiny microbes to heal the gut lining and restore the normal microbiome can significantly improve digestive health. Because they can help heal the gut, soil-based bacteria can improve digestion and nutrient-absorption, particularly when consuming dietary carbohydrates [36].

Bacillus probiotics can survive through digestion. The distinct spore-forming nature of Bacillus probiotics helps them resist destructive digestive processes, so that they pass into the digestive tract unharmed [30]. Additionally, their unique structure makes them shelf-stable, meaning that they do not require refrigeration.

Additional Bacillus Subtilis Benefits

Bacillus subtilis benefits extend beyond the gut, and may have a positive effect on our immune function. Supplementing with B. subtilis can even reduce the number of sick days that we need to take during the winter months [30, 37, 38].

One study also showed the pain relieving-effect of Bacillus subtilis in patients. It effectively reduced the symptoms of neck and shoulder tension and considerably improved headache scores [39]. It is important to note that, while the effects were significant among the participants, the results did not stand out when compared to placebo.

Additionally, we can see that Bacillus subtilis benefits include reducing cholesterol levels and improving blood vessel tone [40].

Along with its ability to increase beneficial bile-acids that have lipid-lowering effects, these findings indicate that B. subtilis may have a unique protective effect against cardiovascular disease [40]. However, more clinical research is needed to explore all of the potential heart-healthy effects of B. subtilis.

Bacillus subtilis benefits: white capsules on a table

Do Other Soil-Based Bacteria Provide Benefits Outside of the Gut?

Other soil-based probiotics also appear to offer health benefits beyond the digestive tract. They have a particularly beneficial effect on our immune systems and can help prevent chronic sinusitis relapse and decrease the symptoms of seasonal allergies [41, 42].

There is additional, but limited, evidence that these beneficial bacteria may also improve the following:

  • Depression and anxiety [12, 43]
  • Headaches [39]
  • Triglyceride levels [44]
  • Muscle pain and stiffness [39]
  • Acute pancreatitis [45]
  • Fatty-liver disease/NAFLD [46]
  • Asthma [47, 48]

Are There Any Safety Concerns with Using Bacillus or Other Soil-Based Probiotics? 

Research demonstrates that the use of soil-based probiotics is safe, despite some controversy. The safety concerns that some people have appear to arise from the fact that certain species of soil-based bacteria, such as Bacillus anthracis (the organism responsible for anthrax), are dangerous to humans [30].

Other strains of Bacillus may also be potentially harmful for human health. However, the pathogenic strains aren’t the ones used in probiotics

Research supports that soil-based probiotics are considered safe [49], but it is always important to purchase your soil-based probiotic from a reputable vendor. Take a  look at the bottle label to make sure the probiotic strains are listed, along with the number of Colony-Forming Units (CFUs). The bottle should have a Good Manufacturing Practices Certification sticker, and also have its ingredients verified by an independent lab (third-party testing).

How Should I Use Soil-Based Probiotics?

Soil-based probiotics have certainly attracted our attention due to their incredible ability to support digestive health. You can use them alongside dietary changes and even other types of probiotics for maximum benefit. 

At our clinic, we’ve seen the most success when patients follow the Probiotic Triple Therapy Protocol, which utilizes each of the three categories of probiotics. Soil-based bacteria, like Bacillus spp., are used alongside two other categories of probiotics — Bifidobacterium and/or Lactobacillus probiotics, and the beneficial fungus, Saccharomyces boulardii.

If you have a particularly sensitive gut, you may find that you need to add soil-based probiotics into your routine more gradually, working your way up to the recommended dose over time.

The Bottom Line on Bacillus Subtilis Benefits

The numerous Bacillus subtilis benefits can help you achieve a better quality of life. While soil-based probiotic strains primarily stand out due to their exceptional gut health benefits, the scope of these good bacteria extends to many common health problems. With their good safety profile and research-backed benefits, high quality soil-based bacteria seem like a smart supplement to take in.

If your probiotic contains B. subtilis, you are likely receiving great health benefits. But, if your bottle label reads with other Bacillus strains instead, such as Bacillus coagulans, you can still receive the beneficial effects of these soil-based probiotics.

For more information on B. subtilis benefits and how other soil-based organisms and probiotics can improve your life, check out my book Healthy Gut, Healthy You. You can also reach out to become a patient at the Ruscio Institute for Functional Health.

The Ruscio Institute has developed a range of high quality formulations, including soil-based probiotics, to help our patients and audience. If you’re interested in learning more about our soil-based probiotics, please click here: Note that there are many other options available, and we encourage you to research which products may be right for you.

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