06/26/14: Condition-specific probiotics made simple

Condition-specific probiotics made simple

By Kelly C. Heim, Ph.D.

Approximately 100 trillion bacteria naturally inhabit the human body, comprising 1-2% of the body mass of an adult. In a five-year federal endeavor, the Human Microbiome Project, which is comparable in magnitude to the Human Genome Project, 200 scientists at 80 institutions have sequenced the genes of endogenous bacteria from nearly 250 healthy people. They discovered that each person harbors an enormously diverse consortium of as many as 1,000 different bacterial strains.

This elaborate microbial population is essential for life, with physiological roles ranging from digestion to neurotransmission. Local effects in the G.I. tract include breaking down food, maintaining gut health and sustaining immune defenses. Systemic effects can extend to heart health, urinary tract health, liver detoxification, metabolic homeostasis, and emotional wellness.1-4

The term microbiome refers to the collective genome of the body’s total microbial population. The total number of their genes, which exceeds the human genome by a factor of 200, can change in function and composition in response to dietary factors. These changes can occur rapidly, within hours or days.5 Although scientists have only begun to decode the diet-microbiome interface, it is well-known that significant compositional shifts are attainable through probiotic supplementation.6 Since different strains produce unique effects, selecting clinically researched formulations is imperative for condition-specific applications.1

One of the most extensively studied probiotic cultures in the world is an acid-tolerant, four-strain blend comprised of Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCIMB 30157), Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCIMB 30156), Bifidobacterium bifidum (NCIMB 30153) and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis (formerly Bifidobacterium lactis) (NCIMB 30172). Over the last 15 years, published research on this unique combination has validated positive effects on gut microbial composition and associated clinical outcomes.7-10

In two double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, 30 and 162 subjects requiring antibiotics were randomized to receive either 25 billion CFU of the 4-strain blend or placebo. In both studies, the probiotic modulated antibiotic-associated changes in intestinal microbial composition within 1-5 weeks.7,8 In a double-blind trial, 138 elderly individuals taking antibiotics were randomized to receive either 25 billion CFU of the blend or placebo. Stool sampling and bowel habit records indicated healthy alterations in intestinal microbial composition and concomitant attenuation of occasional diarrhea.9

In a subsequent clinical trial, 52 participants were randomized to receive 25 billion CFU of the same probiotic blend or placebo over an 8-week period. Over the course of the study, measurement of functional gastrointestinal parameters revealed significant and progressive support for abdominal comfort, bowel function and associated quality of life. These effects diminished within two weeks following discontinuation of the supplement (Figure 1).10

Figure 1. In a human clinical trial, improvements in G.I. comfort (left) and quality of life (right) were statistically significant after 6 and 8 weeks, respectively.  These effects diminished upon discontinuation at 8 weeks.

Condition-specific formulation: The co-ingredient dilemma

It is both practical and prudent to implement multiple approaches for a specific condition. However, within a single formulation, the presence of botanicals, prebiotics, amino acids, and other ingredients can be lethal to neighboring probiotic cells. This is due to high water activity, a type of moisture that typifies most nutritional compounds. High water activity reduces probiotic viability because it terminates the metabolic dormancy that probiotics need to survive outside of the body.11

An innovative manufacturing technology has recently surmounted this obstacle. Through an advanced freeze-drying process, moisture in probiotic powder is removed, rendering a resilient material that accommodates a wide range of co-ingredients and their previously prohibitive moisture specifications. This method is applied in the formulation of the PureBi•Ome™ product line, which combines the clinically researched potency of the 4-strain probiotic blend with functionally cooperative ingredients for powerful condition-specific support (Table 1).

Table 1
Table 1. PureBi·Ome™ products are research-driven, condition-specific probiotics delivering the clinically researched PureBi·Ome™ probiotic blend with potent bioactives in highly stable, practical and reliable formulations.  

These innovations are part of Pure Encapsulations’ PureBi•Ome™ probiotic line, which encompasses critical aspects of science-driven probiotic formulation and quality assurance.


  1. Heim KC, Gustafson C. Kelly C. Heim, Ph.D.: Effects of the gut microbiome on cardiovascular health. Altern Ther Health Med (2014) Winter; 20 Suppl 1:62-64.
  2. Messaoudi M, Violle N, Bisson JF, et al. Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers. Gut Microbes (2011) 2(4):256-261.
  3. Grin PM, Kowalewska PM, Alhazzan W, Fox-Robichaud AE. Lactobacillus for preventing recurrent urinary tract infections in women: meta-analysis. Can J Urol (2013) 20(1):6607-6614.
  4. Sharma V, Garg S, Aggarwal S. Probiotics and liver disease. Perm J (2013) 17(4):62-67.
  5. David LA, Maurice CF, Carmody RN, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature (2014) 505(7484):559-563.
  6. Petschow B, Doré J, Hibberd P, et al. Probiotics, prebiotics, and the host microbiome: the science of translation. Ann N Y Acad Sci (2013) 1306:1-17.
  7. Madden JA, Plummer SF, Tang J, et al. Effect of probiotics on preventing disruption of the intestinal microflora following antibiotic therapy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Int Immunopharmacol (2005) 5(6):1091-1097.
  8. Plummer SF, Garaiova I, Sarvotham T, et al. Effects of probiotics on the composition of the intestinal microbiota following antibiotic therapy. Int J Antimicrob Agents (2005) 26(1):69-74.
  9. Plummer S, Weaver MA, Harris JC, et al. Clostridium difficile pilot study: effects of probiotic supplementation on the incidence of C. difficile diarrhea. Int Microbiol (2004) 7(1):59-62.
  10. Williams EA, Stimpson J, Wang D, et al. Clinical trial: a multistrain probiotic preparation significantly reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther (2009) 29(1):97-103.
  11. Vesterlund S, Salminen K, Salminen S. Water activity in dry foods containing live probiotic bacteria should be carefully considered: a case study with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG in flaxseed. Int J Food Microbiol (2012) 157(2):319-321.
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