A’probiotic’ is a live bacterial dietary supplement which provides benefits to the human host by improving microbial balance in the digestive tract.  There has been extensive research in recent times on the function of our naturally occurring intestinal microflora and the use of probiotics in a wide range of conditions. This research has continued to enlighten us on the role that bacteria play in the healthy functioning of our bodies.  It has been found that there are many conditions which are associated with a disruption of the natural balance of our intestinal bugs and has demonstrated effective use of probiotics to reduce symptoms and improve health.

Did you know that, according to the National Institute of Health, of all the cells making up your body, only about 10% of them are actually of human origin? The rest are a colourful array of our microscopic friends! Our beneficial bacteria are crucial to human survival and as you can imagine these highly influential little critters can create significant disturbances if not kept in the right balance.

What causes disruption to this delicate balance of intestinal microbes?

  • Stress
  • Poor food choices
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Medications
  • Overuse of soaps and anti-bacterial gels
  • Constipation,

So what exactly are the functions of a healthy microflora?

  • They regulate the pH of the gut and the skin
  • They are involved in regulating the immune system
  • They synthesise vitamins
  • They assist with crowding out potentially pathogenic bacteria, preventing infection
  • They help to reduce inflammation
  • They have some anticancer properties

What conditions or symptoms might they be able to assist with?

  • General bloating and digestive discomfort
  • Diarrhoea, including traveller’s diarrhoea and diarrhoea caused by anti-biotic treatment
  • Constipation
  • Reflux & indigestion
  • Recurrent infections or low immunity
  • Prevention and treatment of eczema
  • Irritable Bowel syndrome
  • Cancer prevention
  • High Cholesterol
  • Auto-immune conditions
  • Allergies

Does the strain of bacteria matter?

The short answer to this question is yes!  There are many different species and strains of bacteria and as research continues, it is becoming more and more apparent that the strain of the bug, not only the species, matters.  The species of bacteria is like a family with each family member being a different strain.  Each member of a family are closely related and similar in many ways yet each individual exhibits their own unique characteristics.  So it is with strains of probiotics.  One strain may be useful in one area while having no effect in another.  It’s for this reason that choosing the right probiotic food or supplement is important if wanting to elicit a specific therapeutic effect.


Disclaimer: This information is provided for general interest and education only. It is not designed to replace the advice of your doctor or natural therapist. Herbal and nutritional medicines should be prescribed by a health professional trained in these fields to ensure they are both safe and beneficial.