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Probiotics – Exploring Species and Strains

UnknownAn understanding of the different probiotic strains can maximise the therapeutic effect of your probiotic supplement.

We all know how good supplementing with probiotics is in reducing the impact of  irritable bowel syndrome, poor immunity and antibiotic damage.

But what are those names and numbers on the bottle and what exactly do they do?

Probiotics vary according to genus (e.g. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium), species (e.g. acidophilus, bifudum, lactis, breve, rhamnosus) and strain (e.g. NCFM, GG, Bi-07).

This article looks at the most widely used species and strains of probiotics and outlines why companies put varying species and strains in differing probiotic supplements.

Each individual probiotic has been found to have varying actions in the gut so it is important that the right probiotic is prescribed according to the condition to ensure optimal therapeutic activity.

One size most definitely does not fit all!



Bifidobacterium animalis lactis BB-12 

B. animalis lactis inhabit the intestines and the colon in great numbers. Their job is to primarily break down body waste and the absorption of various vitamins and minerals.

  • Support intestinal health.
  • Improve digestive conditions including general digestive discomfort, decreased intestinal permeability and lactose intolerance.
  • Enhance immunity via increasing T-cell activity as needed, reducing the frequency and severity of respiratory diseases and inhibit Helicobacter pylori (a primary cause of stomach ulcers) .
  • Reduce allergies and inflammation by decreasing atopic dermatitis symptoms and sensitivity.
  • Improve  blood glucose control.
  • Improve cholesterol by decreasing total cholesterol and  increasing HDL-cholesterol.


B. animalis lactis can be found in: MediHerb Probiotica


Bifidobacterium bifidum

B. Bifidum is the most common probiotic bacteria in our body. The probiotic is found in the colon, the lower small intestine and in breast milk. It is often found in healthy vaginas.

  • Digestive support.
  • Establish initial infant microflora.
  • Increase immunity function.
  • Fight yeast overgrowths including Candida.
  • Fight Escherichia coli (E. coli) infections, often a cause of food poisoning.
  • Treat acute diarrhoea.

Bifidobacterium bifidum can be found in: BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Joint Relief, BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Pregnancy CareBioCeuticals SymbiotiqueBioCeuticals ProbioZymeBioCeuticals BabyBiotic 0+yrsBioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45 and BioCeuticals UltraBiotic IBS.

Bifidobacterium breve

  • Useful in helping very low birth weight premature babies survive.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Protect the gut mucosal layers.
  • Provide temporary symptomatic relief of medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • May provide temporary relief of diarrhoea.
  • Immune support.

Bifidobacterium breve can be found in: BioCeuticals BabyBiotic 0+yrs BioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45


Bifidobacterium lactis

Bifidobacterium lactis is a very powerful transient probiotic bacteria that inhabit the intestines and the colon in great numbers. Generally, their job is to break down body waste and assists in  the absorption of various vitamins and minerals. It is also known as B. animalis. 

  • Enhance immunity.
  • Fight tumor growth.
  • Improve digestion.
  • Lower cholesterol.

Bifidobacterium lactis can be found in: BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Factors for Juniors, Nutrition Care Polybac 8Immune Enhancing ProbioticBioCeuticals UltraBiotic Pregnancy CareBioCeuticals ProbioZymeBioCeuticals BabyBiotic 0+yrsBioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45BioCeuticals UltraBiotic IBS,


Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 


Travellers Diarrhoea

  • B. lactis (Bi-07) as bifidobacteria may be decreased in travellers diarrhoea. Supplementing with this strain may help to reduce the incidence or severity of travellers diarrhoea.

Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 can be found in: a High Potency Probiotic PowderHigh Potency Dairy Free Probiotic CapsulesHigh Potency Probiotic Capsules with ColostrumFlora Care for KidsSB Dysbiosis,


Bifidobacterium longum

B. longum is found naturally in the gut and vagina. It works by fermenting sugars into lactic acid thereby lowering pH levels in the intestine.

  • Maintain a normal digestive tract.
  • Inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Boost the immune system.
  • Has been shown to prevent diarrhoea in antibiotic treated patients.
  • Reduce cholesterol.
  • Alleviate lactose intolerance symptoms.


Bifidobacterium longum can be found in Nutrition Care SynbacNutrition Care Polybac 8Nutrition Care Lactobac, BioCeuticals Symbiotique




Lactobacillus acidophilus is vital to human health and is the most researched of the probiotics. It can be found in the gut, mouth and vagina.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

  • Provide temporary symptomatic relief of medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • May provide temporary relief of diarrhoea.
  • Digestive support.
  • Assist in the treatment of leaky gut.
  • Reduce lactose intolerance.
  • Increase absorption of calcium and B vitamins.
  • Improve appetite.
  • Immune support.
  • Urogenital support.
  • Help balance the pH of upper intestinal track.

Lactobacillus acidophilus can be found in:  BioCeuticals ProdophilusBioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Factors for JuniorsBioCeuticals UltraBiotic Joint ReliefBioCeuticals UltraBiotic IBSNutrition Care SynbacNutrition Care Polybac 8BioCeuticals ProbioZyme


Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM

NCFM strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus  is acid and bile resistant and therefore has the ability to survive digestion.

Immune Response

  • The NCFM strain appears to improve immune function by balancing dendritic (messenger) cell and T helper cell function. NCFM also appears to increase serum IgA which  indicates support of the humoral immune system. IgA represents a key first line of defence against invasion by inhaled and ingested pathogens at the mucosal surface.


Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM can be found in: High Potency Dairy Free Probiotic Capsules, Flora Care for Kids,  Immune Enhancing ProbioticHigh Potency Probiotic Powder


Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5

  • Support intestinal health.

Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5 can be found in  MediHerb Probiotica


Lactobacillus casei

  • Digestive support.
  • Immune support.
  • Reduce the impact of IBS symptoms.
  • Inhibit overgrowth of H.pylori and resulting ulcers. 
  • Reduce allergy symptoms.
  • Decrease the risk of cirrhosis.
  • Reduce lower respiratory infections.
  • Inhibit candida overgrowth.
  • Increase (good) HDL-cholesterol decrease triglycerides.

Lactobacillus casei can be found in:   BioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45Nutrition Care Polybac 8


Lactobacillus fermentum

  • L. fermentum is clinically demonstrated to assist in the maintenance of healthy urogenital flora.

Lactobacillus fermentum can be found in:   BioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Pregnancy CareBioCeuticals BabyBiotic 0+yrs


Lactobacillus gasseri BNR 17

Lactobacillus gasseri BNR17 is isolated from human breast milk.

  • Lactobacillus gasseri BNR17  appears to be quite effective with weight loss as it reduces weight and waist and hip circumference as well as reducing belly fat, inhibiting fat production and speeding up metabolism.

Lactobacillus gasseri BNR 17 can be found in:    BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Factors for JuniorsBioCeuticals UltraBiotic Pregnancy Care


Lactobacillus plantarum

  • Provide temporary symptomatic relief of medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Digestive support.
  • Immune support.

Lactobacillus plantarum can be found in:   IBS probiotic BioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Pregnancy CareNutrition Care SynbacNutrition Care Polybac 8


Lactobacillus plantarum 299v

IBS symptoms

  • In people with IBS L. plantarum 299v has been shown to improve frequency of stool movements and resolving abdominal pain. Overall symptoms of IBS are also shown to improve.
  • Reduction in frequency of abdominal bloating and pain.
  • Reduction in frequency of bowel movements.


Defective mucosal intolerance and inflammation

Disruption of the intestinal barrier via conditions such as IBS can lead to inappropriate inflammatory responses.  L. plantarum 299v can be used in the following ways:

  • To provide an effect on barrier function by decreasing permeability of the gut wall.
  • Provide competitive adherence to the mucosa and epithelium of the gut wall.


Cardiovascular Health

  • L. plantarum 299v may help to maintain a normal, healthy cardiovascular system by causing  significant changes in leptin (fullness hormone) and fibrinogen (the protein that helps stop bleeding).
  • L. plantarum 299v appears to work on the cardiovascular system by producing large quantities of propionic acid to exert anti-inflammatory action, modulating NF – kappa B and reducing the production of inflammatory cytokines.

Lactobacillus plantarum 299v can be found in:   BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Urinary Care



Lactobacillus rhamnosus

  • Clinically demonstrated to assist in the maintenance of healthy urogenital flora.
  • Immune support

Lactobacillus rhamnosus can be found in:   BioCeuticals SymbiotiqueNutrition Care LactobacBioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Factors for JuniorsBioCeuticals UltraBiotic Pregnancy CareNutrition Care Polybac 8BioCeuticals BabyBiotic 0+yrs


Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG)

LGG was patented in 1985 and has been shown to have extremely good intestinal wall adhesion therefore reducing permeability.

Diarrhoea in Children and Adults

  • Studies involving children aged up to 36 months show that the use of LGG in the treatment of acute diarrhoea, by significantly reducing the duration of diarrhoea.
  • LGG has also been shown to relieve, reduce the incidence of and treat diarrhoea in adults.


Eczema in babies and young children

  • Trials have shown that expectant mothers supplementing with LGG have reduced the incidence of eczema and allergies in high risk infants. Additionally taking LGG post-natally (via breast milk or straight into the child by water) reduces the frequency or severity of atopic eczema and allergies.
  • It is believed LGG works by transforming anti-inflammatory growth factor (TGF-B2) in breast milk as TGF-B2 is a key immuno-regulatory anti-inflammatory factor that inhibits IgE synthesis. IgE is an antibody (immunoglobulin) that is made in overly large amounts in those with atopic eczema who have an increased sensitivity.
  • LGG has been shown to reduce eczema symptoms such as itching and sleeplessness.


Food Allergies

  • LGG can improve the digestive symptoms associated with food allergies by enhancing internal barrier mechanisms and alleviating intestinal inflammation.


Antibiotic Damage

  • If children have been taking antibiotics LGG can help in maintaing normal healthy bowel flora levels as well as reducing the incidence and duration of antibiotic associated diarrhoea.


Diabetes and Insulin Sensitivity

  • LGG can increase and improve glucose control.


Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) can be found in: LGGHigh Potency Probiotic PowderFlora Care for KidsHigh Potency Probiotic Capsules with Colostrum


Lactobacillus salivarius

L. salivarius is an especially tough probiotic strain that lives in the vagina, mouth, small intestines and the colon.

L. salivarius excretes lactic acid allowing it to:

  • Kill pathogenic bacteria quickly.
  • Inhibit candida.
  • Reduce cavities and gingivitis.
  • Help prevent strep throat caused by S. pyogenies.
  • Reduce mastitis.
  • Reduce ulcerative colitis.
  • Reduce IBS.
  • Inhibit pathogenic bacteria: E. coli & Salmonella species.

Lactobacillus salivarius can be found in: BioCeuticals UltraBiotic Pregnancy CareNutrition Care Polybac 8


Other Common Probiotics

Streptococcus thermophilus 

S. thermophilus is found in very large numbers in the colon.

Researched benefits have shown Streptococcus thermophilus:

  • May provide temporary relief of diarrhoea.
  • Digestive support.
  • Immune support.
  • Reduce antibiotic associated diarrhoea.
  • Decrease ulcerative colitis symptoms.
  • Decrease leaky gut symptoms.
  • Improve lactose digestion.
  • Decrease IBS symptoms.
  • Prevent and fight upper respiratory infections (eg. pneumonia).
  • Prevent ulcers caused by H. pylori.
  • Fight Clostridium difficile – a cause of infectious diarrhoea.
  • Improve non-breast-fed infant probiotic flora.
  • Reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
  • Decrease chance of kidney stones.
  • Increase HDL (good cholesterol).
  • Increase anti-tumor activity.
  • Decrease the symptoms associated with baby colic.

Streptococcus thermophilus  can be found in: BioCeuticals UltraBiotic 45, Nutrition Care Polybac 8 


Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii)

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii) is a form of yeast but is still considered a probiotic. 


  • Trials have indicated that the activity of  Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii) as being effective in the management of dysbiosis by reducing the symptoms of dysbiosis such as diarrhoea and constipation. It is believed that by maintaining healthy mucosal bacterial populations helps to restore normal gut function and healthy gut flora in the mucosa.
  • S. boulardii has been shown to increase short chain fatty acids which favour normal colonic function.

Travellers Diarrhoea

  • 10 billion CFU of S. boulardii per day has been shown to reduce the incidence of travellers diarrhoea.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii) can be found in: BioCeuticals SB FlorActivBioCeuticals Lactoferrin plus SBNutrition Care Synbac, Travellers Diarrhoea probiotic


Probiotic Combinations

Some combinations of probiotics have been shown to be more effective than a single probiotic. NCFM and Bi-07 together improves immunity in children by reducing the incidence and number of sick days as well as reducing the use of antibiotics and days missed from school when compared to NCFM taken alone.

Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, Bifidobacterium lactis HN 019 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 have been shown to allow optimal transit through the gastrointestinal tract and allow for useful adherence to intestinal cell. The benefit of this is that the promotion of growth and and increase in the number of beneficial bacteria within the digestive system and improving the immune system.


Probiotics are a wonderful addition to a treatment protocol particularly in cases of IBS, reduced immunity and antibiotic damage.

There are many probiotic genus, species and strains available and confusion as to the right product is understandable.

By having a fundamental knowledge of probiotics, taking the right probiotic for a condition will allow optimum therapeutic results to be achieved.


Further Reading :

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  • Cathy says:

    Thank you for the most comprehensive article I’ve seen so far on Probiotics and their applications. I found it extremely informative! I did wonder – and don’t know if you are permitted tell me the reason – why no Metagenics products were included in your product listings? Thanks,Cathy

    • Caroline Paul says:

      Thank you for your kind feedback…it’s always appreciated. Metagenics has a strict online sales policy regarding their products and display of product descriptions. At Emed, we aim to comply fully with these policies. Having said that, Metagenics products are exceptional in their formulations, research and efficacy.


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