I recently came across a post on a Quackwatch-type of blog where the author had posted my warning letter letter about ingesting bacterial soil organisms – also known as HSO’s, SO’s, SBO’s, or probiotics:

“Along with a book I ordered called “The IBD Remission Diet” by Jini Patel Thompson, came a page inserted later by the author that essentially withdrew her prior recommendation of Primal Defense. Horrified, I searched the Internet and could only find glowing testimonials (most of which eventually stemmed from the Garden of Life company’s own marketing.) I could find nothing from a scientific or unbiased source. The inserted warning is frightening. Here it is:

“On Page 108 of the IBD remission diet, I suggest that readers may want to try a product called Primal Defense after they’ve been completely healed for 3-5 months. I learned of this product from numerous readers who wrote in to let me know how well it’s worked for them. Since I couldn’t try the product myself (I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for four years and counting,) I questioned numerous respected naturopaths, microbiology professors and gastroenterologists for their opinion on the product and all said it looked fine.

However, since meeting the founder and president of Natren Inc. (top quality pro-biotic manufacturer,) Natasha Trenev, I must change my opinion of bacterial soil organisms. Natasha is a world renowned expert on microorganisms and maintains one of the largest research libraries on that topic in the world. She has sent me an entire CD ROM of articles, research and clinical data and other scientific studies, (most done outside of North America,) outlining why it is not safe to consume bacterial soil organisms (like those contained in Primal Defense and numerous other products.)

To summarize the research briefly, soil organisms (SO) are spore formers, so they make good competitors for yeast, fungus and other pathogens. This is why so many people taking soil organisms will initially experience very favorable results. However these spores are are extremely difficult to kill, surviving sterilants, disinfectants, acceleration forces, heat, pressure, radiation and many antibiotics. Strong antibiotics — like Vancomycin — can suppress certain spores. Spores are so persistent in the intestines that another round of germination may occur after the the drug is stopped. Soil organisms can also adapt loose genetic material and incorporate it into their cellular structure – the ramifications of which are yet unknown. Various soil organisms can also produce harmful peptides, affecting hemoglobin in the blood. It’s important to keep in mind that virtually all antibiotic drugs were were initially developed from soil organisms and as antibiotics become more potent, they cause more damage to the host, not just in the immediate gut environment, but systematically as well.

In the EU (European Union) the use of soil organisms in animal feed is being stringently controlled and questioned at this time. There are simply too many questions and unknowns to sanction the use of soil organisms for human consumption and one certainly cannot qualify them as safe at this time.

I’m very sorry for any confusion this may have caused you. To be honest, this is the very first time I’ve recommended a product that I’ve not tried and tested exclusively myself — I admit I was swayed by so many good recommendations from readers. Rest assured that I will not do so again!

My sincerest apologies,
Jini Patel Thompson
July 2003”

There were many comments in response to this blog post, some of them claimed that the information from Natasha Trenev was not valid, as Natren is a competitor to Primal Defense. However, when I tried to post my comment with the research references, it would not accept it as there are too many web links in it and it’s too long. So, I’m posting it here instead!

I hear the argument about Natren being a competitor to Primal Defense. But that’s also forgetting a simple point: Wouldn’t it be simpler for Natasha to produce her own soil organism product, rather than spend her time and energy speaking out against soil organisms? When you own your own manufacturing plant, diversifying your product line is a breeze and costs very little.

Hmmm…could it be she’s actually concerned about people’s health? Likewise, her insistence that viable probiotics need to be refrigerated at all stages (like yoghurt). Wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier for her to just offer a “shelf-stable” line of probiotics? When you already have millions of customers worldwide, surely this would make more financial sense?

Sure it would! But that’s my point. Natasha Trenev is one of the pioneers of the alternative health field and one of the minority who have not sold out their integrity for money.

She maintains one of the largest libraries on microorganism research in the world, with a full-time librarian. She also has a PhD Microbiologist on full-time staff – who often works with California hospitals to set up and implement clinical trials of probiotics.

Neither of these activities are cheap, but they are vital to understanding and staying at the forefront of this field that is absolutely rife with misinformation.

Anyway, getting back to the soil organisms – here is an extensive list of references (from hard science sources) that illustrate WHY ingesting soil organisms is experimental at the very least, and potentially dangerous. This list was compiled back in 2004, so while most of the web links are still active – if any of them no longer link properly, then you can still find the article by searching on the title/author.

Regarding the “alternative vs. allopathic sources” debate. Both have their pros and cons and my solution is to research and talk to both; with the ultimate trump over any research or study being my own body wisdom and experience. My best to all of you in your Healing Journey.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Notice the date on the post above: 2003. By 2011 Garden of Life had changed their product and the only (direct) soil organism it now contains is Bacillus subtilis – which has been used for over 1000 years by the Japanese to culture natto. So it has a long history of safety in this application.

Bacillus licheniformis was then only used indirectly as part of the culturing medium of Primal Defense, but according to the product label it was no longer part of the HSO blend. By 2014, B. licheniformis had disappeared from the label entirely:

gol-label

Interesting… and you have to wonder why Garden of Life changed the product? Especially when their CEO had contacted me personally in 2005 to try and convince me that soil organisms were safe. Whatever their reasons, it was done very quietly and I only became aware of it in 2011 when one of my readers notified me.

The bottom line is that you cannot rely on probiotic manufacturers to have your best interests at heart. Manufacturers are often genuinely ignorant, and marketing concerns like price and accessibility (shelf-stable) often take precedence over health benefits. The best way to protect yourself is to make sure whichever probiotic you ingest adhere to my Probiotic Selection Criteria.

Soil organisms: Web links for further research information

Agerholm JS, Jensen HE, Jensen NE. Experimental infection in mice with Bacillus licheniformis.
Zentralbl Veterinarmed B. 1995 Jun;42(4):247-56.
Link

Agerholm JS, Jensen NE, Giese SB, Jensen HE. A preliminary study on the pathogenicity of Bacillus licheniformis bacteria in immunodepressed mice. APMIS. 1997 Jan;105(1):48-54.
Link

Agerholm JS, Jensen NE, Dantzer V, Jensen HE, Aarestrup FM. Experimental infection of pregnant cows with Bacillus licheniformis bacteria. Vet Pathol 1999 36: 191-201.

Banerjee C, Bustamante CI, Wharton R., Talley E., Wade JC. Bacillus infections in patients with cancer. Arch Intern Med 1988 Aug;148(8):1769-74
Link

Bisset KA, Bartlett R. The isolation and characters of L-forms and reversions of Bacillus licheniformis var. Endoparasiticus (Benedek) associated with the erythrocytes of clinically normal persons. J. Med. Microbiol. 1978 11: 335-349.
Link

Blue SR, Singh VR, Saubolle MA. Bacillus licheniformis bacteremia: five cases associated with indwelling central venous catheters. Clin Infect Dis. 1995 Mar;20(3):629-33.
Link

Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Organization. Evaluation of veterans involved in the Project SHAD tests – Autumn Gold, Copper Head, Shady Grove and others for possible occupatioanl health exposures. Dec 31, 2001. IL 10-2001-015. Link to PDF

European Commission, Health & Consumer Protection Dorectorate-General. Opinion on the use of certain micro-organisms as additives in feedingstuffs. Expressed 26 September 1997, updated 25 April 2003.
Link to PDF

Falcone R. Why isn’t the bacterial cause of cancer accepted?
Link

Guinebretiere MH, Berge O, Normand P, Morris C, Carlin F, Nguyen-The C. Identification of Bacteria in Pasteurized Zucchini Purées Stored at Different Temperatures and Comparison with Those Found in Other Pasteurized Vegetable Purées. Appl. Envir. Microbiol. 2001 67: 4520-4530. Link

Hoa NT, Baccigalupi L, et al, Characteriazation of Bacillus Species Used for Oral Bacteriotherapy and Bacterioprophylaxis of Gastrointestinal Disorders. Appl Environ Microbiol 2000;66(12):5241-5247
Link

Hoa TT, Duc LH, Isticato R, Baccigalupi L, Ricca E, Van PH, Cutting SM. Fate and dessemination of Bacillus subtilit spores in a murine model. Appl Environ Microbiol 2001 Sep;67(9):3819-23 Link

Kniehl E, Becker A, Forster DH. Pseudo-outbreak of toxigenic Bacillus cereus isolated from stools of three patients with diarrhoea after oral administration of a probiotic medication. Journal of Hospital infection. 2003;55(1):33-8.
Link

Logan NA. Bacillus species of medical and veterinary importance. J Med Microbiol. 1988 Mar;25(3):157-65.
Link

Matsumoto S, Suenaga H, Naito K, Sawazaki M, Hiramatsu T, Agata N. Management of suspected nosocomial infection: an audit of 19 hospitalized patients with septicemia caused by Bacillus species. Jpn J Infect Dis. 2000 Oct;53(5):196-202.
Link

Mikkola R, Kolari M, Andersson MA, Helin J, Salkinoja-Salonen MS. Toxic lactonic lipopeptide from food poisoning isolates of Bacillus licheniformis.
Eur J Biochem. 2000 Jul;267(13):4068-74.

Oggioni MR, Pozzi G, Valensin PE, Galieni P, Bigazzi C. Recurrent Septicemia in an Immunocompromised Patient Due to Probiotic Strains of Bacillus subtilis. J. Clin. Microbiol. 1998 36: 325-326.

Pease P. Identification of bacteria from blood and joint fluids of human subjects as Bacillus licheniformis. Ann Rheum Dis 1974 33: 67-69.
Link

Richard V, Van der Auwera P, Snoeck R, Daneau D, Meunier F. Nosocomial bacteremia caused by Bacillus species. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 1988 Dec;7(6):783-5.
Link

Rowan NJ, Deans K, Anderson JG, Gemmell CG, Hunter IS, and Chaithong T. Putative Virulence Factor Expression by Clinical and Food Isolates of Bacillus spp. after Growth in Reconstituted Infant Milk Formulae. Appl. Envir. Microbiol. 2001 67: 3873-3881.
Link

Rowan NJ, Caldow G, Gemmell CG, Hunter IS. Production of Diarrheal Enterotoxins and Other Potential Virulence Factors by Veterinary Isolates of Bacillus Species Associated with Nongastrointestinal Infection. Appl. Envir. Microbiol. 2003 69: 2372-2376. Link

Sagripanti J.-L., Bonifacino A.. Bacterial Spores Survive Treatment with Commercial Sterilants and Disinfectants. Appl Environ Micorbiol 1999;65(9):4255
Link

Salkinoja-Salonen MS, Vuorio R, Andersson MA, Kämpfer P, Andersson MC, Honkanen-Buzalski T, Scoging AC. Toxigenic Strains of Bacillus licheniformis Related to Food Poisoning. Appl. Envir. Microbiol. 1999 65: 4637-4645.

Santini F, Borghetti V, Amalfitano G, Mazzucco A. Bacillus licheniformis prosthetic aortic valve endocarditis. J. Clin. Microbiol. 1995 33: 3070-3073.
Link

Spinosa MR, Wallet F. et al. The Trouble in Tracing Opportunistic Pathogens: Cholangitis due to Bacillus in a French Hospital Caused by a Strain Related to an Italian Probiotic? Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease. 2000;12(2):99-101.
Link

Tuazon CU, Murray HW, Levy C, Solny MN, Curtin JA, Sheagren JN. Serious infections from Bacillus sp. JAMA. 1979 Mar 16;241(11):1137-40.
Link

U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition, Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook. Bacillus cereus and other Bacillus spp.
Link

Wainwright M. Extreme pleomorphism and the bacterial life cycle: a forgotten controversy.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 1997;40:407-14.
Link

Wainwright M. Forgotten microbiology – back to the future. Microbiology Today. Feb. 2002; Vol27.
Link

Wainwright M, Al Talih A. Is this the historical ‘cancer germ’? Med Hypotheses. 2003 Feb;60(2):290-2.
Link

Woo P, Wong S, Lum P, Hui W-T, Yuen K-Y. Cell-wall-deficient bacteria and culture-negative febrile episodes in bone-marrow-transplant recipients. Lancet. 2001; 357(9257): 675-9.
Link

Young RF, Yoshimori RN, Murray DL, Chou PJ. Postoperative neurosurgical infections due to bacillus species. Surg Neurol. 1982 Oct;18(4):271-3.
Link

Bacterial Soil Organisms – HSO’s, SO’s, SBO’s, etc.
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69 Comments

69 thoughts on “Bacterial Soil Organisms – HSO’s, SO’s, SBO’s, etc.

  • Are the Natren products, specifically Healthy Trinity and Life Start 2, missing any necessary strains of pro-biotics? Primal Defense Ultra lists so many, and there are so few in the Natren products. Please explain.

  • Hi Leah,

    Natren probiotics contain only transient (non-spore forming) food-based probiotics. And no they do not contain every species of probiotic found in the human gut – that would be thousands! They just contain the main species that have been found to be the most beneficial in clinical trials, and have also been consumed by humans for thousands of years. So they have a long safety record.

    Primal Defense contain soil-based organisms, which have no long-term record of safety for human consumption at this time.

    Some people find olive leaf is more palatable than wild oregano. However, if you know the easy way to take it, then wild oregano is actually easier to take. Here’s my video showing the easy, no-burning method:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ryheQSdYHc

    In terms of strength or efficacy – I don’t know, there have been no comparison studies done that I know of.

    take care,
    Jini

  • Bacterial Soil Organisms (which Primal Defense contains) are in experimental trials with animals in Europe – but they are being strictly regulated. Perhaps there are some results published by now – you would have to do an internet check.

    Common sense: Yes, in the wild, dogs would eat their raw meat as it lays on the ground and therefore would ingest some soil organisms – but would it be anywhere near the massive amounts contained in soil organism capsules? No.

    The healthiest thing you can do for your dog is to give it a predominantly raw food diet. And add fresh garlic directly to the food, both for immune defense and to ward off fleas. Start with a little bit (as many animals don’t like the taste) and then gradually build up to 1/4 tsp per 10 pounds of body weight.

  • Hi,

    Interesting article [and site-subbed btw].

    Could I ask about Solgar probiotics ?..or rather your opinion on the quality if thats alright ?..as I’ve never heard of Primal Defense- a USA product? , Solgar seems to be the main shelf dweller in the UK at least-for probiotics and vitamins etc..also they are suitably high priced so one would ‘hope’ they are of good quality.

    hope to hear from you soon.

    Mihal

  • hehe, I meant I have subscribed to the site, as in yours you know 🙂

    Ok have read quite a large amount of info thus far and get the jist of it..guess I really wanted the opinion of a more experienced person .

    I’ll be nipping off to the post you mention.
    best
    ~m

  • I’ve been reading extensively about probiotic research, from a variety of sources and have a few hours of microbiology under my belt.

    I would be careful with blanket declarative statements such as “Primal Defense contain soil-based organisms, which have no long-term record of safety for human consumption at this time.”. -which is demonstrably false.

    I find much of this discussion above succumbs to mis-information and has really contributed to the “rife” misinformation out there.

    The studies listed above are not even done on SUBTILIS, which is the sporoforming bacterium found in Threelac and Primal Defense. To study other species and claim that they ALL have the same potential for adverse events is simply irresponsible.

    Humans have been using soil fermentation for millenia, even Natto famously was fermented with soil based species, popularized by Samurai in 1100 AD. Many, many other examples.

    Also, spore forming bacteria are almost never permanent residents of the GI tract. Also, the very first probiotic product in the US was said to be called “Bactid-Subtil” in 1946. Long history of use, of course Natasha doesn’t like them. But to conclude that her opinion is the only valid opinion is silly. Personally having sold probiotic products for decades, I can attest to Natren’s quality as I’ve seen people get seious results from Healthy Trinity and others, however I believe they are a poor value when one considers the volume of competing products – which I have often found equal or superior (including Primal Defense) for less than half the costs.

    In short, this article contributes to ignorance anfd obfuscates the complexity of probiosis. To characterize all bacillus cultures as if they are Anthrax’s cousin truly smacks of market competition rather than real science.

    Very poorly done.

  • Hi Bruce – if you look at the date on my original letter, it is 2003. Since then Primal Defense have removed the bacterial soil organisms from their product, until only the B. subtilis remains – and this is the species used to ferment natto. Whether they will change their formulation again, I don’t know. So always best to read labels.

    You write: “Also, spore forming bacteria are almost never permanent residents of the GI tract”

    But you give no studies or links to research to back up this assertion. And the spores really are the crux of the issue here: how do they behave? How do you kill them? What is their role in the gut microbiota?

    I hope there is more info on this now than there was in 2003! Please post any scientific, peer-reviewed data you find here…

  • Dr Ohira’s probiotics contain enterococcus faecalis which is considered unsafe by many, including Natasha Trenev. I believe it is only approved for use in the US for vetenary use…

  • Why do you point to articles about Bacillus licheniformis? The product in question contains Bacillus subtilis. Bacillus subtilis is safe and was used by the medical community for many years prior to the introduction of cheap anti-biotics.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3100070

    I feel as though you are simply adding more confusion to the average consumer rather than helping them make a healthy decision as you claim. I would encourage anyone here to seek out actual medical advice.

    See also:
    Cohn F (1872). “Untersuchungen über Bacterien”. Beitr Biol Pflanzen 1 (Heft 1): 127–224.
    Ciprandi, G., A. Scordamaglia, D. Venuti, M. Caria, and G. W. Canonica. (1986). “In vitro effects of Bacillus subtilis on the immune response”. Chemioterapia 5 (6): 404–7. PMID 3100070.
    Shylakhovenko, V.A. (June 2003). “Anticancer and Immunostimulatory effects of Nucleoprotein Fraction of Bacillus subtilis”. Experimental Oncology 25: 119–123.
    Mazza, P. (1994). “The use of Bacillus subtilis as an antidiarrhoeal microorganism.”. Boll. Chim. Farm. 133 (1): 3–18. PMID 8166962.

  • Randall – notice the date on the post above: 2003.

    So the interesting thing is that most of the info in this post is indeed no longer applicable as Garden of Life has changed their product! And, as you point out, the ONLY (direct) soil organism it now contains is Bacillus subtilis – which has been used for over 1000 years by the Japanese to culture natto. So it has a long history of safety in this application.

    Bacillus licheniformis is now only used indirectly as part of the culturing medium of Primal Defense, but according to the product label it is no longer part of the HSO blend:

    http://www.evitamins.com/product.asp?pid=3504

    Interesting… and you have to wonder why Garden of Life changed the product – bad press, lawsuits, what? Whatever, it was done very quietly and I only became aware of it myself within the last year.

  • Has anyone heard of this new SBO product called Prescript-Assist Pro or Prescript-Assist? According to these two of the many sites selling this item, this product has research to back its claims:

    https://www.researchednutritionals.com/store/item.cfm?code=CRN121&cat=
    http://www.upwardquest.com/prescript-assist/index.html

    And here are the the actual studies:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16117982
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17692729

    “The manufacturer of Prescript-Assist™, Safer Medical, Inc., spent more than five years in Clinical Development Test and Evaluation (CDTE) testing the product against an array of intestinal tract issues before it was put on the market. There was a complete absence of any untoward side-effects with Prescript-Assist™ even when taken at the same time as prescription medications (which are often responsible for inducing gastrointestinal complications).”

    Here’s the company’s website: http://www.safermedicalinc.com/1136367.html

    And a better description of the product: http://safermedicalinc.info/safer-medical-inc-products.html

    “Ingredients:
    Each 600mg capsule of Prescript-Assist® contains a proprietary blend of Leonardite, and the following Class I (beneficial microorganisms): Anthrobacter agilis, Anthrobacter citreus, Anthrobacter globiformis, Anthrobacter luteus, Anthrobacter simplex, Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, Azotobacter chroococcum, Azotobacter paspali, Azospirillum brasiliense, Azospirillum lipoferum, Bacillus brevis, Bacillus marcerans, Bacillus pumilis, Bacillus polymyxa, Bacillus subtilis, Bacteroides lipolyticum, Bacteriodes succinogenes, Brevibacterium lipolyticum, Brevibacterium stationis, Kurtha zopfil, Myrothecium verrucaria, Pseudomonas calcis, Pseudomonas dentrificans, Pseudomonas flourescens, Pseudomonas glathei, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Streptomyces fradiae, Streptomyces celluslosae, Streptomyces griseoflavus Forget about the grocery store or health food store’s probiotic aisle says Safer Medical Inc. You could buy them out and not get any of the real, clinically proven gut healing being offered here. Begin healing your gut for certain with Prescript-Assist!”

    This product may be “Safer” (as the company name implies) than SBOs of the past, but , more importantly, can such limited research support long-term use?

  • Do you have any opinion or knowledge about these probiotic products called “EM” or “effective microrganisms”? It is grown in a molasses medium (and you could even do it yourself). There are a number of products out there that are of this type, including Emerald Earth and Pro-Em. They were created by Dr. Higa of Japan in 1982. Thank you, Arlo

  • Re. the EM probiotics – The interesting thing (I downloaded a bunch of company info pdfs) is that they refer to it as both a “soil-based microbial formula” and as “phototropic strain of bacteria”.

    When you type in “phototropic bacteria” to Google, nothing comes up. The only related thing is phototrophic bacteria (with an ‘h’), for example:

    http://mmbr.asm.org/cgi/content/full/62/3/695

    But the company literature spells it phototropic in every place it occurs. So is it a recurrent typo, or have they come up with their own name/branding (which has no relevance or meaning in microbiology)?

    If you wanted to research it further, you could type in the species of bacteria they claim is in there: Rhodopsuedomonas palustris and see if it exists, what it’s properties are, and most importantly: DOES IT HAVE ANY HISTORY OF LONG-TERM USAGE IN HUMANS?

    If not, if there are no clinical studies spanning at least 20-30 years of HUMAN use, then know you are participating in a complete experiment.

    Apply these rules to any new “probiotic” product – and you will see more and more of them on the market in the coming years – before you decide whether to participate in the experiment, or not.

  • Jini,

    Thanks so much for your prompt and helpful reply (I’m now convinced, from your answer and my own trying EM for a few days that it’s not healthful). Just wondering…now that Primal Defense has changed it’s formula, as you have mentioned, do you think it is a helpful product now? And finally, is there any validlty to the idea of ingesting “soil organisms”, given that humans used to eat food that naturally had “dirt” on it?

    Thanks,
    Arlo

  • I lived in Tokyo for 2 years and let me tell you, people ate natto in VERY small amounts. Likewise, if you pull a carrot from the dirt, you brush off the dirt before you eat it – even as kids we didn’t like the grind of dirt on our teeth. Traditional cultures who buried meat or fish in the ground to ferment did not bury it bare – it was always wrapped in something, some kind of leaf usually. So you need to ask yourself: How much soil-based bacteria have humans traditionally consumed? I’m pretty sure it’s nowhere near the amounts in these soil-based supplements.

    So again, we get back to the same issue: Are these supplements good? Are they bad? At this point, there is not enough long-term data to make an assessment. So you need to decide for yourself and know that you are participating in an experiment.

  • I recently purchased a bottle of Primal Defense Ultra from my local health food store as I am in need of a Candida cleanse (in hopes to get pregnant again in the near future!) Before I start the cleanse (I use a Phamax product), I thought I’d give the Primal Defense a try to see its effect on the candida as my local store really touts this brand (Garden of Life). However, my former ND is not a fan of the brand -doesn’t trust it- and I am cautious as I know Candda is a tricky thing and I don’t want to do anything to make it worse. I came across your article while doing some online searching. I don’t know much about HSO’s or how safe their product is currently but I was wondering if it is still something I should steer clear of…or if their product is now safe or even effective for candida. Pharmax also sells some human strain probiotics but they are too pricey for me. Which I guess is why I was going to give Primal Defense a try. Anyway, this product has nothing but glowing reviews online (esp. for GI/stomach issues…not sure about candida), but then I came across your article. You seem to be very knowledgable in this area. Any thoughts would be appreciated…!

  • Re. Pre-Script Assist – as Tim stated in #19 all of the research still does not cover LONG-TERM effects. So my hesitancies are the same as in my post above. Short-term gain for long-term…what?? We don’t know. And that’s the problem. Also, what happened to the original company – try to find them, it’s all a bit fishy. How did they get this product past FDA and Cda HPB? Look at what happened with Adya Clarity… At the end of the day, do your research and listen to your gut.

  • I did not go through all of the web links you had listed for time’s sake. I have the following questions:
    (1) As I understand you, Bacillus Subtilis is safe. But are you saying (based on the Japanese eating natto in very small amounts) that one shouldn’t use probiotics containing Bacillus Subtilis too often or take too many of them?
    (2) As I understand you, Bacillus Lichenformis is NOT safe.
    (3) What about Bacillus Coagulans (which is in Threelac in addition to Bacillus Subtilis and Enterococcus Faecalis)? Do you know whether Coagulans is safe or not?
    (4) I didn’t see that you responded to a previous person’s comment about the safety of Enterococcus Faecalis, although presumably since you advocate Dr. Ohhirra’s you must think that Enterococcus Faecalis is safe. Can you elaborate?

    Thanks

  • Hi Renee – I am not making any definitive claims here for what is safe or not safe, I am just sharing research, experience, and asking questions. Personally, I do not ingest any soil organisms at this time.

    The last time I looked at Dr. Ohira’s professional line, it did not contain Enterococcus faecalis – this is what I know about that species from a friend who manufactures probiotics:

    “Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium are two prevalent intestinal bacterial species cultured from humans. The problem with the two aforementioned enterococcus species is that they are highly resistant to antibiotics, even vancomycin, leaving few options for treatment for those who have infections. This is because these bacteria species freely transmit genetic information and promote antibiotic resistance in other bacteria, especially other infectious bacteria species.”

    This is a very interesting article about Threelac:

    http://www.holistichelp.net/blog/is-threelac-safe-and-effective/

  • More from a colleague who specializes in probiotics:

    “Another bacteria called Bacillus coagulans (erroneously called Lactobacillus sporogenes) is also commonly used in many bogus probiotic supplements. This is not classified as part of the lactobacillus probiotic family, although many manufacturers actually try to claim it is! This is a spore-forming bacteria – which improves its survivability in a poorly manufactured product.

    Spore-forming bacteria are notorious for their ability to survive in harsh environments, but this could represent a problem for eradication should problems or as yet unknown spore-forming probiotic side effects arise with their use. Understanding and research in using this bacterial species is scant, and based mostly on small animal studies. Therefore, the use of any bacillus species as probiotics supplements in humans cannot be safely recommended at this time.”

  • Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics – both the original and the professional – include Enterococcus faecalis TH10. See these links:
    http://drohhiraprobiotics.com/dr_ohhira_probiotics_ingredients_about.php
    http://drohhiraprobiotics.com/dr_ohhira_probiotics_professional_formula.php

    Ironically, the following article by Nan Fuchs talks about the dangers of SBOs:
    http://www.essentialformulas.com/news/Nan_Fuchs_September_Newslet.pdf
    But then the next newsletter extolls the virtues of Dr. Ohhira’s, especially the Enterococcus faecalis TH10:
    http://www.essentialformulas.com/news/Nan_Fuchs_October_Newslette.pdf

    I had just started Threelac. I guess I’ll set it aside. Hopefully I didn’t do myself in with the short time I’ve taken it. I then just ordered Dr. Ohhira’s based on Nan Fuchs comments. Now I wish I hadn’t wasted money I probably can’t recover. I’ve printed out stacks of your website pages and will be reading them at length. I may order your IBS ebook.

  • The BEST probiotic for IBS – as evidenced by clinical trials – is B. infantis

    I am just working on getting Listen To Your IBS into a print version – at almost 400 pages it is quite long for an ebook!

    Many people with IBS get substantial relief *just* from implementing these:

    http://www.listen2yourgut.com/blog/probiotic-retention-enema/

    I feel really bad for you wasting so much money already – I’m going to email you the download to this ebook (no charge). So be sure and check your junk mail in case it gets shunted there.

    best,
    Jini

  • Thank you SO much! That will be a big help. I appreciate it greatly.

    I believe strongly that I also have yeast issues (have been having a recurring, stubborn female yeast infection and itchy rear that keeps coming back even after several rounds of Diflucan and creams), hence my research which lead me to Threelac, etc.

    I do have some left over and somewhat old Align, which is B. infantis, which I now plan on taking as well as Acidophilus Pearls, Culturelle, and Florastor until I read through your info and figure out what to get and how to do your recommendations. (I even also have a bottle of Primal Defense of which MAYBE I could take one every now and then. In the past when I tried PD on a regular and escalating schedule, it caused me to develop extremely large, hence difficult to pass stools and ultimately I had to stop taking it.)

    BTW, in addition to IBS I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, have chronic fatigue and headaches and dizziness, as well as a whole laundry list of weird symptoms that have rendered me unable to work for seven years, during which time I, like you and so many others, have spent literally tens of thousands of dollars and untold hours of researching to try to find a “cure” for what ails me. I’m still searching…

    Thanks again from sunny (and too hot) Florida!

  • Sorry Renee – first we have to launch our new site (hopefully by August) then we can focus on tasks like the books. We also have a lot of requests to do Kindle versions, so those are in the pipeline too. Sorry for the wait!

  • Is it still true that if we order the Listen To Your Gut hardcopy book that we can get the Listen To Your IBS ebook free for the extra sections?

  • Have you heard of Progurt? Any opinions? It supposedly contains a strain of bacteria that is actually derived from the human gut. (I just got my order of a 6 month supply of Natren!) 🙂

  • I see the question and your answer about Prescript Assist soil based probiotic above. I just finished reading through the transcript of Candida Detox – your teleseminar interview of Dr. Carolyn Dean. So I checked out her website. After agreeing with you in the teleseminar that there are concerns about taking soil based organisms (although she didn’t really say much about it), she now wholeheartedly endorses using Prescript Assist which is simply loaded with all kinds of soil based organisms!! Seems quite a shift in thinking that she had!
    http://drcarolyndean.com/2011/06/take-soil-based-probiotics-and-eat-dirt/

  • Hi,

    I am interested in taking garden of life’s green perfect food raw product. I have read about the hso’s and I wanted to know if this product contains any hso’s. I’m not sure if it would be listed under another name, since there are many of them. I’m also not sure if the the probiotics listed in that product are all safe. I looked at the primal defense ingredient list just to see how it is listed, it said -Proprietary Hso probiotic blend barley grass and oat grass (produced using the poten-zyme process)- . So my other question is this, does barley grass and oat grass contain hso’s? Because the raw green product contains barley grass juice and oat grass juice. I would like to know this for their perfect food raw product and the regular green perfect food product, since they are both similar and I havent decided on which one to take. Thank you so much for any responses, I really would like to know if that would be a good product to take.

  • The only HSO in Primal Defense is Bacillus subtilis. Barley grass and oat grass are just what their name says. The grasses do not contain probiotics of any kind, including HSO’s. Neither Perfect Foods contain HSO’s. Look at the list under “Probiotic Blend” on the label of the Original Perfect Food – they are all lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium bacteria probiotics. The only probiotic Perfect Food Raw contains is Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast.

  • What about fecal implants? I tried Natren and they do work fine, but only as long as I take them. What’s the use if my colon isn’t getting permanently colonized? I suspect my long-term gut problem has much to do with a couple of series of strong antibiotics I had to take many years ago, which probably wiped out every gut protection I ever had. I heard that infants are born gut-clean. How do they accumulate the probiotics they need for a lifetime? Can’t I copy whatever steps they go through, starting from scratch? Come to think of it, why AREN’T expensive probiotics permanently cultivated in my intestines?

  • You really need to get my eBook on probiotics – it’s offered for free on some of the Symptom pages of my site (go to the HEAL YOUR SYMPTOMS section) or you can get it here for cheap:

    http://shoppe.listentoyourgut.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-probiotics-ebook-by-jini-patel-thompson/

    as the eBook answers your questions. For the Fecal Infusion, check out this teleseminar I did with half of the team that invented the procedure:

    http://shoppe.listentoyourgut.com/ltyg-teleseminar-fecal-infusion-bacteriotherapy-with-bianca-james-mp3-audio-and-pdf-transcript/

  • Hi Jini,

    I have been on Natren per your recommendations for years. However even the health shop which sells me Natren tells me that to be effective I need to rotate my probiotics brand. Thinking about rotating exercise types to stay trim, this seems to make sense.

    Ohira is a no-go for me now as I am concerned about the radiation fallout from Fukushima – seaweed is very radiation absorbent and the base of Ohira is made from seaweeds from the Sea of Japan. So I do need to find at least one other Natren probiotic to rotate with. Plus, my child is allergic to both the dairy and non-dairy versions of Natren (hives and throat construction).

    Syntol by Arthur Andrew is a highly recommended brand at my natutopath’s. I like the fact that it includes probiotics, probiotics and yeast -cleansing enzymes in one. It does NOT say “soil bacteria”, but does contain spores (13.6 CFU) of B.subtils (I note Jini is ok with this – Natto history), L.helvecticus, S. boulardi, L. rhamnosus, L.plantarum, L.acidophilus, L. Lactose, B. bifidum (the last 3 I recognize from Natren as good bacteria). It also contains Isomalto-oligisaccharides as probiotics.

    I appreciate Jini’s list of criteria for probiotic selection, but googling shows Syntol to be the first and only of its kind. It is also increasingly popular with just word of mouth recommendations and little advertisements.

    Would be so grateful for her thoughts! This is an interesting area to update for all!

  • Wing tang – Do you have my eBook – What You Need To Know About Probiotics?

    Detailed info is in there, but also, many with gut issues do not do well on prebiotics – the prebiotics will feed both good and bad bacteria, so it depends on which dominates in your gut.

    I also have a blog post on Probiotic Selection criteria if you don’t have my eBook (or any of my large books):

    http://blog.listentoyourgut.com/how-to-choose-a-potent-probiotic/

    And lastly, you may want to look into Fecal Implant – many hospitals now provide this; there is a hospital in Rochester, NY that does 60 fecal infusions per day:

    http://shoppe.listentoyourgut.com/ltyg-teleseminar-fecal-infusion-bacteriotherapy-with-bianca-james-mp3-audio-and-pdf-transcript/

    or here:

    http://www.probiotictherapy.com.au/pages/what_is_fmt.html

  • You know why this stuff makes me chuckle? As humans (and earlier) we have been eating dirty and contaminated foods for millions of years. We have evolved in tandem with (not in spite of) bacteria and parasites; many of which are found in the soil and on the foods we’ve consumed. We’ve exchanged them with each other through crowded conditions and swapping bodily fluids. We’ve been exposed to them through livestock and pets, as well as crawling on the ground and placing unwashed objects into our mouths.

    And now, all of a sudden in our modern world, we’re using tunnel vision and concluding that soil-based organisms are the enemy and should be minimized, if not outright avoided.

    My question is, and this is a very important question: Under what CONTEXT?

    I highly recommend the book “An Epidemic of Absence” if you want to clear up the confusion with our current paradigms of germ theory and the hygiene hypothesis.

  • I recently bought a product from Futurebiotics that lists Lactobacillus sporogenes as Lactospore in the ingredient list. Shelf stable supplying 67.5 million probiotic cells.

    I’m liery and concerned after reading you’re posts.I guess there isn’t any regulatory body to deal with companies producing this type of product.

    1. Hi Allan,

      Heat quickly kills bacteria and even at room temperature they will become active and soon live out their life cycle – think of what happens if you leave yogurt on the counter. The best way to preserve bacterial potency is by keeping it cold at all times, until you’re ready to ingest it. Freeze drying is the best method of preserving the bacteria and for this to be maintained, they must be kept very cold at all times until you’re ready to ingest them.

      If you would like to check out the criteria Jini uses to evaluate any given probiotic product (and why), take a look at the link below:

      http://blog.listentoyourgut.com/how-to-choose-a-potent-probiotic/

      Kind regards,
      Justin
      Customer Care

  • Allan – and just to clarify: Justin is referring to FOOD-based probiotics (which humans have consumed for thousands of years) NOT soil-based organisms.

  • Struggling with SIBO (& Candida I am certain) as a 22 year old male and my life has completely fallen apart. I believe that this isn’t unrelated to my hereditary diverticulitis and necrotic appendix removal about 7 years ago; it has all been downhill from there essentially. Took a long time to figure out what was going on, only for the past year have I understood all of my fatigue, spinal arthritis, etc. is related to an underlying leaky gut and intestinal problem. I tried every probiotic out there, including Natren Trinity, started regularly consuming fermented foods, changing diet, etc. during several extended periods of diligent effort. None of the probiotics made a difference. None of the herbal remedies made a difference. I gambled and bought a bottle of Primal Defense and overnight my symptoms vanished. I’m not making it up, I have nothing to sell. The only other things that I truly feel were essential to my recovery were Enteric coated peppermint oil and a GI repair powder with lactoferrin.

    I see the point that even our ancestors never literally ate dirt. But I can’t have any doubt that a functional level of these soil-based organisms are an ESSENTIAL nutrient that 99.9% of people in the first world are critically missing. I went from needing 9 hrs of sleep, sluggish no matter what, in CONSTANT pain, to getting up at 5 in the morning because I had no desire to sleep. Overnight.

    The concern that these organisms take over, while valid, I believe is completely missing the purpose of their advocacy. We have been adapted to these for longer than we have been walking upright.

    Natren yogurt lady has her niche, and she doesn’t want anyone to challenge it. It was money wasted compared to a handful of primal defense pills and a bag of raw sauerkraut.

    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for writing in and sharing your story – it’s great to hear that you experienced good results with that particular product. It’s unfortunate that the Natren probiotics didn’t work out for you but we receive feedback on a regular basis from people who experienced results similar to yours using them along with wild oregano oil. It would be fantastic if there was one thing that worked equally well for everyone with any sort of GI tract illness but that’s simply not the case. That’s one reason why Jini called the program “Listen to Your Gut”… Each individual needs to find his or her own way to heal and we’re glad you found yours!

      Kind regards,
      Justin
      Customer Care

  • Seconded what Threonate said. It would seem the author of this post is considerably ignorant of current research into the human microbiome. Look at the microbiota sequencing that is coming forth from the literature, and you will find little-to-no presence of everyone’s precious lactobacilli and bifido strains. Human beings would have had arguably more contact with soil based organisms in contrast to some fancy freeze dried lactobacilli being carefully maintained in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. Can you at least update this ridiculous thread to reflect the fact that you are out of your depth on this subject? Sheesh

    SBO’s knocked out my 10 year struggle with IBS, which may not be relevant to you, but it’s relevant to ME and perhaps others as well.

    1. Hi Jason,

      Thanks for posting. If you would like to share some links to the literature you are referencing then we’d certainly be interested in taking a look.

      Kind regards,
      Justin
      Customer Care

  • Thank you Jason, for sharing that SBO’s knocked out your 10 year struggle with IBS. I developed it a year ago so I am looking for answers. Thank you so much for commenting.

  • Hello Jinni. I just finished reading your article. I also went through most of the articles in your bibliography. I would have read through all of them, but there were a few old links that were broken and I could not find the article using a quick Google search.

    I am disappointed in the quality of your bibliography. Most (almost all) of your references provide no support for your article’s thesis. For instance, you list a couple of journal articles that demonstrate that IV administered Bacillus spp. causes sepsis. Well, of course, injecting these bacteria straight into a vein will cause illness. Many of these articles establish the fact that particular Bacillus spp. cause bacteremia in clinical settings. But, in all articles but one, the victims were infected in a manner that excluded oral probiotic therapy. The one article that I did find that implicated a Bacillus spp. contained within an oral probiotic drink, that article went on to demonstrate that the particular Bacillus spp. actually isolated from the patient was not an approved species for probiotic (i.e., an error had occurred in the production of that drink).

    I am not ready to say that soil-based organisms should be declared safe for therapy. But, I did find two random, double-blind controlled studies authored by xxxx which concluded the soil-based probiotic formula was beneficial…I’ll let you and your fans fead that article.

    Summary: Whoever compiled your reference list either A) did not take the time to read those articles, and/or B) did not understand the discussions therein.

  • Jini, I accidentally left out the name of the author in my previous comments: The author was Dr. AC Bittner.

    I wish you the best as your continue helping our community discuss and understand the details of probiotic therapy.

  • Hi
    i took a digestive enzyme which unfortunately contained bacillus subtilis and i am afraid the bacillus subtilis may have destroyed my gut flora.
    What do i do?

    Thanks

  • I read your article with interest, although I admit I haven’t had time to go through any of the references.

    My question is one of logic though. If SBO’s are dangerous to human health how have we survived to the present day?

    In the 7 million years or so of human evolution we would have been continuously ingesting soil, and it’s only in the last hundred years or so that it has changed. It doesn’t make any sense.

  • Hi Andy, I think it’s about amount of ingestion. If you pull a carrot and brush it off, then eat it (which we did all the time as kids) you are getting a certain amount of SBO’s. However, when you ingest a super-large, concentrated amount, repetitively (supplement form), your consumption is likely thousands/millions times higher.

    When people buried meat or fish in the ground to ferment, they never put it right in the earth. It was wrapped in a banana leaf or some other barrier – no one really like the crunch of dirt/sand in their food. So again, I think we’re talking about amount/concentration.

  • Hi Jini.
    I have been been reading about histamine intolerance and people struggling with this having a problem with “standard/proven” probiotics. I understand that you need to eat low histamine foods and heal the gut first. However, soil based supplementation has been recommended by some in such instances of histamine intolerance. What are your thoughts on this?
    Thank you,
    Debbie

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Just like what Jini said in the article, soil organisms is experimental and potentially dangerous. You can try Bifidobacterium infantis. Although b. infantis was originally used only for infants, recent clinical trials have shown vast improvement when used by adults.

      We have found that when people have trouble tolerating probiotics, it is often helpful to start with b. infantis – the theory being that they missed this “starter probiotic” at birth and early infancy. So their healing involves going back to the beginning with b. infantis and then gradually adding in the other species (bulgaricus, bifidus, acidophilus) over time.

      If you don’t tolerate dairy well, then use the goat milk-based Life Start instead.

      Kind Regards,
      Cris B
      Customer Care

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