When I first wrote about the dangers of ingesting bacterial soil organisms (also known as HSO’s, SO’s, SBO’s, or shelf-stable probiotics) back in 2008, some claimed the information from Natasha Trenev was not valid (Natasha founded Natren, which is a probiotic manufacturer). So I copied my original article with the research references, and posted it here.

Long story short: by 2011 Garden of Life had changed their Primal Defense product so the only (direct) soil organism it contained was Bacillus subtilis – which has been used for over 1000 years by the Japanese to culture natto and does have a long history of safety in human usage. It did leave me wondering why, however, that Garden of Life changed the product? Especially after their CEO had contacted me personally in 2005 to try and convince me that soil organisms were safe…

When actions do not match words, you need to look deeper into what’s actually going on. Whatever their reasons, it was done very quietly – I only became aware of it in 2011 when one of my readers notified me. This is why you cannot rely on probiotic manufacturers to have your best interests at heart – and why I wrote this blog post on how to choose a potent probiotic.

I am bringing this up again because I recently came across this report/study of a 73-year-old male with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who had been previously taking Enterogermina brand probiotic (B. subtilis) as a means to manage his diarrhea. He was admitted to the hospital because of high fever, mental confusion, and persistent diarrhea. They ceased ingestion of Enterogermina upon his admittance. After further testing, a chest x-ray, and some blood cultures were performed, the man tested positive for B. subtilis – which remember, was present in the Enterogermina “probiotic” he was taking

The man ultimately died after weeks of hospitalization and antibiotic treatment due to recurrent septicemia (bloodstream infection, or blood poisoning). Septicemia can occur when a bacterial infection elsewhere in the body (lungs or skin, for example) enters the bloodstream.

What caused alarm for me regarding this study was this:

“The B. subtilis strains isolated during fever episodes on days 1 and 19 showed resistance to penicillin, erythromycin, rifampin, and novobiocin. The isolate from the blood culture on day 16 differed, being susceptible to rifampin and novobiocin and resistant to chloramphenicol.”

And this line specifically:

“We conclude that, even if the septicemia due to the probiotic strains of B. subtilis could not be related directly to the patient’s death, high numbers of viable microorganisms (especially if polyantibiotic resistant) should not be given to any patient with severe immunodeficiency.”

It is very important to be aware of which bacteria you’re ingesting if you have an immunodeficiency. In my book, Listen To Your Gut, I write more about this phenomena of losing tolerance to bacteria during inflammatory states, and also provide more studies on bacteria which are ‘safe’ for normal people, but are not safe for auto-immune, or people with immunodeficiency.

In this video below, I tell the story of how I contracted TWO blood infections after the birth of my third son, 14 years ago. I took high dose Natren probiotics the entire time I was on IV antibiotics and afterwards,  and I did not touch the hospital food, but drank Absorb Plus shakes instead. Keep in mind, the bacterial species and strains in Natren are all food-based (non spore-forming, no bacterial soil organisms) and have been cultured and ingested safely by humans for thousands of years.

Remember that bacteria are very intelligent, fully sentient creatures. Dr. Bonnie Bassler’s work focuses on the communication abilities of bacteria and how they use the information communicated to alter gene expression and behaviour. When I take my Natren probiotics, I welcome the bacteria to my body and I thank them for coming to join our community (of 22 trillion beings in our gut!) and for helping us with their gifts.

If you’ve never connected with your gut community before, join Dr. Juliet and I for this quick guided meditation to connect and tune in with your microbes…