How do probiotics work?

Probiotics must be ingested regularly for any health promoting properties to persist. It is possible to manipulate the composition of the intestinal microflora in adults through dietary supplementation with probiotics. This concept is gaining popularity throughout the world.

The mode of action of a probiotic may include host microflora modulation, e.g., by improvement of the microbial balance via interaction of orally applied viable microbes with the microflora in the digestive tract lumen, the modulation of host metabolic activities, e.g., by stabilizing digestive enzyme pattern, and immunomodulation, e.g., by activation and regulation of mucosa-associated and systemic immune system responses. These modes of action are also strain-dependent.

The intestinal microflora provides protection against a broad range of pathogens, including certain forms of Clostridia, Escherichia Coli, Salmonella, Shigella and Pseudomonas, as well as yeasts such as Candida albicans.

Mechanisms of action of probiotics


Schematic diagram illustrating potential or known mechanisms whereby probiotic bacteria might impact on the microbiota. These mechanisms include (1) competition for dietary ingredients as growth substrates, (2) bioconversion of, for example, sugars into fermentation products with inhibitory properties, (3) production of growth substrates, for example, EPS or vitamins, for other bacteria, (4) direct antagonism by bacteriocins, (5) competitive exclusion for binding sites, (6) improved barrier function, (7) reduction of inflammation, thus altering intestinal properties for colonization and persistence within, and (8) stimulation of innate immune response (by unknown mechanisms). IEC: epithelial cells, DC: dendritic cells, T:T-cells.

Antimicrobial Effects of Probiotics.

A.Modify microflora to suppress pathogens.
B.Secrete antibacterial substances. Probiotic bacteria produce a variety of substances that are inhibitory to both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. These include organic acids, hydrogen peroxide and bacteriocins. These compounds may reduce not only the number of viable pathogenic organisms but may also affect bacterial metabolism and toxin production. This occurs through reduction of luminal pH through the production of volatile short-chain fatty acids, mainly acetates, propionates and butyrates. And of course, through production of lactic acid (Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus), leading to a reduction in colonic pH.
C.Compete with pathogens to prevent their adhesion to the intestine.
D.Compete for nutrients necessary for pathogen surviE.Antitoxin effect

Effect of Probiotics on the Intestinal Epithelium.

A. Promote tight contact between epithelial cells forming a functional barrier.
B. Reducing the secretory and inflammatory consequences of bacterial infection.
C. Enhancing the production of defensive molecules such as mucins.

Immune Effects of Probiotics

A. Probiotics as vehicles to deliver anti-inflammatory molecules to the Intestine.
B. Enhance signaling in host cells to reduce inflammatory response.
C. Switch in immune response to reduce allergy.
D. Reduce the production of inflammatory substances.

Qualities of effective probiotic dietary supplement include the following:

  1. Must be for human consumption
  2. Exert a beneficial effect on the host
  3. Be nonpathogenic and nontoxic
  4. Contain a large number of viable cells
  5. Be capable of surviving and metabolizing in the gut
  6. Remain viable during storage and use
  7. Be antagonistic to pathogens

Our custom probiotic formulations in capsule and powder forms meet all these requirements.

We do not use prebiotics, such as fructooligosacharides (FOS) or inulin, in our formulations, with a view to eliminating possible adverse reactions by highly allergic and sensitive individuals, such as Candida or irritable bowel disease (IBD) patients. Most FOS in today’s market contain 5-40% free sugar. We suggest getting FOS from vegetables such as onion, garlic, asparagus, dandelion, artichokes and leeks, which have many additional health promoting and nutritional benefits.

Regarding the issue whether probiotics for human consumption should be of human origin, please review the article below.

The (non-) sense of human origin of probiotics


Growth characteristics of probiotics appear to be species-specific and depend on the amount ingested and duration administered. The greater the bacterial imbalance in the digestive system, the higher the dosage required for positive and measurable results.

Dosage differs from individual to individual. You must find the appropriate dosage for you. We suggest gradual increase of probiotic dosage. Like a fingerprint, the composition of the intestinal microflora is quite different from one human to another, which is an immediate obstacle in manipulating it. Hence the appropriate dosage of probiotics needs to be determined individually.

How you use a probiotic depends on why you are taking it. If the primary purpose for taking the probiotic is to aid digestion, then you must take it with meals. If the goal is to have the probiotic reach the lower intestinal tract, then it may be more appropriate to take it between meals, with a full glass of water. Water dilutes the stomach acids and moves the organisms quickly into the intestinal tract. Probiotics can also be used for both purposes by taking some with meals and some between meals(14). We suggest taking probiotics first thing in the morning and at bedtime, with water.

There will, inevitably, be some loss of activity of probiotics during the passage from stomach to colon, due to pH, bile acids and other factors. Successful colonization depends very much on optimal dosing and can be very strain dependent. That is the reason a high potency multi-strain formulation such as our Adult Formula CP-1 and probiotic powders become effective. The gastrointestinal tract harbors about 100 trillion bacteria, more than 90% in the colon. The intake of merely a few billion probiotic ‘friendly bacteria’ a day is unlikely to make much of a difference in most instances. Also please note that our probiotic strains are very much acid resistant.

OUR PRODUCTS SHOULD BE REFRIGERATED TO RETAIN MAXIMUM POTENCY. Keeping our product at room temperature for 2-3 weeks, however, will have little impact on the bacterial count. We have studied the effect of temperature on our CP-1 capsules. Storing one bottle in an un-air-conditioned room, in the summer, for five months, resulted in bacterial count reduction from 60 billion cfu's per capsule to 30 billion cfu's per capsule, indicating very good temperature stability of our probiotics.