List of 21 Probiotic Strains – Pros & Cons You Should Know

As you know, probiotics are the good kind of bacteria. The most well-known probiotics include the Gram-positive Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. They are beneficial bacterial cultures that help stabilize the intestinal microflora balance. Aside from inhibiting harmful bacterial growth, these microorganisms help in promoting good digestion, healthy intestinal activity, and colon regularity. When there’s a bacterial imbalance caused by stress, aging, and poor eating habits, you’ll become susceptible to infections. Probiotic-fortified supplements and food products are one the rise in markets to help replenish the good bacteria in your system. But did you know the digestive system is home to different strains of bacteria? What are probiotic strains? What are the common strains of probiotics that are considered safe? This article explores the various strains of probiotics and how they can help improve your overall health and wellness.

What are Probiotic Strains?

Our body has more than 500 probiotic strains. A ‘strain’ pertains to a biological variation of species. In turn, a species exist within a genus. For instance, one of the most researched strain, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, indicates the genus name (Lactobacillus), the species name (acidophilus) and the strain (NCFM). Probiotic providers use different kinds of strains, although these may be of the same genus and species. It’s ideal to pick a probiotic supplement that uses well-researched strains.

It’s also advisable to determine the efficacy and vitality of probiotic strains themselves. Strains must survive the high bile salts and stomach acids so as to reach the intestines. They should also be active at the time of consumption. Moreover, probiotic strains should be capable of sticking to the lining of the gut wall so that they can multiply and populate the gut with good, ‘friendly’ bacteria.

Researchers have derived supplementation of various probiotic strains associated with different types of benefits. Studies have shown that five weeks of Acidophilus supplementation led to enhanced immunity.

Different Strains of Probiotics

List of Probiotic Strains

Here’s a list of the most researched strains of probiotics, their benefits, pros, and cons. While there are many benefits of probiotics, interestingly, there are also side effects and temporary reactions; indicating that the beneficial bacteria are working.

Top well-researched strains:

Lactobacillus Acidophilus

It’s the proven probiotic that, according to scientists, is vital to human health. It’s often been used to treat and prevent a broad range of diseases and conditions, as well as minimizes antibiotic therapy side effects. One of the top probiotic supplements like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care has a uniquely formulated blend of Lactobacillus Acidophilus and other essential probiotics.

PROS:
  • treats diarrhea
  • aids in digestion
  • treats and prevents irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • fights allergies
  • repairs leaky gut
  • reduces lactose intolerance
  • increases absorption of vitamins and nutrients
  • helps improve appetite
  • improves blood pressure and cholesterol
  • fights chronic conditions like anemia and lowers risk of kidney stones
  • prevents and fights viral, bacterial and fungal infections (such as coli infection and pink-eye)
  • increases weight gain among preterm infants

CONS:
  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • skin rashes and acne

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG

Also a well-researched probiotic strain, it has tremendously good adhesion on the intestinal wall and considered a safe probiotic. It’s also great for immune system stimulation.

PROS:
  • increases glucose control
  • reduces allergies and inflammation
  • infant and baby benefits include fighting diarrhea (from rotavirus), stimulating infant growth, and decreasing colic
  • prevents and fights cancer (reduces the risk of colon cancer, stimulates tumor killing activities)
  • boost general immunity
  • repairs leaky gut
  • decreases constipation
  • lowers bad cholesterol

CONS:
  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • breathing troubles
  • swelling of the face, tongue, throat, lips
  • skin rashes, acne, and hives

Lactobacillus Helveticus

It’s also a lactic-acid producing bacterial strain that studies have shown can reduce blood pressure. It’s mainly used for milk fermentation and one of the choice bacterial cultures for Swiss cheese.

PROS:
  • reduces blood pressure
  • improves quality and duration of sleep
  • enhances one’s health perception
  • boosts serum calcium levels in the blood
  • reduces Parathyroid Hormone (PTH – linked to bone loss)
  • helps stabilize microflora balance
  • alleviates antibiotic-induced side effects

CONS:
  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • skin acne

Bifidobacterium Infantis

As the name suggests, Bifidobacterium Infantis is a strain of probiotic that benefits the health of babies. After birth, Bifido Infantis is one of the first essential bacteria that mothers pass to their offspring. Therefore, physicians and scientists prescribe this probiotic to pregnant women. Bifido infantis helps to improve our digestion and to safeguard our systems against illnesses and infections. It’s also been scientifically proven to combat allergies and aid in preventing kidney stones.

PROS:
  • curtails IBS symptoms and eliminates acute diarrhea
  • protects the vaginal canal from infection
  • prevents death among very low birth weight infants
  • increases immunity among very low birth weight infants
  • improves immune system
  • reduces and fights allergies and inflammation
  • reduce the risk of kidney stones
  • improves bowel dysfunction

CONS:
  • gas and bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • skin rashes

Bifidobacterium Lactis

It is a powerful probiotic bacteria that improves immunity, combats tumor growth, and aids in digestion as evidenced by years of scientific research. This probiotic strain populates intestines and the colon, where it breaks down body waste and helps in the absorption of vitamins and other vital nutrients. Bifido Lactis can be found in raw milk, and similar to Lactobacillus Helveticus, it’s chosen as a bacterial culture for Swiss cheese and buttermilk.

PROS:
CONS:
Pros

  • improves general digestive comfort
  • reduces cavity-causing mouth bacteria
  • fights colon cancer
  • increases blood glucose control
  • reinforces overall immunity
  • fights allergies and inflammation
  • improves cholesterol

Cons

  • gas and bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • stomach ache
  • acne

2nd well-researched strains

Lactobacillus Bulgaricus

Bulgaricus is actually one of the first strains of probiotics that have been studied. Russian Nobel Prize winner, Ilya Mechnikov, first discovered this probiotic in fermented sour milk.

PROS:
CONS:
Pros

  • increases general immunity
  • fights viruses
  • reduces leaky gut symptoms
  • minimizes diarrhea and nausea
  • improves dairy digestion
  • fights allergies and inflammation
  • decreases cholesterol
  • prevents tooth decay
  • manages HIV symptoms
  • combats dyspepsia

Cons

  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • skin rashes and acne
  • swelling of face, tongue, throat, lips

Lactobacillus Silivarius

If you want to improve your mouth and teeth conditions, L. Silivarius is the probiotic you can count on. A robust probiotic strain, it populates our mouth and helps defend our gums and teeth. It also inhabits the vagina, small intestines and colon.

PROS:
CONS:
Pros

  • reduces mouth cavities
  • helps prevent strep throat
  • reduces irritable bowel syndrome
  • decreases mastitis
  • inhibits candida
  • prevents ulcerative colitis
  • inhibits pathogenic bacteria: E. coli and Salmonella spp.
  • reduces gingivitis

Cons

  • swelling of face, tongue, throat, lips

Lactobacillus Plantarum

Present in fermented food products and found in your saliva, it’s an aerotolerant probiotic strain that helps in the reduction of topical burn infections and healing stimulation to strengthen the health of your immune system. Aerotolerant means that this strain doesn’t need oxygen for growth.

PROS:
CONS:
Pros

  • significant amount of antioxidants
  • restores healthy liver enzymes
  • maintains intestinal permeability
  • reduces respiratory diseases
  • reduces inflammatory responses
  • aids in healing of multiple traumas among injured patients
  • alleviates fungal infections
  • reduces irritable bowel syndrome
  • reduces pancreatic sepsis infections
  • decreases systolic blood pressure
  • minimizes postoperative infections
  • lessens risk of pneumonia
  • reduces kidney stone risk
  • decreases flatulence
  • stimulates immunity in HIV children

ConsTo date, there have been no unwanted side effects reported for Lactobacillus Plantarum.

Lactobacillus Reuteri

It’s a Gram-positive probiotic strain that naturally occupies the gut of birds and mammals. It’s also found in breast milk. Once present in the human body, L. Reuteri provides many benefits including battling off harmful infections and facilitating the immune system.

PROS:
CONS:
Pros

  • prevents gingivitis
  • decreases pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • helps maintain vaginal pH
  • stimulates growth and feeding among preterm infants
  • suppresses H. pylori
  • combats dyspepsia
  • reduces nausea, flatulence and diarrhea
  • stimulates immune system
  • prevents tooth decay, cavities and plaque
  • decrease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • reduces eczema in infants and infant colic
  • diminishes colds and influenza
  • helps stabilize intestinal permeability
  • protects against pathogens

Cons

  • gas and bloating
  • over-stimulation of immune system
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

Lactobacillus Casei

Present in the human mouth and intestine, Lactobacillus Casei, and regarded to complement the growth of Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This probiotic strain inhibits harmful bacterial growth and may also be found in raw or fermented dairy and plant products such as cheese, yogurt and fermented green olives.

PROS:
CONS:
Pros

  • promotes digestion
  • rights off pathogenic bacterial infections
  • reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • impedes severe systemic inflammatory responses
  • fights pneumonia
  • inhibits respiratory tract infections
  • prevents bronchitis
  • prevents H. pylori and ulcers
  • fights allergies
  • inhibits Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • reduces milk intolerance
  • supports liver function
  • lowers cholesterol
  • reduces bladder and colon cancer risk
  • stimulates immune system
  • inhibits candida and vaginosis

Cons

  • gas and bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • acne

Bifidobacterum Bifidum

By far, it’s the most common probiotic bacteria found in the human body. This probiotic strain inhabits the colon, lower small intestine, healthy vaginas and breast milk. Studies show that B. Bifidum generates natural antibiotic substances that destroy harmful bacteria, and fights off candida and yeast infections. However, B. Bifidum is vulnerable to being killed off by antibiotics.

PROS:
CONS:
Pros

  • fights off candida
  • establishes initial microflora among infants
  • improves general immunity
  • fights yeast infections and overgrowths
  • prevents inflammation
  • fights E. coli infections
  • treats acute diarrhea
  • reduces allergies
  • reduce ulcers

Cons

  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • skin rashes and acne

Saccharomyces Boulardii

It’s a strain of yeast, sometimes used as a probiotic, which helps introduce and populate beneficial live cultures into the large and small intestine. Saccharomyces boulardii is used for the treatment and prevention of diarrhea and other conditions caused by antibiotic use.

PROS:
CONS:
Pros

  • aids in general digestion
  • prevents irritable bowel syndrome
  • fights allergies and inflammation
  • fights Crohn’s disease
  • combats Lyme disease
  • prevents bacterial overgrowth and infections
  • boosts lactose tolerance
  • prevents and treats vaginal infections
  • treats leaky gut

Cons

  • gas
  • skin acne, hives
  • diarrhea

3rd most researched strains

Streptococcus Thermophilus

It’s another a powerful probiotic strain that’s found in the colon. It contains multiple digestive and immune health benefits. S. thermophilus is also used as a starter culture in cheese and yogurt. It also produces antibiotic chemicals to fight infection like pneumonia, and produces lactase, which aids in milk digestion.Pros

  • prevents ulcers
  • improves digestion
  • boosts general immunity
  • increases anti-tumor activity
  • improves non-breast-fed infant probiotic microflora
  • lessens symptoms of atopic dermatitis
  • minimizes risk of kidney stones
  • reduces baby colic
  • increases good cholesterol

Cons

  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • skin rashes and acne

Bifidobacterum Breve

A robust, anaerobic probiotic strain that has the ability to compete with other kinds of bacteria. It can be found in the vagina, and inhabits the majority of the colon’s bacteria in young babies. B. Breve also has the superior ability to break down non-digestible food types like plant fibers.

PROS:
  • inhibits E. coli
  • impedes overproduction of candida
  • supports the immune system
  • reduces occurrence of gas and diarrhea
  • prevents bowel irritations
  • promotes gut health
  • decreases risk of kidney stones

CONS:
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • skin allergies, rashes and acne

Bacillus Coagulans

It’s a powerful Gram-positive lactic acid forming bacterial strain prescribed to patients suffering from acute immune disorders. Clinical studies have proven that this probiotic strain is capable of fighting off pathogens and invading viruses. It resides in the digestive tract and easily survives strong stomach acids. B. coagulant is related to other soil-based probiotics.

PROS:
  • decreases irritable bowel syndrome
  • alleviates abdominal pain
  • prevents bloating
  • treats diarrhea
  • promotes digestion
  • fights allergies and inflammation

CONS:
  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • skin rashes and acne
  • reproduces like a yeast
  • virulent, hardy and aggressive

Lactobacillus Brevis

A non-spore forming probiotic strain that has the ability to ferment carbohydrates. Notable products derived from L. Brevis include sauerkraut and yogurt. It also actively promotes healthy human gut.

PROS:
  • provides anti-inflammatory benefits
  • controls and treats oral ulcers
  • reduces DNA damage
  • suppresses colonic tumor formation
  • aids in digestion
  • helps with constipation
  • treats inflammatory bowel disease

CONS:
  • gas
  • skin allergies, hives, acne
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Probiotic species as strains

Lactobacillus Paracasei

It’s a lactic-acid bacteria typically found in dairy and fermented products, as well as probiotic supplements. This bacteria is present in the human intestinal tract and mouth, and helps stabilize the balance between good and harmful bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract.

PROS:
  • fights infections and pathogens
  • prevents tooth decay and plaque
  • helps relieve abdominal pain
  • cleanses gastrointestinal tracts
  • boost immune system

CONS:
  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • skin rashes and acne
  • swelling of face, mouth, throat, lips

Bifidobacterium Longum

It’s described as one of the most important types of healthy bacteria that populates the human body. B. longum is regarded as a helpful bacteria that maintains normality in the digestive tract and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.

PROS:
  • helps relieve abdominal pain and discomfort
  • prevents bloating and constipation
  • prevents diarrhea
  • prevents risk of colon cancer
  • reduces cholesterol
  • alleviates lactose intolerance
  • stimulates immune system
  • fights allergies and inflammation

CONS:
  • gas and bloating
  • diarrhea
  • over-stimulation of immune system (if taken in large doses)
  • skin allergies, rashes, acne
  • constipation

Lactobacillus Johnsonii

It’s a Gram-positive, anaerobic bacteria that inhabits the human intestine. It has the capability of enduring a fermentation process, where it produces lactic-acid. It is often used to ferment and preserve many types of food such as dairy, vegetable products, cereal, and meat.

PROS:
  • protects body against allergies and inflammation
  • helps in the absorption of essential nutrients in the body
  • boosts immune system
  • promotes digestion
  • manages diabetes (helps reduce glucose levels)

CONS:
  • gas and bloating
  • skin allergies, rashes
  • diarrhea
  • constipation

Lactobacillus Fermentum

Fermentum has a few strains that are regarded as anti-microbial and anti-oxidative probiotics. Usually found in fermented plants and sourdough, it’s used to treat women suffering from urogenital infections.

PROS:
  • good bile salt tolerance
  • strong enough to withstand stomach acids
  • reduces cholesterol
  • acts as anti-oxidant
  • anti-microbial
  • treats and prevents urinary tract infections (E. coli and Staphylococcus spp)
  • suppresses gram-negative bacteria
  • promotes healthy gut
  • safe microbes
  • has antibiotic resistant properties

CONS:
  • There have been no negative side effects reported for L. Fermentum.

Pediococcus Acidlacti

It’s a homo-fermentative bacterium that grows and colonizes the digestive tract. It also multiplies in a vast range of pH levels and temperature. P. acidlacti is used in probiotic supplements as an added strain and it’s believed to have potential health benefits.

PROS:
  • treats digestive disorders
  • promotes digestion
  • treats and prevents infections
  • enhances immune system
  • can be administered with antibiotics to treat gastrointestinal tract conditions
  • stabilizes normal microflora balance

CONS:
  • So far, there have been no toxic effects reported for P. Acidlacti.

 Even with well-researched probiotic strains, only a handful have been developed in clinical research for regulatory board approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). So far, there have been no health claims confirmed by both agencies. While probiotics are seen as beneficial to individuals suffering from various diseases and illnesses, it’s still recommended to consult a physician before consuming probiotic strain-contained products and supplements.