Probiotic Species for Better Health
Are you stuck on which probiotic is best for you and your situation? Take a look at our pharmacist curated list and find what’s catered to you.
View our tips and learn more about the different types of probiotics
Medically researched probiotic species
Most probiotics people think of for their health are species of bacteria or yeast. The good news for patients and pharmacists (like me) is that there has been a lot of research on quite a few probiotic bacteria and yeast, which is starting to unravel some of the medical mysteries as to why some probiotics work for some people but not others.
What are probiotics? How a pharmacist explains it.
As a pharmacist, I often discuss probiotics with customers who are curious about their benefits. Probiotics are living microorganisms, such as bacteria and yeasts, that can provide health advantages when consumed in appropriate amounts – in the right situations. But, as I often tell my patients, not all products labeled as probiotics have confirmed health benefits. And, not every species that’s helpful to a particular person is going to help someone else – it all depends on a number of factors, and not everyone’s situation (and microbiome) are the same. It always makes sense to consult with your primary care doctor if you are having medical issues. One of the most common questions I get at the pharmacy is how to take probiotics with antibiotics – check out my article on that here.
How do they work?
The primary action of probiotics takes place in the digestive tract, where they interact with the gut microbiome. This microbiome consists of a variety of microorganisms, predominantly bacteria, that reside mainly in the large intestine. The right probiotic species MIGHT help protect your digestive tract from harmful microorganisms, may improve digestion and gut function, make bouts of diarrhea go away faster, and may offer other health benefits as well – including an interesting, possible link between the gut and happiness/mood. You can learn about how long it takes probiotics to work here.
What are the most common Probiotic species?
How are Probiotic species named?
Probiotic species are named in Latin, through a hierarchical naming system that includes their genus, species, and strain. Using the example of Bifidobacterium bifidum, the naming system for this microorganism can be broken down as follows:
Genus: Bifidobacterium – This is the first part of the name and represents the broader classification of the microorganism.
Species: bifidum – This is the second part of the name and identifies the specific type of microorganism within the genus.
In this case, there is no strain designation provided. However, if there were a strain, it would be listed after the species name as a unique identifier, differentiating between various subtypes of the microorganism with specific characteristics or properties.
So, Bifidobacterium bifidum is a microorganism with Bifidobacterium as the genus and bifidum as the species. If a strain were to be included, it would be represented as Bifidobacterium bifidum [strain]. It can also be abbreviated B. bifidum.
Probiotic Species Comparison Chart
This chart compares the most popular microorganisms taken to support gut and overall health. It’s really important to realize that not every specific species will help every individual, so I’m listing possible health benefits. And not all of this research is fully baked yet (or should I say fermented yet – that’s a yeast joke), so always talk with your doctor to see if they recommend another course of action.
Not everything living in your gut is a probiotic
One thing that is confusing is that not every bacteria or yeast that lives naturally in healthly people is a good probiotic. For some bacteria, like E. coli, there are only very specific strains that are beneficial probiotics, where as other strains can be quite dangerous. And some species that live in your body naturally, like the yeast Candida albicans, can be harmful if too many grow in your body.
Looking for a probiotic species to help you? Read on of our articles on the various ones you’ll most likely find:
A pharmacist reviews some of the most commonly used strains of probiotics.
Streptococcus – the right species can be a helpful probiotic, but it’s not usually a critter you want out of control. A pharmacists explains all.
Escherichia – also known as E. coli – is both a dangerous bacteria and a helpful probiotic. Learn about the difference.
Lactobacillus reuteri – the popular probiotic – is reviewed by a practicing pharmacist.
Lactobacillus plantarum is one of the most popular probiotics – learn why from a pharmacist.
Studies show L. acidophilus can help improve gut health, enhance immune function, reduce IBS symptoms and more. A pharmacist breaks it down.
Candida albicans is in healthy human guts – but is NOT a probiotic. C. albicans overgrowth needs to be treated by a doctor.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a type of bacteria that naturally lives in the human body, and is a popular probiotic. A pharmacist explains how it helps
Enterococcus is a genus of bacteria that can be found in the human gut, as well as in various environments such as soil, water, and food - and some species of Enterococcus are safely used as probiotics. Enterococcus is a bit of an odd probiotic bacteria - the...
One of the most important probiotics in the human gut Bifidobacterium is a genus of probiotic bacteria that is frequently found in the human gut and in fermented foods. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the gut flora and in supporting the overall...
Saccharomyces is a genus of probiotic yeast that consist of several different species, the most well-known of this genus are Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii). Scientists and pharmacists don’t generally think of this yeast as being...
Bacillus is a genus of rod-shaped bacteria, some of which are commonly used as probiotics - in particular Bacillus subtilis (B. subtilis) and Bacillus coagulans (B. coagulans) are in many probiotics. Like some of the other microorganisms that are used as probiotic...
What is Lactobacillus When patients show me a bottle of probiotics at the pharmacy counter, pretty much nine times out of ten it's going to have some strain of Lactobacillus as one of the active cultures. Patients want to know if it's a good probiotic, and what it...