Are probiotics 100% safe – No, Just 99.99% safe

This is an update of a post that I did back in 2018 [Original Post]. A reader had messaged me about the safety of soil based organisms probiotics. For hundreds of thousands of years, soil based organism was a part of our diet because of the absence of safe water, soil was often on the food consumed. I recall reading that the human gut bacteria has strong similarity to that seen around root vegetables. This is not surprising, pulling roots out of the ground (without washing!!!) was likely common for most of these thousands of years…

“But I read about someone getting sick from SBO!”

  • There are two types of sick to consider: bacteremia or endocarditis (BAD), and herxheimer reaction (usually a good sign — I was really sick when I first started Mutaflor, it ebbed and I was much better afterwards)

This recent event caused me to revisit this item: “FDA investigating baby’s death linked to probiotic given by hospital” with FDA Letter pointing out that it was not legal to sell it with the claims it made.

Some Counts of Adverse Probiotic Infections

The most dangerous probiotic (using report counts) are Lactobacillus.

There are similar risk from eating “safe” lactobacillus probiotics, cheese, yogurt, etc. Even deaths have been reported: “Lactobacillus-Cause of Death ” [2010]

” Lactobacillus has been used as a probiotic bacteria to treat diarrhea and is also present in dairy foods. It is hence commonly used. Lactobacillus endocarditis, an exceedingly unusual disorder, is accompanied by high mortality and poor response to treatment. ” – OUCH!

  • “In recent years, infections caused by Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium made up 0.05% to 0.4% of cases of endocarditis and bacteremia. In most cases, the infections were caused by endogenous microflora of the host or bacterial strains colonizing the host’s oral cavity. According to a review of cases of infections caused by bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus from 2005 (collected by J.P. Cannot’a), 1.7% of infections have been linked directly with intensive dairy probiotic consumption by patients. ” [Lactic acid bacteria and health: are probiotics safe for human?]. [2014]

Some more citations…’ bacteremia is a bad bacteria infection, endocarditis is a bacteria infection of the heart. It has been only in the last few years

Bottom Line

Probiotics are generally safe. No probiotic is 100% safe. To me, soil based bacteria are likely more beneficial then lactobacillus because they went along with our ancestor’s diet long before we started domestication of milk producing animals. There may be considerable basis to the hygiene hypothesis which would result from our modern pathological obsession with sterilization of food in the belief that all bacteria are bad.

The general belief is that issues arise with a weak immune system, after surgeries, and with a “leaky gut”.

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