Probiotics-An Update

By: Dr. Abhishek Kr. Pandey, Medical Correspondent-ICN

Probiotics are used in the rotavirus diarrhoea, urogenital infections, food allergy, H.pylori infections, bowel syndromes.

LUCKNOW: Probiotics are dietary supplements which have been used for the prevention and treatment of wide range of diseases. These probiotics consists of beneficial micro-organisms which stimulate health promoting flora, thus suppressing the pathologic colonization and disease spread. Lilley and Stillwell in 1965 described these beneficial microorganisms in fermented milk using the term “Probiotic”.

The bacterial population of human GIT constitutes an enormously complex ecosystem. Most of these organisms are beneficial but some are harmful also. Probiotics consists of bacteria, molds or yeast. However most probiotics are Bacteria. Among bacteria, lactic acid bacteria are more popular. Probiotics can be in powder form, liquid form, gel, paste, granules or available in capsule and sachets form.

Probiotics are used in the rotavirus diarrhoea, urogenital infections, food allergy, H.pylori infections, bowel syndromes.

Probiotics in Oral cavity-  In oral cavity, Probiotics helps in controlling the periodontal infections and halitosis. Treatment of periodontal disease in recent years has moved towards an antibiotic/ anti-microbial model of disease management. Probiotics decreases the pH of oral cavity so that plaque bacteria cannot form dental plaque and calculus that cause periodontal disease. They make excellent maintenance product because they produce Antioxidants. Antioxidants prevants plaque formation by neutralizing  the free electrons that are needed for the mineral formation. Probiotics are able to breakdown putrescence odors by fixating on the toxic gases and changing them to gases needed for metabolism.

Probiotics are also used in the treatment of halitosis. There is reduction in  volatile sulfer compounds for the probiotic group compared to the placebo group when probiotic Streptococcus was used.

Role of Probiotics in Dental caries- In caries there is increase in acidogenic and acid tolerating species such as streptococci mutans and lactobacilli etc. Use of probiotics and molecular genetics to replace and displace cariogenic Bacteria with non- carious bacteria has shown promising results.

Side effects- Side effects of probiotics ,if they occur tend to be mild and digestive such as bloating. More serious effects have been seen in some people. Probiotics might theoretically cause infections that need to be treated with Antibiotics, especially in people with underlying health conditions.

Probiotics are regulated as dietry supplements and are not subjected to the same rigorous standards as medications. Probiotic therapy uses bacterial interference and immunomodulation in the control of severe infectious, inflammatory and immunologic conditions. Similar to their better known actions in the GI tract, probiotics exert their effects in many ways also in the oral cavity.

Despite of our rapidly increasing knowledge of pathogen-  host interactions, the role of beneficial bacteria in preventing the emergence of pathogenic species and oral health remains obscure. There is great need to elucidate the role of oral beneficial microbiota, to identify beneficial bacteria and to conduct proper large scale studies on the usefulness of probiotics to maintain or improve oral health.