While bacteria are often associated with sickness, infection, and a host of other health issues, they are an essential part of a healthy GI system.
The gut microbiome, consisting of countless bacteria found mostly in the large intestine, has been known to contribute to the overall health of an individual. Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for you, primarily because of their contributions to a healthy gut.
Probiotics can be found in the form of supplements but can also be consumed naturally through certain foods such as yogurt and kefir.
What is Lactobacillus Gasseri?
Research on Lactobacillus Gasseri (LG)
A 2010 double-blind, randomized controlled trial that compared patients who received fermented milk with LG to another group who only received fermented milk concluded that LG reduced obesity, body weight, waist to hip circumference, and body fat mass. Researchers concluded that LG demonstrated favorable effects on individuals with metabolic disorders.
Another study found that ingestion of fermented milk containing LG reduced abdominal fat at intermediate levels. One study, performed in 2013 investigated the effects of LG on weight loss and found no statistically significant difference between the group receiving LG and the group not receiving LG. That same study noted that without a change in diet or behavior, individuals who took LG demonstrated a reduction in body weight and hip to waist circumference, just not enough to be deemed statistically significant.
LG showed anti-obesity effects in mice.
A 2017 study concluded that daily administration of LG improved anxiety, depressive mood, and global sleep quality when compared to a placebo group. Another study suggested that LG could improve the body’s stress response.
A 2015 study suggested that long term use of a probiotic containing LG improved the resistance of recurrent vaginal infections in individuals who were treated for bacterial vaginosis and recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. One double-blind, randomized control study found that LG improved the overall quality of life in individuals with endometriosis by reducing menstrual pain and cramping.
LG comes in a suppository form that is designed to be inserted into the vagina to promote vaginal health.
Given the nature of probiotics, it’s no surprise that they contribute to the health of the gut or gastrointestinal system. Probiotics have been thought to help improve overall GI health and treat a multitude of different GI issues.
A 2007 study reported that LG had anti-inflammatory properties that reduced the severity of colitis in mice. A 2017 study found that LG helped to reduce abdominal pain in individuals suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
A 2011 study found that individuals treated for H. pylori with triple medication therapy and yogurt showed significantly better efficacy when compared to triple medication therapy alone.
A 2014 meta-analysis (review of multiple studies) suggested that not all probiotic supplements are helpful in the eradication of H. pylori infection. This study identified four specific probiotic strains that increased eradication of the H. pylori infection, LG being one of them.
A 2012 study using mice showed that oral administration of LG may protect against the influenza virus and contribute to gut and respiratory immune responses.
Foods Containing Lactobacillus Gasseri
Foods that LG can naturally be found in include:
- Fermented or cultured dairy products (e.g., yogurt)
- Soy beverages
Food marketers are catering to the growing interest in probiotic containing foods. Their claims may be based only on preliminary scientific findings. New probiotic-containing foods include:
- Probiotic cereal
- Granola bars
- Soy milk
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
- Instant formula
The regulations for probiotics depends on the intended use of the respective probiotic (drug versus dietary supplement).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require evidence for safety and efficacy of dietary supplements: only premarket notification is required.
If the probiotic were to be classified as a drug (used to diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease), then the FDA would require the drug to be proven to be safe and effective for its intended use before marketing. Thus, most probiotics are classified as a dietary supplement and not a drug. The FDA is involved with the ongoing advancement of probiotic research.
Potential Side Effects
Probiotics are widely considered to be safe to take for healthy individuals.
One study performed in 2006 revealed no adverse effects in individuals who took LG. The same study noted multiple other studies with similar probiotics that also report no adverse effects.
In healthy individuals, probiotics, like LG are safe to use and might cause mild side effects such as gas or bloating.
Individuals who are critically ill, have a weakened immune system, or another significant health issue could experience significant side effects from LG or another probiotic. If you have a significant health issue and are considering trying a probiotic, consult your doctor first.
LG is categorized as “likely safe” for children to take by mouth and “possibly safe” for those pregnant and/or breastfeeding.
Whenever you start taking a dietary supplement you should always consult your doctor first. It might seem menial, but changes in diet or supplements can drastically change treatment. That being said, probiotics such as LG provide a generally safe and affordable treatment option for individuals who are of good health.
As shown above, a lot of research has been conducted on probiotics, but much remains to be learned at the same time.
Additionally, LG could be considered a low-risk option for individuals to try for health conditions that LG has been recommended for. Given its relative affordability and minimal known side effects, healthy individuals interested in trying LG or another probiotic could consider them to be a low-risk, low-reward supplement.
It is worth noting that different studies conducted their research in different ways, for varying lengths of time, and at different dosages than others or what might be recommended as a daily dose of LG. Due to loose regulations on probiotics, different manufacturers might have different dosage recommendations.