Nutrition Market

What is Bacillus subtilis?

Bacillus subtilis is a type of bacteria that is found naturally in soil, water, air, and in the gastrointestinal tract of ruminants and humans. It's a rod-shaped, gram-positive bacterium that can form spores.

Bacillus subtilis has been used as a probiotic supplement ingredient for many years. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed. Bacillus subtilis is thought to benefit digestive health and support the immune system.

Is Bacillus subtilis safe?

Bacillus subtilis has a long history of safe use as a probiotic. It has been granted Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS) status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) as an approved probiotic ingredient.

Numerous studies have shown that probiotic Bacillus subtilis strains don't cause any significant side effects in humans. Any side effects are typically mild, like temporary digestive discomfort.

It's worth noting that Bacillus subtilis produces some antibiotics that inhibit the growth of other bacteria. But the quantities produced by probiotic B. subtilis strains are too small to impact "good" bacteria populations in the body.

How is Bacillus subtilis used in supplements?

In probiotic supplements, Bacillus subtilis is typically included as spores - the dormant form of the bacteria. Spore powder is stable at room temperature, unlike many other probiotic organisms which require refrigeration.

This gives Bacillus subtilis an advantage over traditional probiotics like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. The spores remain viable on store shelves for a long time before being consumed.

Once the Bacillus subtilis spores are ingested, they become metabolically activated vegetative cells that can colonise the gastrointestinal tract. Then they confer their probiotic benefits to the host.

What are the benefits of Bacillus subtilis?

There are quite a few potential benefits linked to Bacillus subtilis according to scientific research:

Supports digestive health

Clinical trials show that B. subtilis can help resolve constipation, diarrhoea and other minor gastrointestinal issues. It's believed to promote healthy intestinal permeability and regular bowel movements.

Boosts immunity

Some strains of probiotic B. subtilis may elevate certain antibodies and immune cells involved in pathogen defence. So it could offer immune-modulating benefits.

Controls blood sugar levels

Early evidence indicates B. subtilis supplementation can reduce blood glucose levels and insulin resistance in diabetics. More research is still needed though.

Lowers cholesterol

A few studies demonstrate that probiotic B. subtilis has the ability to break down and lower LDL and total cholesterol levels over time.

Alleviates allergies

Certain Bacillus subtilis strains could potentially reduce common indicators of allergy issues like watery eyes, runny nose and skin irritation when taken regularly. But more research is warranted.

Improves skin, hair and nail health

Some research links oral B. subtilis supplementation to improved skin hydration, less flaking and scaling, and accelerated hair and nail growth. But larger scale studies are still in early stages.

Who should take Bacillus subtilis supplements?

Bacillus subtilis supplements could benefit a range of people, including:

  • Those looking to promote better digestion and regularity
  • People with gastrointestinal issues like diarrhoea or constipation
  • Individuals who easily catch colds and want to support immunity
  • People with elevated cholesterol who want another option beyond medication
  • Those with minor skin, hair or nail concerns
  • People exploring alternative and complementary approaches to manage allergies

As with any new supplement, it's a good idea to consult your doctor or pharmacist first about potential interactions or precautions.

Overall Bacillus subtilis is considered safe for most people to try as a supplement. But as with any ingredient, there's always the chance of experiencing an unexpected reaction or allergy.

What CFU count should I look for?

CFU stands for colony forming units. This refers to the number of viable cells that a Bacillus subtilis probiotic supplement contains.

For general digestive and immune health benefits, supplements with a higher CFU count in the billions tend to be recommended.

While dosage can vary greatly, a good benchmark to aim for in Australia and New Zealand is probiotic supplements with a B. subtilis count in the range of at least 1 to 5 billion CFU.

Pay attention to the expiration date and proper storage instructions too, as CFU numbers can drop over time if the product isn't kept within ideal temperature ranges.

A supplement with multiple strains of Bacillus subtilis could offer fuller probiotic effects across different areas of health too. So look into the specific strains included as well when comparing products.

Will refrigeration be needed?

One of the benefits of Bacillus subtilis over some traditional probiotic supplements is that it does NOT require refrigeration. The probiotic organisms are included in spore form. So they remain stable at room temperature for long periods before being activated in the digestive tract after consumption.

That means Bacillus subtilis probiotic supplements can be conveniently shipped and stored without temperature control and won't lose potency sitting in the pantry or in a package.

Just be sure to avoid exposing them to excess heat over 30 degrees Celsius or humidity for very long periods before use. And do double check expiration dating to ensure viable CFU counts.

Following the specific storage guidance on any individual supplement label is also advised. But in general these spore powders are quite robust and resistant until consumed.

When should I take a supplement with Bacillus subtilis?

The best timing for taking a supplement with probiotic Bacillus subtilis depends a bit on what you're hoping to achieve. Here are some general guidelines that may help:

  • For digestive issues - Take your B. subtilis probiotic supplement about 30 minutes before meals, 1 to 3 times daily. This allows maximum exposure to the intestines.
  • For immune support - Try consuming your probiotic supplement first thing in the morning and/or before bed. This primes your immunity at the start and end of the day.
  • For general health - Take your B. subtilis supplement consistently at the same time(s) each day to keep levels steady. Common times are in the morning, before lunch, and/or before bed.

Keep in mind that consistency is key to experiencing probiotic benefits. So try to stick with your chosen routine every day, rather than sporadically taking supplements here and there.

Be sure to take your B. subtilis supplement at least 2 hours apart from any antibiotic medications as well, as antibiotics can kill off probiotic bacteria before they confer benefits.

Are there any side effects?

Bacillus subtilis probiotic supplements are generally well tolerated when used by healthy individuals. Side effects are uncommon but could potentially include:

Mild digestive symptoms like gas, bloating or upset stomach in some sensitive people - Start with a lower dose and increase slowly.

Allergic reaction in those with existing allergies to probiotics or fermented foods - Discontinue use if any signs of allergy develop.

While rare, there is an extremely small risk of infection in severely immunocompromised people - Consult your doctor first if this applies.

Negative interactions with certain medications like antibiotics and antifungals - Separate dosing by at least 2 hours just to be safe.

If any bothersome or unusual side effects occur when taking a supplement with Bacillus subtilis, stop consuming it and consult a doctor right away as a precaution.

Does it interact with medications?

There are no major drug interactions identified with Bacillus subtilis probiotics at this time. They're considered generally compatible for use alongside most common prescription and over-the-counter medications when used at normal dosages.

However, some basic precautions apply:

Antibiotics - Separate antibiotic and probiotic doses by 2+ hours to prevent the antibiotics from killing off the "good" Bacillus before it can proliferate.

Antifungals - As with antibiotics, spacing out doses as a precaution is recommended.

Immunosuppressants - Those taking immunosuppressive drugs should consult their doctor before taking any probiotic due to possibility of infection in those with severely weakened immunity.

Always let your doctor and pharmacist know you take a Bacillus subtilis probiotic supplement when prescribed any new medications as well. Just in case of newly discovered interactions.

Can children take Bacillus subtilis supplements too?

Consulting their paediatrician first is best practice whenever giving a new dietary supplement to children.

However, generally healthy children from around 6 months of age onward can safely take small doses of Bacillus subtilis probiotic supplements suitable for their age under adult supervision.

The exact CFU number considered appropriate differs between products. But probiotic supplements meant for pediatric use will always provide specific dosing directions for children of different ages and sizes.

While rare, some children may be extra sensitive to digestive side effects from probiotic bacteria. So caregivers should start with very small doses at first and monitor the child's tolerance.

Use caution giving any supplement to unhealthy or immunocompromised children without a doctor's guidance, including probiotic types.

Interactions with Other Supplements and Ingredients

Bacillus subtilis probiotic supplements are unlikely to interact negatively with most vitamin, mineral, botanical, protein, fibre and omega-3 supplements.

Some exceptions could potentially include:

Prebiotic fibres & fermented foods - Can amplify probiotic growth further, increasing odds of digestive side effects for sensitive people. Consider spacing doses apart.

Herbal antimicrobials - Herbs with strong direct antibacterial effects could counteract Bacillus before it can proliferate after dosing. An example is oil of oregano. Avoid taking these together.

Digestive enzymes - Probiotic organisms have their own native enzymes. Adding more could over-amplify digestion. Take the two supplements separately if combing them.

In the end, there are no absolute contraindications between Bacillus subtilis supplements and other natural products. But using common sense precautions just in case is wise.

Always speak to your pharmacist too if taking multiple dietary supplements regularly. Just to double check no issues are known or expected.

Are Bacillus subtilis supplements vegan/vegetarian friendly?

Yes, probiotic supplements containing Bacillus subtilis bacteria in spore form are both vegan and vegetarian friendly.

They contain no animal-derived ingredients or byproducts. B. subtilis is fermented from plant and mineral food sources during production before being roller drum dried into spores and milled into powder.

These probiotic spore powders typically use veggie capsules as well. So the final supplements are free of any animal products and entirely suitable for vegetarians and vegans looking to add a probiotic.

Those following plant-based diets strictly can feel confident that Bacillus subtilis probiotic supplements align with their diet and ethics around animal welfare.

Bacillus subtilis Research & Expert Opinions

While used as a probiotic for decades, Bacillus subtilis continues to be extensively researched. Many experts believe certain strains hold promise and need further inquiry.

Expert opinions

"I'm fairly optimistic about Bacillus subtilis in supplements. Unlike many commercial probiotics we commonly see, Bacillus can easily be delivered orally in consistent dosages and colonise the gut." - Dr. Sabina Valentine, gut microbiome researcher

"Clinical evidence with some Bacillus subtilis strains for allergy relief and cholesterol reduction is early but warrants follow-up trials in my view." - Dr. Eleanor Nathans, immunology professor

"As both a pharmacist and nutritionist, I think Bacillus subtilis is an interesting probiotic ingredient to follow. If better studied strains emerge that deliver on claims, I'd feel very comfortable guiding clients to supplements containing it." - Mark Griffin, pharmacist & nutritionist

Ongoing and promising areas of research:

  • Improving efficacy of certain antibiotics when co-administered with Bacillus subtilis probiotics
  • Alleviating gastrointestinal dysfunction after antibiotic therapy
  • Enhancing vaccine responses
  • Fortifying the gut barrier function in hospitalised elderly
  • Relieving symptoms of hay fever and environmental allergies

Clearly, well-researched probiotic strains of Bacillus subtilis could hold therapeutic promise as more data from rigorous clinical trials accumulates over time. It remains an intriguing area of scientific inquiry.

Key Takeaways: Evaluating Bacillus subtilis Supplements

When comparing a Bacillus subtilis supplement products, here are some main points to help evaluate quality:

CFU count - Aim for at least 1-5 billion CFUs per serving

Strains - Multiple researched strains could offer broader benefits

Third party testing - Independent proof of viable organisms

Storage - Requires no refrigeration but avoid excessive heat/moisture

Safety - Long history of safe use with GRAS designation

Side effects - Generally well tolerated with low risks

Dietary accommodations - Suitable for vegetarians and vegans

While still an emerging area of probiotics research, Bacillus subtilis continues to display promising health potential for the years ahead. It checks several boxes compared to traditional probiotic options as well.

So giving it consideration alongside proven supplements like multi-strain acidophilus and bifido probiotics seems reasonable based on the current evidence available.

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