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Probiotic strain for oral use another alternative to COVID vaccine
Excerpts from an informative article worth your attention
Probiotic Strain Offers New Weapon in Fight Against Infectious Disease and COVID-19
New research shows evidence Streptococcus salivarius K12 may combat infectious disease and COVID-19 respiratory infections
By Christy Prais
Breakthroughs in scientific research and a growing body of evidence show that an oral probiotic strain, Streptococcus salivarius K12, clinically demonstrates protection against bacterial infections of the respiratory tract caused by COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses making it a new weapon in the fight against infectious disease and COVID-19.
The oral probiotic strain Streptococcus salivarius K12 works by crowding out bad bacteria and stopping its ability to colonize. New studies have also found that it has antibacterial and antiviral properties and stimulates inhibitory substances that kill or inhibit the growth of various bacterial species disabling the reproduction of pathogenic bacteria on the oropharyngeal mucus surfaces.
For the majority, current COVID-19 variants present with mild or minor cold or flu-like symptoms including low fever, fatigue, and dry cough. The less common, severe cases present with dyspnea (difficulty breathing) that can rapidly deteriorate into serious complications, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Research has shown that secondary bacterial infections in COVID-19 patients are important causal drivers of mortality outcomes.
A study done in Wuhan, China, published in Frontiers in Microbiology in July 2021, found that bacterial infections (bacteremia and pneumonia) were more common in fatal COVID-19 cases.
Between January and February 2020, a study was conducted in Wuhan, China, to investigate the benefits of the oropharyngeal probiotic strain Streptococcus salivarius K12 in preventing respiratory tract infections in frontline medical staff who were in close contact with COVID-19 hospitalized patients.
It found that “oropharyngeal probiotic administration significantly reduced the incidence of respiratory tract infections by 64.8 percent, reduced the time experiencing respiratory tract infections and oral ulcer symptoms by 78 percent, shortened the days absent from work by 95.5 percent, and reduced the time under medication where there is no record of antibiotic and anti-viral drug intake in the probiotic group.”
It was also noted that there was no intake of steroid/anti-inflammatory drugs in the probiotic group compared with 10 days of intake of steroid/anti-inflammatory drugs in the control group.
The results of this study indicate that the oropharyngeal probiotic formula containing Streptococcus salivarius K12 “can reduce susceptibility to respiratory tract infections for frontline medical staff fighting against COVID-19.”
Regarding the vaccination status of the enrolled medical staff, only one out of 98 in the probiotic group had the pneumococcal vaccine and four out of 98 had the influenza vaccine, while one out of 95 in the control group had the pneumococcal vaccine and four out of 95 had influenza vaccine. The two groups had no statistically significant differences in vaccination status and outcomes.
The above-mentioned study was published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Bio Technology in June 2021 and was peer-reviewed by Stephen A. Morse a senior consultant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yet the CDC guidelines continue to peddle vaccines and the unapproved investigational medicine Paxlovid.
In May 2022, a study confirmed the intake of the oropharyngeal Streptococcus salivarius K12 as a dietary intervention can effectively reduce episodes of upper respiratory tract infections in school children. Children in the probiotic group experienced 68 percent fewer days of onset of respiratory symptoms than the control group.
The most recent study published in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins in December 2022, found that Streptococcus salivarius K12 evokes an immunological response in the oral cavity—an effect that may contribute to the protection of the host against certain viral infections. The study states, “this is the potential for application as a short-term cross-protective (‘priming’) activity against viral infections initiating within the oral cavity.”
COVID-19 and the Oral Microbiome
A growing number of studies show associations between diseases and viruses and changes in the oral microbiome. For example imbalances in the oral microbiome can cause gut microbes to produce carcinogenic toxins triggering gut inflammation and metabolic problems.
The mouth is an entry point to the respiratory and digestive systems and is highly vascularized. High vascularization of the mouth can contribute to illness by exacerbating the inflammatory response causing vascular changes, and leading to hypoxia. This can lead to oral changes associated with endocrine illness, as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, clogged arteries, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
Replication of COVID-19 occurs in the nose and throat and initially develops as a respiratory infection in the cells of the nasal cavity and respiratory tract of which 95.86 percent are expressed in cells that cover the surface of the tongue (epithelial cells).
A study published in the journal Nature revealed that COVID-19 might interact with members of the oral microbiome in either the lungs or the oral cavity. Viral shedding from the nose and mouth is also a major factor in transmission with evidence suggesting that the first responses in this battleground may help determine who will develop severe disease.
Studies show that lung microbiota is more similar to those in the oropharynx than those in the nasopharynx or lower digestive tract. Because of this, the oral microbiome could be a driving force in regulating the immune system in the mouth, which could impact the ability of pathogens to cause infection.
Streptococcus salivarius K12 which has been developed as a probiotic for the oral cavity has been clinically demonstrated to improve the upper respiratory tract microbiota protecting the host from pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and viruses, reducing the incidence of viral respiratory tract infections and bacterial co-infections.
There are currently over one hundred studies conducted to date on its benefits and more are underway.
In the study published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Bio Technology in June 2021, whose primary objective was to investigate the benefits of Streptococcus salivarius K12 probiotic in preventing respiratory tract infections in frontline medical staff who were in close contact with COVID-19 patients, found that the clinical benefit of oropharyngeal probiotic plays a role in creating a stable upper respiratory tract microbiota capable of protecting the host from respiratory tract infections. The authors state:
“Its anti-viral capability to build a well-established first-line defense on the upper respiratory tract and oropharyngeal microbiome to protect individuals from respiratory tract infection could be a promising strategy to prevent respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19 infections.”
Streptococcus salivarius K12 works in several ways to fight off viral infections in its host.
One of the ways it works is by producing various salivaricins which can inhibit the growth of various pathogens, including bacteria, by binding to their surface and disrupting their cell membranes. This can help to prevent viral infections from taking hold in the body and shows promising inhibitory activity towards an array of bacterial pathogens.
Streptococcus salivarius K12 also stimulates an anti-inflammatory response, actively protecting the host against inflammation and cellular death caused by pathogens. It promotes cellular health and homeostasis and may protect host tissues from damage caused by other immunostimulatory cells and products.
Additionally, Streptococcus salivarius K12 can also compete with pathogenic bacteria for space and nutrients in the host’s oral cavity which prevents the colonization of viruses and other pathogens.
A recent study published in December 2022 in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins investigated whether the ingestion and oral cavity colonization by Streptococcus salivarius K12 is associated with the enhancement of IFN-γ (a protein that affects the immune system) levels in saliva.
The study found that the oral probiotic strain did increase IFN-γ levels in human saliva within 24 hours of consumption—an effect that may contribute to the protection of the host against certain virus infections.
The increase in IFN-γ levels in the oral cavity helps to fight off viruses in several ways:
Activation of other immune cells: IFN-γ activates immune cells such as macrophages and natural killer cells, which can directly kill virus-infected cells.
Induction of antiviral genes: IFN-γ can also induce the expression of genes that produce proteins that inhibit viral replication and spread.
Enhancement of adaptive immune response: IFN-γ activates other T cells, such as CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells, which play a critical role in the adaptive immune response against the virus.
Tips on Buying and Taking Oral Probiotics
When buying oral probiotics, there are several things to look for to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product. I spoke to John Hale who has a doctorate in microbiology and has been involved in numerous studies, clinical trials, and research on Streptococcus salivarius K12. He shared some great tips to keep in mind when purchasing a quality oral probiotic:
“One important thing to look for is if the company is a member of the International Probiotics Association (IPA). Members of the IPA must adhere to guidelines, so you can trust that they are producing safe and effective products,” Hale said. You can check if a company is a member of the IPA by looking for the IPA logo on the packaging or checking the IPA’s website.
Look at the name of the bacteria that is listed on the packaging. “It’s important to see the genus, species, and strain name of the bacteria. For example, when buying this specific oral probiotic strain you want to see ‘Streptococcus salivarius K12.’ This ensures that the company has done research and understands what they are giving you,” he said.
“Finally, the amount of bacteria listed on the packaging is usually not as important as the dose that was found to work in clinical trials and studies. It is important to note that more is not always better. The specific dose that was found to work in the trials and studies on Streptococcus salivarius K12 is one billion CFU [colony-forming unit] or greater,” he said.
How often should we take oral probiotics for viral and respiratory tract infection defense?
Hale says, “for upper respiratory infection prevention, you should take a daily dose during peak periods when you are likely to get sick—like the winter months for example. It is also important to take them daily around times you will be in a confined environment with other people.”
[Personal note from Joel Hirschhorn: I purchased this product]
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