Soil-based probiotics have been touted for their sturdiness, longer shelf life and ability to improve digestion, stimulate the immune system, and help maintain a healthy gut microbiota. So, should you be taking soil-based probiotics?

What are soil-based organisms?

The term soil-based organism (SBO) encompasses over 100 different species of microbes naturally found in soil. Some of these have been isolated and adapted for use as probiotics. Most SBO used in soil-based probiotics are spore-forming. This means that when they replicate, they form a small spore that is protected by a hard coating, making them resistant to heat and acid.  This also means that they are more likely to survive the upper gastrointestinal tract and reach the large intestine compared to other commonly used probiotic strains.

Common soil-based species used in probiotics:

Some of the most commonly used soil-based microbes:

  1. Bacillus coagulans
  2. Bacillus subtilis
  3. Bacillus clausii
  4. Bacillus licheniformis
  5. Clostridium butyricum

Disadvantages of traditional/vegetative probiotics

Traditional probiotics strains are mainly Bifidobacterium, Enterococcus, and Escherichia etc.  Although traditional probiotics are safe and effective treatment options but they have some shortcomings such as limited shelf life and can get damaged by stomach acid which eventually will lead to reduced efficacy.

Are soil based probiotics good for us?

These probiotics in addition to conferring various health benefits such as normalize bowel function, aid in digestion, beneficially stimulate the immune system, are well known for their ability to resist stomach acid and longer shelf life because of its spore forming attribute.

On the other hand, few opponents of SBOs argue that because of their spore-forming nature, they proliferate rapidly, and may compete with our resident gut microbes, rather than helping to bring the gut microbiota back to normalcy.

However, several individual SBO strains have been shown to be beneficial, with no adverse effects, in dozens of randomized, placebo-controlled, human clinical trials.

Rather than labeling all SBOs as good or bad, we need a more nuanced discussion – one that considers the evidence for each particular strain, microbe, and formula.

Bacillus Coagulans SNZ 1969

Bacillus coagulans is a gram-positive bacterium that produces L-lactic acid. There are different strains of Bacillus coagulans that are used as probiotic to improve and maintain ecological balance of the intestinal microflora. Several experimental studies, including subchronic toxicity, chronic toxicity, reproduction toxicity, in vitro and in vivo genotoxicity and human clinical trials, have appeared with Bacillus coagulans. All these studies support the safety in use of B. coagulans at the intended use levels. Sanzyme Limited has conducted a series of phenotypic and genotypic studies of B. coagulans SNZ1969 strain. These studies further support the non-toxigenic and non-pathogenic nature of this strain. On the basis of scientific procedures, the consumption of B. coagulans SNZ 1969 spores’ preparation, as a food ingredient, is safe.

Legacy of Bacillus coagulans SNZ 1969

This particular strain originated in Japan. In 1949, a Japanese physician, Dr. Nakamura isolated B. coagulans from green malt. This particular isolate was tested for its potential effects against diarrhea and constipation in adult as well as infants during 1964. In 1972, at the request of Sankyo Corporation, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare approved the use of this particular B. coagulans (designated as strain SANK 70258). Subsequently, in 1973, Sankyo Corporation (currently known as Daiichi Sankyo Co. Ltd) offered formulation and fermentation technology to Sanzyme Limited (earlier known as Uni-Sankyo Ltd). Since then, it is marketed in India under the brand name Sporlac and has been designated as strain SNZ 1969.

The Invincible Probiotic

With a naturally-protective outer layer, Bacillus coagulans SNZ 1969 can survive hostile gastric and bile acids in human gut and remain stable in highly acidic (pH2) environment. It is also resistant to high temperature i.e. up to 85°C for 30 min. From production to consumption, it does not show decrement in viability of cell. It sustains extreme manufacturing processes like fermentation, freezing, thawing, drying, and rehydration, making it the ideal probiotic for food applications.

Current Applications of Bacillus coagulans

Bacillus coagulans are used as dietary supplement probiotics for human consumption. These supplements contain B.coagulans alone or in combination with other probiotics and prebiotics. The recommended dose of B. coagulans ranges from 3.8x 108 or 1.5x 109   CFU/capsule, once to thrice daily for an adult. B.coagulans SNZ 1969 had been approved by various clinical studies for treatment of symptoms caused by abnormalities of intestinal flora called gut dysbiosis. It is also used for treatment of oral and vaginal health.

FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has approved use of B. coagulans for veterinary purposes. It has been shown by various studies to improve the feed conversion ratio, ultimately improving the growth performance for animals such as cattle, swine, poultry, aquaculture etc.

Approval and Certifications

Bacillus coagulans SNZ 1969 SNZ 1969 is a well-studied and documented strain with 20+ clinical trials and multiple regulatory approvals (FDA GRAS, Infant GRAS, EFSA QPS, Health Canada, FSSAI and others). It is currently sold and used in 35+ countries including USA, Italy, Canada, Australia and Japan.

Conclusion

It is important for the consumer/buyer to understand the probiotics available in the market and make an informed decision based on the evidence available before purchasing.  As we have seen that not all probiotic strains are equal, the choice of probiotic , that is , whether to go for a traditional(vegetative) or soil- based spore forming probiotic, needs to be made based on which one provides the maximum benefits. A soil based probiotic with its spore forming capability offers more benefits than the traditional ones and Sanzyme Biologics’ Bacillus coagulans SNZ 1969 is a highly stable, spore forming probiotic which has a shelf life of 36 months and can remain viable through various food based application processing, and can easily sustain the low pH of stomach acid. The increased stability opens up multiple avenues of usage and application for the food/ pharma/animal feed manufacturer requirement.