A Guide to Lactobacillus

A Guide to Lactobacillus

Date:

If you take a look at the back of a probiotic supplement’s label, a prebiotic skincare product’s label, or even a vaginal probiotic supplement’s label, chances are you’ll find a common word on all of them: Lactobacillus (go on, take look!). Lactobacillus (pronounced: LAC-toe-BACK-SIL-uhs) is a category of bacteria that’s abundantly present in your gut microbiome, your skin microbiome, and plenty of other microbiomes throughout the body. In fact, over half of the vaginal microbiome is dominated by Lactobacillus bacteria (Chen et. al, 2020). 

So, what exactly is it?

Lactobacillus is a category of “good” bacteria found in the human microbiomes. Its role is multifaceted – it can help us absorb nutrients, fight off pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria, digest food, maintain vaginal pH, improve your skin’s immune system, and so much more. Furthermore, it can be applied topically in the form of prebiotic, or ingested in the form of a probiotic. 

You may also recognize that there are several different types of Lactobacillus bacteria – Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, and so much more. This is because the species of each Lactobacillus bacteria is specially evolved to benefit a certain area or behavior of your body’s microbiome (digestion, fighting bad bacteria, maintaining vaginal pH, etc). 


How do I know which to use?

Since the role of Lactobacillus bacteria varies per area on your body, we’ve broken down beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria categories for you per gut, skin, and others to look out for when shopping for a product.



FUNCTION

WHAT FORM OF LACTOBACILLUS TO LOOK OUT FOR

Balancing the skin’s immune system (strengthening the barrier)

Lactobacillus ferment extract*, Lactobacillus paracasei**, Lactobacillus rhamnosus**, Lactobacillus salivarius**

Improving gut function (gas and bloat)

Lactobacillus acidophilus**, Lactobacillus plantarum**, Lactobacillus rhamnosus**, Lactobacillus paracasei**, Lactobacillus casei**

Maintaining optimal vaginal conditions

Lactobacillus acidophilus**, Lactobacillus rhamnosus**

Keeping underarm odor at bay

Lactobacillus ferment extract*


*Denotes topical

**Denotes ingestible

Inside AND out

Lastly, notice that there’s a lot of overlap between Lactobacillus bacteria and the areas of the body they can be used for. Additionally, as presented in the above table, this bacteria can be used both topically for products that you can apply ON the body, and INternally for products that are ingestible–connecting the dots between inside and out. Ultimately, you can thank the interconnected nature of our body’s organ systems for this fascinating synergy. While the positive effects of probiotics and prebiotics are still undergoing a large scientific conquest to determine how we can most effectively harness the power of the human microbiome, you have to admit – it’s pretty cool.

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Citation: Chee, W.J.Y., Chew, S.Y. & Than, L.T.L. Vaginal microbiota and the potential of Lactobacillus derivatives in maintaining vaginal health. Microb Cell Fact 19, 203 (2020).

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AS MEDICAL ADVICE. THIS POST IS NOT MEANT TO TREAT, CURE, PREVENT, OR DIAGNOSE CONDITIONS OR DISEASES; AND IS MEANT FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. AS ALWAYS, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRYING ANY NEW TREATMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS.