I continued to get asked quite frequently here at Fix Your Gut is there any HSO that you trust? If people remember I recommend S. boulardii as an HSO probiotic that I believe has benefits that outweighs risks when it is needed. That being said some people still react negatively to S. boulardii and there have been reported cases of fungemia.

Most people continue to ask me if there is any bacterial HSO that I can recommend to take. Well, I always had this blog on the back of my mind to write, in the hope that the use of Bacillus coagulans would increase, and more research and studies would prove the safety of what I believe to be the superior Bacillus HSO. We do not sadly have those safety studies yet, so I cannot fully recommend it, but what I can tell you about this HSO is promising in those who want to use a HSO to try to improve their digestive health.

Bacillus coagulans

Bacillus coagulans is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped, endospore forming, L-lactate producing bacteria. B. coagulans can survive stomach and bile acids and pass through into the colon. It is truly unknown like most HSO’s if it would germinate and become flora in the intestinal tract without constant ingestion. The reported benefits of taking B. coagulans and most spore forming probiotics themselves might come from the ingestion of spores and the immune regulating reaction to them, instead of them germinating and colonizing the gut. Finally, B. coagulans possibly even when it germinates may only reside in the gastrointestinal tract for a few days before it is eliminated from the body (similar to the transient probiotic properties of S. boulardii). 1 2 3

Bacillus coagulans was originally misidentified as Lactobacillus sporogenes when it was discovered in the early 1930’s. There is still a debate about the correct genus of the bacteria between probiotic supplement manufacturers and microbiologists. One study about the debate states: 4

“In any case, the use of the term Lactobacillus sporogenes seems to aim to deliberately confound consumers, trying to benefit from association with the extensive literature on the safety and health benefits of the genus Lactobacillus.”

The author of the study also brings up similar concerns I have about fully recommending B. coagulans:

“For this reason the use of the wrong nomenclature of L. sporogenes becomes once more questionable, since it seems to try to get advantage from the old tradition of safety of Lactobacilli to remedy to the lack of safety reports on B. coagulans.”

The conclusion of the report is that probiotic companies that mislabel B. coagulans as L. sporogenes are doing it for their advantage since the reclassification of the bacteria occurred a long time ago, and anyone who is selling a probiotic product should know about correct nomenclature for safety. 5

However, here are some possible positives about B. coagulans if it colonizes the gut:

  • Lower inflammatory responses. 6
  • Produces bacteriocins (hopefully, it reduces opportunistic, not probiotic growth). 7
  • Reduces opportunistic biofilm. 8
  • Produces the SCFA butyric acid from carbohydrate fermentation. 9
  • Lowers intestinal pH by producing L-lactate (instead of the problem causing D-lactate). 10
  • May reduce Klebsiella overgrowth and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. 11
  • Survives stomach and bile acids. 12
  • Relieves diarrhea and gastroenteritis. 13
  • Increases probiotic colonies of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. 14 15

So my main issues with Bacillus coagulans, much like any probiotic is if there is enough science to back up the claims to improve your digestive health? Maybe, but more studies will be needed.

Is it known to cause infection? Currently, compared to other Bacillus HSO’s, no.

Does if have the risk of it developing opportunistic capability (horizontal gene transfer for example?) Yes, but unlikely.

Is it properly labeled and uncontaminated? Depends on the individual strain and the supplement, this is a risk with all probiotic supplements. However, the risk is greater with HSO’s.

Is it normal flora? No. 16

I need more information before I can fully recommend B. coagulans. One study however on its safety mentions: 17

“In conclusion, the studies described in this paper were conducted as a comprehensive safety assessment of GanedenBC30™, a commercially available probiotic strain of B. coagulans. As part of a pre-clinical safety evaluation program, several tests have been performed. GanedenBC30™ demonstrated no evidence to suggest mutagenicity or genotoxicity in a number of commonly utilized genetic toxicity assays. No treatment-related mortality, morbidity or clinical symptoms resulted from an acute oral toxicity study using a single dose of 5000 mg/kg. In a subchronic oral toxicity study, GanedenBC30™ in daily doses of 100, 300 and 1000 mg/kg bw/day for 90 days was well tolerated and did not cause either lethality or toxic clinical symptoms in either male or female rats. The NOAEL derived from the results of the 90-day study is 1000 mg/kg. Since the concentration of the B. coagulans used was 1.36 × 1011 CFUs/g, this corresponds to 1.36 × 1011 CFUs/kg. For an average 70 kg human being, this corresponds to 95.2 × 1011 CFUs. Because the suggested human dose is in the range of 100 × 106 to 3 × 109 CFUs, this gives a safety factor ranging from 3173 to 95,200 times. Based upon scientific procedures and supported by history of use, GanedenBC30™ is considered safe for chronic human consumption.”

Granted some of the studies were disclosed as being sponsored in some fashion by the largest producer of Bacillus coagulans, Ganeden Biotech, so there may be some conflict of interest even though it was disclosed and none were listed. Either the HSO for research was supplied by them, or some of the people listed as working on the study were employed by the company. More studies in the future need to be made without their involvement. If I used a study that their involvement was disclosed I will link it here as a source. 18 19 20

In conclusion, I can not fully recommend B. coagulans yet as a probiotic. I will list some recommendations for supplements that you can use that contain it, but I will not use affiliate links because I do not recommend it completely.

  1. http://www.sabinsa.com/newsroom/articles/bacillus-coagulans-probiotic-choice-march-april-2012.pdf
  2. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11442822
  4. http://www.newcenturyhealthpublishers.com/probiotics_and_prebiotics/about/pdf/3-10.pdf
  5. http://www.newcenturyhealthpublishers.com/probiotics_and_prebiotics/about/pdf/3-10.pdf
  6. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  7. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  8. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  9. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  10. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  11. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  12. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  13. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-016-0140-6
  14. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1075996414001231
  15. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/145/7/1446.short
  16. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726964/
  18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726964/
  19. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/145/7/1446.short
  20. http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-10-1