Kiran seems to be at it again with a “re-branding” of MegaSporeBiotic known as Just Thrive. Just Thrive is very slick in its presentation and is available for sale on the retail market.
Is there much difference between MegaSporeBiotic and Just Thrive? Do I recommend Just Thrive over Megasporebiotic, even if I consider it to be the lite version? Are there any more studies to shed light on why I do not recommend most HSO probiotics?
Just Thrive = MegaSporeBiotic Lite
Imagine my surprise when I was shopping in my local grocery store, and I came across Just Thrive being sold in stores, and yes, I do check the digestive product and supplement aisles in pharmacies from time to time, I want to see what is being offered. Wow, an HSO probiotic being sold in stores. I wonder why the labeling including the listed strains looks so similar to MegaSporeBiotic. I go home and do my research. Just Thrive is rebranded MegaSporeBiotic, weird, it is, however, missing one particular strain, one Bacillus licheniformis. I criticized MegaSporeBiotic for its use of this opportunistic bacteria, interesting; they do not trust its safety to be sold in their retail version. Instead, they use the strain in MegaSporeBiotic only; that has to be sold by a licensed healthcare practitioner, so that they claim they can maintain some ethical reporting system, in case people are having issues with the probiotic. I guess I am the conspiracy theorist in my belief that Bacillus licheniformis is opportunistic and can cause problems, then again they do not trust it enough to put it in their retail version.
Megasporebiotic contains one more billion colony forming units (four billion) per capsule compared to Just Thrive which contains three billion colony forming units per capsule. My guess is the only difference between the two is that Just Thrive is missing one billion of Bacillus licheniformis.
Now, in Just Thrive’s defense, I would recommend it over MegaSporeBiotic because it lacks Bacillus licheniformis. That being said it would be the same if you ethylene glycol (antifreeze) or propylene glycol (Miralax), Miralax may be safer, but both are bad for your health.
Wait, there is more, there is a study that just came out that tests the virulence of the Bacillus genus and some of the strains in most HSO probiotics including MegaSporeBiotic and Just Thrive may contain some of these strains and my work is even more validated, tell me more!
HSO Probiotics From The Bacillus Genus, Not As Safe As Everyone Claims
Mostly everyone in the health blogosphere talks about how safe HSO “probiotics” are. There were limited studies into the pathogenicity of the most popular Bacillus strains that are used in HSO “probiotics.” A recent study was published that looked more into the pathogenic potential of the Bacillus genus. B. subtilis (Just Thrive, MegaSporeBiotic), B. licheniformis (MegaSporeBiotic), and B. pumilus (Prescript Assist) are common HSO “probiotics” found in supplements.
My first point that we are going to discuss is in relation to the Bacillus strains pathogenic potential and their frequency to be colonized within deep and superficial body sites. B. subtilis was found quite frequently on superficial sites (epidermis) which makes since it is a spore and depending on where you live, you would be exposed to it (increased chance if you live in a more rural area). It was the second most frequent cultured Bacillus (24%) next to the pathogenic B. cereus, a bacteria that is known to cause food poisoning. It was however found in deep sites as well (10%), where it could cause issues with infection if the area were compromised. B. licheniformis was found only in deep sites (10%) and not superficially, which makes since it is known to cause sepsis. Now granted, fewer bacteria are found in deep sites, but it is alarming that B. subtilis and B. licheniformis are more prevalent there. B. pumilus was found in both deep body sites (22%) and superficial body sites (12%). The study showed great concern about the pathogenic potential of B. pumilus, “B. pumilus was also frequently isolated, particularly from sterile body sites. Although known for its plant growth promoting activity, reports of infections due to B. pumilus are becoming more frequent in the literature“. Finally, B. licheniformis is resistant to penicillin.1
My second point is Bacillus bacterial virulence genes and potentiality. B. licheniformis, B. pumilus, and B. subtilis produce proteases. Bacterial proteases generated during overgrowth become exotoxins which increase inflammation and may harm probiotic flora. B. pumilus is also able to produce hemolysin, which are proteins that can destroy red blood cells and obtain heme iron for growth. Some strains of B. subtilis and B. pumilus contain NheA virulence genes. NheA is a non-hemolytic enterotoxin that has been linked to B. cereus ability to cause food poisoning.B. pumilus contains other virulence genes including the production of more non-hemolytic enterotoxins (NheB and NheC).2 3 4
Other virulence factors include bacteria’s ability to swim and or swarm. Bacteria that have flagella (tiny, whip-like appendages) can “swim” or propel themselves quickly, instead of being stationary and require outside factors to move. Having flagella makes it easier for bacteria to concentrate in different areas in the body. In itself, bacteria having flagella and being able to “swim” is not a bad thing, but when they become opportunistic, they can form “swarming” formations, akin to disturbing a beehive. Swarming increases pathogenesis, allowing bacteria to move to areas of overgrowth quickly, reduce the immune system’s ability to fight the swarm of bacteria (reduce engulfment by macrophages), increased toxin secretion, and antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance is increased during swarming. Most strains of B. licheniformis, B. pumilus, and B. subtilis can swim and swarm.5
My third point is the potential for Bacillus strains to form biofilms. Both probiotic and opportunistic bacteria produce biofilm, biofilm itself is not dangerous. Probiotic bacteria that produce biofilm, for example, can protect them from opportunistic bacteria that we come into contact. Opportunistic bacteria can also use biofilm to protect itself from our immune system and antimicrobial agents. Bacteria under biofilm are motionless for the most part; it is considered the antithesis to swimming and swarming. All strains tested in the study of B. licheniformis, B. pumilus, and B. subtilis were able to produce biofilm.6
My final point is that multiple studies have found that Bacillus licheniformis and subtilis may produce histamine. I have coached many clients who developed or worsened histamine intolerance and mast cell activation disorder from taking probiotics containing these strains. If you develop multiple symptoms, including itching, hives, diarrhea, insomnia, anxiety, racing thoughts, asthma, post nasal drip, and rarely anaphylaxis while taking a probiotic that contains these strains, contact me for coaching, and I will hopefully be able to help you find relief.
Now it is unknown that the particular strains of Prescript Assist, Just Thrive, or Megasporebiotic would have these virulence factors. To my knowledge, none of the companies have released data on their specific strains. Also, with many probiotic supplements, contamination of different strains occurs. More studies need to be performed to determine if HSO strains are as non-toxic and safe as everyone claims them to be, but so far the data that we have is not okay. Any probiotic can cause overgrowth or infection; Lactobacillus has been implicated in both, but for most, it is less virulent and easier to reduce to normal flora.