BLIS 101 – What are oral probiotics?
Here at BLIS we’ve decided to get back to basics. Think of this blog post like a BLIS 101 class focusing on our core and pioneering products - oral probiotics, or probiotics for the mouth and throat. Let’s find out what oral probiotics are, how they work and most importantly how you can benefit from them.
The first question - what is a probiotic?
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition of a probiotic: “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” Dr Libby (Dr Libby Weaver) states that probiotics are “beneficial bacteria.”
Prior to encountering BLIS probiotics you may have thought that probiotics were associated with the gut, and traditionally that has been the case - a quick Google search for the definition of a probiotic reveals the following - “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called ‘good’ or ‘helpful’ bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.”
So, what is the difference between a gut probiotic and a probiotic for the mouth and throat? Quite simply, gut probiotics contain microorganisms/bacteria that positively affect the gut while oral probiotics contain microorganisms/bacteria that benefit the oral cavity or mouth - including throat, teeth, and gums.
BLIS advanced oral probiotics – how do they work?
We can proudly claim to be the developers of the world’s first advanced oral probiotics. We call them advanced probiotics because of the way the bacteria behave - BLIS bacteria not only crowd out the harmful bacteria but also inhibit them from coming back when they are under threat. You may not be aware that the inspiration for our company name comes from our bacteria – BLIS is an acronym for Bacteriocin-Like Inhibitory Substances!
It is important to understand that we are talking about live microorganisms in our products - when you read the packaging on our ThroatGuard PRO it states that it contains at least 1 billion cfu per lozenge. What does this mean? CFU/cfu/Cfu stands for Colony-forming unit, an acronym for a unit used in microbiology to estimate the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a sample. Now, whilst this number may seem low comparatively to gut probiotics, it's important to remember that the area in which they are colonising in (the mouth) is much smaller than the gut, and therefore needs fewer CFU to be effective. And we know from our clinical studies, that this is just the right amount of CFU to be effective in the oral cavity. This means one ThroatGuard PRO lozenge contains at least 1 billion individual bacterium, bacterium like to grow and form colonies, hence the unit definition.
We currently market two strains of advanced oral probiotic bacteria – BLIS K12™ and BLIS M18™ – both of which occur naturally in the oral cavity. More recently we’ve taken a different path and branched out into topical skin probiotics – you can read more about our Live Probiotic Hydration Serum powered by BLIS Q24 here.
Why should I take advanced oral probiotics?
The human body has several microbiomes (a community of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit a particular environment) including the oral microbiome. Think of a microbiome like an individual eco-system, to thrive it requires a unique balance of variables, your oral microbiome is no different.
Our first discovery, BLIS K12™, is a specific strain of bacteria called Streptococcus salivarius K12™, which is found naturally in your mouth and throat and is the dominant organism in a healthy mouth cavity. Our scientists discovered that while everyone has Streptococcus salivarius bacteria, only very few (2-5% of the population) have the specific beneficial BLIS K12™ strain in large enough quantities to be active against harmful bacteria. It’s also found in breast milk and is listed as a Biosafety Level 1 (safest) organism in the USA.
It was originally developed into a probiotic supplement to help prevent or reduce the incidence of streptococcal pharyngitis and tonsilitis, but the benefits of BLIS K12™ have been found to be more wide-reaching as more studies have been completed. We know that BLIS K12™ also supports the ear, nose and throat health of infants and children, and is also effective in improving bad breath (halitosis).
BLIS M18™ was the second specific strain of bacteria that was discovered - Streptococcus salivarius M18™ , think of it like a cousin to BLIS K12™ , it is also found naturally in the mouth and throat but BLIS M18™ (Teeth&Gums) recolonizes the mouth with beneficial bacteria that can help prevent gingivitis and plaque build-up in conjunction with good oral hygiene.
Finally, to set your mind at ease having learnt about our high-performing bacteria, what they are, what they do and how they could benefit you, rest assured all our probiotic products have been extensively safety-tested and have been commercially used for more than 15 years. By taking BLIS oral probiotics you can ‘increase the good’ bacteria in your oral cavity and throat, maintain a healthy population of BLIS K12™ and/or BLIS M18™ to crowd out the harmful bacteria and find balance in your oral ecosystem.
P.S. We are very proud that all our products are developed and manufactured at our laboratory in Dunedin, New Zealand.