Which Probiotic Will Actually Work?

Which Probiotic Will Actually Work?

Author: Naturopath Kimberly Orbons, The Lucy Rose Clinic, Adelaide (29th April 2016)


Extensive research, experience and public knowledge exists to support the essential nature of good bacteria in our gut. Not just one bacteria, but a delicate balance of power play, a symphony of organisms that promote good health. They are recommended by Doctors, Naturopaths, Nutritionists, Nurses, Carers and Teachers. Probiotics, the good or commensal organisms in our gut have a symbiotic (mutually beneficial relationship) effect and disease causing microbes (pathogens) fight an ongoing battle within us, and up to 1000 different species have been identified.



digestionAs humans, we may be far outnumbered on the earth surface by ant and insect colonies, but on this microscopic scale within our bowels we have colonies 10 times the number of our human cells! Prebiotics responsible for supporting our bacteria and antibiotics and antimicrobial substances that affect them are all influencing the circus growing within our intestines. Diet, lifestyle, and some medications will also have significant effects.


With a low side effect rate and high safety in all ages and even in pregnancy, some patients are still left wondering why the miracle cure of probiotics never seems to quite add up as promised. So many formula’s, combinations, strains and sources exist on today’s health food and supplement market that it’s all quite confusing, conflicting, and almost too hard. “Why doesn’t it work? Why do I have to keep taking them if they are growing and colonizing in my digestive tract?”. It’s because not all the good bacteria found in our bodies can be used and applied as medicinal probiotics, which demand more therapeutic actions when used as part of a health treatment.



“Why doesn’t it work? Why do I have to keep taking them if they are growing and colonizing in my digestive tract?”



It all goes back to a very clever man, Professor Alfred Nissan. In 1917 while the First World War was waging, poor health and dysentery ran through the assembled armies. One man however came to the medical attention of Professor Nissan, simply because he “in contrast to the large majority of his comrades, had suffered neither from dysentery nor from any other intestinal diseases”.

This discovery led directly to the isolation of one particular strain of non-pathogenic bacteria Escherichia coli (note: there are many types of E.coli that DO cause disease, just not this one) which was studied in vitro and it’s therapeutic uses first discovered. It was named Ecoli Nissle 1917 (EcN)“Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917” or EcN.  The patents after its discovery so many years ago as the prime species for gut health prevent it being readily sold by other companies all over the world. Since 1917 studies have been completed in vivo, in vitro and in human clinical trials to establish the depth of therapeutic benefits and their systemic effects. It is exclusively available in a refrigerated product called Mutaflor.


In Australia the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA) is responsible for the management of products sold claiming therapeutic actions. B vitamins, probiotics and fish oils you buy from the pharmacy and supermarket are all listed with a TGA number (that tiny small print of the edge of each label) making them approved and safe for sale. Like specialty prescription and Naturopathic formulas Mutaflor probiotic (the only one with the EcN strain) is a TGA registered product. This AUST R level is reserved for clinical proven therapeutic substances only, and while there are many many good bacteria in our bowels, many probiotics, and many products listed as safe and healthy for sale in Australia, very few can boast a AUST R coding.

 Ecoli Nissle 1917 (EcN) Image Sourced from Here 


Unlike other probiotic strains which require prebiotic food sources and cosupplements to grow in the bowel and therefore easily pass straight out, EcN 1917 is capable of adhering to the bowel lining, allowing it to self colonize, and has tiny flagella to help it move around. It directly inhibits the growth of pathogens in the large intestine. It’s own metabolic functions secrete inflammatory mediators, reduces our acidity, suppressing bad bugs and balancing the oxygen levels in the belly to support other good bacterial strains allowing them to flourish.


Mutaflor – modes of action

Mutafor actions













And if that isn’t enough to help you understand why EcN is man probiotic best friend, it actually builds you vitamins and nutrition! It’s the first to establish bacteria for infants to assist with bowel and immune development via the above, but it also produces chorismate (chorismic acid) which is the precursor for:

  • folic acid

  • tryptophan (amino acid for neurotransmitters and hormones like Seratonin)

  • tyrosine (amino acid for neurotransmitters dopamine and Thyroid and Adrenal hormones)

  • phenylalanine (amino acid for neurotransmitters like dopamine)

  • ubiquinol (Co Enzyme Q10 for oxygen cycle and energy production)

  • and menaquinone (Vitamin  K2)

Constipation, Flatulence, Diarrhea: is that really Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

A change in our bowel biotic balance will affect the gut lining, our systemic health and immunity, the growth of other beneficial organisms, and reduce production of nutrition for healthy metabolism. Altered micro organism growth in the bowel is referred to as Dysbiosis, the most common cause of digestive issues.

Constipation may be associated with many health conditions, therefore you should talk to a health practitioner about the causes before self prescribing and treating with probiotics, you don’t want to mask the symptoms of more serious bowel, hormonal and nervous system concerns. EcN strain probiotics are specifically indicated to protect the gut lining, reduce inflammation, support the growth of other symbiotic bacteria and increase nutrition and metabolism. Other good bacteria cannot adhere to the gut lining, there is one native yeast, called saccromyaces that some companies advertise for preventing Dysbiosis. It’s the same natural yeast in nutritional yeast (different to bakers yeast!) in health recipes. Read more about nutritional yeast here.



Will probiotics help my Thyroid?thyroid gland2

It a nutshell, yes. Many patients suffering poor Thyroid metabolism have Hashimoto’s or Graves Disease, autoimmune Thyroiditis. These, and other autoimmune conditions such as Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and some cases of Diabetes are caused by abnormal immune production of antibodies that attack our healthy cells. Healthy gut lining, increased nutritional absorption, the inhibition of pathogenic organisms and all other healthy gut strain benefits we have mention in this article support immune regulation.

Also, Tyrosine is the main protein used for building thyroid hormones, and is essential for our muscles, our dopamine and adrenal hormone. Many thyroid metabolic sufferers require support and treatment for these parts of their body.

This is a non paid article.  We don’t get a kickback for publishing it.  We just really, REALLY like good gut health.



EDITED KIMKimberly Orbons 

Adv Dip Naturopathy, Adv Dip Western Herbal Medicine

Head Naturopath Kimberly Orbons is passionate about encouraging and empowering each person to facilitate their own good health with Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and preventative lifestyle management. Using a combination of diagnostics and symptomatology to identify the different metabolic processes contributing to disease allows her to treat the root or cause of poor health, providing relief of symptoms and long term recovery. Kimberly believes it is extremely important to build a personalized healing plan, taking all the complexities of a patient’s health and illness into consideration. Her consults have a strong focus on client care and treating each patient as an individual, and may therefore co-ordinate with other medical treatments. The goal is to establish each patient’s ability to live in the best possible state of health, naturally.


References, Evidence and Recommended Reading:


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