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Explaining the need for specificity of probiotics

With so many different species of bacteria that live in our world one of the commonly asked questions in clinic is, ‘aren’t all probiotics the same?’

A really good way of approaching this is a real life example. When we classify things in the world is it generally done with the help of a chart similar to this one.

What this allows us to do it so put organisms with similar traits together (gram negative/positive, environmental conditions that it prefers, etc) so that it is easier to study.

With that said not all probiotics do the same thing, in fact far from it! Take the Lactobacilli family for example, this is akin to the family level of the classification of organisms. It is somewhat specific but doesn’t really tell you much in regards to what that specific probiotic actually does. This is like saying that you have a dog at home that guards your house.

When you have a dog guarding your house but you don’t know what species it is it doesn’t really allow you to know whether you should be scared or go in for a closer look because it is cute - because the description is too broad. Say that you found out that the dog was a pug or a terrier. These are both small dogs but will have a very different temperament in regards to protection.

What this means is that the specificity of the strain of probiotic plays a major role in what the function of how the probiotic functions. Knowing the difference between how a Lactobacillus plantarum spp and a Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 act is vital when it comes to correcting digestive dysfunction.

Each will perform a very different function within the digestive system and get very different results, this means that the probiotic that you take really does matter, so seek guidance from a naturopathic practitioner for more information.

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