My regular readers know I’ve been following the story of using “heat killed” probiotics to treat a variety of issues ranging from stress and PTSD (see here) to the detrimental effects on brain development from maternal immune activation (see here). I find this particularly interesting because there are some people who are so inflamed, and have such severe gut barrier dysfunction, that they cannot tolerate live probiotics until inflammation levels come down and the epithelial lining has time to heal. (This brings to mind a post I wrote a couple of years ago on this very subject: “If this all actually translates to in vivo experimentation, it would indicate that in order to successfully treat leaky gut, it’s necessary to reduce inflammation first, before taking probiotics…”) Also, probiotics can be problematic in those with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems. Non-living probiotics solve a myriad of issues then, including a much longer shelf-life, no need for refrigeration, and so forth.
An article appeared in the Lancet back in April that has been on my list to read, and I finally had a chance this past weekend. This clinical study was to test whether or not non-living probiotic bacteria could alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, etc.), bearing in mind that those with IBS often suffer from other more severe illnesses as well, and also have frequently been found to have permeability issues in the gut lining.[i]
A 12-week long randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted with 443 patients. All had chronic abdominal pain at least 3 days in the past 3 months, with the issues having started at least 6 months prior to the study – and they had to have experienced pain at least 2 days in the last 2 weeks. They were then randomly assigned to 2 two groups, one of whom took a placebo and the other, heat-killed Bifidobacterium bifidum (strain MlMBb75). This particular species was chosen as it is exceptionally good at sticking to the epithelial cells.
Of the 221 patients who received the probiotic, 74 (so 34%) had at least a 30% improvement in abdominal pain and a significant improvement at least 50% of the time. The placebo group had only 19% (43 patients) improve. While this was a strong placebo response (which is apparently common in IBS studies), the trial did achieve major clinical significance.
Says one of the researchers involved, “Our results show for the first time that dead or alive, it’s possible to preserve the beneficial effects of some probiotic bacteria…They could be just as effective as live probiotics, as well as even safer, with the added commercial benefit of a longer shelf life.”[ii] They conclude that, “This study shows that B bifidum HI-MIMBb75 substantially alleviates IBS and its symptoms in a real-life setting.”
A little further snooping around had me make the following discovery: I noticed that the research, which was conducted by the University of Hamburg Teaching Hospital and Hospital Forchheim, in Germany, was funded by a company called Synformulas. I checked that out and found that they have an interesting line of products including this one that was just tested. A little further searching and…guess what?! It is available on Amazon – it’s called Kijimea. This is one I really, really might have to try.
[i] Andresen, V, Gschossmann, J, Layer, P. Heat-inactivated Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBb75 (SYN-HI-001) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The Lancet: Gastroenterolgy&Heptology. 2020;2(7):658-666. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(20)30056-X