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Top 11 Health Benefits of B. bifidum Probiotic + Safety

Written by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology), Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Last updated:

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B. bifidum
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B. bifidum is a probiotic typically used to ameliorate digestive issues. B. bifidum may also ameliorate improve blood sugar control, reduce stress, and help combat infections when combined with a healthy diet. Read on to learn more about B. bifidum and its potential health benefits.

What Is Bifidobacterium bifidum?

Bifidobacteria account for more than 80% of microorganisms within the intestine, being Bifidobacterium bifidum the second most prominent species found in breast-fed infants. During adulthood, the levels of Bifidobacteria decrease considerably but remain relatively stable (2-14%) until they start decreasing again in old age [1, 2].

Various diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and allergies have been associated with lower numbers of Bifidobacteria at various stages of life [2].

bifidobacteria-levels

Source: [2]

B. bifidum is an important bacterium that inhibits other microbes of the human gut microbiota. This probiotic has potential health benefits, such as reducing irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and pathogen infections [1].

How Does It Work?

By increasing IgA, IgM, and IgG while decreasing IgE, B. bifidum may help both boost the immune system and reduce allergies [3, 4].

B. bifidum may also help with allergies by lowering the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-5 , balancing the levels of IFN-γ, and increasing the production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 and specific immune cell types (CD25 and Foxp3) [4, 5].

In aging mice, B. bifidum stimulated the immune system by significantly increasing cytokines IL-2 and IFN-γ while decreasing IL-6 and TNF-α levels [6].

In mice with IBD, B. bifidum reduced inflammation by inhibiting the Th1 response and reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and keratinocyte-derived chemokine), chemokines (MCP-1) and enzymes (COX-2, MPO). It can also reduce cell death by increasing the production of TLR-2 and PGE2 [7, 8, 9].

In mice with H. pylori infection, B. bifidum suppressed the pro-inflammatory IL-8 and NF-κB signaling pathways in [10].

B. bifidum also increased the cytotoxic activity of peripheral CD8+ cells without reducing lymphocyte survival. Some strains may stimulate Th17 generation [11, 12].

Snapshot

Proponents

  • May help with digestive issues
  • May improve blood sugar control
  • May lower blood fat levels
  • May boost immunity
  • Antioxidant activity
  • May help prevent eczema
  • May help with stress and allergies

Skeptics

  • Insufficient evidence for some benefits
  • Often investigated in combination with other bacterial strains
  • May cause infections in people with a weakened immune system
  • May worsen autoimmune thyroid disease

Health Benefits

Possibly Effective

1) Digestive Issues

GI Disorders

Fermented milk containing B. bifidum improved functional gastrointestinal disorder symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, acid-related dyspepsia, anger, and hostility in a clinical trial on 37 people [13].

Ingestion of B. bifidum significantly decreased the prevalence of gastric and lower abdominal symptoms in a clinical trial on over 300 people taking no medication [14].

A probiotic formula with B. bifidum, B. animalis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus reduced the frequency of gastrointestinal symptoms in a clinical trial on 24 marathon runners [15].

B. bifidum alleviated acute stomach injury by enhancing mucin production in rats [16].

Gut Microbiota

Intake of B. bifidum decreased Prevotellaceae and Prevotella and increased Ruminococcaceae and Rikenellaceae in a clinical trial on 27 healthy volunteers [17].

In another trial on 18 elderly people, a symbiotic with B. bifidum and B. lactis increased the fecal counts of beneficial bifidobacteria and lactobacilli [18].

In a clinical trial on 53 people with chronic liver disease, B. bifidum was one of the 3 probiotics found to successfully prevent bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel. Similarly, its combination with Lactobacillus plantarum restored bowel flora in a pilot trial on 66 people with alcohol-induced liver injury [19, 20].

B. bifidum (combined with Lactobacillus acidophilus) also restored the bowel flora after antibiotic therapy in another trial on 30 people [21].

Intake of B. bifidum improved the microbiota of the intestinal tract of mice by increasing the number of probiotics (Lactobacilli) while reducing unwanted bacterial populations (Enterobacter, Escherichia coli) [22, 23, 24, 25].

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The combination of anti-inflammatory drugs and a probiotic with B. bifidum and other strains improved ulcerative colitis in a trial on 60 people taking it for 2 years [26].

In a small trial on 15 elderly people, a probiotic with B. bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus reduced inflammation in the gut lining [27].

B. bifidum decreased symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as thickened intestinal wall, inflammatory cell infiltration, and high levels of inflammatory cytokines, in mice [8, 7, 28].

Necrotizing enterocolitis is a life-threatening condition affecting premature newborns in which bacteria invade the intestine and cause severe inflammation that may damage its walls. In a clinical trial on over 400 babies, a probiotic with B. bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus helped prevent this condition. However, it had no effect in another trial on 60 babies [29, 30].

B. bifidum protected from this condition in rats [31, 32]

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

B. bifidum effectively alleviated IBS symptoms (pain/discomfort, distension/bloating, urgency and digestive disorder) and improved quality of life in a clinical trial on 122 people suffering from this condition [33].

A multistrain probiotic also containing B. lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus was similarly effective in another trial on 52 people with IBS [34].

Acute Diarrhea

In a clinical trial on over 4,400 infants, a probiotic combining B. bifidum and Streptococcus termophilus added to infant formula helped prevent acute diarrhea [35].

Similarly, the combination of B. bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus prevented diarrhea caused by radiotherapy in a clinical trial on 63 women with cervical cancer [36].

In another trial on 67 infants already suffering from this condition, the combination of B. bifidum and L. acidophilus shortened the duration of diarrhea and reduced the number of stools [37].

Two other mixes (B. bifidum with Lactobacillus delbrueckii var bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, and S. thermophilus and B. bifidum with B. longum, L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, and Enterococcus faecium) were also effective in 2 trials on almost700 children with acute diarrhea [38, 39].

Helicobacter pylori Infection

In a clinical trial on 79 people infected with H. pylori, B. bifidum improved the rates of upper gastrointestinal and total symptoms [40].

In another trial on 89 children, the combination of B. bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus enhanced the effectiveness of the standard triple therapy for H. pylori (clarithromycin, amoxicillin, and a proton pump inhibitor) [21].

However, another probiotic with these two bacterial strains combined with L. rhamnosus and Streptococcus faecium was ineffective in a clinical trial on over 100 infected adults [41].

B. bifidum relieved the damage to the stomach tissues caused by H. pylori in mice [42].

All in all, the evidence suggests that B. bifidum may help with digestive issues such as gut dysbiosis, IBD, IBS, and H. pylori infection. You may discuss with your doctor if it may help as an add-on to your current treatment regime. Importantly, take this probiotic exactly as recommended by your doctor and never use it in place of approved therapies.

2) Diabetes

B. bifidum, in combination with other bacterial strains, lowered fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, and improved blood sugar control and antioxidant status in 4 clinical trials on over 200 people with type 2 diabetes [43, 44, 45, 46].

Probiotic mixes with B. bifidum were similarly effective in 4 clinical trials on 250 women with diabetes caused by pregnancy [47, 48, 49, 50].

B. bifidum decreased fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and VLDL and increased HDL, and insulin in diabetic rats and healthy mice [51, 23].

It also ameliorated oxidative stress in diabetic rats by reducing lipid peroxidation and increasing the levels of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione-S-transferase [51].

Again, the evidence suggests that probiotic mixes with B. bifidum may help with blood sugar control in people with diabetes. You may use them as a complementary approach if your doctor recommends it. Never take B. bifidum instead of the antidiabetic medication prescribed by your doctor.

3) High Blood Cholesterol

Probiotics with B. bifidum and lactobacilli (L. acidophilus alone or in combination with L. casei) improved blood fat profile, especially “good” cholesterol (HDL) in 2 clinical trials on 80 people with type 2 diabetes [44, 45].

Similarly, these combinations lowered triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol (VLDL) in 2 clinical trials on 130 women with diabetes due to pregnancy [45, 48].

A probiotic intervention with B. bifidum, Lactobacillus casei, L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, and fruit sugars lowered blood total cholesterol in a clinical trial on 60 people with chronic pancreatitis [52].

Similarly, the combination of B. bifidum, B. lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and L. rhamnosus lowered blood triglycerides, total cholesterol, and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in a clinical trial on 64 obese children with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease [53].

B. bifidum decreased total cholesterol, “bad” cholesterol (LDL and VLDL), and triglycerides while increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL) in diabetic rats [51].

Once again, the evidence suggests that probiotic mixes with B. bifidum may help improve blood fat profiles. You may discuss with your doctor if they may be helpful in your case. Remember that you should never take B. bifidum in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.

4) Immunity Boost

In a clinical trial on almost 600 stressed students, B. bifidum increased the proportion of healthy days per participant and decreased the percentage of students reporting cold/flu during the intervention period [54].

A study on 55 elderly people associated B. bifidum supplementation with lower levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha and the regulatory cytokine IL-10, and higher levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine TGF-beta1 [55].

In a clinical trial on 77 children infected with HIV, a probiotic formula with B. bifidum and Streptococcus thermophilus increased CD4+ count [56].

A probiotic mix with B. bifidum, B. longum, and Lactobacillus gasseri maintained CD4+ lymphocyte production while reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines in a clinical trial on 32 elderly people [57].

Another probiotic mix with B. bifidum prevented upper respiratory infections in a clinical trial on 33 trained athletes [58].

B. bifidum delayed immunosenescence in mice by enhancing the anti-oxidation activity in the thymus and spleen and improving immune function [6].

All in all, the evidence suggests that B. bifidum (both alone and combined with other probiotics) may boost the immune system, resulting in a reduced rate of infectious diseases. You may take it to strengthen your immune system if your doctor determines that it may help.

5) Antioxidant

Probiotic interventions combining B. bifidum with other bacterial strains (such as B. animalis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and L. casei) improved antioxidant status (measured as increased levels of glutathione and reduced levels of MDA) in 6 clinical trials on 40 people with major depression, 60 healthy pregnant women, 60 pregnant women with diabetes, 120 people with diabetes, and 43 overweight women [59, 60, 49, 46, 61, 62].

B. bifidum also exhibited antioxidant activity in mice [22].

Although a bit limited, the evidence suggests that B. bifidum probiotics may improve antioxidant status. Further research should determine how tho use them therapeutically.

6) Eczema

B. bifidum prevented and improved eczema in a clinical trial on 40 infants [63].

Supplementation with two probiotic mixes (one with B. bifidum, B. lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus and another one with B. bifidum, B. lactis, and L. lactis) in pregnant women and their newborn babies prevented the development of eczema in 2 clinical trials on over 200 pregnant women [64, 65].

However, another probiotic (with B. bifidum, B. animalis, Lactobacillus salivarius, and L. paracasei) didn’t help prevent eczema in their babies but did prevent skin sensitization to common allergens in another trial on over 400 pregnant women [66].

Again, the evidence is limited but suggests that B. bifidum may help prevent eczema in babies. Discuss it with your doctor before supplementing with B. bifidum for this purpose.

Insufficient Evidence

1) Stress

In a clinical trial on almost 600 academically stressed undergraduate students, B. bifidum reduced self-reported stress and stress-associated diarrhea/digestive issues [67].

Although the results are promising, a single clinical trial cannot be considered sufficient evidence to support this use of B. bifidum. More clinical trials are required.

2) Allergies

In a clinical trial on 173 people with seasonal allergies, a combination of B. bifidum, B. longum, and Lactobacillus gasseri improved respiratory and eye (rhinoconjunctivitis) symptoms and quality of life [68].

Oral administration of B. bifidum significantly inhibited antigen-induced allergic nasal reactions such as sneezing and nasal obstruction in guinea pigs [69, 70].

B. bifidum also significantly decreased airway hyperresponsiveness, lung inflammation, and Th2 response in mice [5, 4].

Again, the results are promising but only one clinical trial has been carried out. Further clinical research investigating the effects of B. bifidum on allergies is needed.

Animal and Cell Research (Lack of Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of B. bifidum for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

Lupus

Intestinal dysbiosis, characterized by a reduced Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio, has been reported in systemic lupus erythematosus patients. In addition, B. bifidum supplementation prevents CD4+ lymphocyte over-activation and may potentially help in restoring the Treg/Th17/Th1 imbalance found in lupus [71].

Safety

This list does not cover all possible side effects. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any other side effects.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. In the US, you may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

B. bifidum is considered safe but should be avoided in immunocompromised individuals, people with organ failure, and “leaky gut”. In these cases, probiotics may lead to infections.

B. bifidum cell-surface biopolymers (BPs) can interact selectively with human serum thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and thyroglobulin (Tg) autoantibodies (anti-TPO and anti-Tg, respectively). In people with a genetic predisposition to autoimmune thyroid disease, Bifidobacteria may contribute to its development and worsening [72].

About the Author

Biljana Novkovic

Biljana Novkovic

PhD
Biljana received her PhD from Hokkaido University.
Before joining SelfHacked, she was a research scientist with extensive field and laboratory experience. She spent 4 years reviewing the scientific literature on supplements, lab tests and other areas of health sciences. She is passionate about releasing the most accurate science and health information available on topics, and she's meticulous when writing and reviewing articles to make sure the science is sound. She believes that SelfHacked has the best science that is also layperson-friendly on the web.

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