Some species of probiotic bacteria bind and even degrade some toxins and pollutants that can wreak havoc on the human body. Does this activity translate into the environment of the human gut? Read on to learn more.
Probiotics for Detox?
Certain probiotic bacteria have demonstrated an ability to bind to some toxins (like heavy metals) and even degrade others (like certain organophosphate pesticides). Could probiotic supplements help prevent damage to the human body caused by such toxins? In this post, we’ll discuss the evidence that suggests just that.
Remember to talk to your doctor before adding a probiotic supplement to your daily routine, and never use probiotics as a replacement for a doctor’s prescription or recommendation.
Insufficient Evidence For
1) Toxins and Pollutants
Dietary exposure to heavy metals has detrimental effects on human and animal health, even at low concentrations. L. rhamnosus and P. freudenreichii, alone or in combination, were found to bind cadmium and lead efficiently at the low concentration ranges commonly observed in foods .
Furthermore, dietary supplementation with L. rhamnosus reduced the absorption and toxicity of consumed organophosphate pesticides in Drosophila .
L. plantarum protected against aluminum toxicity in mice, possibly by reducing intestinal aluminum absorption and tissue accumulation and ameliorating liver damage, kidney, and brain oxidative stress .
Treatment with L. plantarum alleviated copper toxicity, possibly by increasing copper excretion and reducing the accumulation of copper in tissues. L. plantarum also reversed oxidative stress induced by copper exposure, recovered the ALT and AST blood levels and improved the spatial memory of mice .
L. casei decreased the cytotoxic effects of pesticides on human cells .
L. casei supplementation reduced the level of aflatoxin in blood and improved the adverse effects of aflatoxin on body weight and blood parameters in rats [9, 10]. In one clinical study, a fermented milk drink containing L. casei appeared to reduce aflatoxin toxicity in 71 healthy human volunteers .
L. paracasei reduced the adverse effects of Zearalenone (ZEN), an estrogenic toxin produced by Fusarium fungi species in pre- or post-harvest cereals in mice .
Organophosphorus hydrolase (OpdB) from L. brevis is able to degrade organophosphorus pesticides .
2) Toxins and Carcinogens in the Gut
In a cell-based study, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG bound to mold toxins purported to cause “leaky gut” and inflammation. Some researchers therefore believe that L. rhamnosus could potentially prevent the negative effects of mold toxins in the gut [16, 17].
3) For Smokers
In healthy shift workers, L. casei reduced the total number of clinical infectious diseases (CIDs) in the subgroup of smokers .
B. breve suppressed inflammatory agents in macrophages; some researchers believe it may be useful in cigarette smoke-associated diseases such as Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) .
L. salivarius improved periodontal clinical parameters in smokers .
Certain species of probiotics—primarily Lactobacillus species—bind to toxins and pollutants in a laboratory setting. If this activity translates into the environment of the human intestine, some researchers say, they could help prevent the damage caused by these toxins.
In multiple clinical studies, probiotic supplements improved the damaged immune function of smokers.
We’ve compiled deep dives into each potential benefit of probiotics. Check them out here: