The gut microbe L. plantarum is a promising probiotic for diarrhea, high cholesterol, and atopic dermatitis. How does it work, and what other benefits might it have? Learn more here.
What is Lactobacillus plantarum?
Lactobacillus plantarum is a widespread species of lactic acid bacteria. It is commonly found in many fermented plant products such as sauerkraut, pickles, brined olives, and Korean kimchi.
L. plantarum is an antioxidant with anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antiobesity and antidiabetic properties .
L. plantarum isolated from raw cow’s milk is able to produce B-group vitamins riboflavin (B2) and folate (B9) .
L. plantarum can increase iron absorption from a fruit drink in healthy women by approximately 50% .
L. plantarum can increase iron absorption from an oat base in women by over 100% .
Fermented milk containing L. plantarum showed higher calcium retention uptake .
L. plantarum probiotic supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use and may lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. To prevent rare side effects, speak with your doctor before using probiotics.
Possibly Effective For
Lactobacillus probiotics have shown a great deal of promise for improving the diarrhea associated with various disorders, including traveler’s diarrhea and antibiotic-associated diarrhea [6, 7].
In a clinical trial of 438 children with antibiotic-associated diarrhea, L. plantarum probiotics reduced the incidence of loose or watery stools and abdominal pain, without producing adverse side effects .
2) Skin Health
In clinical trials, L. plantarum significantly increased the skin water content in the face and hands. Volunteers in the probiotic group had a significant reduction in wrinkle depth at week 12, and skin gloss was also significantly improved by week 12. Skin elasticity in the probiotic group improved by 13.17% after 4 weeks and by 21.73% after 12 weeks .
When taken as a probiotic, L. plantarum improved skin hydration has anti-photoaging effects on human skin [9, 10].
L. plantarum inhibited the degradation of collagen and promotes its synthesis, decreasing reactive oxygen species (ROS) production .
In hairless mice, L. plantarum decreased UVB-induced epidermal thickness, suppressed water loss and increased the ceramide level [12, 13].
Daily intake of citrus juice containing heat-killed L. plantarum alleviates symptoms of atopic dermatitis in humans .
L. plantarum isolated from Kimchi improves mouse atopic dermatitis .
3) Ulcerative Colitis
Lactobacillus probiotics have shown promise in reducing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis in multiple clinical trials. A synbiotic blend containing L. plantarum in particular significantly improved UC symptoms in 73 patients after 8 weeks [16, 17].
Lactobacillus probiotics have reduced cholesterol in a number of clinical trials. In a study of 60 volunteers with high cholesterol, a probiotic containing L. plantarum reduced total cholesterol by 13.6% after 12 weeks .
In rats with diabetes, L. plantarum reduces blood triglyceride and “bad” LDL-cholesterol rates, while increasing the level of “good” HDL-cholesterol .
Total serum cholesterol and triglycerides were significantly reduced in mice with elevated cholesterol, after ingestion of L. plantarum .
Double-coated L. plantarum lowers cholesterol levels in mice on a high-fat diet .
Insufficient Evidence For
Researchers are currently investigating whether L. plantarum has other health benefits. The potential benefits in this section have produced positive results in at least one clinical trial, but these studies are small, contradictory, or otherwise limited. Talk to your doctor before supplementing with L. plantarum for any reason.
A hypocaloric diet supplemented with a probiotic-enriched cheese containing L. plantarum reduced the BMI and blood pressure in Russian adults with obesity and hypertension .
L. plantarum also protected mice from diet-induced obesity. This bacterium lowers body weight, fat mass, fasting blood glucose, serum insulin, and leptin levels and pro-inflammatory markers in obese mice [23, 24, 25].
L. plantarum fermented barley reversed glucose intolerance, ameliorated elevated insulin, decreased levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol in rats on a high-fat diet .
L. plantarum improved the hepatic and urinary functions of obese rats by inducing decreases in alanine aminotransferase (ALT), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), plasmatic triglycerides, total cholesterol concentrations, creatinine, urea, and body weight .
6) Blood Sugar
L. plantarum reduced glucose levels in postmenopausal women .
Soy milk containing L. plantarum had antioxidant properties and decreased DNA damage among patients with type 2 diabetes .
L. plantarum decreased food intake, blood glucose level, glycosylated hemoglobin level and leptin levels in mice. This bacterium also favorably regulated insulin level and increased “good” (HDL) cholesterol .
L. plantarum caused a significant reduction of blood glucose levels in response to insulin in mice on a high-fat diet .
Treatment with L. plantarum favorably regulates blood glucose, hormones, and lipid metabolism in the diabetic rats .
L. plantarum significantly improved immunological parameters and protected the pancreatic tissues in rats with diabetes. Furthermore, this probiotic treatment markedly reduced pancreatic and plasmatic lipase activities and serum triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol rates and increased the level of HDL-Cholesterol. It also exerted efficient protective effects on the liver and kidney functions .
7) Wound Healing
In a small clinical study of 34 people with leg ulcers, topical application of L. plantarum reduced infected chronic venous ulcer wound bacterial load, neutrophils, apoptotic and necrotic cells, and induced wound healing in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients .
8) Dental Health
Heat-killed L. plantarum decreased the depth of periodontal pockets in patients undergoing supportive periodontal therapy .
In a clinical study of 171 adults, L. plantarum improved immune activity and decreased stress markers .
Even heat-killed L. plantarum activated innate and acquired immunity in humans .
L. plantarum enhanced immunity in the small intestine of immunosuppressed mice .
In mice infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), oral administration of L. plantarum significantly delayed the development of skin lesions in the early phase of infection and reduced the amount of virus in the brain .
Also in mice, L. plantarum isolated from the fermented Korean cabbage conferred 100% protection against lethal infection with influenza A viruses, prevented significant weight loss and lowered lung viral loads .
In a clinical study of 42 adults, citrus juice fermented by L. plantarum improved the symptoms of Japanese cedar pollinosis .
In a cell study, L. plantarum reduced the allergenicity of soy flour .
Oral administration of L. plantarum alleviated airway hyperresponsiveness and allergic responses in mice .
In patients with vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), L. plantarum reduced vaginal discomfort after conventional treatment and improved vaginal bacteria content and vaginal pH value .
In a clinical trial, L. plantarum use was associated with a three-fold reduced risk of recurrence of vulvovaginal candidiasis .
L. plantarum also kills Candida in the laboratory .
Animal and Cell Studies (Lacking Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of L. plantarum 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 listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
L. plantarum alleviates cadmium (Cd) – induced cytotoxicity in human intestinal cells and mice in the laboratory [43, 44].
L. plantarum protects against aluminum toxicity in mice, by reducing intestinal aluminum absorption and tissue accumulation, and ameliorating liver damage, kidney, and brain oxidative stress .
Treatment with L. plantarum alleviates copper toxicity, 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 .
13) Vascular Dementia
L. plantarum fermented soymilk extract improves learning and memory in rats with vascular dementia, by acting as a blood pressure-lowering and neuroprotective agent .
Chronic ingestion of L. plantarum increased locomotor activity, dopamine, and serotonin levels while reducing anxiety-like behaviors in mice. It also reduced depression-like behaviors, and inflammatory cytokine levels, and increased anti-inflammatory cytokine levels in the serum of mice subjected to early life stress [48, 49].
15) Cardiovascular Health
L. plantarum fermented soymilk extract acts as a blood pressure-lowering agent in rats .
Also in rats, blueberries fermented with L. plantarum lowered blood pressure and improved markers that may indicate the risk of cardiovascular diseases .
Lipoteichoic acid (LTA) from L. plantarum inhibits the production of proinflammatory cytokines and suppresses atherosclerotic plaque inflammation in mice .
L. plantarum significantly decreases the production of proinflammatory cytokines in mice and rats [52, 53]. It also alleviated oxidative stress and adrenaline levels .
17) Liver Health
Treatment of obstructive jaundice in rats with L. plantarum returned active liver barrier function .
L. plantarum protects against oxidative stress and inflammatory injury of the liver in mice .
L. plantarum alleviated liver damage in hyperlipidemic mice .
Supplementation with L. plantarum for 5 weeks restored liver function in rats with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and decreased the levels of fat accumulation in the liver. In addition, the bacterium significantly reduced proinflammatory cytokines .
18) Gut Health
L. plantarum reduces inflammation in intestinal epithelial cells .
Intake of L. plantarum can counteract unwanted bacteria in the intestine .
L. plantarum enhanced gastrointestinal transit in mice with loperamide-induced constipation .
Oral administration of L. plantarum ameliorates ulcerative colitis in mice via both anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities .
L. plantarum reduces gas problems and pain in people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome .
H. pylori infection
L. plantarum prevents gastric mucosal inflammation and gastric microbiota alteration induced by H. pylori infection in mice .
L. plantarum delays the colonization of H. pylori in rat stomachs attenuates gastric inflammation and ameliorates gastric histopathology .
19) Infant Growth
L. plantarum strain maintained the growth of infant mice during chronic undernutrition .
20) Physical Endurance
L. plantarum significantly decreased body weight and increased relative muscle weight, grip strength and endurance swimming time in mice .
21) Female Fertility
L. plantarum ameliorated inflammation-induced infertility in mice .
L. plantarum reinforced natural microflora and lead to a resurge of fertility in mice infected with E. coli .
22) Histamine Intolerance
L plantarum can degrade biogenic amines in a laboratory setting. It may be worth investigating in people with histamine intolerance .
L. plantarum enhanced the anti-tumor immune response and delayed tumor formation in mice with intestinal adenocarcinoma .
Long-term administration of L. plantarum prevented the development of breast cancer in rats [69, 70].
L. plantarum inhibited the development of rat colon carcinogenesis .
Nano-sized L. plantarum also exhibited anti-colorectal cancer activities in mice .
L. plantarum significantly inhibited the proliferation of hepatocellular carcinoma cells, gastric cancer cells and colorectal adenocarcinoma cells .
These effects have not yet been investigated in human subjects.
- Decreases the production of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, and MCP-1) 
- Increases the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10) 
- Decreases ALT and AST 
- Decreases NF-κB 
No adverse effects of any kind were observed in rats, even after consuming large quantities . However, as with other probiotics, use in patients with organ failure, immunocompromised status, and dysfunctional gut barrier mechanisms can lead to infections. In order to avoid adverse events, talk to your doctor before using probiotics.