Italian researchers have confirmed that a certain oral probiotic species significantly reduces ear infections, throat infections and tonsillitis among children and adults with recurring infections.
In the most recent study, published in March's Journal of Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy from Informa Healthcare, researchers studied 40 adults who had a history of frequent strep throat infections and/or tonsillitis.
They were divided into two groups of 20 adults. For ninety days, one group was given an oral probiotic supplement (European brand = Bactoblis®) containing Streptococcus salivarius K12, while the other group went untreated.
The Bactoblis product is a slow-release lozenge containing five billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of Streptococcus salivarius K12.
The researchers then followed each patient for six months following the 90-day treatment period.
While the control group saw no change, the oral probiotic group experienced an 80% decrease in streptococcal pharyngeal infections (strep throat and tonsillitis). During the six months following the 90-day treatment period, the oral probiotic group had a 60% reduced incidence of strep throat and tonsillitis.
There were no negative side effects reported from the oral probiotic treatment. Nor were there any drop-outs among the oral probiotic group.
The researchers concluded: "Prophylactic administration of Streptococcus salivarius K12 to adults having a history of recurrent oral streptococcal pathology reduced the number of episodes of streptococcal pharyngeal infections and/or tonsillitis."
Another study investigating throat infections and ear infections among children was published last November in the International Journal of General Medicine. This study included 82 children between the ages of four and five years old. Of these 82, 65 had been recently diagnosed with a streptococcal infection of the ears (otitis media) and/or throat infections (strep throat and/or tonsillitis).
The researchers gave 45 of the diagnosed children the same Bactoblis oral probiotic with Streptococcus salivarius K12, leaving 20 diagnosed children untreated, and the remaining 17 who were not diagnosed with any infection as an additional control group. Each of the 45 children were given one tablet a day of the Bactoblis product with Streptococcus salivarius K12 for 90 days.
Among the 45 who started the study, 41 children completed the 90-day treatment period and six-month follow-up. Those 41 had a 90% reduction in throat infections. Among those with recurrent ear infections there was a 40% reduction.
In addition, during a six-month follow-up period when the children were not taking the oral probiotics, those who took the oral probiotics for the 90-days had a 65% reduction in reported ear and throat infections overall.
Once again there were no negative side effects reported from the oral probiotic treatment.
The researchers concluded that, "Prophylactic administration of S. salivarius K12 to children with a history of recurrent oral streptococcal pathology reduced episodes of streptococcal pharyngeal infections and/or tonsillitis as well as episodes of acute otitis media."
The patented BLIS (bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance) K12 strain of Streptococcus salivarius was isolated in New Zealand from a healthy child's mouth. The strain has since been studied extensively. It has been propagated and infused into several commercially-available lozenges and gums.
Other oral probiotic strains have also been isolated, and have undergone similar testing and commercial availability.