March 9, 2011

072 Oral Probiotics [19 July 2010]

We all know the importance of maintaining beneficial bacteria in our intestines, but I recently learned that probiotics, as they are called, is just as important for our mouths.

Our mouths are home to billions of bacteria, both good and bad. Many infections – throat, nasal and sinus, middle ear, bronchial and lung – originate in the mouth. Strep throat can lead to the more serious rheumatic and scarlet fevers. So the mouth is an important first line of defense in preventing these infections.

As a child, Microbiologist Professor John Tagg of New Zealand developed rheumatic fever as a complication of a severe Streptococcus pyogenes strep throat infection. He was put on a lifetime program of penicillin which caused him many undesired side effects. As a microbiologist, Tagg devoted his entire research career to find a safe and effective remedy for this virulent pathogen.

In one study Tagg found that children who seemed immune to upper respiratory infections had a healthy oral population of a particular species of bacteria called Streptococcus salivarius; while children that were prone to such infections did not. Testing revealed that this species occurs naturally in only 5% of the population. Further research led to the discovery of a particularly beneficial strain of S. salivarius called K12. K12 bacteria not only crowd out disease causing bacteria, including S. pyogenes, but produce a protein called BLIS which actively destroys it.

Maintaining a healthy population of K12 in your mouth will help protect you from:
• infection by Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep throat)
• oral candida infection (thrush)
• upper respiratory and sinus infections
• otitis media (middle ear infections causing earache)
• halitosis (bad breath)

This new K12 strain is now available in a chewing gum form. Chewing action helps distribute the K12 and promotes colonization throughout the mouth. The best time to use it is just before bedtime, after brushing your teeth. Initially use for a week then for 3-4 days every few weeks. Since antibiotics and oral antiseptics (including natural ones like oil of oregano or tea tree oil) affect all bacteria in the mouth, it is important to reintroduce the K12 after their use. It is also important following dental work.

K12 is beneficial for all ages from children to adults, and is even recommended for new moms so they can transmit the culture to their newborns with their kisses! For more information see www. culturedcare .com.

Who knew that preventing disease could be as easy (or fun) as chewing a piece of gum!

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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