Merical 12-strain probiotic shows mood improvement, reduced sick days

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Jongho Shin
©Getty Images - Jongho Shin

Related tags Probiotics Gut health Immune health gut brain axis

Merical has validated its 12-strain probiotic product via an open label trial done on its own employees.

The study recruited employees working at Merical facilities in both Utah and Southern California.  While the trial was designed as an open label format, it did include a relatively large number of participants (63) and ran for a significant period of time (90 days).

Shikha Snigdha, PhD, director of innovation for Merical, said that there is a lot of information in the literature about the effects of single strain probiotics but less about what multiple species formulations might do.

“This is what I would call an exploratory study to see if there is an additive effect for all the strains together.  The product is a 10 billion CFU formulation, divided up between the 12 strains,”​ Snigdha told NutraIngredients-USA.

Snigdha said the product also includes a prebiotic, a xylooligosaccharide (XOS) derived from corn.  As for the probiotic strains they are: Bifidobacterium bifidum ATCC SD 6576, Bifidobacterium breve ATCC SD 5206, infantis ATCC SD 6720, Bifidobacterium lactis ATCC SD 5220, Bifidobacterium longum ATCC SD 5588, Lactobacillus acidophilus DSM 32754, Lactobacillus casei ATCC SD 5213, Lactobacillus paracasei ATCC SD 5275, Lactobacillus plantarum ATCC SD 5209, Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC SD 6889, Lactobacillus rhamnosus ATCC 53103​, and Lactobacillus salivarius ATCC SD 5208.

Planting many trees instead of just one

Snigha said the multi strain approach for the product was to see if a such a product could be more efficacious for a broader swathe of the population.  Supplementing with a lone probiotic strain has been likened by some observers to planting one tree in a forest.  It might or might not spread into a grove.  To extend the analogy, the chance that many new trees will arise is better if more are planted in the first place.

“The key thing here is that everyone’s microbiome is very different.  It depends on your geography. It depends on what kind of food you eat. If you take just the one strain it may or may not work for you,” ​Snigdha said.

The study showed promising results in teh ability for the multi strain product to shift the subjects’ microbiomes in a healthy direction.

“Our results demonstrate that probiotic supplementation improved overall digestive health for subjects during the trial period. This was established by a significantly lower score on the digestive issues dimension of the questionnaire for the probiotic-treated group,”​ the researchers wrote.

Immune health benefit

The study also showed that the participants’ perception of their overall health and well being improved with the probiotic supplementation.  These questionnaire outcomes were analyzed with the Welch ANOVA statistical technique.  This feeling of wellbeing speaks to teh product’s affect on the gut-brain connection, a phenomenon that is still in its beginning stages from a research perspective.

But the researchers also had a hard data point to measure that speaks to the product’s effect on immune health.  

“The number of sick days was reduced by 44.8% in the post-trial probiotic group when compared to baseline. In contrast, there was a 271% increase in absent days due to sickness in the post-trial control group,”​ the researchers wrote.

Reaching different regions of brain

Snigdha said the gut-brain connection results included an interesting twist.  While the participants in general felt in better health and more buoyant mood while using the product, they did not report that they slept better.  Snigdha said this could help future researchers drill down into the specifics of this effect, as the probiotics seemed to be affecting the amygdala, involved in ‘positive affect’ more than the hypothalamus, where sleep patterns are regulated.

“I think we should continue to build on that and do some more studies,” ​Snigdha said.

Source:​ Journal of Probiotics and Health
Vol.8 Iss.4 No:223
Probiotics Improve Immune and Digestive Health and Augment Quality of Life in Healthy Adults: An Open Label Work-Place Study

Authors: Shikha Snigdha, Kevin Ha, Jeremy D Bartos

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