There really is no other supplement category as lively and evolving as probiotics. For example, reminiscent of Prince, there is an official name change for the species formerly known as Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
As of April 2020, the former Lactobacillus rhamnosus is now … Lacticaseibacillus (lak-ti-kay-see-eye-bas-ill-us) rhamnosus. Up until recently, L. rhamnosus was believed to be a subspecies of Lactobacillus casei, but recent genetic research revealed it to be a unique species, which, by the way, is masculine. [Therefore, throughout this article, when the Latin binomial is spelled out, it will appear as Lacticaseibacillus.]
There is a literal plethora of probiotic species and one of the ones seen in products is Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus, which resides primarily in the intestines. One source describes this species as a “Gram-positive, non-motile, non-sporulating rod-shaped facultative anaerobic lactic acid bacterium and is frequently isolated from the human gastrointestinal mucosa, starting in the mouth, of healthy individuals. It is also present in the female vagina and urinary tract.”
Lactobacillus rhamnosus also occurs naturally in some foods such as parmigiano reggiano cheese, an excellent source.
There are numerous strains of L. rhamnosus, and the consensus among researchers and suppliers of probiotics is that there is a rich and distinct diversity in the benefits provided by each. And this attribute truly makes L. rhamnosus a “super” species!
Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus HN001: This strain is often typically studied in pregnant and breastfeeding women; it can be called the “mom strain.” It has been researched for its effects on vaginal health, prenatal benefits to the infant, gestational diabetes, post-natal depression and anxiety and immunity.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed L. rhamnosus HN001 was able to significantly reduce postnatal depression and anxiety. The study included 380 women at 14-16 weeks gestation. They were randomized to receive either a daily dose of 6 billion CFU’s of L. rhamnosus HN001 or a placebo for the remaining duration of pregnancy and for six months post birth whilst breastfeeding. Women in the probiotic group reported significantly lower depression and anxiety scores. Additionally, the number of women who scored above the cut off point for clinical anxiety was 50% lower in the probiotic group; and 15.6% of women suffered with clinical anxiety in the probiotic group compared with 29.4% in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that “this probiotic may be useful for the prevention or treatment of symptoms of depressions and anxiety post-partum.”
This study cohort of 380 women was also the basis for researchers to investigate a link between L. rhamnosus HN001 and gestational diabetes (GDM). This study team looked at incidence of GDM at 24 to 34 weeks of pregnancy and found a general trend in the reduction of GDM in the probiotic group. Interestingly, the probiotic strain was found to be associated with significantly lower rates of GDM in women 35 and older with a history of GDM in previous pregnancies.
Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 (LPR): This strain was studied for encouraging weight loss in obese adults. In the trial, each of the 24 participants consumed either the probiotic or placebo for 12 weeks along with a calorie-restricted diet, followed by 12 weeks of a maintenance diet. According to the researchers, the mean weight loss in women in the LPR strain group was significantly higher than that in women in the placebo group after the first 12 weeks, but was similar in men in the two groups. Women in the probiotic group continued to lose body weight and fat mass during the weight-maintenance period, whereas opposite changes were observed in the placebo group. Changes in body weight and fat mass during the weight-maintenance period were similar in men in both the groups. The team concluded, “The present study shows that the L. rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 formulation helps obese women to achieve sustainable weight loss.”
Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus R0011: In many people, antibiotic therapy can cause bouts of diarrhea, adding to the overall sense of illness. The goal of a 10-week study was to investigate the effect of and L. rhamnosus R0011 combined with Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 on antibiotic (amoxicillin-clavulanic acid)-associated diarrhea in healthy adults compared to placebo and antibiotic, both probiotic and placebo daily consumption was maintained for one week following completion of antibiotic. According to the authors, diarrhea episodes improved in the probiotic group.
Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus GR-1®: This L. rhamnosus strain is also a great friend to women, as several studies show it helps balance the vaginal microbiome, reducing risk of bacterial vaginosis, a highly uncomfortable and embarrassing condition. One study of 63 healthy women showed that consumption of L. rhamnosus GR-1® combined with L. fermentum RC-14® for two months showed a significant depletion of yeast and coliforms (pathogenic bacteria) as well as an increase in lactobacilli. This was validated in another study of 544 healthy women with BV, who took the probiotic combination or placebo for six weeks. Vaginal swabs showed that after 12 weeks the vaginal microbiota normalized in 61.5% of women in the probiotic group compared to 26.9% in the placebo group.
Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG®): This strain has been the subject of approximately 200 clinical trials and 800 or so studies; it is a superstrain. According to one source, this strain is hardy, as it can survive well through the abrasive gastric environment, and exhibits good adhesion to the intestinal cell wall, and also stimulates the proliferation of the cells in the intestinal lining to improve barrier functionality. The studies on this strain demonstrate its potent ability to support both gastric (digestive) function and immunity, as well as immune-related conditions such as allergies. According to the author of a review of the 30-year-plus research into this strain, it was the first Lactobacillus strain to be patented in 1989. He writes, “A large number of research data on Lactobacillus GG is the basis for the use of this probiotic for human health.”
This strain is also shown to be useful for gastroenteritis in children. One meta-analysis of 18 clinical trials that included 4,208 children compared the use of L. rhamnosus GG against placebo or no treatment. The researchers concluded that the “evidence shows that overall, L rhamnosus GG reduced both the duration of diarrhea (with a higher impact in European countries) and hospitalization in inpatients.”
The species Lacticaseibacillus (nee Lactobacillus) rhamnosus is undeniably rife with a diversity of strains that work to support health in various ways.