Bacillus subtilis: The Spore-based Probiotic You’ve Never Heard Of
This summer, I was introduced to a new probiotic strain by a colleague who is a human supplement formulator. He and I share what I would say is a fundamental obsession with the GI tract: he on the human side, me on the animal side. He told me about a specific probiotic strain called Bacillus subtilis.
What intrigued me right off the bat is that Bacillus subtilis is a spore-forming bacteria, unlike other common probiotic strains (Saccharomyces, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium).
Because of the spore form, B. subtilis can survive the harsh gastric environment and reach the small intestine alive. The small intestine is responsible for the digestion of starch, protein, and fat as well as vitamins and minerals. Most nutrient absorption happens in the small intestine.
One of the reasons BioStar’s BioFlora EQ is microencapsulated is to protect the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium microorganisms from being destroyed by the acid in the stomach.
A bacteria by any other name
Bacillus subtilis is also known as Hay Subtilis or Grass Subtilis. It’s found in soils, aquatic environments, and in the GI tract of animals, humans, and marine sponges (which answers some basic questions I’ve had about SpongeBob SquarePants).
B. subtilis is considered a GRAS organism (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA.
How Bacillus subtilis works in the body
B. subtilis can out-compete pathogens like E. Coli and Staphylococcus. It can grow in diverse environments and different pH environments within the GI tract, and can change from spore to vegetative state, and sporulate again. It can also germinate in the digestive tract.
Research has highlighted the biotherapeutic qualities of Bacillus based on its ability to interact with the internal colonies of the host by producing a variety of antimicrobial peptides. B. subtilis has been reported to display antimicrobial, anti-oxidative, and immune-modulation activity in the host.1
B. subtilis can also increase the susceptibility of certain pathogens to penicillin.
This can be helpful since antibiotic resistance by some bacteria strains is increasing. 2
There are several strains of Bacillus including subtilis that are being studied for their therapeutic effect on metabolic disorders.
Establishing gut homeostasis depends on the growth of beneficial microbes, suppression of pathogens, and the pathogen-induced inflammatory response of the intestinal mucosa. B. subtilis is known to produce several antimicrobial substances that provide antibacterial activity against pathogens. B. subtilis allows the beneficial species in the gut to flourish.
Bacillus subtilis DE111
Bacillus subtilis DE111 is a patented strain which has shown to modulate the immune response of the host via the spores, while also germinating and becoming active in the small intestine via vegetative cells. The vegetative cells secrete enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, peptides, and antimicrobial compounds. These actions help balance the gut microbiota and aid digestion. 3
- Crowds out bacterial pathogens to support colonies of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Communicates with intestinal cells to maintain the gut barrier’s function, thereby reducing inflammation levels.
- Supports the immune system through modulation on both innate and adaptive cell types.
- Optimizes nutrient absorption.
- Supports digestion and can help reduce irregularities of intestinal disturbances such as gas, hard stools, and diarrhea.4
- Bacillus subtilis DE111 has over 30 published studies on its efficacy and actions in the GI tract.
BioStar has been beta testing B. subtilis DE111 for six months with many horses, from retired seniors, A-circuit show ponies, recreational horses, to high performance dressage and jumpers.
Often with test horses, trying a beta test product means that traditional methods haven’t worked. In many instances, a variety of probiotics and gut support formulas may be tried but with no noticeable improvement.
However, all of the horses we tested have shown improvements in a wide range of conditions: attitude, pre-laminitic with obvious digital pulse, improved digestion with less gas, reduced fecal water syndrome and diarrhea. Several horses who were diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome demonstrated significant improvements with DE111. A couple of horses who went off their feed or became increasingly picky about feed regained their appetite with DE111.
B. subtilis as a part of the bigger picture
B. subtilis is yet another piece in the mysterious puzzle that is the gut microbiome. This amazing bacteria survives the harsh environment of the stomach, produces spores capable of crowding out bacterial pathogens, supports other beneficial bacterial colonies, maintains the gut barrier system and reduces the inflammatory response, supports the immune system, and optimizes digestion which makes this an important probiotic strain for horses and dogs.
B. subtilis is only a piece of the complex system that is the GI tract. It isn’t the answer by itself, but it is an excellent probiotic strain for GI tract and body mind health.
Further research on Bacillus subtilis
Science is at the forefront of the gut microbiome frontier. There’s still so much to learn and understand about this complex, ever changing system:
Continuing research includes Bacillus subtilis and its prebiotic effects.
Bacillus subtilis may increase longevity.
Baccilus subtilis can affect host behavior through the gut-brain axis.
Baccilus subtilis against the cariogenic Streptococcus mutans in oral disorders.