A Bakers Dozen – Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® Probiotic Strains

A Monthly Breakdown of Each Starter Strain Selected for Fermentation in Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics

By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN
Scientific Director, Essential Formulas

Dr. Ohhira was a visionary microbiologist who was decades ahead of his time. He recognized that in the human gastrointestinal tract and throughout nature, one of the primary functions of bacteria is to ferment/digest organic matter, which produces compounds that play critical roles in regulating health. Dr. Ohhira originally called these metabolites biogenic compounds. Today, they are more commonly referred to as Postbiotic Metabolites.

Dr. Ohhira carefully selected unique strains of probiotic bacteria to be the starter strains used in the multi-year fermentation process to produce Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics. These strains of bacteria have substantially different DNA, which enables them to ferment other compounds in the food you eat (primarily dietary fibers and polyphenols). The net result is that different strains of bacteria can produce various kinds of postbiotic metabolites, which have a wide range of health benefits.

This month, we will highlight the third probiotic strain, Bifidobacterium longum BB536.

Bifidobacterium longum is one of the most predominant species of bifidobacteria present in the intestine of infants and adults. Bifidobacterium longum BB536 is a strain that was initially isolated from the intestinal tract of a healthy breast-fed infant in 1969. Since its discovery, B. longum BB536 has been a multi-functioning strain of probiotic bacteria that provides significant benefits such as balancing sensitivities to seasonal challenges, controlling levels of harmful bacteria in the GI tract, reducing intestinal discomfort, enhancing immune function, and improving intestinal barrier function.i,ii

The benefits of B. longum BB536 have resulted in its widespread use in various milk-based drinks, yogurt, infant formulas, and nutritional supplement products. It has been marketed in over 30 countries for over 40 years.

B. longum BB536 has been recognized as one of the most effective probiotic bacteria strains for improving gastrointestinal conditions for decades. Multiple studies have reported that it is helpful in maintaining regularity.iii

Nitrates and nitrosamines are preservatives commonly added to processed meat products, associated with an increased risk of numerous health problems in humans. B. longum BB536 can metabolize nitrates and nitrosamines, reducing the health risks of ingesting these food preservatives.iv,v

Another attribute of B. longum BB536 is its ability to help inhibit the growth of several undesirable bacterial strains, such as H. pylori, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, and candida, to name a few. One of the mechanisms is that BB536 prevents pathogens from adhering to the lining of the GI tract, which prevents them from colonizing and proliferating.vi Other studies have reported that B. longum BB536 improves overall microbial balance and diversity in the gut microbiome. Because so many people struggle with an imbalance in their intestinal microbiomes, introducing positive probiotic strains like B. longum BB536 helps improve overall human health.vii

The health benefits attributed to Bifidobacterium longum BB536 may be due to the postbiotic metabolites it produces. It was recently reported that supplementation with B. longum BB356 significantly increases fecal levels of pimelate.viii

Pimelate is a precursor of the B-vitamin biotin. Biotin affects glucose and lipid metabolism, amino acid metabolism, blood pressure, reproduction, and immunity.ix

Butyrate is the primary energy source for cells in the lining of the colon (colonocytes). It also regulates the production of tight junction proteins, which means it plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Butyrate also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it assists with gut motility.x

In summary, Bifidobacterium longum BB536 has a long-standing track record of safety and efficacy. It is a human strain of probiotic bacteria that provides numerous health benefits for humans. Many of its health benefits can be attributed to its key postbiotic metabolites, pimelate and butyrate.

i Sugahara H, et al. Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum alters gut luminal metabolism through modification of the gut microbial community. Scientific Reports. 2015 Aug 28;5:13548.
ii Quigley EMM. Bifidobacterium longum. Chapter 16 in The Microbiota in Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology. 2017:139-141.
iii Takeda T, et al. Usefulness of Bifidobacterium longum BB536 in Elderly Individuals With Chronic Constipation: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2023 Mar;118(3):561-568.
iv Shao X, et al. The function and mechanism of lactic acid bacteria in the reduction of toxic substances in food: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2021 Mar 8;1-14.
v Grill JP, et al. Effect of bifidobacteria on nitrites and nitrosamines. Letters in Applied Microbiology. 1995 May;20(5):328-30.
vi T. Araya-Kojima, et al. Inhibitory effects of Bifidobacterium longum BB536 on harmful intestinal bacteria. Bifidobacteria and Microflora, 14 (2) (1995), pp. 59-66.
vii Valdes AM, et al. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ. 2018.361:K2179.
viii Sugahara H, et al. Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum alters gut luminal metabolism through modification of the gut microbial community. Scientific Reports. 2015 Aug 28;5:13548.
ix Leon-Del-Rio A. Biotin in metabolism, gene expression, and human disease. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease. 2019 Feb 11;42(4):647-654.
x Siddiqui MT and Cresci GA. The Immunomodulatory Functions of Butyrate. J Inflamm Res. 2021;14:6025-6041.