Bifidobacterium longum - Probiotic Bacteria with a Long List of Health Benefits

Bifidobacterium longum is a probiotic bacterium with a long list of health benefits, especially for your colon. It is commonly found in adults and children in the GI tracts and female vagina. Tolerance tests show that it is well tolerated as an oral probiotic.

Like other Bifidobacterium species, B. longum is a Gram-positive, non-motile, non-sporulating lactic-acid bacteria that also produces other acids and ethanol.

B. longum is a strict anaerobe for fermentation, but it is also aerotolerant so it can be more versatile than some other bifido species.

Why Are Bifidobacterium longum Names Confusing?

At least 28 different strains of this probiotic microbe (solely as B. longum) are catalogued, but the ways in which they are named can be confusing. B. longum is a species, like Bifidobacterium animalis, that has a confusing lineage. As you read on the Bifidobacterium page, Bifidobacterium species are generally very similar genetically, but until recent times, it was not possible to distinguish them by DNA analysis.

However, in 2002, researchers in Japan proposed that B. longum, Bifidobacterium infantis and Bifidobacterium suis are genetically so similar that they are all biotypes of the same species. According to these researchers, the names would then be something like Bifidobacterium longum subsp longum, Bifidobacterium longum subsp infantis, and Bifidobacterium longum subsp suis. And each biotype would then have its own strains.

For the purposes of this website at the current time, you will see B. longum and B. infantis as separate pages since they are listed that way as ingredients in probiotic products. Whenever I know the details of the subspecies, I'll write it, but if no subspecies are given, I'm keeping the names separate.

B. suis was recovered from pig feces, and so far is not as important as the other two B. longum subspecies for humans.

What Is the Probiotic Potential of Bifidobacterium longum ?

Generally-speaking, B. longum has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the cells lining your mucous membranes from toxins and help some of your immune cells to mature so they can function properly. This probiotic microbe is also present in breast milk, and is one of the first microbes to colonize the infant gut.

It is able to ferment a wide variety of carbohydrates, including lactose and the sugars in cruciferous vegetables, dried beans and some cereal grains that humans cannot digest.

It also has enzymes to digest proteins so that they don’t putrefy in the colon. Putrefaction is not healthy for the colon, as you can imagine. :(

Some of the conditions that B. longum has shown health benefits for are:

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Pathogen infections
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Possible weight maintenance
  • Bone health
  • Colon cancer prevention
  • Cholesterol-lowering
  • Depression

Of course, like other probiotics, the benefits of B. longum are strain-specific, so it is best to know the specific strain that will fit your needs. For example, the probiotic B. longum NCC3001 can help with depression and quality of life in IBS sufferers by targeting the gut and the brain.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of 44 adults with IBS and diarrhea or a diarrhea/constipation-stool pattern and mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression, B. longum NCC3001 showed benefit for reducing depression (but not anxiety scores) and increasing quality of life in patients with IBS.

From the study, "These improvements were associated with changes in brain activation patterns that indicate that this probiotic reduces limbic reactivity." What this means is that the suspected mechanism of action is in the gut and the BRAIN and involves the reduction in responses to negative emotional stimuli.

Will other strains have the same effect? The answer to that question is unknown.

Is B. Longum Safe?

B. longum, like other Bifidobacteria, are on the European QPS (Qualifeid Presumptoion of Safety) list.

Additionally, B. longum can cause other microbes that live in the intestines to perform helpful duties that they otherwise wouldn’t do. This suggests that it can communicate with other beneficial bacteria to keep us healthy. However, B. longum does not have any antibiotic resistances that could potentially be transferred to other bacteria.

Where Can You Find B. longum?

Bifidobacterium longum is a probiotic species that appears to be destined for use in humans. It is usually found in probiotic-fortified foods and drinks and in probiotic combination supplements.

If you would like to take a simple probiotic formula that has only Bifidobacterium species in it, a good choice is Primadophilus Probifia Pearls by Nature's Way. It contains 1 billion CFU per capsule of B. longum BB536, B. bifidum, B. breve and B. infantis.

Probifia Pearls probiotics have Bifidobacterium species only in them

For my review of Probifia Pearls, read this page.

Renew Life Ultimate Flora RTS Senior Care probiotic supplement contains all Bifidobacterium species

A product that contains 30 billion CFU of 6 strains of shelf-stable Bifidobacterium (2-B. lactis strains, B. bifidum, B. breve, B. infantis and B. longum) is Ultimate Flora RTS Senior Care Probiotic from Renew Life. It is gluten- and dairy-free at can be found at

Vitacost.com

You can read my reivew of this Renew Life probiotic supplement here.



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