Lactobacillus plantarum: A Common Probiotic Bacteria with Stellar Benefits 

Lactobacillus plantarum is a commonly-found probiotic species. It is versatile species found in many environmental circumstances including in some dairy products, in fresh and fermented meats, and in many fruits, vegetables, wine and plants.

It is one of many Lactobacillus species of beneficial bacteria. Like other Lactobacillus, L. plantarum is a Gram-positive, non-motile, non-sporulating, rod-shaped lactic acid bacteria. Besides the fact that its presence is widespread, what makes L. plantarum unique among the lactic-acid bacteria (LAB) are that it:

  • It has one of the largest genomes know among LAB.
  • It is able to adapt to stressors better than some other LAB, so although it replicates best in anaerobic conditions (no oxygen), it is able to adapt to some oxygen, various levels of pH and other conditions that would kill other bacteria.

What Does Research on Lactobacillus plantarum Show?

After reading through numerous scientific studies, I found out that L. plantarum has been shown to be an excellent probiotic in that it generally:

  1. Is able to survive passage of the stomach and intestines and temporarily colonize the intestines
  2. Is found frequently in the digestive tract, from the mouth to the intestines, as well as the vagina
  3. Enhances gut immune function
  4. Produces bacteriocins (antimicrobial products) called “plantaracins”. Some companies use  cultures with L. plantarum as antimicrobial agents in a variety of foods but not in infant formula or infant foods.
  5. Produces lactic acid
  6. Produces short-chain fatty acids
  7. Is able to reduce the ability of pathogens to prosper
  8. Is anti-inflammatory

In addition, 3 research studies published late in 2016 showed very interesting results. In one, researchers in Italy fermented quinoa flour to assess any differences in antioxidant power. They found that the scavenging activity (i.e. antioxidant potential) of water/salt-soluble extracts from fermented inoculated doughs was significantly higher than that of non-inoculated doughs. Dough fermented with Lactobacillus plantarum T0A10, a strain previously isolated from fermented quinoa dough, had the highest potential for preventing oxidation of an essential fatty acid.

In another study, researchers showed anti-viral effects of this microbe. In a model of severe human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) disease, a major cause of lung and breathing passage infections, mice were inoculated intranasally with heat-inactivated Lactobacillus plantarum BAA-793 fourteen and seven days before being inoculated with the mouse equivalent of hRSV. Results showed that L. plantarum administration protected mice from the deadly consequences of viral infection by suppressing the virus-induced inflammatory response. It also limited infection of immune white blood cells by the virus and decreased the release of infectious particles from immune cells. These results showed that prophylactic use of the heat-inactivated probiotic had antiviral actions.

In a third study, in the world of genetic engineering, scientists, targeting tuberculosis (TB), one of the most deadly pathogen diseases, developed a method using L. plantarum to act as an agent for antigen delivery to mucosal sites. They took Lactobacillus plantarum and attached a Mycobacterium tuberculosis fusion antigen to it via two different methods. Both methods proved that the manipulated L. plantarum strains, in vitro, were able to induce antigen-specific proliferative responses in lymphocytes purified from TB-positive donors. Additionally, both recombinant strains caused immune responses in mice after nasal or oral immunization. Scientists hope to use this method in human vaccine development against TB.

With these benefits, it is easy to see how L. plantarum is a stellar probiotic!

Where Can You Find Lactobacillus plantarum?

One of the most natural places to find L. plantarum is in cultured or fermented foods such as cultured vegetables and sauerkraut.

Many probiotic supplements (the links below will take you to my reviews of those products) such as:

Unless otherwise directed on the package, I always recommend that you refrigerate probiotics to preserve and extend the life of the product.

One of the most well-studied strains that is available is:

L. plantarum 299v

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