Lactobacillus plantarum, like all probiotics, is
a beneficial bacterium that can be used for
improved health. Lactobacillus is the largest
genus of the lactic acid bacteria group.
Lactobacillus plantarum is one of over 50
Lactobacillus species. It was first isolated
from human saliva.
One of the most versatile probiotics,
Lactobacillus plantarum is found in plant
material and the gastrointestinal tract of
animals, including humans. It is used in the
fermentation of foods like sauerkraut, kimchi,
pickles, and sourdough bread. It has been used
for this purpose for hundreds of years, and is a
healthier option in food preservation. Along
with promoting normal digestive health,
Lactobacillus plantarum has been shown to be an
effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome
(IBS), Crohn’s disease, and colitis. It has the
ability to destroy pathogens and to preserve
critical nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants.
It has also shown the rare ability to produce L.
lysine, a beneficial amino acid. One of the most
exciting uses for Lactobacillus plantarum
involves using it to deliver therapeutic
compounds and proteins to the body. This area of
research using the bacteria is new and ongoing.
Among the latest research on Lactobacillus
plantarum it that which has shown it to be
highly effective in preventing soy-related
allergies. Researchers at the University of
Illinois conducted two studies in 2008. They
fermented soy seeds, flour, or meal using a
variety of microorganisms. Fermented and
unfermented soy products were introduced into
blood plasma from people allergic to soy.
Lactobacillus plantarum enabled the greatest
reduction in immunoreactivity to the soy
products. In many cases, it was as much as a 99
percent reduction. The process also increased
the number of essential amino acids in the soy,
along with new beneficial peptides, providing an
additional health boost. Though a soy allergy
only affects a small number of the population,
that number is expected to grow as soy continues
to become a more common ingredient in a wide
range of food products.
A 2001 study by Swedish researchers at Lund
University explored the properties and use of
Lactobacillus plantarum 299v. This particular
strain originates from human intestinal mucosa.
Animal subjects with this bacterial strain have
shown improved liver status and a reduction of
mucosal inflammation. Lactobacillus plantarum
299v reduced abdominal bloating in patients with
irritable bowel syndrome. It also increased the
amount of carboxylic acids in feces and
decreased fibrinogen concentrations in the
blood. In addition, scientists conducting the
study stated that lactic acid fermentation, such
as that used with Lactobacillus plantarum, is
the safest way to preserve food.
A different study by Polish researchers in that
same year showed similar results. Using 40 IBS
patients for the four-week study, researchers
put half on the same strain, Lactobacillus
plantarum 299v, and half on a placebo. By the
end of the study, researchers reported a
significant difference in the results of the two
groups. Patients using Lactobacillus plantarum
showed a normalization in stool frequency. All
20 reported a resolution of abdominal pain and
95 percent showed improvement on all IBS-related
When a healthy colony of Lactobacillus plantarum
lives in the intestines, it prevents harmful
bacteria from attaching to the mucosal lining
and competes for the nutrients the bad bacteria
need to survive. With no food and no room to
live, the harmful bacteria pass harmlessly
through the body.
In a related factor, Lactobacillus plantarum has
been shown to be highly resistant to most
antibiotics. Though antibiotics are often
necessary, they cause yeast overgrowth in adults
and children. This often results in an upset
stomach and a disrupted digestive system. When a
healthy colony of Lactobacillus plantarum lives
in the intestines, it prevents the
overproduction of the yeast and eliminates this
common problem that is often the result of
As with most probiotics, supplements of
Lactobacillus plantarum are available at health
food stores and online. Another way to introduce
a larger amount of this healthy bacteria to the
digestive system is by preserving food using a
starter culture, also available at most health
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2001).
Lactobacillus plantarum 299v Reduces Irritable
Bowel Bloating. .
Body Ecology. (2009). Lactobacillus Plantarum:
The Key Benefits of This
“Superstar” Probiotic and How to Get It in Your
European Journal of Gastroenterology and
Hepatology. (2001). Probiotic LP299v Could Help
Patients with Irritable Bowel.
Frias, Juana et al. (2008). Journal of
Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Overcoming
Allergic Reactions to Soy. .
National Center for Biotechnology Information.
(2009). Lactobacillus planturam WCFS1
Probiotics – Love That Bug. (2009).
Lactobacillus plantarum: The Family.
Taylor, John R. and Mitchell, Deborah. The
Wonder of Probiotics. New York, NY: St. Martin’s
complete description of probiotics, along with
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