Important Things About Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms that when ingested or locally applied in sufficient numbers, can impart one or more specified, demonstrated functional, or health benefit on the host.

Probiotics have been called nature's "internal healers" because of their crucial role in the health and functioning of the intestinal tract. Probiotics are actually friendly (desirable and beneficial) bacteria that help maintain the correct balance of good and bad organisms in the gastrointestinal tract.

One hundred trillion bacteria live in the human body, and of those, a healthy individual normally has a balance of approximately 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. When this ratio gets significantly out of balance, gastrointestinal problems arise.

Probiotics support the growth of beneficial intestinal flora while helping to crowd out the undesirable bacteria. Hundreds of species of friendly bacteria flourish in the 25-28 feet long intestinal tract when it is healthy.

Some of these species, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidum, are resident microorganisms that are always present. These resident bacteria attach to the mucosal lining and colonize. This colonization helps keep out the unfriendly organisms that try to invade the intestinal tract. When the numbers of the resident flora are lowered or depleted, the undesirable organisms can take over, which can lead to a number of gastrointestinal disturbances.

In addition to the resident microorganisms, there are also transient friendly flora. These beneficial organisms don't set up residence in the gut; instead, they travel through the intestines and exert many positive effects such as promoting good digestion, producing enzymes or producing lactic acid that creates an optimal environment for the resident flora.

Supplementing with probiotics can keep the good flora in balance, thereby promoting good health and a healthy gastrointestinal tract. There are many types of probiotic supplements available, some containing individual strains of organisms and some containing multiple strains. A person's individual gastrointestinal situation will dictate what type of product is needed.

Probiotic Genus and Species in Kirkman's Probiotics


Lactobacillus is a genus of bacteria that produces lactic acid, the enzyme required to breakdown lactose (sugar in milk). They also collectively ferment carbohydrates in the gut producing lactic acid that creates an acidic environment in the digestive tract which antagonizes many various types of potentially harmful bacteria.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

L. acidophilus has been extensively studied to confer many important health benefits. These bacteria reside most densely in the upper gastrointestinal tract, where they help maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall to ensure proper nutrient absorption and support overall healthy digestive and immune function.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Lactobacillus rhamnosus

L. rhamnosus has been well-researched to have a positive impact on gut health, as well as neurological function and mood balance. This probiotic thrives in acidic environments and can support the negative effects of excess stomach acid and vaginal bacterial imbalance.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Lactobacillus plantarum

L. plantarum has the unique ability to compete with a wide range of bacteria (both gram positive and gram negative) for receptor sites and valuable nutrients in the mucosal membrane. This makes L. plantarum a potent aide in restoring balance to flora when imbalances occur from use of antibiotics or stomach acid. L. plantarum also supports nutrient absorption, overall digestive and immune function and is important in healthy brain development.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Lactobacillus casei

L. casei is resistant to both gastric acid and bile and is able to survive the journey through the gastrointestinal tract. L. casei studies show that it offers powerful support for the immune and digestive systems. It is often used in the production of dairy products such as cheeses and yogurts.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Lactobacillus reuteri

L. reuteri is known to produce a broad spectrum antimicrobial substance called reuterin known to inhibit the growth of some harmful bacteria including yeast and fungi. Contained in Kirkman's product: Lactobacillus Reuteri Plus (#0856-120).


The "bifidos" were originally identified in the feces of breast-fed infants. Studies have shown that these good bacteria are some of the first microbes to take up residence in the gastro-intestinal tract of newborns. Because of this, probiotics containing Bifidobacterium are frequently recommended probiotics by healthcare professionals for infants.

Unlike many Lactobacillus bacteria, Bifidobacterium bacteria also produces acetic acid which is more effective in reducing the growth of yeast and molds than is lactic acid. Both are powerful contributors to digestive and immune health.

Bifidobacterium bifidum

B. bifidum makes up most of a newborn's intestinal bacteria. It attaches to cells of the intestine to protect the physical lining of the intestinal tract which keeps toxins out of the blood. B. bifidum is important in adult health but particularly important for children.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Bifidobacterium breve

B. breve ferments sugars and produces acetic and lactic acids. This bacterium offers powerful digestive support and can digest plant fibers that are typically thought of as non-digestible. It is also known to support the immune system and alleviate constipation and bloating.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Bifidobacterium longum

B. longum has anti-infammatory properties that protect the cells lining the mucous membranes from toxins, which support immune cells so they can function properly. This bacterium is also present in breast milk, and is one of the first microbes to colonize the infant gut. It can ferment a wide variety of carbohydrates including lactose and sugar.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Bifidobacterium lactis

B. lactis has the capacity to ameliorate the digestive process of 'tough' milk sugars and diminish lactose metabolism issues, regularize nutrient assimilation, and normalize bowel motility. Additionally, this bacterium is used for a wide variety of gastrointestinal issues to normalize digestion.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Saccharomyces boulardii

S. boulardii is a hardy, nonpathogenic yeast first isolated from lychee and mangosteen fruit. This bacterium is unique in that it survives gastric acidity, is not adversely affected or inhibited by antibiotics and does not alter or adversely affect the normal flora in the bowel. For this reason, "friendly" probiotic organisms (including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) can be taken at the same time as S. boulardii.

Contained in Kirkman's products:

Streptococcus thermophilus

Also known as streptococcus salivarius thermophilus, this lactic acid bacterium is known to support healthy gastrointestinal and immune systems and to breakdown lactose into acid.

Contained in Kirkman'sproducts:

The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kirkman products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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