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  • Liza Boone

Take Care of Your Vajayjay: A History of Probiotics and the Body as an Ecosystem

We all need to know this.


Whether you are comfortable talking about it or not, you have likely had a run-in with yeast, BV or a UTI in your adult life.


Yes, men, that means you too.


Before I changed my diet, I struggled with candida on a regular basis, and have a healthy experience with the other two.


I wrote a paper on it that is waaaay too long so I broke it into bits to make it easy to digest. This is part 1 on the history of probiotics and the body as an ecosystem.


Probiotics are “Live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."[6]


The concept of probiotics dates back more than 100 years.


Elie Metchnikoff, a 19th-century microbiologist who wildly suggested surgically removing our colons to rid us of its noxious bacteria, was on the right track in advocating the daily consumption of fermented drinks and cheeses containing lactic-acid bacteria for proper health maintenance.[7]


Metchnikoff believed these “good” bacteria waged battle with our potentially-harmful native microflora.

We now know that they work with our intestinal bacteria to repel would-be invaders.


Our intestinal tract is populated with more than 800 species of microbes, both beneficial and harmful, while just over 50 microbial species have been identified in the vaginal tract.[3]

The majority of these gut microbes are excreted in feces, and a number of which are well equipped to be pathogenic.

Despite the close proximity of a woman’s urogenital tract, including the vagina, proximal urethra, and bladder, to the anus, the diversity of microbes present in the vagina is much lower than in the gut.


The mucosa in the urogenital tract is a dynamic environment in which many different microbes are involved in maintaining health.


The balance between a healthy and an infectious state is a constant battle between many different yeasts and bacteria.


The species that are present in the vaginal mucosa vary between premenopausal and postmenopausal women.

The premenopausal woman’s healthy mucosa is generally dominated by Lactobacillus species, the most common of which are: L. iners, L. crispatus, L. gasseri, L. jenesenii, followed by L. acidophilus, L. fermentum, L. plantarum, L. brevis, L. casei, L. vaginalis, L. delbrueckii, L. salivarius, L. reuteri, and L. rhamnosus. [3]


Lactobacilli also ferment carbohydrates to produce lactic acid.

The coexistence of multiple species of lactobacilli is rare because of the competitive exclusion of one species by another, preemptive colonization by a particular species or host factors that strongly influence which species are able to colonize the environment.[11]

This is an important fact when considering the therapeutic application of probiotics to prevent an overgrowth of one species.

As more studies are performed on the vaginal organisms in healthy women, it is possible that some women will not have a lactobacilli-dominated microbiota.


Until then, and since we are sure that it does not increase the risk of the disease, lactobacilli will remain the organisms most important to vaginal health.[3]



Every year, over 1 billion women world-wide get a bladder, urinary-tract, or vaginal infection mostly in the form of bacterial vaginosis (BV) and candidiasis (yeast)[6]


These infections contribute to, not only varying levels of discomfort, but also many superfluous trips to the doctor and rising healthcare costs.


If occurrence and recurrence can be minimized, many associated risks will also diminish.

Antibiotics and antifungals remain the mainstay of therapy, despite their well-documented side effects ranging from diarrhea, depression, and headaches to renal failure and superinfections.[6]

These therapies are becoming less effective as a result of antimicrobial resistance bred by over, and improper, use of antibiotics.


It is the goal of this research to find a safe method of building the body’s natural defenses against bacterial and yeast invaders.


Want to Read More?

Click here to go to the next chapter on Candida and Yeast.


References


1. Bifodan. (2010). Clinical Benefits. Retrieved June 20, 2010, from EcoVag: http://www.ecovag.com/Clinical_Benefits-26.aspx

2. Bifodan. (2010). Probiotic Strains. Retrieved June 20, 2010, from EcoVag: http://www.ecovag.com/Probiotic_Strains-24.aspx

3. Cribby, S., Taylor, M., & Reid, G. (2008). Vaginal Microbiota and the Use of Probiotics. Interdisciplinary Perspective of Infectious Disease , 23-28.

4. Jarrow Formulas. (2006). FemDophilus. FemDophilus . Los Angeles, CA, USA: Jarrow Formulas.

5. Life Extension. (2010). Health Concerns Urinary Tract Infections. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from Life Extension: www.lef.org/protocols/prtcl-107.shtml

6. Reid, G., Burton, J., & Devillard, E. (2004, March 30). The Rationale for Probiotics in Female Urogenital Healthcare. Retrieved August 23, 2009, from WebMD: PMC1140735

7. Sachs, J. S. (2007). Good Germs, Bad Germs. New York: Hill and Wang.

8. State Key Laboratory for Moleclular Virology and Genetic Engineering. (2003). Main. Retrieved May 7, 2010, from Virulence Factors of Pathogenic Bacteria: www.mgc.ac.cn/VFs/main.htm

9. State Key Laboratory for Molecular Virology and Genetic Engineering. (2003). Escherichia. Retrieved May 7, 2010, from Virulence Factors of Pathogenic Bacteria: www.mgc.ac.cn/cgi-bin/VFs/genus.cgi?Genus=Escherichia

10. Vallor, A., Antonio, M., Hawes, S., & Hillier, S. (2001). Factors associated with acquisition of, or persistent colonization by, vaginal lactgobacillil: role of hydrogen peroxide production. Journal of Infectious Disease , 1431-6.

11. Vitali, B., Pugliese, C., Biagi, E., Candela, M., Turroni, S., Bellen, G., et al. (2007). Dynamics of Vaginal Bacterial Communities in Women Developing Bacterial Vaginosis, Candidiasis, or No Infection, Analyzed by PCR-Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis and Real-Time PCR. Applied Environmental Microbiology , 5731-5741.

12. Wilks, M., Wiggins, R., Whiley, A., Hennessy, E., Warwick, S., Porter, H., et al. (Feb. 2004). Identification and H2O2 Production of Vaginal Lactobacilli from Pregnant Women at High Risk of Preterm Birth and Relation with Outcome. Journal of Clinical Microbiology , 713-717. doi: 10.1128/JCM.42.2.713-717.2004.




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