Strep throat is caused by bacteria from the Streptococcus genus infecting your throat and oral cavity, causing an extremely painful type of sore throat. Some types of probiotics can be used to help prevent strep throat. However, there are some safety concerns with the use of probiotics, and you should talk to your doctor before consuming any sort of probiotic supplement.
What Are Probiotics?
Parts of your body naturally contain some bacteria that are able to survive without causing any infections. In some cases, these bacteria can be beneficial because they have the ability to inhibit the growth of infectious bacteria. Probiotics are supplements that are designed to increase the levels of these beneficial bacteria. In most cases, probiotics are designed to increase the levels of bacteria in your intestines, but some probiotic products are designed to protect your mouth and throat.
A strain of bacteria known as BLIS K12 is promoted as a oral probiotic. According to the website BLISK12.com, this strain of bacteria, which is also called Streptococcus salivarius, can help prevent cases of strep throat and may also be of use in preventing or treating bad breath. By preventing the pathogenic forms of Streptococcus from getting into your throat, this probiotic supplement could be effective for treating bacterial infection of your throat.
The mechanism by which Streptococcus salivarius could prevent strep throat is explained in a 2009 article in "Future Medicine." This bacteria secretes substances known as bacteriocins. Bacteriocins are proteins that have antibacterial properties. As a result, not only could Streptococcus salivarius crowd out infectious bacteria from the oral cavity, but it may also be able to kill or slow the growth of harmful bacteria by secreting bacteriocins.
Although probiotics are used by many as a way of preventing bacterial infections, they can also cause some infections. A 2006 article in "Applied and Environmental Microbiology" notes that Streptococcus salivarius can get into the bloodstream after dental work and vigorous brushing of the teeth. However, this article concluded that the potential for Streptococcus salivarius to cause infections is low. Because this is a relatively new probiotic supplement, you should talk to your doctor before taking any product with BLIS K12 or other oral probiotics. These products should also not be used as a substitute for antibiotics for already existing cases of strep throat.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Probiotics; 2008
- BLISK12.com; BLIS K12 Health Benefits;
- "Future Medicine"; Streptococcal bacteriocins and the case for Streptococcus salivarius as model oral probiotics.; Wescombe et al.; 2009
- "Applied and Environmental Microbiology"; Safety Assessment of the Oral Cavity Probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12; Burton et al.; April 2006.