As the name suggests, Lactobacillus salivarius is a type of bacteria prevalent in our saliva. It’s responsible for metabolizing carbohydrates to produce organic acids such as lactic acid and acetic acid. These important substances help to inhibit the growth and spread of pathogens and other microorganisms that can cause infection and disease. L. salivarius also produces hydrogen peroxide and other antimicrobial compounds.
In the human body, L. salivarius is present in the colon, small intestines, vagina and mouth. Lactobacillus salivarius is generally taken in supplement form, but is also found in foods such as yogurt, tomatoes, bananas, chicory root, artichokes, garlic and asparagus.
L. salivarius is known for its ability to grow and spread very quickly. This helps it to crowd out harmful bacteria.
As the main bacteria in our mouth, Lactobacillus salivarius is important for maintaining dental hygiene. It also plays a role in preventing intestinal diseases and supporting the immune system.
Its most important feature is its ability to produce a type of bacteriocin (an antimicrobial substance) that has been shown to protect against infection from invasive pathogens in food. Studies in mice show that L. salivarius protects against Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria known to cause gum disease.
Another important finding is that L. salivarius can help improve bacterial populations in the mouth, reducing the development of gum plaque. It’s also shown to increase resistance to the risk factors for dental caries. When taken orally, L. salivarius can help to improve bad breath and reduce the risk of periodontitis causing gums to bleed. Even smokers were shown to benefit from this.
Lactobacillus salivarius is also present in the small intestine, where it helps to ward off gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. This is hugely important for overall health as up to 70 percent of our immune system is in the gut.
Research shows that L. salivarius produces its own kind of antibiotics which are targeted at invading pathogens. The lactic acid produced by L. salivarius also helps to keep ‘bad’ bacteria at bay while supporting the health of ‘good’ bacteria. It also assists in the digestion of protein.
Some studies on mice show that L. salivarius can help to suppress infection from H. pylori, as well as reducing the inflammatory response that this bacterium causes. It’s important to note that this effect is specific to the type of bacterial strain, with 9 out of the 28 L. salivarius strains effectively inhibiting H. pylori growth.
Another interesting benefit of L salivarius is that it may be able to reduce cholesterol.
A study involving obese adolescents showed that L. salivarius was able to increase the ratio of beneficial bacteria. After six weeks of taking a supplement form of L. salivarius along with fructooligosaccharide (FOS), the subjects showed significantly reduced total cholesterol, including a reduction in “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. They also had higher levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
Their number of inflammatory markers in their bloodstream was also significantly reduced, which suggests their overall risk of disease was reduced.