There are many brands of probiotics available, but the reality is that only a slim piece of the broad spectrum of commensal bacteria are available to buy as probiotic supplements. Different brands – but most are focused on the same types of bacteria.
So which friendly bacteria are actually available? And which aren’t?
It will take far less time for me to tell you what is available, than what isn’t!
Only a few genera of bacteria are available as probiotics, and although within this limited range there are many different species and strains sold by different brands, as most of the data we can actually get on what is present in our own gut is based on 16S rRNA testing (which predominantly tells you Genus level data), I figure that a list at the genus level is where we should start looking. Yes, different species and different strains do matter, but if we can’t get any species or any strain for a particular genera that we are lacking in, then that’s the real limiter.
So I’m starting with a list of which genera are covered by commercially available probiotics. I’ll be updating this list as more probiotics appear on the market. If you see something that is missing then please let me know! In time, I’ll maybe go and add species and strain level data.
For genera that are covered by many brands, I’m not listing the options because you can’t find them easily via a search engine or in a health store, but I’ve added links to the more tricky to find ones (but I haven’t tried any of them myself, so it’s not a recommendation).
Stuff not covered by the list:
Bacteria that you can buy but which are not listed as probiotics for consumption – for instance, starter kits for foods and beverages, or for veterinary use, or for research purposes – I am not listing these. I am also not listing any yeasts, just bacteria, and also absent are soil based bacteria that are not commonly found to colonize the human gut.
Above each genus is a heading stating which Phylum, Class, and Order it belongs to.
Firmicutes > Bacilli > Lactobacillales
These are the bacteria commonly referred to as lactic acid bacteria (LAB). There are several different genera from different families of bacteria grouped together as LABs and these make up the vast majority of probiotic supplements on the market. Many can be gained naturally by eating various non-pasteurized fermented foods.
Enterococcus (Dr. Ohhira’s Formula OR Symprove OR Bifilac OR Threelac OR BIO-THREE)
Oenococcus (as the name suggests, this bacteria is involved in wine making and several sites sell this for wine production, though not strictly as a probiotic supplement)
Weisella (Oral Diet)
Actinobacteria > Bifidobacteriales > Bifidobacteriaceae
As with the lactobacillales above, these Bifidobacterium are sometimes referred to as lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and can be found in many fermented foods as well as being commonly produced as a probiotic supplement. However, they actually belong to a different phylum of bacteria than the Lactobacillales above.
Firmicutes > Bacilli > Bacillales >
Bacillus (Prescript Assist OR Microflora OR Bifilac OR Threelac OR BIO-THREE)
Staphylococcus (not available as a supplement but you can get it from Dawadawa – fermented locust beans)
Proteobacteria > Gammaproteobacteria > Enterobacteriales
Proteobacteria > Beta Protecobacteria > Burkholderiales
Alcaligenes (not available as a supplement but you can get it from Gari – fermented cassava)
Actinobacteria > Actinobacteria > Actinomycetales
Corynebacterium (not available as a supplement but you can get it from Gari – fermented cassava, or Ogi – fermented maize)
Propionibacterium (not available as a supplement but you can get it from Swiss type cheese such as Emmental cheese, Gruyere, and Leerdammer)
That’s it folks – I hope you weren’t expecting a big list!
If like me, you were hoping for some other Clostridiales such as Roseburia, Coprococcus or Ruminococcus, or anything from the Bacteroidetes phylum, then I’m sorry to disappoint you will this list. It’s clear to see why some people turn to faecal transplants as an answer. We’ll talk about that further down the line.