The beneficial effects rendered by the probiotics are now beyond doubt and most of the people around the world believe in their effectiveness and efficacy. Many of us take probiotic supplements through dietary intake as food products. A large number of our traditional foods are based on the fermentative capability of these probiotic bacterial strains and our forefathers were also in the habit of taking fermented milk and other foods although with little knowledge about the probiotic bacteria. The beneficial strains helped them maintain good health away from frequent encounters with disease manifestations.
The commercially available probiotic strains are used by the individuals simply as lyophilized powdered products, chewable tablets and so on. The form of the probiotics also vary from live to heat inactivated dead cells with even the DNA or the protein parts of the strains being capable of rendering their beneficial effects. The commercially available probiotic products are more effective from the point of view that they have been produced keeping in mind all the safety guidelines.
In addition, the dosage and the actual number of the bacteria administered are also under control unlike the intake through the traditional food products. Infact the number of bacteria taken in and their viability is a matter of great concern with regard to the probiotic biology and their positive influence on the health of the host. But with all the recent developments in this field of using probiotics as beneficial modulators of our health, there is an important question doing the rounds for their further betterment as our ‘friendly’ biota; which is the best route of their administration into our body?
Oral vs Sub-Cutaneous Administration:
In a study with L. salivarius, the administration efficacy of the organism was compared between its oral and sub-cutaneous modes. The systemic intake of the organism was able to induce anti-inflammatory responses within the host thereby suggesting that the oral route is not the ultimate necessity for the beneficial effects. Since, no significant difference could be observed between the two routes of administration and their stimulation of effects within the hosts either of the routes could be followed. There are also suggestions that the effects of probiotics are not solely based on the local administration and the systemic intake is a genuine possibility. However, the ease of intake of the probiotic strains is another matter which should be taken into account while selecting the preferred mode of administration.
The Administration of Live or Dead Cells:
The beneficial effects of the administration of viable or non-viable probiotic cells through oral or subcutaneous routes were also analyzed in some studies. In one such study carried out by the group of Cesolari, it was found that in either of the cases and the forms administered, the probiotics could prevent gastrointestinal problems. Anti-inflammatory responses were also noticeable with the intake of oral or sub-cutaneous live or dead cells.
Recent research shows that the oral intake of probiotics could alleviate problems of Salmonella infections. Till now the oral route has been followed as the best preferred route for the administration of using probiotic strains in the treatment modalities against various health compromised conditions, recent advances has shown that under such circumstances even sub-cutaneous intake can be quite beneficial. The systemic administration of Lactobacillus strains has induced strong immune responses. In a similar combinatorial approach L. casei, S. faecalis, B. brevis and L. plantarum administration together systemically could produce all the beneficial traits that were generally associated with oral intake of the organisms.
The Influenza viruses have been associated with increasing cases of mortality and morbidity through their ability to interfere with our immune responses and make us immuno-compromised. The probiotics are increasingly being used in protection against Influenza virus related infections. In a recent study, the sub-lingual route of probiotic delivery was carried out in influenza infected individuals. The administration of L. rhamnosus under such circumstances provided enhanced activities of natural killer cells as well as T cells with the increase in IgA production. In addition, the levels of lung IL-12 were found to be increased dramatically. With these pieces of evidences, the sub-lingual mode of probiotic administration can definitely be used as a promising alternative to the already existing methods of probiotic intake in the treatment against influenza.
In a very recent publication in the International journal, Antiviral Research the Scientists tried to find out the efficiency of nasal administration of the probiotic bacteria lactobacilli and their effect in providing protection against health complications like common cold in human beings. In the work carried out by Youn et al., They compared the efficacy of the probiotics in their beneficial traits depending upon their route of administration, dosage taken and the form of the bacteria administered, i.e., live or heat killed.
They found that the intranasal administration of the Lactobacillus strains could bring about better efficiency in providing protection against common cold as compared to the oral administration thereby acting as the mode of choice for the quicker relief. The levels of secretory IgA through this mode of administration as well as those of cytokine production were better as compared to the other modes.
However, the strains taken in and the specific dosage formulation determination are prerequisites for the effective beneficial effects upon the cases applied for. In as study published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was demonstrated that the administration of L. rhamnosus through the nasal route was able to reinstate the B-cell mediated immunity in patients suffering from pneumococcal infection. Although in depth studies are required to find out the exact mechanistic behind the quicker response in providing protection against the pathogen affecting the respiratory system by the application of probiotics through the nasal mode, it can be definitely said that it holds high potential in fighting against the disease under such circumstances.
There a number of ways through which the probiotics can be taken by the hosts to get the health related benefits unlike the yester years when it was taken only orally. The success of the administration of the probiotics through a specific route depends upon the context under which it is to be used. Therefore, each of the ways of administration of the probiotics into the individuals has their own potential which has to be weighed properly according to the need and the choice be made.