In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, we’re talking about bugs. The good kinds!
Emeritus professor and microbiologist John Tagg has been researching bacteria since the mid 1970s and has been specifically looking for a probiotic solution to Group A Strep. He’s done this work primarily at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. He’s responsible for the isolation and characterization of the first streptococcal bacteriocin and wrote the first major review of the bacteriocins of gram-positive bacteria.
Prof. Tagg’s pioneering research led to the discovery of two probiotic bacterial strains. These strains of ‘friendly’ bacteria are effective in crowding out bad bacteria in the mouth. Both are strains of S. salivarius, which are naturally found in the oral cavity of healthy humans.
- One is the world’s first oral probiotic strain from the mouth for the mouth.
- The other probiotic strain specifically targets dental and gum health.
Most people don’t have very much of either of these beneficial strains, so a daily supplement is a great way to boost the good bacteria in the mouth to help with throat health, teeth and gum health and bad breath. Prof. Tagg partners with BLIS Technologies to create supplements for throat, dental and oral health.
“The real importance is that the mouth is the portal of entry of most microbes, good or bad, for the human body,” says Prof. Tagg. “We have our skin microflora, of course. But I believe that by focusing attention on having a healthy and protective oral microbiota, you cannot only sort of interfere, you can delay or divert infections or disease of the oral cavity, then it can have a flow on effect also to the gut.”
You’re going to learn a lot of new information about good bacteria and probiotics from an expert who’s dedicated decades of time, authored more than 230 research publications on the topic and isolated over 2,000 bacterial strains.
Enjoy! And get more resources at Dave.Asprey/podcasts.
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Follow Along with the Transcript
- Emeritus professor and microbiologist, John Tagg, has been looking at bacteria since the mid-1970s. – 1:01
- I developed rheumatic fever. Now, every year, tens of thousands of children worldwide have this outcome from strep sore throat and actually thousands of children die as a consequence of rheumatic carditis. – 3:55
- There is no vaccine to protect against Streptococcus pyogenes. The only way you can really protect children from getting further episodes of strep sore throat is to give them penicillin daily. – 4:25
- Walk me through what you would do now, if you could talk to your 12-year-old self? – 6:59
- They are a really important part of our microbiota. You might notice that I very specifically use the term “microbiota,” not microbiome. – 9:11
- One of the things that you’ve done in your career that’s really impressive is you wrote the first major review of the bacteriocins, the toxins made by Gram positive bacteria. – 11:13
- These are killer protein or proteinaceous molecules that bacteria produce to interfere with the growth of the competitive bacteria in the immediate ecosystem. – 12:11
- I actually was working not with streptococci, but with another tribe of bacteria called pseudomonas. These are Gram negative bacteria. And Pseudomonas aeruginosa is rather a nasty Gram negative bacterium. – 15:27
- This is a major discovery and understanding, it’s not just the bacteria, it’s what the bacteria produce, the chemicals they’re producing that are causing all this biological problem. – 16:35
- What if I could find a friendly streptococcus that would specifically do battle in the oral cavity against Strep pyogenes and prevent Streptococcus pyogenes sore throats going on to rheumatic fever.” So, that was my eureka moment in life. – 19:30
- Internationally, there is a streptococcus club. This is a club of streptococcal devotees, people who have this love-hate affair with the streptococcus. – 20:21
- Don’t think Streptococcus pyogenes deserves extermination? No, we just need to learn to live with the streptococcus. We need to understand one another. And we can coexist with Streptococcus pyogenes if we have greater knowledge. – 23:01
- The real importance is that the mouth is the portal of entry of most microbes, good or bad, for the human body. – 25:11
- These BLIS – Bacteriocins Like Inhibitory Substance’ molecules can act against are less likely to cause infections of the lung. – 26:53
- Strain K12 and M18 have an ability to produce not one, not two, but three, four, or more known bacteriocin molecules. – 33:27
- The K12 strain of Strep salivarius came from child number 12 at Kaikorai School in Dunedin. And so, that’s the origins of the term, K12. – 36:37
- How many people are using them now? Is this a global phenomenon? Is this just a few parents who figured it out? Is this adults? Who’s using BLIS? – 37:18
- Micrococcus luteus Q24 is the world’s first skin probiotic strain. And when I first discovered it, I thought, well, maybe this is an opportunity to find or maybe we have here an organism that can help protect against impetigo and some of the consequences of impetigo in children and adults. – 44:13
- I think about the day when hopefully, the medicos will realize the advantages of prescribing for their patient, not only antibiotic, but at the bottom of the prescription, perhaps writing, oh, and don’t forget on the last day of antibiotic, start your probiotic course then, because there’ll be good space in your microbiota for the probiotic to colonize, and you’ll have a much greater opportunity for success. – 48:04
- You also have M18, what’s it doing different? What’s different about M18 versus K12? – 52:55
- I want to take some questions from our live audience – Let’s bring Emma up from Upgrade Collective here. – 57:43
- We know candida can cause oral thrush and can cause infections of other parts of the body as well. And Strep salivarius seems to have an ability to interfere with the growth of candida also. – 1:05:21
- Tina had one more question for you before the end of the show. – 1:06:22
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