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Do healthier people carry more „good bacteria”? What Studies Say about probiotics for Colds and Flu?

Systematic review: the key to protecting you from flu and cold may lie in your digestive system!

The evidence is rather strong that probiotics reduce both the duration and severity of colds and the flu. Newly published systematic review in the journal Medicine (Baltimore) investigated the effect of probiotic consumption on respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in children1.

A total of 23 trials involving 6269 children were eligible for inclusion involving children 0 to 18 years of age.

Probiotic consumption:

  • significantly decreased the number of subjects having at least 1 RTI episode
  • children supplemented with probiotics had fewer numbers of days of RTIs per person compared with children who had taken a placebo and had fewer numbers of days absent from day care/school

They conclude: probiotic consumption appears to be a feasible way to decrease the incidence of RTIs in children.

One of the oft quoted studies in this field of research is a 2009 study published in the journal, Pediatrics.2

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 326 children aged 3 – 5 years.
They were assigned randomly to receive placebo, Lactobacillus acidophilus or L. acidophilus in combination with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis. Children were treated twice daily for 6 months. Children in probiotic group showed fewer symptoms, faster recovery time and less antibiotic use.

Severity and duration of fever, cough and rhinorrhea were reduced significantly in the probiotic groups. In addition, probiotics reduced the number of days absent from school due to sickness. The children who received the combined probiotics (L. acidophilus + B. animalis) got the best benefits.


  • the Lactobacillus acidophilus group had 53% fewer fevers, 41% fewer coughs, and 28% fewer runny noses than the placebo group
  • the group given both bacteria strains had 72% fewer fevers, 62% fewer coughs, and 59% fewer runny noses than the placebo group
  • the Lactobacillus acidophilus group recovered from cold symptoms 32% faster and the two-bacteria group recovered 48% faster than the placebo group, when they did get sick, with less antibiotic use (68% and 84% less, respectively)

This study demonstrated that daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months is safe for children and can help prevent and treat cold and flu symptoms.

Probiotics are secret weapon for fighting symptoms of the common cold in college students, study suggests

A 2012 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition3 investigated if Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. Lactis modulate immune function and may improve health-related quality of life during upper respiratory infection (URI).

For this study the researchers recruited 231 apparently healthy college students which are susceptible to upper respiratory infections due to inadequate sleep, stress and close living quarters. They were randomised to receive placebo or probiotic-containing powder (daily dose of minimum 1 billion colony-forming units of each probiotic strain) for 12 weeks.

Here’s how they fared:

"While all students caught colds at roughly the same rate, the students who took the probiotic supplementation experienced: • A duration of colds that was two days shorter (four days vs. six days) • Symptoms that were 34% less severe and • A higher quality of life that resulted in fewer missed school days (15 vs. 34 missed by students taking the placebo)."

A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition4 also investigated the benefits of other Lactobacillus species in the treatment of common cold. The study involved 272 healthy volunteers and the probiotics, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei.

The results of this study showed that, compared to the control group, those who took probiotics:

  • had lower risks of common cold (55% vs. 67%),
  • shorter duration of cold symptoms (6.2 days vs. 8.6 days),
  • fewer symptoms.

The researchers, therefore, concluded that the probiotics used were safe and effective for reducing the risks of acquiring common cold infections.
A 2005 study published in the journal, Clinical Nutrition5, confirmed the same benefits for Bifidobacterium species Bifidobacterium longum and bifidum and Lactobacillus gasseri.

Can all probiotics protect you from colds and flu? Read on to find out.

Therefore, you need to choose specific strains of probiotics proven to prevent and/or treat cold and the flu. Not all probiotics can protect or treat your cold or flu. For examle even though Lactobacillus salivarus belongs to the Lactobacillus group, it is an ineffective strain. It was tested in a 2012 study published in the journal, Human Kinetics6 among group of stressed individuals: endurance athletes.

The right probiotics for cold and flu

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobaciullus casei
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus pentosus
  • Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium bifidus

Looking for some natural cold remedies?

One of the things you should take is a high-quality probiotic supplement that contains different probiotic strains as well as prebiotics. The intake of prebiotics, like in the form of inulin, help probiotics grow and colonize the intestinal tract. Take probiotics which have been extensively studied with regards to their ability to prevent or treat cold and flu. There is strong evidence that specific Lactobacillus strains (L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. paracasei, L. plantarum, L. gasseri, L. pentosus) and three Bifidobacterium strains (B.animalis subsp lactis, B. longum, B. bifidus) given orally at least for 12 weeks at doses greater than 109 CFU/ day colonizes the intestine and reduces the risks of acquiring common cold infections both for children and adults. Like this one from Kriella™ (www.kriella.com).

KRIELLA™ PROBIO. The most extensively studied probiotic strains with outstanding health benefits!

KRIELLA™ PROBIO is probiotic formula of lactobacteria, bifidobacteria and Saccharomyces with zinc chelate and inulin. 1 capsule contains 11.2 billion CFUs and 9 different strains of microorganisms: Bifidobacterium infantis, B.lactis, B.longum, Lactobacillus casei, L.rhamnosus, L. gasseri, L. plantarum, L. reuteri, Sacharromyces boulardii, inulin (a water-soluble fiber) and zinc chelate.

KRIELLA™ PROBIO is one of the rare probiotic supplements on the market that is purely a probiotic/prebiotic product without any additives. It does not contain artificial colorants, lactose or gluten, preservatives, salt or yeast, allergen, heavy metals or GMOs. Suitable for vegetarians.

1 Yizhong Wang, PhD, et al. Probiotics for prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections in children. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trial. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Aug; 95(31): e4509. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4979858/
2 Leyer GJ, et al. Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children. Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19651563
3 J. Smith, Diane Rigassio-Radler, Robert Denmark, Timothy Haley, Riva Touger-Decker. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® on health-related quality of life in college students affected by upper respiratory infections. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012; 1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/23020819/
4 Berggren A et al. Randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled study using new probiotic lactobacilli for strengthening the body immune defence against viral infections. Eur J Nutr. 2011 Apr;50(3):203-10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20803023
5 de Vrese M, Winkler P, Rautenberg P, Harder T, Noah C, Laue C, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri PA 16/8, Bifidobacterium longum SP 07/3, B. bifidum MF 20/5 on common cold episodes: a double blind, randomized, controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 2005;24:481–491. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16054520
6 Gleeson M, et al. Effects of a Lactaobacillus salivarius probiotic intervention on infection, cold symptom duration and severity, and mucosal immunity in endurance athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Aug;22(4):235-42. Epub 2012 May 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22645171