I’ve talked a number of times about my favorite microbe in the world, Lactobacillus reuteri. After all, nearly all of us have lost this microbial species from our gastrointestinal (GI) microbiomes, given its susceptibility to common antibiotics such as amoxicillin and ampicillin. Maybe you took a course of amoxicillin for a sinus infection 20 years ago—that’s all it takes to wipe out L reuteri from your microbiome and lose all its considerable health advantages. Yet this microbe was previously ubiquitous, carried by virtually all of us. Indigenous human populations unexposed to antibiotics and other microbiome-disruptive factors all have L. reuteri. Chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, and chickens have L reuteri. The ubiquity of L. reuteri suggests that it is essential for life and health—and we have lost it.
I love this microbe because of the extraordinary range of benefits we obtain when we restore it. Ladies love L. reuteri because it increases dermal collagen and thereby smooths their skin and reduces wrinkles. Guys love it because L. reuteri restores youthful muscle mass and strength. I love L. reuteri because it allows me to sleep straight through the night with vivid, colorful dreams despite decades of insomnia.
But there are two ways that L. reuteri, when restored, can genuinely rock your world, restoring life- and health-improving effects:
- L. reuteri takes up residence in the entire length of GI tract, sends a signal via the myenteric nervous system (the nervous system of the GI tract), then vagus nerve up to the hypothalamus to trigger release of the hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin, of course, is the hormone of love and empathy. It means that you and anyone else restoring L. reuteri are more likely to show empathy, a desire for human connection, a reduction in social anxiety, and are more likely to understand the opinions of others even if you disagree. Without L. reuteri, you are therefore more likely to experience intolerance, hate, be critical of others, and enjoy less intense affection for other people. I think that restoration of L. reuteri makes us better human beings.
- L. reuteri takes up residence in the entire length of GI tract including the 24-feet of small intestine where it produces bacteriocins. Bacteriocins are natural antibiotics effective against the species of small intestinal bacterial overrgrowth, SIBO. As I’ve previously discussed, SIBO is epidemic, easily a condition that plagues >100 million Americans (1 in 3 of us) and is responsible for irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, rosacea, psoriasis, weight gain/obesity, and causing or worsening type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, depression, numerous autoimmune conditions, and others. I believe that the widespread loss of L. reuteri is partly to blame for the proliferation of SIBO, since this species is no longer “policing” the small intestine and inhibiting the proliferation of stool species like E. coli and Klebsiella, among the species that dominate in SIBO. (L. reuteri is such an effective antimicrobial that my microbiologist friends tell me that they sometimes clean their fermentation vats with this species to clear the vats of pathogens.) This is why I included L. reuteri in my recipe for “SIBO Yogurt” that has normalized breath H2 gas by the AIRE device in about 30 people to date. (We shall perform a formal clinical trial to document in future.)
Restoration of L. reuteri therefore has potential to 1) improve human social interactions and 2) reduce the incidence of SIBO and its myriad health implications. Can you appreciate how huge these changes can be? And that’s just one microbe—there are many others that you can replace and enjoy magnificent health benefits as a result.