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A Better Way to Fight Bacteria that Cause Pneumonia and Respiratory Disease

A study published the November 2008 edition of the journal Critical Care found that a strain of "good" bacteria called Lactobacillus plantarum (L. plantarum) may protect against Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in critically ill patients.

VAP is a pneumonia acquired by patients on ventilators. The condition can make breathing difficult and increase the risk of further complications and morbidity. Patients who are on ventilators for more than 48 hours are at a particular risk for developing VAP.

For the study, fifty patients were given either a conventional oral cleansing using an antiseptic called chlorhexidine (0.1%), or an oral application of the L. plantarum bacteria (10 billion bacteria cells). L. plantarum is naturally found in saliva, as well as in foods like pickles and sauerkraut.

Samples were taken from each patient's throat before and after the cleansing in order to measure the level of potentially harmful bacteria.

Researchers found that the probiotic was just as effective as the antiseptic in preventing bacteria that cause VAP, without the harmful side effects. Common side effects for antiseptic users include tooth discoloration, irritation and occasionally, serious allergic reactions.

The probiotic strain was also associated with other health benefits. Researchers noted that once inside the mouth these friendly bacteria colonized and helped prevent dangerous bacteria that can lead to respiratory illness and oral health problems.

Probiotics have increased in popularity lately, possibly because of the growing body of research that shows their many benefits. These friendly bacteria have been associated with a number of other health benefits like immune system support, better digestion and protection from ulcers.
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