Detoxifying Properties of Probiotics

People generally regard probiotics as vital for one’s gut health, but that is a massive understatement. In the human body, these microorganisms outnumber human cells 10:1 and hold over 90% of the body’s genetic information. Withal, though, these microorganisms also breakdown and detoxify various human-made chemicals that enter the gut.

In this article, we will be examining six toxic chemicals that probiotic bacteria detoxify from the human body.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

I have examined some of the harmful effects of BPA in a previous article, but this toxin has been linked to over 40 diseases and is commonly found in everyday items, including receipts, paper money, canned food liners, and plastics. Studies have found BPA to be an endocrine disruptor, which is a chemical that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6].

Two common probiotic strains, Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei, have shown in animal research to have detoxifying properties relating to BPA through reducing intestinal absorption and increasing excretion of the toxin.

In the 2008 animal study, the group that receives the probiotic treatment excreted 2.4 times the amount of BPA than without the probiotics, suggesting that supplementation of these probiotics could help facilitate BPA detoxification [7].

Heavy Metals

Lactobacillus bacteria, in general, have been examined for their potential detoxifying properties regarding heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury.

According to a 2012 study, researchers noted, “A number of environmental microorganisms have long been known for their ability to bind metals, but less well appreciated are human gastrointestinal bacteria. Species such as Lactobacillus, present in the human mouth, gut, and vagina and in fermented foods, have the ability to bind and detoxify some of these substances” [8].

In a 2006 study, researchers investigated the interaction of probiotic bacteria with cadmium and lead and found, “All strains and their combinations were found to bind cadmium and lead efficiently at low concentration ranges commonly observed in food” [9].

A 2014 study investigated the potential applicability of using single strain probiotics as powerful detoxifying agents for chemicals, including heavy metals, cyanotoxins, and mycotoxins [10].

Since there is a large body of research investigating various detoxifying properties of probiotics regarding heavy metals, this may be another way probiotic bacterium detoxify the body and promote overall health.


Perchlorate is an ingredient in jet fuel and fireworks, and the chemical continuously contaminates the environment; even organic food has been found to contain perchlorate [11]. Since this chemical is virtually everywhere, is can be very difficult to avoid, even for the healthiest among us.

Studies have noted perchlorate as an endocrine disruptor, linking the toxin to hypothyroidism and neurological dysfunction [12], but studies have shown that Bifidobacteria might play a detoxifying role.

In a 2012 study, researchers noted the efficacy of Bifidobacterium Bifidum, regarding its ability to degrade perchlorate, and found that breastfed infants appeared to have lower levels of perchlorate because the breast milk had higher levels of this probiotic, which degraded perchlorate through the perchlorate reductase pathway [13].


The Korean fermented cabbage dish, kimchi, has been found to have many probiotic strains which can degrade a variety of organophosphorus pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, coumaphos, diazinon, methyl parathion, and parathion [14].

More interestingly, however, is how these bacteria break down these toxic pesticides: they break them down and use them as food. Researchers also found the probiotic degraded the pesticide 83.3% after day three and broke it down entirely after day nine [15].

While the study mentioned above may not portray the same speed that the bacteria in the gut break down pesticides, the kimchi probiotic, Lactobacillus brevis, certainly can reduce the damage of pesticide residue on food.

Food Preservatives

Kimchi also houses various lactic acid bacteria that have been shown to break down cancerous food preservatives.

In the first study, researchers in 2004 found that these probiotics were capable of breaking down sodium nitrate [16], a compound with many uses ranging from a food preservative to an ingredient in gun powder, that has been linked to chronic diseases, including cancer.

The 2004 study found that the bacteria depleted the sodium nitrate up to 90% after five days [16].

Sodium nitrate becomes toxic when it is included in food products and is digested because, in the body, the compound converts to N-nitrosodimethylamine. An additional study found four other probiotic strains, all Lactobacillus, that were able to break down N-nitrosodimethylamine by up to 50% [17].

Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines

These compounds are created when meat is cooked at high temperatures of 150-300 degrees C, and these compounds can cause mutagenic damage to DNA. A 2009 study found several Lactobacillus strains can reduce the toxicity of these compounds [18].

What Probiotics Should I Take?

There are two schools of thought on this; either, people say getting probiotics through a fermented food source is best, or people say you can get probiotics through supplementation in pill form. Whichever way you choose, you will have to be careful. If you decide to get probiotics through food form, you should get an organic food source and look for the rawest, most unprocessed food available. If the food is too processed, the probiotic count will be much lower than believed. Also, with food sources, you may not know precisely how many probiotics you are consuming. Many people have found that making their fermented food on their own is the best way to consume probiotics because they know how the product is handled every step of the way.

On the other hand, probiotic supplementation has become a trendy approach to getting probiotics. However, it can be tough to get a good quality probiotic supplement that your body can utilize fully. Most probiotic supplements are either lifeless by the time you take them or do not root themselves in the gut effectively.

Healthmasters offers three probiotic supplements that have been shown to have a high absorption rate and stability.

Healthmasters’ Probiotic DF has a blend of four probiotic strains, totaling 30 billion CFUs per capsule.

Healthmasters’ Probiotic 100 Billion has a blend of the same four probiotic strains but at a higher dose, totaling 100 billion CFUs per capsule.

Healthmasters’ Probiotic 350 Billion is the most substantial probiotic Healthmasters offers. Healthmasters’ Probiotic 350 Billion has eighteen probiotic strains, which supplies a broad spectrum of the bacterium. There are 350 CFUs per capsule.

If you have any questions about any of Healthmasters’ probiotic products, please feel free to call our office at 800.726.1834.