Probiotics: Reiterating what they are and what they are not

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It has been over seventeen years since the scientific definition of probiotics was crafted, along with guidelines ensuring the appropriate use of the term. This definition is now used globally, yet on a consistent basis scientists, media and industry misrepresent probiotics or make generalized statements that illustrate a misunderstanding of their utility and limitations. The rate of discovery of novel organisms with potentially therapeutic benefit for both human and environmental health is progressing at an unprecedented rate. However, the term “probiotic” is often misapplied to describe any microbe with plausible therapeutic utility in the human host. It is argued that strict compliance to the scientific definition of the term “probiotic” and avoidance of generalizations to the whole field of probiotics based upon studies of one product, will help advance the development and validation of microbial therapies, and applications to improve human health.




Reid, G., Gadir, A. A., & Dhir, R. (2019). Probiotics: Reiterating what they are and what they are not. Frontiers in Microbiology. Frontiers Media S.A.

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