The Benefits and Uses of Lactobacillus Plantarum

Lactobacillus plantarum is a strain of probiotic bacteria naturally found in the mouth and gut. It helps break down food, absorb nutrients, and control "bad" microorganisms in the digestive tract that might otherwise cause disease. It is also found in fermented food like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir as well as over-the-counter probiotic supplements.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you. Consuming probiotics like Lactobacillus plantarum can help you maintain or restore a healthy balance of these "good" microorganisms in the gut, potentially improving diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive problems.

Probiotics like Lactobacillus plantarum are also sometimes used to prevent or treat conditions like eczema, seasonal allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), although the evidence supporting these claims is lacking.

This articles describes the potential benefits of Lactobacillus plantarum and what the current research says about this popular probiotic bacteria. It also lists the potential side effects and risks.

Homemade fermented sauerkraut
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Like many strains of probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus plantarum is touted as a natural approach to controlling digestive issues and revving up your immune system. Some proponents also claim that it can help treat or prevent the following health troubles:

In addition, Lactobacillus plantarum is said to sharpen memory, enhance athletic performance, and promote weight loss.

Proponents often suggest thatLactobacillus plantarum possesses several unique properties that make this probiotic strain especially effective as a health-booster.

For example, it’s said that Lactobacillus plantarum has an exceptional ability to bind to intestinal mucosa (the innermost layer of the gastrointestinal tract) and, in turn, increase your gut’s population of beneficial bacteria.

It’s also thought that Lactobacillus plantarum may be particularly powerful when it comes to reducing inflammation and protecting against inflammation-related health problems.

The Research

At this point, very few studies have tested the potential benefits of Lactobacillus plantarum in the treatment of any health condition. Here’s a look at several findings on the possible health benefits of Lactobacillus plantarum:

1) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Several clinical trials have shown that this probiotic may help alleviate some symptoms of IBS. In a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2012, for instance, 214 people with IBS received either a capsule of Lactobacillus plantarum or a placebo every day for four weeks. At the end of the four-week period, those given Lactobacillus plantarum showed a greater decrease in pain and bloating (compared to those given the placebo).

However, a clinical trial published in Nutrition in 2014 determined that Lactobacillus plantarum failed to relieve IBS symptoms.

Given these conflicting findings—as well as the lack of large-scale clinical trials on the effects of Lactobacillus plantarum—more research is needed before Lactobacillus plantarum can be recommended in the treatment of IBS.

2) Eczema

Taking Lactobacillus plantarum may benefit children with atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema. That’s the finding of a small clinical trial published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology in 2012, which involved 83 children (ages 12 months to 13 years) with atopic dermatitis.

At the end of the study’s 12-week treatment period, those given Lactobacillus plantarum showed a greater improvement in symptoms compared to those who received a placebo.

3) Heart Health

Lactobacillus plantarum may protect cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome, according to a small study published in Nutrition in 2014. For the study, 24 postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome consumed one of two kinds of milk every day for 90 days: non-fermented milk, or fermented milk containing Lactobacillus plantarum.

After 90 days, those treated with Lactobacillus plantarum showed greater improvements in certain cardiovascular risk factors (such as high blood sugar levels), compared to those given the non-fermented milk.

Side Effects and Safety Concerns

Some individuals may experience side effects such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

If you have a weak or impaired immune system (due to a medical condition or immune-suppressing treatment or medication), a condition resulting in intestinal damage, an artificial heart valve, heart valve disorder, central venous catheter, or are at risk of D-lactate toxicity, you shouldn't take Lactobacillus plantarum without consulting your healthcare provider.

Like any type of natural remedy or dietary supplement, Lactobacillus plantarum should not be used as a substitute for standard care in the treatment of a chronic health problem.

A Word From Verywell

While there is some research suggesting that Lactobacillus plantarum may offer some benefits, large-scale clinical trials are needed to confirm these effects.

To boost your intake of Lactobacillus plantarum from foods, look to fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled cucumbers, and brined olives. If you're considering taking Lactobacillus plantarum in supplement form, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before using it to be sure that it's the right option for you.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.