The German Association for General and Applied Microbiology (Vereinigung für Allgemeine und Angewandte Mikrobiologie, VAAM) has selected the bacterial species lactobacillus as Microbe of the Year 2018. Every day, these bacteria are ingested by billions of people, for instance in sourdough bread, with cheese, yoghurt, or as sauerkraut, red beets, or pickled gherkins. In our gut, lactobacilli do an excellent job for human well-being. Even in newborns, lactobacilli provide an important protection and are part of the immune system’s ‘default equipment’.
On the skin, too, lactobacilli (often described as “lactic acid bacteria”) play a crucial role. One example is a study which explored the effect of an extract of lactic acid bacteria on participants suffering from chronic dry skin. The scientists were able to demonstrate that the bacterial strain Lactobacillus brevis DSMZ17250 they used not only had anti-inflammatory properties, but that it also promoted the growth of healthy bacteria on the skin and in this way provided a healthy, strengthened skin flora.
The Web portal biooekonomie.de reports: “Daily treatment with this cell-free lactobacillus extract significantly reduced skin dehydration and, as a result, also symptoms such as itching, dry or burning skin.” The extract is now offered as a natural ingredient in the skin care line ibiotics.
These mechanisms of action make the lactobacillus, newly decorated Microbe of the Year, something of an all-rounder in human health – for our immune system and ingestion just as our skin. There are some 200 lactobacillus species, and within these exist many thousands of different bacterial strains. Their precise number is far from exhaustively researched, let alone each strain’s exact mechanism of action. We may assume, however, that among them are other healthy bacteria which could be identified and be used as natural agents in biological skin care and other bio-base health products.