Probiotics research & information

(This article is copyright Mat Price, and has been reproduced with permission.)

I got to wondering yesterday about this probiotic and its benefits for bearded dragons. I know a lot of you use it and rave about its ability to get sick dragons back on the food. I never doubt the fact that something works when a bunch of people are saying that it works great. However I always want to know why. Maybe it’s curiosity or the science nerd part of my brain, and I always like to share my findings with others if they are interested and I think you guys are.

First what is lactobacillus, what is its function and why does it help people and possibly dragons get to eating again and maintain good digestive health. Lactobacillus is the general form of the name (or its genus) and acidophilus is the strain or species of bacterium. So the bacteria we are concerned with in this case would be lactobacillus acidophilus. Lactobacillus acidophilus helps reduce the levels of harmful bacteria and yeasts in the small intestine and also produces lactase, an enzyme which is important in the digestion of milk. L. Acidophilus is also involved in the production of B vitamins (niacin, folic acid, and pyridoxine) during the digestive process.

So that what it is and what it does. So why does it aid dragons to get back on food? From the research I have been able to do in the last 24 hours I have come up with this. Just like in humans, dragons have trillions of bacterium in the digestive track, most found in the large intestine, due to the fact that stomach acid kills bacteria pretty well. When an animal has either 1) gone on antibiotics for whatever reason or 2) become ill due to a bacterial infection, a few things can happen. Bacteria can be very determined little creatures and will fight for space and receptor sites. Also while antibiotics are pretty good at killing off bacteria they don’t touch yeast. So yeast is able to grow in the intestinal tract easily without the presence of bacteria in its way to stop it from spreading all over. One of the major problems with yeast, other than throwing off the natural balance of things in the gut, is when it is able to form so quickly and spread so rapidly they may convert to their more invasive form and actually embed themselves in the lining of the gut and secrete a digestive enzyme that helps them attach to the wall of the intestine that could actually allow holes in the lining, albeit very, very tiny ones. Just for your information, some of the enzymes that yeast secrete during this process are (hospholipase A2, catalase, acid and alkaline phosphases, coagulatse, keratinase, and secretor aspartate protease (15-17).

An interesting point to this is that some people who have had this problem, (it is called leaky gut syndrome) end up with food allergies because undigested food is able to leak out and he body views it an invader and sends the immune system out to get it. So once the holes are repaired which happens when the yeast is put back into its normal low concentration numbers the stomach wall heals itself, food stops leaking out and the body stops producing the antibodies against the particular foods and there is no longer a food reaction. So here are a few conclusions that I have drawn from this research of which I tend to do much more of.

After antibiotics are taken some forms of bad bacteria and yeast are able to grow at astounding rates taking up space and causing damage to stomach intestine since dragons don’t eat food in captivity that may contain the bacterium they need to get the digestive track back in order we have to give them the bacteria that they need. The question is do they use the same bacterium that we do as humans or at least can we introduce a bacteria that works just as good. I think the answer to both these questions is yes. We would not see the benefits from using them if lactobacillus was not either naturally found in the stomach of dragons or at least work as well as what ever form of bacteria they had before we wiped it out with antibiotics.

Could the dragon experience a food allergy do to leaky gut syndrome and that’s why it doesn’t want to eat the greens and crickets we feed them. Unlike humans dragons have a pretty limited amount off food items to eat basically greens and crickets. Once we reestablish good bacteria in the stomach lining it fixes itself via cell division of the epithelial cells found in the intestinal lining the allergy goes away the dragon readily expects food given to it again.

Should we use other forms of good bacteria such as Bifidobacteria I say yes and I think this form of bacteria is probably more important than lactobacillus for the reason that Bifidobacteria thrive on vegetable fiber and on the complex sugars that occur in certain vegetables. These complex sugars, known as fructooligosaccharides encourages the growth of Bifidobacteria and discourages the growth of most undesirable bacterial species in the intestine and lowers the concentration of toxic bacterial enzymes in the large intestine. These enzymes , called beta-glucuronidase and glycholate hydrolase, are able to convert normal constituents of the stool, derived either from food or from bile, into carcinogens (chemicals which cause cancer).

A few thing of interest is that antibiotics hopefully in future will be a thing of the past. Scientist are trying to develop strains of virus that will attack and kill bacteria. bacterioPhages as they are called seek out bacteria and destroy it attacking only the bacteria they are programmed to and leaving all other forms of bacteria alone. This research has been fought hard by drug companies who stand to loose trillions of dollars in revenue since their IMO useless antibiotics will no longer be needed and become a thing of the past.

Some of the concerns I have at this stage of my research on this is the possibility that by introducing this bacteria L. acidophilus it will grow and push out other forms of bacteria in the dragon gut that is also beneficial. I don’t know if that is even a possibility but I would like to as soon as school starts back start looking in to exactly what species of bacteria live inside the dragon gut and if it is the same as our and other animals.

In my opinion, giving dragons probiotics is pretty safe and seems to for the reasons above promote good digestive health.


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This information should be used only as a reference tool and should not be used in place of vet assistance. My views and opinions are the result of hours of dedicated research. But remember, I am not a professional. If you have a sick beardie and don't know what to do, don't play God, take him to the vet immediately.
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