Soil Probiotics: Is It Safe?

Soil Probiotics: Is It Safe?

Posted 11 Dec '19

The use of probiotics has gained popularity over the last few years, for its benefits to the body’s immune health. Probiotics help balance the microbiome within the guts and an imbalance of which would cause several digestive discomforts. There are however probiotics being taken right from the soil. These soil-based organisms may belong to the same category as those that are found within digestive tracts in humans, but these are just not the same type. Simply put, they are found in soil, and not naturally within the human body. It is important that you get to know the facts before including a soil-based probiotic supplement into your diet.

Microbes in Soil versus Microbes in the Gut

There are many ways in which soil microbes could be beneficial. These organisms enrich the soil wherein plants grow. We in turn eat the plants, animals eat these plants, and we also eat livestock that eat these plants. So it’s fitting to want the soil to be enriched with optimal nutrients as well.

Soil-based organisms may have used to be normally found in food, and got eliminated from human diet when processed food production became popular, these microbes were never meant to be part of the microbiome within our digestive and immune system. They were just transient visitors. Exposure to organisms from soil may help train the immune system but if taken as supplements, they do not have the same benefits.

Unsafe as Supplements

Since the human microbiome became less and less familiar with these soil-based organisms due to the decrease in exposure, they may do more harm to the resident gut flora than good. Supplementing with soil probiotics because we are no longer exposed to them is a major cause of debate among experts.

Taking soil probiotic supplements and forcing foreign microbes to join the resident gut bacteria just doesn’t add up. To make it even worse, soil probiotics form spores that increase so rapidly that they are considered to be contaminants. Due to this, they are referred to by probiotic farms as the “cockroaches” of the industry.

Some research has found soil probiotics to have the likelihood of bacteria that resist antiobiotics. An example would be bacteria coming from the Bacillus genus, such as the subtilis and lichenformus species. These strains form spores and can resist the acids within the stomach, as well as antibiotics. They are extremely hardy that they survive extreme heat and food processing. Their spores are incredibly difficult to treat since they tend to hibernate within the guts throughout an antibiotic treatment, and then resurface once the course has finished.

According to EPA (US Environment Protection Agency), several Bacillus species cause serious health issues. Bacillus subtilis, a popular species used in soil probiotics is an active ingredient in many industrial cleaners and detergents and EPA warns of allergic reactions and sensitivities that contain these organisms.

Stick to safe probiotics

Think twice before exposing yourself with soil probiotics. It may be labeled as soil-based organisms (SBOs), homeostatic soil organisms (HSOs), bacterial soil organisms (BSOs), or soil organisms (SOs). Don’t put your health and safety at risk. Stick to resident human probiotic strains.


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