The term "probiotics" derives from greek and it was first introduced in 1953 by Kollath. In opposition to “antibiotics”, probiotics means “for life” and was first defined as living organisms which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance. Today, probiotics are considered to be dietary supplements of live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer potential health benefits on the host, not only on intestine.

In order to a microorganism to be considered a probiotic, the bacteria must be:  non-pathogenic, adhere to intestinal cells, stable in gastric juice and bile, capable of reproducing itself, producing acids, hydrogen peroxide and anti-pathogens bacteriocins . The most common types of microorganisms used as probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

The most common species of probiotics are:
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus, specially
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus reuterii
  • Enterococus faecium
  • Bifidobacterium adolescentis
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium longum
Recent researches suggest several potential benefits of probiotics therapies, including, but not limited to:
  • Re-establishment of the intestinal normal flora
  • Improvement of the absorption rate of calcium and iron minerals
  • Management of lactose intolerance
  • Prevention of colon cancer
  • Improvement of some symptoms of irritable bowel and colitis
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Improvement  of immune function and prevention of infections
Generally, probiotics are safe and even recommended by World Health Organization (WHO). Adverse effects have been reported only by the consumption of probiotics by patients who are already very ill, with acute pancreatitis or, for any other reason, with lowered immune system.