“…a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
While Juliet had a valid and extremely poetic point, precise definitions and taxonomy are never more important than when health and medical needs are at issue.
It has over a decade since the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization honed a definition: “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.
Late last year, an expert panel reviewed the definition and guidelines.
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) stuck with the definition save for switching out ‘which’ for ‘that’. Grammar police to the rescue.
Key points from the panel’s report:
- “The panel concluded that the general benefit of supporting a healthy digestive tract was reinforced by evidence gathered on a large number of different probiotic strains representing commonly studied species.”
- “The core benefit of supporting a healthy immune system was considered by the panel to be widely acknowledged, but probably more strain-specific.”
- “Other benefits such as supporting the health of the reproductive tract, oral cavity, lungs, skin and gut–brain axis are promising, but evidence has not yet been linked to a broad enough cross-section of probiotics to consider these effects to be probably shared across the whole class of probiotics.”
The panel strongly disagrees with regulatory agencies looking at probiotic entities through a pharmaceutical lens.
- “The drug approach to research can add to the cost and delay needed efficacy studies by requiring safety studies not considered necessary by Institutional Review Boards overseeing the research. “
The report is mandatory reading for anyone in the probiotics field. It appears in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Terrific PowerPoint slides too. You may be able to buy or borrow them for a presentation. But ask first at RightsLink.