Probiotic may help beat the common cold, suggests study

By Tim Cutcliffe

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Common cold

A proprietary mixture of two probiotic strains developed by Swedish company Probi AB may help people catch fewer winter colds. Details of the study will be revealed in a webinar on March 1st.

Probi Defendum (a combination of the patented strains Lactobacillus plantarum​ HEAL9 and Lactobacillus paracasei​ 8700:2), significantly reduced recurrent common colds in study participants given the supplement, compared with placebo.

The double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomised controlled trial (RCT) involving 900 subjects was conducted over 3 winter seasons.

Those who received the supplement also experienced less severe common cold symptoms during the first winter period.

The probiotic also demonstrated an activation of the immune system after just two weeks in participants who were not experiencing a common cold. This finding reinforces the results of two previous trials, which had indicated immune-enhancing effects of the two-strain mixture. One of the studies was covered by NutraIngredients​, while the other can be found here​.

Participants were given either Probi Defendum (one billion colony forming units) or placebo once per day for a period of 12 weeks.

“We are proud to conclude that our largest clinical trial so far has successfully confirmed earlier clinical results. Interestingly, in subjects that did not experience any viral infection during the study period, there was an activation of the immune system measured already after 2 weeks of Probi Defendum intake, indicating an alert and resilient immune system.”​ said Peter Nählstedt, CEO of Probi AB.


This is the largest trial ever conducted by Probi. The findings could have implications for reducing the socio-economic burden of common colds, the manufacturers suggested.

“We see it beneficial for the public health with a product that could reduce incidence and severity of common colds and thereby reducing sick-leave and the need for burdening the health-care system,”​ commented Nählstedt.

Possible Mechanism

Nählstedt also revealed a possible mechanism for the action of the probiotic.

 “The indication we see in the results from the current study is that Probi Defendum activates memory T-cells that contributes to a better response towards future infections.

“We can link clinical effect to immune marker data, thus explaining mode of action for the Probi Defendum product.”

Market Impact

Immune health is the second largest health area for probiotics and Probi Defendum is presently sold in several geographical markets. Nählstedt envisaged that the trial findings could open up new areas  both within the Consumer Healthcare and the Functional Food segments.

“There is high interest from many markets around the world for Probi Defendum and we hope that these new results that tie clinical/ immune marker data and mechanism of action together will result in several new market launches and thereby giving benefit to consumers,”​ he concluded.



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