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Oral Probiotic BLIS K12 for Immune System Support

Grant Washington-Smith, BLIS Technologies, Ltd. Auckland, New Zealand

Grant Washington-Smith

Swanson Health Products® is proud to introduce our first oral probiotic ever, featuring BLIS K12,™ a unique strain of S. salivarius developed by BLIS Technologies of New Zealand. We recently caught up with company representative Grant Washington-Smith, who explains what BLIS K12 is and what makes it a different and effective probiotic.

SWANSON: BLIS is an acronym. What does it stand for?

Washington-Smith: BLIS stands for Bacteriocin Like Inhibitory Substance. This acronym is given to a substance such as this before it has been properly identified. We liked the acronym so much we kept it and use it all the time.

SWANSON: What does the K12 stand for?

Washington-Smith: K12 is from the numbering system we used to catalogue our probiotic organism in our bacterial library. It was then used in published scientific research so the naming system has stuck with us.

SWANSON: When asked to define probiotics, most people think of acidophilus and similar beneficial bacteria that are active in the gut and the urinary tract. How does BLIS K12 differ?

Washington-Smith: The definition of a probiotic is “live microorganisms which…confer a health benefit on the host.” Most of the bacteria we carry with us is in the gut, but the beneficial bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth and throat are actually the “first line” in our body’s immune defense. BLIS K12 is a naturally occurring beneficial bacteria that only lives within the oral cavity and is proven to promote good oral health, support natural immune system defense functions and protect against the proliferation of bacteria that can cause bad breath.

SWANSON: I understand BLIS K12 was first discovered in the mouths of healthy children. Can you tell us about this?

Washington-Smith: When the collection of BLIS producing bacteria first started in the 1980s, Professor John Tagg would take oral swabs from volunteers who showed unusually strong immune system defense, especially relative to seasonal concerns. This is how the discovery of the S. salivarius BLIS K12 was made. It was taken from a ten-year-old boy who, despite living in the harsh winter climate of Dunedin, New Zealand, showed the remarkable ability to stay healthy all year long.

SWANSON: You’ve said that BLIS K12 differs from typical probiotics in that it actually produces agents that support immune system functions rather than simply providing healthy bacteria. Can you explain?

Washington-Smith: Almost every probiotic on the market works by out-competing other bacteria. BLIS K12 is no different but it has other weapons in its arsenal that other probiotics don’t have. BLIS K12 actually produces two specific BLIS compounds. One BLIS is designed to maintain normal healthy population levels and prevent even the good bacteria from over-growing. The other BLIS is only produced when the BLIS K12 probiotic is threatened. This is a powerful substance that acts like a tiny spear to defend the delicate environmental balance.

SWANSON: Has BLIS K12 been clinically studied in humans

Washington-Smith: There have been several clinical studies involving BLIS K12 and a number of clinical studies are in progress. So far over 30 scientific papers on BLIS K12 have been published.

SWANSON: What has been the experience among people using BLIS K12? Can you tell us about any particular case studies or personal stories from customers?

Washington-Smith: BLIS K12 has been sold over the counter in pharmacies within the New Zealand market since 2002. The idea behind the product is that when taken regularly, the BLIS K12 probiotic will support upper respiratory health and the health of the throat and the oral cavity itself. Generally, people find that it helps them stay healthy during the challenging seasons. We hear from people who, based on prior seasonal experience, were planning for the worst. They use BLIS K12 and are so amazed when they remain healthy and actually feel great throughout these months that they write to us and explain their experience. In 2008, a paper by the University of British Columbia actually confirmed what our customers had been telling us, because in addition to the immune supporting effects, the organism can also nourish and support the structural integrity, comfort and overall health of tissues in the mouth and throat.