Lively Latin, PA Homeschoolers Spanish, and Roman Roads C.S. Lewis Course

On-line, live classes have been helpful academically and developmentally in our homeschool situation. They teach attendance, listening skills, respect to diverse teachers and peers, excellent material, time management skills, and due dates. I often search reviews on-line before selecting products, and I am always grateful to be able to find feedback on them before trying them out myself. Today, in gratitude to those who have taken time to share, I am sharing my reviews.

Lively Latin II live on-line course

This was an excellent and interactive class taught by Magistra Drown (Mrs. Drown). It met once a week and lasted 75 minutes (but sometimes a little longer). My student was exposed to other students and also to a classroom-type environment with lecturing, questions posed by the teacher with students called on to answer, and breakdown into small groups during class to work on certain things together.

Often homeschooled kids think they’re “missing out” or that they won’t survive when they have to take a “real class” in college. Sitting in a classroom with other kids, perhaps more motivated or less motivated than they are, really can shed light on their own strengths and weaknesses as a student. My student enjoyed this class immensely and regrets that there will not be time for Latin III next year in her schedule, although we discussed picking it back up again as a tenth grader if desired.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally organized with clear expectations
  • Wonderful, self-contained workbook (consumable) that is clear and concise
  • Includes excellent background in Roman history in addition to Latin language instruction
  • Fun, live classes with several kinds of in-class activities (whiteboard, breakout groups, question and answer, etc.)
  • Students from all over the country (and even world) participate
  • Kind and passionate instructor
  • Homework and projects are assigned but the time and work required from the student seems very appropriate. (Submitted via text photos on phone.)
  • Teacher sends update e-mails just about weekly to parents and responds in a timely manner when corresponded with
  • Live class

Cons:

  • Needs to be on the computer
  • Does cost
  • Committing to a set time for class each week for a full year (my daughter had to sometimes take her on-line classes during vacation)
  • Requires use of phone to text assignments. (My daughter texted from my phone. It was not inconvenient for us, but for others it might be.)

PA Homeschoolers (Ray Leven) Honors Spanish II live on-line class

Please know as you read this, that this is my student’s favorite class. But I am going to lay it out to you. Senor Leven is a tough teacher. Tough. Anything you read out there in cyberspace about his class may probably be true. But it is a great class, and your student will come out speaking, reading, and writing Spanish like a champ. Although my student wrestled (I’m putting it mildly.) with this class initially, by second semester, it was the FAVORITE class, and when a track meet interfered with attending class one day, there was actually disappointment to miss the class! The class met once a week for 60 minutes (sometimes ran over a little) for the whole year.

Pros:

  • Excellent interactive teaching style
  • An exceptionally honest teacher who provides accurate feedback for each student and pushes them to be the best Spanish student they can be
  • Spanish spoken in class by teacher and students
  • Small class size (4-6 students)
  • Diverse assignments (worksheets, paragraph writing, book assignments, on-line site)
  • Uses a spine textbook
  • Student needs to be completely responsible for all aspects of the class
  • Almost immediate response to e-mails
  • Mastery of material required and put to use so student moves toward fluent spoken and written Spanish
  • Live class
  • Students from all over the country

Cons:

  • Intense pace
  • On the computer
  • Completing the on-line assignments on the website (which accompanies the book) requires extra screen time (I don’t like screen time much for homework/assignments. EVERYTHING we do nowadays is on a screen. I don’t think it’s healthy for the pineal gland and other light sensitive body parts and system loops.)
  • Big time commitment (1-3 hours of homework each day, weekend commitment routine)
  • Significant time management required
  • Student needs to be completely responsible for all aspects of class and there is little communication with the parent unless there is a concern. Student is the “owner” of this class, not “mommy or daddy.” (My student was an eighth grader, and I had not transitioned her to this mentality yet, so this helpfully, sometimes painfully, did it for us. Ha!)
  • Costs money
  • Committing to a set time for class each week for a full year (as mentioned above, my student did take her laptop and do class on vacation sometimes)

I’m saying all this so that anyone who is researching this class will know what to expect. It is a great class. Great. The on-line, live interaction is great. The content is great. The reinforcement is great. We are already signed up for Honors Spanish III. I highly recommend the class, but unless your student is used to tons of work and pointed, constructive criticism (and spoken in that Northeastern US accent which we Midwesterners sometimes perceive as short and hurried), be prepared for lots of push back. We had tons of push back. But we told our daughter to just do what she could initially, and we asked Senor Leven to be patient as we learned to transition from a middle school type study habit to an advanced high school type study habit. It took some time, but as I said, this class is now a top choice. I recommend this class highly for motivated Spanish students. Your student will LEARN!

Note: Ray Leven no longer teaches Spanish I. If you want to get into his Spanish II classes, then you have to have a Skype session with him and he will interact with your student in Spanish. He then lets you know if the student would be competent in his class. If he perceives gaps, he suggests tutoring to work on the weak areas. My daughter had to complete some tutoring. I’ll tell you, his tutoring is even harder than his class!!!!

Roman Roads C.S. Lewis Literature class by Christiana Hale

This was my first interaction with Roman Roads. It was a good experience and recommended by a friend. One thing I’ve noticed about these on-line, live classes is that the teachers are very passionate about their subject matters! That’s refreshing! The C.S. Lewis Literature class ran 90 minutes for the whole year. It focused solely on the literature of C.S. Lewis.

Pros:

  • Teacher passionate and knowledgeable about the subject matter
  • Kind teacher, well-respected and liked
  • Live class with other students
  • Agreeable homework methods: reading assignments, shorter reading responses for each book. tests, longer reports due at each semester end, class lectures
  • Discussion encouraged in class among students
  • Students exposed to more of a lecture style class which they might see more of in college
  • Oral presentations often required of reading responses, but the teacher is so gentle and kind that my student was able to get over her fear of speaking and talking about her report in front of others
  • Pushed my student to consider pretty deep personal ideas about herself, life, and religion
  • Live class

Cons:

  • Some of the philosophical ideas and metaphors of Lewis’s books are very deep and can go over the heads of younger readers. I suggest this class for an older student.
  • On the computer
  • Costs money
  • Committing to a set time for class each week for a full year
  • Sourcing all the C.S. Lewis material

Roman Roads and Christiana Hale were easy to work with. I will consider using Roman Roads again in the future, and any class by Christiana Hale I can tell will most probably be a joy.

Closing

I’ll happily answer anything I can or have time for! Happy educating! Do it with LOVE. Push with LOVE. Admit to your student when you make a mistake (but find ways to help each other through the mistake). I made a mistake this year. As much as my daughter enjoyed all these classes, we learned that three year-long live, on-line classes were too many. The classes were exceptional, but it was hard to attend all of them, scarf down lunch before running to violin, make it to rescheduled track meets, miss class for vacation, and so on–plus attend to the other homeschool classes I was responsible for. My student told me it was okay because she really liked all the classes and didn’t want to drop any of them. So I found other ways in the schedule to lighten the load. Don’t bristle. Don’t react when they get angry about too much work. Just think and manipulate your variables! Good luck!

Terri F

Miller and Levine Biology

Note: Hi! If you’re trying to determine if Miller and Levine Biology would be a good fit for your use, I hope that you’ll find this post helpful! Happy educating! In case you are just dropping in, I have a medical degree and before that, a pharmacy degree, so I’ve had a little science. I love homeschooling my own four children.

We completed one semester of good, solid biology this 8th grade year with my oldest student,  and we ended up covering the first 4 units of Miller and Levine’s Biology curriculum from Pearson. I chose Miller and Levine’s Biology (Macaw edition) because it is comprehensive, frequently used for high school biology courses (including AP Biology), and includes supporting consumable materials (labs, worksheets, and tests). While I can say many fine things about this curriculum, I can also say I have reservations.

Materials We Used

This curriculum has two intensity levels to choose from, A and B, but they both use the same textbook. The A curriculum material writes and asks questions from a more complex and higher reading level than the B curriculum. More depth and comprehension is expected from those who use the A curriculum. You do not need both. I wasn’t sure which I would need, so I ordered both.

  • Miller and Levine Biology textbook
  • Study Workbook A or Study Workbook B
  • Study Workbook A Teacher Edition or Study Workbook B Teacher Edition
  • Lab Manual A or Lab Manual B
  • Lab Manual A Teacher Edition or Lab Manual B Teacher Edition
  • Teacher’s Edition Assessment Resources (includes quizzes and tests and their answers for both A and B levels)
  • High grade microscope
  • Lab materials (beakers, flasks, test tubes, pop beads, planaria, etc.) ordered from various sources on-line based on resource list in the lab manual.

Process

We progressed through the spine textbook mostly in the order the authors’ presented the material, taking it at the needed pace. If concepts needed more explanation and practice, like cellular respiration, I would lecture on the chalkboard or print off extra worksheets from the internet. We spent as much time as needed for mastery. We used the accompanying worksheets for each section, mostly from Workbook A, but sometimes I would use Workbook B if something wasn’t clicking or if I liked its simplification better.

Most importantly, we taught the process of outlining a chapter/taking notes, identifying important points, and drawing one’s own charts and pictures to help in comprehension and retention. This was required for particular topics that I know will be extensively tested in any future biology class, such as cellular respiration, meiosis, mitosis, and DNA replication.

If you take your time reading, learning, doing labs, reading the interesting supplemental materials, and taking tests and quizzes, then there is way more here than you could cover in a year of biology, while still doing other school courses at the same level. We did as much as we could in one semester (about 4 units, but we were not as diligent on the lab work as I would have liked), but we’ll take next year to knock out what I think will make my student exceptionally prepared for college AND keep her interested in learning for the fun of it!

Pros of the Curriculum

  • Comprehensive and appropriately detailed coverage of general biology for a student who may pursue a science-based college degree
  • Excellent concise and pertinent outlines for each chapter section included in the workbook manuals
  • Excellent worksheets
  • Excellent lab manual
  • Tests and quizzes available for purchase
  • Two levels for different levels of learning intensity
  • Contains sections called “Careers and Biology” to show students all the fun career options available with a biology background, which I think is very helpful for students to know about
  • More here than you could ever dream of covering well (you’ll see this listed as a pro and con): basic biology, careers in biology, controversies in science, mini-labs, labs, cool mysteries in science
  • The chapter reviews at the end of each chapter are very good, focused, and pertinent

Cons of the Curriculum

  • Sometimes, the writing and format (graphic design) do not make major biological concepts clear from more minor concepts, making it difficult sometimes for a new biology learner to tease out the most important points from the reading material. The book reads and displays sometimes like it’s “ALL” important. However, the worksheets do a good job highlighting the most important points.
  • The textbook is chock-full, and the pages, as many textbooks now, are super “Dora-the-Explorer” busy, making it difficult to stay focused. It’s nice to have the career excerpts, history excerpts, controversies, quick labs, and mystery case reports, but it can also be very distracting. There are so many different highlights packed in the margins and throughout the chapters that they’re hard to keep straight, and they detract from investigating the photos and tables of the main material that is required to be learned.
  • I often wrote my own tests. I used many of the test questions from the publisher (and eliminated ones I thought were poorly worded or minutiae), and then added my own questions. Why? Because I didn’t feel like important concepts were given heavier weight on the tests than fluffier, “less needed” material. I wanted important topics that I knew would be studied extensively in college to receive more in-depth testing than “less” important topics.
  • Not catered to homeschoolers so no accompanying internet resource and had to search around to find all the written resources. (I stumbled across a web page somewhere in which a person described how they were able to get access to the internet links that mass purchasers get for their students. So it’s out there somewhere, FYI, but I lost the web page. I didn’t need to pursue the internet support and resources.)
  • Complete, thorough, clearly visible vocabulary lists are needed. Each chapter section has a few vocabulary words listed at the beginning in the side margin, but it is not a complete list of the new words and terms introduced in each chapter section. One of the most difficult obstacles for students in biology is all the new terminology. It would be more effective if all of the new terms were listed clearly together.
  • Focuses on controversy

The Use of Controversy

My biggest reservation regarding this biology curriculum is its huge focus on controversy. (Maybe Joe Levine’s journalism background contributes to this.) Regarding the Miller and Levine Biology text, Pearson (the publisher) states on its teacher training site, called my Pearson Training:

“Using controversial topics in biology instruction grabs students’ attention and shows them that biology is relevant to their lives. When studying controversial topics, the goal is to help students gather scientific data, gain a scientific perspective, and evaluate media coverage.”

And elsewhere in material from the afore mentioned site:

“When looking at the Miller & Levine textbook, it is easy to see that many topics come directly from today’s headlines.”

It’s sensationalized biology. But our American society is so polarized, I’m not sure that building a biology text which screams the word “controversy” over and over is a good thing. Which side of a controversy should be taken? As thoughtful as the book seems to be, bias sometimes seeps into word choices. It seeps into the controversies chosen to discuss. It seeps into the controversies that were minimized.  The writing seems like it tries to offer opposing view points on controversial ideas, but sometimes the wording and arrangement is just subtle enough to indicate an eagerness to have the reader choose one side over another.

For example, before the ethical issues of stem cells are discussed, the benefits and needs are discussed.

“Basic research on stem cells takes on a special urgency. . . Given the suffering and death caused by these conditions [heart attacks, strokes, paralysis]. . . Many hope to see a day when damage caused by a severe heart attack can be reversed. . . “

After exuding enthusiasm about the benefits that stem cells can offer, the ethical issues are discussed, and it is stated that harvesting stem cells causes “destruction” of an “embryo.” (All true.) It’s subtle, but notice it does not cause “death” of something alive, just destruction of an embryo. Whereas as you keep reading in the next line or two, harvesting and using stem cells can “save human lives.” Minor wording choices can affect which side of a controversy we’re on.

Most of the controversial topics are clearly marked with the word “controversy” or “ethical issues” and the book makes a concerted effort to present well-rounded discussion. But some of the controversies of our time, such as global warming and evolution are treated as if there is no controversy, which I think perpetuates the distrust from opposing viewpoints even more.

I understand that the authors and other scientists are sick and tired of all the criticism and hate they receive from people who don’t believe these ideas. BUT the fact of the matter is, these ARE still controversial topics in 2018 and it would be more productive to list the factual reasons or cite the research which causes other people to be skeptical about evolution and global warming, fostering respect rather than scorn. It would be productive to provide the evidence which makes a significant number of people have questions about evolution from the fossil records or have questions about the role and significance of humanity on global warming–and allowed for uncertainty where uncertainty exists.

Politically, those instrumental in putting Miller and Levine Biology together understand how lucky they are to put together a textbook for the captive, young audience mandated to learn biology. They urge:

“Don’t just memorize today’s scientific facts and ideas. And please don’t believe them! Instead, try to understand how scientists developed those ideas. . . In our society, scientists make recommendations about big public policy decisions, but they don’t make the decisions. Who makes the decisions? Citizens of our democracy do. In a few years, you will be able to exercise the rights of a voting citizen, influencing public policy by the ballots you cast and the messages you send public officials. That’s why it is important that you understand how science works and appreciate both the power and the limitations of science.”

They urge kids to think for themselves, yet their textbook has subtly worded stances (intentional or not) and makes an unstated point to root out disbelievers of points they consider moot discussions.

There is so much information to cover and learn in basic science classes, that instruction woven around controversy belongs in other classes. I teach science for my homeschool co-op, and we keep plenty busy just mastering what nucleotide bases are and have enough controversy discussing how exons could affect translation of our DNA. Now THAT’S science!

A Note on Evolution

You can’t get away from evolution in this book. The authors have made it the entire theme of the book. It is woven throughout the chapters, starting right front and center in chapter one. Right away the book states:

“Today, evolutionary theory is the central organizing principle of all biological and biomedical science. It makes such a wide range of predictions about organisms–from bacteria to whales to humans–that it is mentioned throughout this book.”

But the writers go on to say:

“A useful theory that has been thoroughly tested and supported by many lines of evidence may become the dominant view among the majority of scientists, but no theory is considered absolute truth.”

If you want a gentle approach to evolution, this is not the book for that. Whammo. Bammo. Evolution. Controversy and evolution are the themes woven throughout this book. But, I don’t mean to sound too negative, there is TONS in this book to be taught no matter what you believe about evolution. I still don’t know what in the heck to believe about elements in a primordial environment coalescing into one little organism and then eventually forming me! The simpleton faith in me just says, “Wow. God, just wow.”

Closing

The Miller and Levine Biology program is not a bad choice, per se, because it does a good job including everything a student can expect to see in a college biology course. Many high schools use it. I like that my kids are learning what the rest of the United States’ kids learn scientifically because that’s who they’ll be working side-by-side with for the rest of their lives. I like the resources that come along with the text.

But I don’t like the controversy used as its educational tool. I don’t like the cloud that hovers over me as I read the book, feeling like particular ideas are being indoctrinated into a population. I also wish the authors did a better job at making important topics seem important and at putting together vocabulary lists.

For the 2018-2019 school year, our plan is to finish the topics covered in the Miller and Levine book, add in a couple of other texts to help my student read complicated material as explained by other writers (when I feel like Miller and Levine is weak or confusing), review the topics I know will be hit hard in college science classes, focus more diligently on completing labs, and use some “living books.”

I have ordered two additional texts to use:  Campbell’s Biology and Test Prep Series: Preparing for the Biology AP Exam (also by Pearson). For now, I just intend for them strengthen our program and round it out, not replace it.

The Test Prep Series: Preparing for the Biology AP Exam is reported to make the main points of biology very clear and concise, leaving no question about what must be known in each topic of biology. At this time, I do not plan on AP tests, but I must research more on that. I feel like everyone is saying, “Take AP. Take AP.” And, well, I’m just not sure this is the way our education system should be going, so I need to read more and decide.

That’s it! Feel free to ask any questions. I’ll try to help if I can. If you see any typos, let me know so I can fix them. If you have any concerns or counter comments, I’ll try to field them with the best thought that I can. Thank you.

Terri F

 

Saxon Math Algebra II

I’m heading into my tenth year of homeschooling, and it has gone so fast! Each year since I started writing here, I’ve typed up and posted the curriculum of the highest grade level I teach. This year the highest grade level was eighth grade. By this level, our curriculum has been tailored to the student, flying rapidly when subject matter was learned easily and hunkering down when a quagmire appeared. I am always happy to answer questions about how we do things, why we do things, and what concerns (or satisfactions) I have about how we proceeded. I will start with our math program.

Every year I explain that I personally grew up on Saxon math (starting in sixth grade). Teaching it feels like a favorite pair of old tennis shoes to me. Beloved and comfortable. Forgive my sappiness toward math, but I feel like it was my math teacher and Saxon math which helped me achieve my academic dreams. I don’t have the natural knack for numbers that many of my friends have (I had to turn to them for help with the “hard” problems), but with Saxon’s training method, I learned I, too, like my gifted peers, could achieve in math. In the movie Ratatouille it is said, “Anyone can cook.” Well, in Saxon, “Anyone can do math.” I have tutored many students throughout the years in high school math, and I cringe when I see how math is usually taught without the layering that Saxon math provides. So be forewarned, I come at Saxon math with a huge bias. I can’t tell you about any other math program, but I can tell you all about my love for Saxon. 🙂

Good luck to you in educating your children and bestowing upon them all that you have to give so that they might be happy, content people who can smile freely and give warmly, knowing that in their parents’ home they are safe, loved, nurtured, and protected. Okay. On to math.

Math: Saxon Algebra II, supplemented with a unit study on geometry proofs

A note on time expectations for math work: I think it helps to explain to advanced students that math gets at least 90 minutes a day, Monday through Friday. Boom. That’s the way it is. Budget your day that way. Otherwise, it seems students think they ought to be able to get done in less than an hour, like they used to be able to do when they were doing “easier” math.

Method: Throughout the year, I most often taught the Algebra II lesson set on our wall chalkboard. Then we practiced several problems from the problem set (both new material and any prior material I felt my student was weak on and needed guidance on), and then my student was assigned 13-22 problems to do each day on her own from the problem set. Missed homework problems were corrected daily before beginning the new homework. I worked very hard to keep papers graded on a daily basis so I could be aware of weaknesses in any concepts.

Any lesson with old material that my student had already mastered and I knew she had retention of, we skipped, in favor of learning new material. Within lessons, any problem-type mastered to the point of vomiting, we skipped. (Despite the Saxon book’s warning, we frequently skip problems, although I will assign them periodically to retain mastery. I feel comfortable doing this because it is how my high school math teacher used Saxon.) In Saxon math, problem types go away for about 10-20 lesson sets and then they come back. When they came back, I reassigned the problem type to make sure there was still retention and mastery. My student is monitored closely, and I can see what she does and does not “get.” Mastery and retention were always required of all problem types. As the year progressed, my student needed less and less teaching from me, as she was frequently able to read and apply the information herself.

At the end of the year, I did a unit study on geometry proofs. I used the same concepts Saxon Algebra II was teaching in the lessons on proofs, but I pulled lots of extra material and practice off of the internet from various sources.

This is how I did math this year for this student. I am prepared to make changes each day and each year we work together. I am also prepared to change how I do things for each of my children.

Saxon Pros:

  • There is a seamless transition from Algebra I to Algebra II.  (We were able to skip lesson sets at the beginning of the Algebra II book with material that my student had already mastered in Algebra I.)
  • The Saxon math program from Algebra I through Calculus cannot be beat as far as breaking down concepts into understandable portions, progressing students along in a non-scary fashion, and promoting long-term retention of concepts.
  • There is good explanation and practice of geometrical calculations. (I had debated doing a geometry year between Algebra I and II, and I’m very glad I did not.)
  • Excellent explanations of new concepts in each lesson, with even some humor here and there.
  • Excellent examples worked out and explained for each new lesson. (I tutored this last year in Algebra II, and the book the school offered did not have many examples for students to learn from.)

Saxon Cons:

  • Saxon math teaches geometrical calculations well, but I was not fond of its introduction of theorems, postulates, and two-column proofs. (We finished the Algebra II book with enough time to do a unit study on geometry proofs to supplement Saxon’s lessons. I pulled from various resources to put together a unit study.)
  • Saxon does not seem to require geometry vocabulary usage and retention. (There is a lot of geometry at the beginning of the next book Saxon book called Advanced Mathematics–equivalent to trigonometry– and I will reinforce the vocabulary of geometry next year and also keep up with proof supplementation. This way, I will feel very confident that we’ve covered what I covered in my high school non-Saxon geometry class.)
  • Real life application when it comes to particular topics is lacking. I kind of feel like Saxon math students might become robotic with their math—although any student who masters Saxon math will be easily led to apply the concepts to real life. For example, a Saxon student can tell you the equation of a line (and readily manipulate the equations), but they’d be hard-pressed to tell you a real life situation you could use a linear equation in. After you showed a Saxon student, they’d probably say something like, “Oh, duh. I knew that.” I plan to remedy this with a real-life application unit in our high school years.
  • Lots of problems in a problem set.

My eighth grader was able to master Algebra II. I didn’t necessarily plan it that way, it is just how it worked out with the pace of her capabilities. I think this might put us at a disadvantage for taking standardized tests (PSAT, SAT and ACT) since we are covering material earlier. However, I constantly try to remind myself that learning is done best for learning’s sake–not for the test . But I know that I will need to take extra care that she is prepared for her standardized tests so that my decision to proceed at her pace does not hinder any test scores. I also see that if we continue this progression, there will be opportunity in the junior and senior year for something like taking a local college math course or doing something somewhat unique for high school math, like statistics.

As I mentioned, I am happy to answer questions or clarify anything I wrote.

Terri F

More Butyrate Series, Part 8: Clostridium butyricum for the Brain, for Colon and Bladder Cancer, and for Milk Allergy

I hate disclaimers. I don’t feel like they should be necessary on an internet site, where people should be reluctant to believe anybody or anything. But, sometimes we’re gullible and vulnerable, especially when it comes to our health. So I just want to remind readers that I am not recommending Clostridium butyricum. I am not speaking against it either.  What you put in your mouth is as personal as who you let French kiss you. Have caution.  I do.

Do I think Clostridium butyricum sounds like a decent probiotic? On paper it does. But I’m aware that each person’s gut is unique beyond comprehension. Its function is as varied as each person’s diet, stress level, and sleep pattern. That’s pretty varied. Please never go out and buy or use a supplement because I mention it. I’d feel just horrible about that. Read the studies I reference. Read the internet anecdotes for the good AND THE BAD. Then, talk with your doctor about if he or she sees any harm for you based on what he or she knows about you.

Try hard to make your diet as real and whole as you realistically can. That’s a great start for health! And also try hard to savor each person you love in your life. Our life on Earth really is unpredictable, and each moment counts. For more on Clostridium butyricum on my site, read here, here, and here.  I’ve enjoyed searching for information about it and putting it in one “place.” I hope if you’re reading this far, you find what you’re searching for. If you can’t understand something, please ask.

Clostridium butyricum For Vascular Dementia

In a vascular model of disease, mice with carotid artery occlusion who were given Clostridium butyricum (strain WZMC1016 dosed at 5 x 10 ^6, 5 x 10^7, 5 X 10^8) had improved cognitive test scores.

In humans, this might translate into someone who has vascular dementia from atherosclerosis—“clogged arteries.” The probiotic-treated mice fared significantly better on motor skills testing and cognitive skills testing (numerically significant at the two higher doses). Their brains looked better in the hippocampal region, a region known to be exceptionally sensitive to low blood flow, than the non-treated vascular occlusion subjects. Please notice that dose did affect the outcome!

The specifics, if you’re interested, also indicated that the probiotic treated mice had:

  • Increased levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor)
  • Increased ratio of Bcl-2 to BAX (antiapoptotic to proapoptotic factors)  (10^7, 10^8 doses)
  • Increased ratio of p-Akt/Akt (Akt phosphorylation=p-Akt) (5×10^7, 5×10^8 doses)
  • Structural preservation of the hippocampus with reduced apoptosis of neurons in the hippocampus (dose of 5 x 10^8)
  • Increased butyrate in the feces
  • Increased butyrate in the brain (10^7, 10^8 doses)
  • Increased diversity of GI bacteria (“drastically changed” were the words) (10^7, 10^8 doses).

Source: Liu J, Sun J, Wang F, et al. Neuroprotective Effects of Clostridium butyricum against Vascular Dementia in Mice via Metabolic Butyrate. BioMed Research International. 2015;2015:412946. doi:10.1155/2015/412946.

Clostridium butyricum for Stroke

In a mouse study which simulated cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injuries, such as those which may be found in a stroke in humans, mice who were pretreated with Clostridium butyricum (strain WZMC1018 at 1 x 10^9 dose) had less neurological deficits than the other mice.

In addition, in the probiotic treated mice it was found that:

  • The expression of Caspase-3 and Bax were significantly decreased
  • The Bcl-2/Bax ratio was significantly increased
  • Butyrate content in the brain was significantly increased
  • Apoptosis in the hippocampus was ameliorated
  • Decreased contents of MDA; increased SOD in the brain tissue.

Source: Clostridium butyricum pretreatment attenuates cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury in mice via anti-oxidation and anti-apoptosis.Sun J, Ling Z, Wang F, Chen W, Li H, Jin J, Zhang H, Pang M, Yu J, Liu JNeurosci Lett. 2016 Feb 2;613:30-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2015.12.047. Epub 2015 Dec 28.

Clostridium butyricum in Traumatic Brain Injury

In a traumatic brain injury model, Clostridium butyricum administration in mice resulted in improved outcomes.

Specifically found were:

  • Improved neurological deficits
  • Decreased brain edema
  • Less impairment in the blood brain barrier
  • Increased GLP-1 production in colon and increased GLP-1 receptor protein expression in the brain  (GLP-1 is glucagon-like peptide-1 and is considered a mediator between the gut and the brain.)
  • An improved intestinal barrier, evidenced by decreased serum D-lactate levels.

Source: Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2017 Nov 27. doi: 10.1111/nmo.13260. [Epub ahead of print]Clostridium butyricum exerts a neuroprotective effect in a mouse model of traumatic brain injury via the gut-brain axis.Li H, Sun J, Du J, Wang F, Fang R, Yu C, Xiong J, Chen W, Lu Z, Liu J.

Clostridium butyricum for Prevention of Anxiety

Laryngeal cancer patients who required surgery (laryngectomy) had lower anxiety parameters when they received Clostridium butyricum before surgery.

Human laryngeal cancer patients received Clostridium butyricum (420 mg/capsule, two capsules twice a day) prior to surgery for about 14 days. When compared to placebo-receiving laryngeal cancer surgical patients, they had:

  • Lower corticotropin-releasing factor levels (CRF), a stress-related hormone, also commonly known as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)
  • Lower morning and evening heart rates
  • Lower anxiety test scores.

Source: Yang, Hui & Zhao, Xiaoyun & Tang, Shan & Huang, Hua & Zhao, Xiulan & Ning, Zhuohui & Fu, Xiurong & Zhang, Caihong. (2014). Probiotics reduce psychological stress in patients before laryngeal cancer surgery. Asia-Pacific journal of clinical oncology. 12. 10.1111/ajco.12120.

Clostridium butyricum for Bladder Cancer and Colon Cancer

The association of Clostridia affecting cancer goes back to 1813, when it was noted that patients who acquired gas gangrene (Clostridium perfringens infection) had cancer regression! Because they are anaerobic organisms, they emerge from spore form to vegetative form in the anaerobic, necrotic centers of tumors, where the bacteria can promote tumor destruction. (1)

An in vitro and in vivo mouse study showed that Clostridium butyricum induced bladder cancer tumor cell death (apoptosis). 

Rather than oral administration, Clostridium butyricum (both in the in vitro and in vivo arms) was directly applied to the tumor cells. The study found the administration:

  • Increased TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand ) release from polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), perhaps more effectively and safely than the current therapy, BCG
  • Drastically suppressed growth of bladder cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.

Sources: (1) Mowday AM, Guise CP, Ackerley DF, et al. Advancing Clostridia to Clinical Trial: Past Lessons and Recent Progress. Dachs G, ed. Cancers. 2016;8(7):63. doi:10.3390/cancers8070063.

(2) Clostridium butyricum MIYAIRI 588 shows antitumor effects by enhancing the release of TRAIL from neutrophils through MMP-8. Masahide Shinnoh and Mano Horinaka et al. Journal of Oncology. March 2013. Volume 42 Issue 3. pp 903-911.

In a colon cancer model study, researchers found that Bacillus subtilis and Clostridium butyricum inhibited proliferation of colorectal cancer cells and promoted cancer cell apoptosis in vitro and in vivo.

Mice with induced colon cancer were used for the in vivo study, and human colon cancer cells used for the in vitro study. The researchers noted improved inflammatory markers and immune responses.

  • TLR4 mRNA was decreased with the probiotic administration.
  • NfKb was also decreased with the administration of the probiotics.
  • The probiotic treated cancer-model mice had downregulation of Th17 cells as compared to the non-treated cancer mice.

Source: Chen ZF, Ai LY, Wang JL, Ren LL, Yu YN, Xu J, Chen HY, Yu J, Li M, Qin WX, et al. Probiotics Clostridium butyricum and Bacillus subtilis ameliorate intestinal tumorigenesis. Future Microbiol. 2015;10:1433–1445. doi: 10.2217/fmb.15.66.

Clostridium butyricum to reduce food allergy (milk allergy)

Clostridium butyricum reduced intestinal anaphylaxis to beta-lactoglobulin in mice with induced allergy and the researchers felt the probiotic might have potential as a  supplemental therapy for food allergy.

Mice who had a milk allergy to beta-lactoglobulin were given Clostridium butyricum. When given the probiotic, the treated mice, as compared to the untreated mice, had:

  • Decreased diarrhea
  • Improved villus histological integrity with decreased amount of inflammatory cells [It really was pretty cool if you like histology.]
  • Increased CD4+ CD25+ Foxp3+ Treg cells in the MLN and high levels of TGF-β and IL-10 in the serum
  • High levels of TGF-β and IL-10 in the serum
  • Reversed imbalance of Th1/Th2 andTh17/Treg.

Source: Zhang J, Su H, Li Q, et al. Oral administration of Clostridium butyricum CGMCC0313-1 inhibits β-lactoglobulin-induced intestinal anaphylaxis in a mouse model of food allergy. Gut Pathogens. 2017;9:11. doi:10.1186/s13099-017-0160-6.

Closing and Personal Anecdote

I think that’s all the studies I’ll go through on Clostridium butyricum for a while. My eyes were kind of drooping near the end. Make sure and comment on typos or wrong information so I can address them!

I did try this probiotic several times off and on over the last couple of years at all kinds of doses. I had no major issues from it when I took it, but I did have some minor ones. (But my gut is not your gut.) Despite this probiotic reportedly being used for constipation in Asia, I found that my baseline constipation increased and I had to increase my magnesium laxative use while taking it. I also experienced bloating. I had a good sense of well-being on the probiotic, but I have a tendency to have that much of the time anyhow. I seemed to wake up earlier, but I think that could be anything. Due to the constipation and (painless but pretty significant) bloating, I could never extend my use of this probiotic more than two weeks. I didn’t know if it was the probiotic itself or the lactose in it.

That’s it for today.

Terri F

 

 

More Butyrate Series, Part 8: Clostridium butyricum to Prevent Pathogenic Infections (C. diff, E. coli, H. pylori, and Candida), Leaky Gut, and Tube Feeding Diarrhea

When would a person consider adding Clostridium butyricum to their health plan? That’s what I’m exploring as I continue to write up what I discovered from scientific studies about Clostridium butyricum. Today will finish up exploring the gastrointestinal studies. You may read more that I have written about Clostridium butyricum here and here. I try to write in simple terms while still maintaining medical accuracy. If you see a typo or mis-information, please point it out! I really appreciate the opportunity to fix it. If you just don’t understand something and really want to, I enjoy questions and do my best to answer them as thoroughly as I can.

Please remember this is not medical advice. Probiotics are still supplements, and supplements can have deleterious effects on health, either directly, by interactions, or even because of their fillers (and commercial forms of Clostridium butyricum seem to have lactose and/or potato starch). As you search for health, don’t forget certain human health necessities: sleep; movement; sunshine; nature; strong, nurturing relationships; freedom from an unforgiving and hateful heart; and self-acceptance. I feel there are more, but I’ll stop there for now. I’m always floored at how we will search for health in a pill or diet while neglecting these basic requirements.

 

Clostridium butyricum to prevent pathogenic infections from other organisms: Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Helicobacter pylori, and Candida

When given prophylactically, Clostridium butyricum prevented death from enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli 0157:H7 in 100% of mice. [I’m always fascinated by studies with “100% results.”]

Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli 0157:H7 is a dangerous human pathogen which can lead to significant bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, and death. Germ-free mice were inoculated with the virulent bacterial strain Escherichia coli 0157:H7. Mice who received no Clostridium butyricum probiotic ALL died from entrohemorrhagic E. coli complications. When given the probiotic prophylactically before receiving the virulent E. coli strain, 100% of the mice survived. If the Clostridium butyricum was given two days into the infection rather than prophylactically, then 50% died.The probiotic used was Clostridium butyricum MIYAIRI 588 strain.

Source: Takahashi, M., Taguchi, H., Yamaguchi, H., Osaki, T., Komatsu, A. and Kamiya, S. (2004), The effect of probiotic treatment with Clostridium butyricum on enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection in mice. FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology, 41: 219–226.

In vitro co-culture and cell-to-cell contact of Clostridium butyricum  MIYAIRI 588 and Clostridium difficile greatly decreased and even negated the cellular toxicity of Clostridium difficile toxin.

Both Clostridium difficile andClostridium butyricum are Gram-positive, spore-forming bacteria, but Clostridium butyricum grows faster and uses a wider range of substrates, while also producing butyric acid (butyrate) and a bacteriocin (a microbial “antibiotic”). Researchers found that Clostridium butyricum diminished the cytotoxicity of Clostridium difficile and explored why:

  • Clostridium butyricum cells themselves needed to be present to prevent the cytotoxicity from Clostridium difficile. Using supernatant (fluid with no actual bacterial cells but still with the substances excreted/secreted from the bacteria) from Clostridium butyricum culture did not reduce cytotoxicity or reduce the growth of Clostridium difficile, neither did simply separating the two bacterial cultures by a permeable membrane (but impermeable by the bacteria themselves–so basically having the cells together in proximity with the same environment, but without the cells themselves being able to touch each other).
  • Clostridium butyricum blocked Clostridium difficile‘s germination, perhaps by increasing the amount of organic acids present, such as butyric acid. Clostridium butyricum cultures produce a pH of about 4.8, while Clostridium difficile cultures exhibit a pH of about 6.2, which is similar to the gut’s pH. Co-cultures of the two bacteria together produced a lower pH, which may affect the growth of C. diff and deteriorate the function of one of its toxins, toxin B.

Source: Woo TD, Oka K, Takahashi M, Hojo F, Osaki T, Hanawa T, Kurata S, Yonezawa H, Kamiya S. Inhibition of the cytotoxic effect of Clostridium difficile in vitro by Clostridium butyricum MIYAIRI 588 strain. J Med Microbiol. 2011;60:1617–1625.

A very small human study reported that patients given antibiotic therapy to eradicate Helicobacter pylori had detectable fecal Clostridium difficile toxin A, BUT double doses of Clostridium butyricum Miyairi 588 strain prevented detection of any fecal Clostridium difficile toxin A, indicating that a higher dose of Clostridium butyricum may help prevent antibiotic associated C. diff colitis.

When antibiotics are given, it disrupts the normal suppression of Clostridium difficile (which can live in a healthy person’s gut) in the GI tract, allowing diarrhea or even C. difficile pseudomembranous colitis to occur. Researchers looked for toxin A from C. difficile bacteria when patients were treated with antibiotics alone to eradicate H. pylori or treated with antibiotics and Clostridium butyricum probiotic. A “regular” dose of Clostridium butyricum probiotic did not prevent Clostridium difficile toxin A detection, although it seemed to decrease when compared to the control using no probiotic.  However, doubling the dose of probiotic prevented C. difficile toxin A detection. Specifically MIYA-BM was used and it has 10^7 colony forming units (CFU) per tablet. A “regular” dose was six tablets and a double dose was 12 tablets.

Source: Microbiology and Immunology. Efficacy of Clostridium butyricum preparation concomitantly with Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy in relation to changes in the intestinal microbiota. Kyoto Imase, Motomichi Takahashi, Akifumi Tanaka, Kengo Tokunaga, Hajime Sugano, Mamoru Tanaka, Hitoshi Ishida, Shigeru Kamiya and Shin’ichi Takahashi. Volume 52, Issue 3, Version of Record online: 8 APR 2008

In vivo and in vitro testing indicated that Clostridium butyricum Miyairi 588 strain could inhibit, and often eradicate, Helicobacter pylori growth and presence in germ free mice.

This study suggests an antagonistic relationship between Clostridium butyricum and Helicobacter pylori.

  • In  vitro, the butyric acid produced by C. butyricum inhibited H. pylori growth in a direct manner, no matter what the pH, indicating that butyric acid itself was antibacterial. (In contrast, lactic acid also inhibited H. pylori, but not when the pH was adjusted, indicating the effect was pH induced rather than directly from the lactic acid itself.)
  • Pre-incubation of cells with the probiotic inhibited the binding ability of H. pylori to a gastric-mucosal type line of cells.
  • In mice with persistent H. pylori infection, Clostridium butyricum resulted in a rapid reduction of H. pylori and then eventually after three weeks, elimination.

Source: J Med Microbiol. 2000 Jul;49(7):635-42. Studies of the effect of Clostridium butyricum on Helicobacter pylori in several test models including gnotobiotic mice. Takahashi M, Taguchi H, Yamaguchi H, Osaki T, Kamiya S.

Clostridium butyricum Miyairi 588, when given prophylactically to mice, decreased mortality from systemic Candida albicans

The mice were pre-treated for three days intraperitoneally with heat-killed C. butyricum and then inoculated intravenously with a virulent strain of Candida albicans. There was significant increase in survival at all doses of the administered C. butyricum, indicating anti-candidal activity.

Source: Hour-Young, Chen & Kaneda, Satoru & Mikami, Yuzuru & Arai, Tadashi & Igarashi, Kazuei & Saito, Masayoshi & Miyoshi, Takeyoshi & Fuse, Akira. (1987). Protection activity induced by the bacterial vaccine, heat-killed Clostridium butyricum against Candida albicans infections in mice.. Japanese Journal of Medical Mycology. 28. 262-269. 10.3314/jjmm1960.28.262.

Might help to reverse leaky gut (increased gastrointestinal permeability)

Clostridium butyricum use in a mouse model of obesity and insulin resistance showed parameters that might be relevant to improving leaky gut (increased gastrointestinal permeability).

Researchers in China wanted to explore the effect of Clostridium butyricum (strain: CBO313.1) on high fat diet obesity and insulin resistance in mice, speculating that short chain fatty acid production and colon barrier functions contribute to these inflammatory-type conditions. They found that the use of Clostridium butyricum:

  • Reduced colon permeability by upregulating the tight junction (TJ) proteins (claudin-1 and occludin)
  • Contributed to a decreased circulating endotoxin level (LPS)
  • Suppressed adipose inflammation
  • Suppressed high fat diet induced low grade colitis
  • Increased short chain fatty acid production in the colon
  • Restored impaired colon permeability

Source: Shang H, Sun J, Chen YQ (2016) Clostridium Butyricum CGMCC0313.1 Modulates Lipid Profile, Insulin Resistance and Colon Homeostasis in Obese Mice. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0154373. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154373

To prevent tube feeding diarrhea

In elderly patients who developed diarrhea in response to required long-term tube feedings, giving Clostridium butyricum to the patients normalized their stool.

The study is written in Japanese, so I have no further details.

Source: Ito, Hayashi, Iguchi, Endo, Nakao, Nabeshima, Ogura. Effects of administration of Clostridium butyricum to patients receiving long-term tube feeding. Jpn. J. Geriat. 34. 298-304. 1997.

Closing

That’s all for today. Do take care. Do look for things you can change in your life without a pill. Move more. Get outside more. Without squashing your own self, get along better with others. Your thoughts are your “inner stew.” They’re what you eat every single moment. Explore them. They make a HUGE difference to health.

Terri F.

More Butyrate Series, Part 8: Clostridium butyricum and Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea

Clostridium butyricum, a soil-based probiotic used commonly in Asia, colonizes the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of about 10-20% of the human population. Although it does produce butyrate in the GI tract, studies show it creates beneficial effects independently of butyrate too. I do not endorse Clostridium butyricum supplements. I became interested in learning about them because I’m interested in the effect of butyrate on slow colon motility. When I started reading about Clostridium butyricum, it sounded like a nice little probiotic, to the point that I have expanded Part 8 of my Butyrate Series much more than I anticipated in order to elaborate on Clostridium butyricum. (See the first post of Part 8 here.)

I’d like to highlight studies on Clostridium butyricum’s use for GI diseases in this and the next post (or two). Please, remember, I am NOT recommending this probiotic for anyone. I just enjoy reading, researching, and compiling information on niches I am learning about. Do NOT use anything on this blog as medical advice, even if I seem nice, honest, and have certain initials after my name. Anyone on the internet can feed you a line.

By all means, if you think Clostridium butyricum sounds right for you, print off the studies I cite, highlight important points, and hand them to your healthcare provider to see what they think. Although most of the information I have read about Clostridium butyricum, both scientifically and anecdotally, has been positive, I have read tidbits where it made some people worse. (Please pay attention. The Clostridium butyricum probiotics I have found have lactose in them and potato starch, which I know many readers are sensitive to.)

And, as always, please help me with typos or incorrect information. And because it’s more important than anything, be kind and gracious from your heart to all. This world is hurting.  And…now back to science.

Ulcerative colitis

Clostridium butyricum (Bio-Three brand) promoted remission in refractory ulcerative colitis patients, particularly if they started the study with low fecal Bifidobacteria counts.

Twenty refractory ulcerative colitis patients received Bio-Three, nine tablets daily for a month.

  • Nine of the 20 (45%) patients went into remission
  • Two of 20 had a positive response but not full remission
  • In total, 55% had clinical and endoscopic improvement.
  • Nine had no response or worsened. (One of 20 became worse.)
  • 10 of the 20 patients also received 100 grams of “fiber,” which seemed to make no difference in any parameter.
  • Response to the probioitic was not correlated with initial severity of disease symptoms. A person with “terrible” ulcerative colitis symptoms could do–or not do–as well on the probiotic as someone with “mild” symptoms .
  • Patients’ fecal biomes were able to be categorized into three distinct clusters, and those in the clusters with lower Bifidobacteria seemed to respond better to the probiotic and had improved fecal microbiota profiles after therapy.

Source: Clinical effectiveness of probiotics therapy (BIO-THREE) in patients with ulcerative colitis refractory to conventional therapy. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Vol. 42 , Iss. 11, 2007.

Clostridium butyricum (Bio-Three brand) maintained clinical remission better than placebo did in already controlled ulcerative colitis patients over the course of a year, although the results were not statistically significant.

Of forty-six patients, half received three tablets of Bio-Three three times daily and the other half received placebo doses instead.

  • At three months, the relapse rates in the probiotic therapy group was 0% compared to 17.4% for placebo.
  • At six months, the relapse rate in the probiotic group was 8.7% compared to 26.1% in the placebo group.
  • At 9 months, the relapse rate in the probiotic group was 21.7% compared to 34.8% in the placebo group.
  • At 12 months, the remission rate was 30.5 % in the probiotic group and 43.4% in the placebo group.
  • Fecal flora was analyzed and three clusters of bacterial profiles were identified: cluster I, cluster II, and cluster III. Cluster II has the highest levels of Bididobacteria and benefitted the least from the addition of the probiotic. Cluster I had the lowest level of Bifidobacteria and benefitted the most from the addition of the probiotic, which seems, among other things, to shift the flora to be more consistent with a cluster II bacterial profile. Cluster III was somewhere in the middle for Bifidobacteria.
  • The butyrate to acetate ratio was higher in patients who relapsed. The researchers suggest that the colonic cells are not able to uptake butyrate properly so it persists in the fecal matter.

Source: Yoshimatsu Y, Yamada A, Furukawa R, Sono K, Osamura A, Nakamura K, Aoki H, Tsuda Y, Hosoe N, Takada N, Suzuki Y. Effectiveness of probiotic therapy for the prevention of relapse in patients with inactive ulcerative colitis. World J Gastroenterol. 2015; 21(19): 5985-5994.

[So why not just take Bifido? I think one has to think about the whole climate of the GI tract. Clostridium butyricum would not directly inoculate Bifido. I’d like to think it creates bacteriocins (its own natural antibiotics) and pH changes that can then allow Bifido to properly reproduce and thrive as indicated. Like bringing in hummingbirds by planting geraniums and butterfly bushes. I can put hummingbird food out in winter and bring them, but I haven’t really provided them an environment to prosper. It’s all about cultivating an environment for cure to effect itself–not about taking the magic pill for cure. That’s why food is key.]

Treating ulcerative colitis patients who had food allergies with Clostridium butyricum (420 mg twice daily, brand not mentioned) plus specific immunotherapy for a year reduced the need ulcerative colitis medication.

[Aside: If you have ulcerative colitis, has your healthcare professional suggested food allergy for your consideration?]

Eighty patients with food allergy (diagnosed by skin testing) associated ulcerative colitis were divided into four groups: placebo, Clostridium butyricum only, specific immunotherapy only (SIT), or Clostridium butyricum with specific immunotherapy together. Using Clostridium butyricum alone or specific immunotherapy alone non-significantly reduced the need for ulcerative colitis medication. However, using the treatments together significantly impacted and reduced the need for medication for ulcerative colitis.

The study also investigated the cellular differences and immune response differences among the placebo group, the food allergy ulcerative colitis group, and the non-food allergy ulcerative colitis group. There were marked, significant differences among the groups, reflecting the significance of food allergy on the cellular response of the body. This study found that food allergy associated ulcerative colitis has unique cellular and immune response differences. [It reinforced in my mind the need for inflammatory bowel patients to modify their diets, especially looking at the top 8 allergenic foods.]

Source: Specific immunotherapy plus Clostridium butyricum alleviates ulcerative colitis in patients with food allergy. Bin La. Fan Yan. Dong Lu. & Zhenlv Lin. Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 25587 (2016).

Taking Clostridium butyricum (Miya-BM, three tablets three times daily) after total proctocolectomy with ileal pouch anal anastomosis for ulcerative colitis seemed to decrease the risk of pouchitis compared to placebo over a two-year period.

Nine patients received the probiotic and eight patients received a placebo; however only seven of the probiotic patients completed the study. Only 1 of the probiotic recipients developed pouchitis, whereas 4 of the placebo patients did. The difference was not statistically significant. Miya-BM was the probiotic. It is the same strain and made by the same manufacturer as the Miyarisan Miyairi CBM 588 I mentioned in the last post. However, the label for the Miyarisan Miyairi CBM 588 tablets that I see have 270 mg compared to the 20 mg mentioned for this study. I’m not sure how to compare that for equivalent dosing among Clostridium butyricum probiotics.

As mentioned in the other studies above, Bifidobacteria increased with use of the Clostridium butyricum. (It also increased in the placebo arm, but the placebo was lactose, which the researchers feel may have allowed Bifidobacteria to increase.) It was also found that Escherichia coli also decreased with Clostridium butyricum use. One last interesting parameter to point out is the effect of Clostridium butyricum on AST and ALT values (“liver function tests”). Clostridium butyricum significantly reduced AST and ALT values compared to placebo.

Source: The effect of Clostridium butyricum MIYAIRI on the prevention of pouchitis and alteration of the microbiota profile in patients with ulcerative colitis. Yasueda, A., Mizushima, T., Nezu, R. et al. Surg Today (2016) 46: 939.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Although Clostridium butyricum is commonly used in Asia for diverse indications, which I assume includes general symptoms of abdominal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea (aka, irritable bowel syndrome), I did not readily find irritable bowel studies using Clostridium butyricum. I’ll present what I did find.

A new 2018 study on mice concluded that Clostridium butyricum may exert a beneficial action on visceral hypersensitivity of IBS by inhibiting low grade inflammation of colonic mucous through its action on NLRP6.

NLRP6 is thought to help stabilize the intestinal epithelium to allow repair. In this mouse study, Clostridium butyricum (dose: 1.25×10^9 CFU once daily for 7 days) increased NLRP6 while inflammatory IL-18 and IL-1B were decreased. Inflammatory infiltration into the colonic mucosa was decreased in the mice who received the probiotic. Mice who received Clostridium butyricum had less visceral sensitivity.

Source: Kejia Zhao, Leimin Yu, Xi Wang, Yibo He, Bin Lu; Clostridium butyricum regulates visceral hypersensitivity of irritable bowel syndrome by inhibiting colonic mucous low grade inflammation through its action on NLRP6, Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica, Volume 50, Issue 2, 1 February 2018, Pages 216–223.

In a 2013 Chinese study, two groups of irritable bowel patients received the same dietary information and were maintained on common drug treatments. However, in addition, one group received Clostridium butyricum 500 mg twice a day for a month. At the end of the month, the researchers reported a significant improvement in symptoms of the Clostridium butyricum group.

The study is a Chinese study, and I cannot find it any more than I reference.

Source: http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-GLYZ201303005.htm.
Zhu Ya-bi, Li Hong-guang, Wang Chang-xiong, Wang Wang-yue. Effects of clostridium butyricum in adjuvant treatment of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. The Chinese Journal of Pharmacology. 2013.

To prevent antibiotic associated diarrhea

In children who required antibiotics, Clostridium butyricum (MIYAIRI) decreased the frequency of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The probiotic was effective in both prophylactic prevention of diarrhea and also in treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Study participants were divided into three groups: antibiotic only, antibiotic with Clostridium butyricum started half-way through the duration of antibiotic, and antibiotic with Clostridium butyricum given at the start of antibiotic dosing. The dose of Clostridium butyricum CBM was 1-4 grams daily of 10^7 CFUs in the form of a dissolvable powder. When the dose was higher than 3 grams, the beneficial effect of the Clostridium butyricum on loose stools was statistically significant: 83% versus 49%. Stool studies also showed that a more normal microbial flora was preserved with concomitant use of the probiotic.

Source: SEKI, H., SHIOHARA, M., MATSUMURA, T., MIYAGAWA, N., TANAKA, M., KOMIYAMA, A. and KURATA, S. (2003), Prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children by Clostridium butyricum MIYAIRI. Pediatrics International, 45: 86–90.

In a small study of 19 patients being treated for Helicobacter pylori with amoxicillin and clarithromycin, Clostridium butyricum (Miyairi CBM 588) at increasing doses eliminated diarrhea and/or soft stools. (A “regular” dose of 6 tablets of 10^7 CFUs showed a decrease in diarrhea, but a double dose of 12 tablets seemed to prevent diarrhea completely.)

Source: Efficacy of Clostridium butyricum preparation concomitantly with Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy in relation to changes in the intestinal microbiota. Kyoto Imase, Motomichi Takahashi, Akifumi Tanaka, Kengo Tokunaga, Hajime Sugano, Mamoru Tanaka, Hitoshi Ishida, Shigeru Kamiya and Shin’ichi Takahashi. Microbiology and Immunology. Volume 52, Issue 3, Version of Record online: 8 APR 2008.

Closing

I’ll have more coming on leaky gut, anxiety, pathogenic gut infections, and more!

Terri

Butyrate Series, Part 8

Hello! I have not stopped working on and constructing butyrate posts (or other posts, like recipes and homeschooling posts), but I haven’t been able to complete them in a very timely manner. Whew! Homeschooling is hard work! However, I’m ready to start posting the next installment of my Butyrate Series. Let’s look at another way to potentially increase butyrate production in the body. . .

Warning: Writing up what I’ve learned about certain topics is simply a hobby of mine. It’s my entertainment and way to unwind from motherhood, homeschooling, and housework. When you read my writing, I’d like you to enter into an agreement with me: you read it to see what I think I’ve learned, but you do not read it with the thought that I am some expert or that I can possibly help you. I can’t help you. Supplements and treatments discussed enthusiastically on the internet can be dangerous. You, however, armed with knowledge and curiosity, can take the initiative to safely and non-ignorantly make a difference for yourself. This site is not medical advice.

Probiotics to (directly) increase butyrate

The Japanese have used a strain of Clostridium butyricum, a direct butyrate-producing bacteria, as a probiotic since about the 1970s. Savvy health professionals know butyrate best for its gut benefits (healing leaky gut, improving the mucous barrier, and improving motility), but it also has positive effects on the kidneys, brain, and metabolism–not to mention colon cancer prevention. Despite its structural simplicity, the little short chain fatty acid called butyrate truly makes a powerful, all-encompassing health difference.

Personally, my favorite way to increase butyrate in the body is NOT to take supplements– but to eat green bananas, leftover boiled cassava root, and/or leftover potatoes. Aiming to eat whole, real food is always best, but it may not be enough for select problems.  I get that. So I’m curious about all the other ways to increase butyrate.

If you have read any of my butyrate posts, you may remember that I outlined and explored four potential ways to increase the body’s butyrate levels:

  1. Eat butyrate-rich foods, like butter from grass-fed cows.
  2. Eat foods that butyrate-producing bacteria like to metabolize, particularly green bananas, green plantains, refrigerated and then reheated potatoes, beans, lentils, cassava root, and/or rice.
  3. Take butyrate supplements directly.
  4. Take probiotics which contain bacteria known to make butyrate.

Since last writing, I’ve expanded my list of potential butyrate-producing methods that I’d maybe eventually like to write about:

5. Take probiotics which support butyrate-producing bacteria in the GI tract.
6.  Consume prebiotic fibers which enhance butyrate production by GI tract bacteria.
7. Maybe we could somehow upregulate our colonic butyrate importers, such as MCT1 and SMCT1. (1, 2)

My other butyrate posts have waded through points one through three. After quite a gap in my writing due to my work raising four wonderful people in the early stages of life, let’s talk about point number four: probiotics which contain bacteria known to directly make butyrate.

Commercially available butyrate-producing probiotics

The only direct butyrate-producing bacteria (that I found) that we have available as a probiotic for human consumption is Clostridium butyricum. Quite a bit of searching turned up only two different probiotic brands to buy with Clostridium butyricum. (Have you seen any others I’ve missed?) Although both probiotics contain spores of the same species, Clostridium butyricum, they are different strains of the species.

When ingested, the bacterial spores germinate and grow in the intestinal tract, making the short chain fatty acids butyrate and acetate (6). Both strains and brands have studies behind them for various health conditions which I’ll try to discuss in this thread of posts (but not in this post today). Both probiotics can be found on Amazon.

  1. MIYAIRI 588 (CBM 588) Miyarisan Tablets
  • A one-strain probiotic of Clostridium butyricum
  • Manufactured in Japan and distributed there as an over-the-counter medicine
  • Commonly available and used in Asia
  • Available in two strengths: standard and strong. If you look at my citation number 4, you’ll find the recommended dose and much, much more about this probiotic.
  • Other listed ingredients are lactose, corn starch, talc, microcrystalline cellulose, and magnesium stearate
  • History: First isolated from feces by Dr. Chikaji Miyairi in Japan in 1933. CBM 588 is the 588th MIYAIRI strain, isolated from a soil sample in Nagano, Japan in 1963.
  • As mentioned, the probiotic is composed of spores of C. butyricum (rather than “live,” active bacteria), which are then activated in the gastrointestinal tract, making the probiotic quite shelf stable with no refrigeration required. (3, 4)

2. Advanced Orthomolecular Research Probiotic-3

  • A three-strain probiotic which includes Clostridium butyricum TO-A, Enterococcus faecium (same as Streptococcus faecalis) T-110, and Bacillus subtilis TO-A (some places I see the label with Bacillus mesentericus)
  • Only the Clostridium butyricum is the direct butyrate-producing bacteria
  • Also contains lactose, potato starch, polyvinyl alcohol, providone, and sodium stearyl fumarate
  • If I understand correctly, it contains Bio-Three probiotic formula. I believe the “TO-A” implies that the strain was produced by the TOA Pharmaceutical company in Japan (inferred from Bio-Three website). The Bio-Three formulation is used in Japan, and has studies behind it.
  • No refrigeration necessary. As with the Miyairi probiotic, the Clostridium butyricum is in the shelf-stable spore form. (5)

About Clostridia and the bacterial species Clostridium butyricum in general

When we are about one month old, different commensal species of Clostridia start to colonize our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. They are supposed to be there and provide specific and essential benefits to us without causing harm. Since we only typically hear of the toxic Clostridial diseases like botulism, tetanus, and “C. diff.,”  it may sound strange to some of you to know you healthfully have an abundance of clostridium residing in your GI tract! If you think of Clostridia as a “bad” class of bacteria, you might find it even more disturbing and confusing to know that a known pathogen like Clostridium difficile (the culprit in C. diff pseudomembranous colitis) can be part of a normal human gut biome or can actually prevent infection. (6-9)

[Opinionated aside: The fascinating idea that a strain of C. difficile, a bacteria we think of as toxic, can be normal flora supports why I would argue with people that we have to stop oversimplifying health, stop trying to peg things, and start convincing people to do complete overhauls to their modern lifestyles and mindsets to bring the body into rhythm with itself. Don’t just take butyrate supplements and butyrate-enhancing probioitics—investigate your life, eating, habits and make impact changes. Being honest with and scrutinizing oneself often hurts for several months, but if done properly, you move past the pain, and healing and change can begin. Perfection will never be reached in this realm, but progress feels so good to a mind and body.]

Clostridium butyricum is one species of Clostridia bacteria. It is Gram-positive, rod-shaped, and anaerobic. It lives in soil and in the GI tracts of birds and mammals and can be found on the skins of potatoes, Swedes, and even in cream and yoghurt. It ferments starches to produce butyrate. When C. butyricum is exposed to a stressful environment, it can form endospores, an alternative form which allows it to survive the stressful conditions, to later reactivate when exposed to desirable conditions. It is the spores which are used in the probiotic formulation, allowing them to be shelf-stable without refrigeration for several years. (3, 4)

Some of you may have read about the clusters of clostridia and wondered about that. The Clostridia microbiological class (to which C. butyricum belongs) is exceptionally diverse, and even the commonly accepted shared characteristics, such as being rod-shaped (bacillus), anaerobic, and spore forming, have variations and exceptions to the rules. In the attempt to break down, stratify, and classify the types of Clostridia, the species C. butyricum is categorized into what is called “Cluster I Clostridia.” Cluster I Clostridia aren’t common inhabitants of the human gut. Human guts seem to mostly contain butyrate-producing bacteria from Clostridium clusters IV and XIVa rather than cluster I, but some human GI tracts do contain Clostridium butyricum, so clearly it does naturally happen. Fecal studies have found Clostridium butyricum in about 10-20% of its surveys. (6-9)

For all practical purposes, C. butyricum is a non-toxic clostridium species, but there have been reports that it can acquire some of the toxic genes from other clostridia, leading to production of poisonous toxins which may contribute to infant botulism or infant necrotizing enterocolitis. Regarding adults, one case of sepsis from Clostridium butyricum has been reported in an intravenous drug user and one case of antibiotic associated diarrhea has been reported. The complexities of toxin acquisition/production depend on the strain, the host, and interactions with other strains. Some strains of Clostridium butyricum are probiotic and beneficial and other strains show virulence. The probiotic strains mentioned are tested for non-virulence.  (6, 7)

Closing

I’ll cut off this post for today and try to clean up my next writing segment regarding specific uses of the probiotic Clostridium butyricum. I do not have it “polished up” yet, but posting this half will force my hand to get the rest of it tidied up and posted for those interested. I’d like it if you’d point out typos or mis-information to me so I can make corrections. Thanks in advance.

Please keep in mind: I don’t really care about probiotics or bacteria or food. What I really care about is that you grasp your life, your whole life, and tenaciously latch on to the things that are good and real– and that you weed out the things that are bad for you and noxious. I love life. I’ve had my share of challenges, smaller than many, bigger than some. But no matter what, I try to choose to face life HEAD ON with as much transparency as I can. And each new day, each new week, each new stress, shows me how to become more true and real.

The best to you,

Terri F

Citations:

  1. Pedro Gancalves, Fa’tima Martel. Butyrate and Colorectal Cancer: The Role of Butyrate Transport. Current Drug Metabolism. Volume 14, Issue 9, 2013.
  2. Pedro Gonçalves, Fátima Martel. Regulation of colonic epithelial butyrate transport: Focus on colorectal cancer. Biomedical Journal. Volume 1, Issue 3, July–August 2016, Pages 83-91.
  3. Wikipedia site regarding Clostridium butyricumhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clostridium_butyricum
  4. Clostridium butyricum Miyairi 588 Novel Food Application, public version: C. butyricum MIYAIRI 588 as a novel food supplement.  Probiotic food supplement. Miyarisan pharmaceutical company, LTD. https://acnfp.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/mnt/drupal_data/sources/files/multimedia/pdfs/clostridiumbutyricumdossier.pdf
  5. Bio-Three website: http://www.bio-three.com/
  6. N.Cassir, S.Benamar, B.La Scola. Clostridium butyricum: from beneficial to a new emerging pathogen. Clinical Microbiology and Infection. Volume 22, Issue 1, January 2016, Pages 37-45. Review. 
  7. Rousseau, Clotilde & Poilane, Isabelle & De Pontual, Loic & Maherault, Anne-Claire & Le Monnier, Alban & Collignon, Anne. Clostridium difficile Carriage in Healthy Infants in the Community: A Potential Reservoir for Pathogenic Strains. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 2012. 55. 1209-15.
  8. CS Cummins and JL Johnson. Taxonomy of the Clostridia : Wall Composition and DNA Homologies in Clostridium butyricum and Other Butyric Acid-producing Clostridia. Journal of General Microbiology.   (197 I), 67,33-46
  9. Lopetuso LR, Scaldaferri F, Petito V, Gasbarrini A. Commensal Clostridia: leading players in the maintenance of gut homeostasis. Gut Pathogens. 2013;5:23. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-5-23.