How to Read A Probiotic Name

How to Read A Probiotic Name

  • Probiotics 101

  • By Mathieu Millette, Ph. D., Mcb. A.


    Reading the label of a probiotic can make your head spin with all the unfamiliar Latin-sounding names. But understanding what it all means is actually quite simple, and very important. When you know what you are looking at, you are better able to make the right choices for your health and your wallet.

    First, it is important to understand that even to be considered a ‘probiotic’ you must be an approved strain of bacteria. As the World Health Organization defines it, probiotics are “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”

    The most common microorganisms that are used in probiotics are the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera, although you may find other genera such as Enterococcus, Streptococcus, and Escherichia.1

    Before we go any farther, let’s pause, because we need to talk about taxonomy (aka the way we classify things in nature).

    Those names we just mentioned, Lactobacillus, for example, they are a ‘genus’. But that is just the beginning when it comes to probiotic naming.

    Here is the nomenclature that probiotics follow:


    Genus > Species > Strain

    Lactobacillus > acidophilus > CL1285®


    Now we’re not here to bore you with a full-on biology lesson (although we’re proud to show our love of science), but understanding this classification is critical because all probiotics aren’t created equal. Different probiotics may have the same genus, but differences in the strain and species make them act in their own way when it comes to your digestive health.

    Let’s look at the three strains of bacteria that we use in Bio-K+. All three are from the Lactobacillus genus. We have:


    Lactobacillus acidophilus that helps to keep ‘bad’ bacteria at bay.

    Lactobacillus rhamnosus that helps to develop a friendly environment for good bacteria to grow.

    Lactobacillus casei that helps to maintain gut integrity and keeps immune system strong.


    You may think to know the genus and the species is enough, but there is one more piece of the puzzle to consider – the individual strain.

    Think of probiotics like a family. Sure, you and your siblings may have all descended from the same family tree (the genus) and share the same last name (the species), but you are unique – and nothing like your quick-tempered brother or homebody sister.

    Knowing the specific strain of bacteria allows you to understand how that unique type of bacteria works, not only in your body but with other bacteria it may be paired with.

    At Bio-K+, both our liquid and capsules contain three unique and patented strains of bacteria that you won’t find anywhere else:


    L. acidophilus CL1285®

    L. casei LBC80R®

    L. rhamnosus CLR2®


    Since we’ve been passionately studying these specific strains for over 20 years, we have a lot of research supporting their synergistic effect (i.e. how these strains interact with each other), their impact on your microbiome, and how they can help restore balance in your gut after a round of antibiotics or a C. Diff infection.

    All probiotics are not created equal. While similar sounding names may seem like apples to apples, the varying strains make each of the bacteria as unique as you are to your family members. Digging deeper and asking questions about strain-specific and finished product research is the only way to know whether or not a probiotic is right for you and will have the desired impact on your health and wellbeing.


    If you have more questions on the research supporting the three strains of bacteria found in Bio-K+, let us know in comments below. Find a store near you and discover the magic of Bio-K+ for yourself. For more information on Bio-K+, probiotics and digestive health, contact us, find us on Facebook and Instagram or join our community



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    Mathieu Millette Mcb. A.
    About the author
    Graduated with honors from INRS-Armand-Frappier Institute, Dr Mathieu Millette is an authority on probiotics for the last 20 years.
    View all articles by Mathieu Millette
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