Skip to main content

Gas-producing Lactobacillus & Colic

//Gas-producing Lactobacillus & Colic

Gas-producing Lactobacillus & Colic


Thanks to Christina Mason for bringing this article to my attention on the gut microbiota of babies with colic.

In a nutshell, gas-producing Lactobacillus (called heterolactic fermenters) were found in the guts of infants with colic. Healthy infants didn’t have these gas-producing strains but did have other non-gas-producing Lactobacillus strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus.

This work is fascinating, but not unexpected.

As you know, if you’ve read my Fast Tract Digestion book(s), I discuss the importance of avoiding heterolactic fermenters (gas making) and encouraging or supplementing with homolactic fermenters (gut friendly non-gas producing) strains for acid reflux.

These findings make good sense in these terms and support using Fast Tract Diet concepts for colic.

Interestingly enough, I have been reading the text book of Lactic Acid Bacteria this week. There is a good table on page 80 listing homofermentative Lactobacillus strains including: L acidophilus, L. delbrueckii, l. helveticas and L. salivarius as well as facultative or obligate heterofermenters: L. casei, L. curvatus, L. plantarum, L sakei, L brevis, L. bunchneria, L. fermentum, L. reuteri (tested for colic in several studies with inconclusive results), and L. pontis.

I hope to complete this list for Lactobacillus lactis and a few others.

By |2016-11-05T04:25:42+00:00July 21st, 2014|Diet and Digestive Health|18 Comments

About the Author:

Norm Robillard received his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst studying Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species. His post-doctoral training at Tufts University focused on antibiotic resistance and gene transfer between the gut microbes Bacteroides fragilis and E. coli. During his career in pharma / biotech, Dr. Robillard studied the genetics of antibiotic resistance, septic shock, viral illnesses and antimicrobial and antibody-based therapies prior to founding the Digestive Health Institute. Dr. Robillard is the creator of the Fast Tract Diet, author of the Fast Tract Digestion book series and publisher of the Fast Tract Diet mobile app. He was the first to propose excess intestinal fermentation as the underlying cause of acid reflux and explained the connection between intragastric pressure from gas-producing bacteria in our intestines, nutritional malabsorption and the symptoms of acid reflux. His latest book series, Fast Tract Digestion provides a safe and effective dietary tool and behavioral strategy as an alternative to proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2 blockers, IBS drugs or antibiotics for heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPR), IBS and other SIBO related conditions.


  1. Tatertot July 21, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Lactic Acid Bacteria are a rabbit hole of their own, eh? Bifidobacteria produces LA, but is not an LAB because it doesn’t belong to the order Lactobacillales.

    I’ve had two different stool tests (AmGut and Metametrix) since starting my high RS consumption and both tests showed I had very, very few Lactobacillus species, yet did have high Bifidobacteria. What I think we are seeing is that Lactobacillus is a niche species that can set up residence when there is a spot for it and not all Lactobacillus is beneficial.

    Lactobacillus is one of the few genera that has species who actually prefer the small intestine, L. plantarum for instance seems to prefer the SI, but is also seen as beneficial there because it can bust up biofilms of yeast. I’ve read lots on this, but I’m not convinced that’s all there is to the story…your old blog on phages probably holds the secret to why Lactobacillus is beneficial. I’m also reading a lot lately on using heat-killed Lactobacillus as a “post-biotic”. The heat-killed form elicits the same response, but does not cause the problems that new colonies of LAB in the small intestine can prompt.

    • Norm Robillard July 23, 2014 at 2:48 am

      Not sure about the biofilm-busting abilities of L plantarum Tim, but in general, the preference of lactobacillus species for the small intestine and bifidobacteria for the large intestine has to do with the abilities of bifidobacteria species to breakdown complex carbs (i.e., starch, glycogen and pullulan) and lactic acid bacteria species simpler carbs. Lactic acid bacteria represent less than 1% of human gut microbiota, but that is likely commensurate with their role in the small intestine which is designed for low bioburden. Lactic acid bacteria help maintain that status. And the homolactic fermenters vs the heterolactic gas-producing fermenters is a very interesting area.

    • chris October 24, 2016 at 7:28 pm

      Hey dr Norm

      regarding lactobacillus BACTERIA:

      i just read another seemingly very well done study showing that lactobacillus is largely not a common “autochthonhous” bacteria of the human gut.(” one that occupies a niche and stays there “) . it is transient only introduced by food …

      it seems there is no real data on what types of bacteria should be in the small intestine and no real data on why bifidobacteria don´t belong there… as bifido is illegal on the SCD diet ( i use SCD for recipes but keep an eye on Fast tract app FP points aswell , i would really want to know what the science is ..bifidobacteria are a more regular bacteria species in the lower gut than lactobacillus.

      but most microbiota are true anaerobes anyway and cant be introduced by food or probiotics ! only modified by diet : fast tract / SCD

      regarding my conclussion of the study i posted and the common notion of ” homo-fermentative lactobacillus are good ” i would be inclined to think that the species has an immuomodulatory effect due to its allochthonous nature, and that the effect is due to immunomodulation rather than permanent change in intestinal “bioclimate” or population.

      study says: , page 9

      There are 17 Lactobacillus species that are associated with the human GIT, some of which were only recently detected by molecular techniques using PCR primers specific for LAB (Table 3). However, the studies cited above show that caution is advised when particular Lactobacillus species are described as real (autochthonous) inhabitants. Species such as L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. paracasei, L. rhamnosus, L. delbrueckii, L. brevis, L. johnsonii, L. plantarum, and L. fermentum have, so far, not been reported to form stable populations in the gut and are likely to be allochthonous.

      as i understand it, this means they are introduced by food , don´t colonise and have an immunostimulatory (modulatory) effect but not an effect of permanently inhabiting niches , they are not permanent and thereby don´t permanently remove other species!?

      so i wonder what really happens with the lactobacillus , especially in the upper gut.. they make the SI more acidic which could help.. but if they produce d-lactate ( which i don´t yet know for sure ) then they are problematic and may be a fault in the SCD system and other DR´s (norm? ) recommendations , due to scientific thinking based on a theory that was formed 50 years ago based on the bulgarian strain theorie ( that lactobacillus are autochthonous inhabitants of the HUMAN gut (this is now largely disproved ) . so do we actually really need any probiotics at all?? this is my question.maybe they are harming people who have sibo, and SIBO patients should simply reduce all bacteria in the SI . fasting, herbs, diet.

      so many unanswered questions and just no reliable data, on closer examination its all based on hear say and biased opinion.

  2. Sky King August 4, 2014 at 4:32 am

    So TT, how do you and Nikoley reconcile this latest study on butyrate’s link to colon cancer with your suggestion for including more starchy (RS) carbs in one’s diet?

  3. Trebor Jordayne August 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I was checking out a supplement containing Lactobacillus crispatus and since I hadn’t heard of the bacteria before I googled to see if was a heterolactic or homolactic fermenter and it turned out to be both depending on the strain. For instance Lactobacillus crispatus ST1 is heterolactic whilst Lactobacillus crispatus KLB46 is homolactic.
    Wouldn’t the same be true for L.acidophilus, it’s both a hetereolactic and homolactic fermenter since there is numerous strains like Rosell-52, LA-1, NCFM, DDS-1, 27L LA-5 and so on?

  4. Ruth September 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    This is fascinating. I care for my 4 month old granddaughter 3 days a week. I am pretty sure she has reflux as she can tolerate drinking only small amounts. I’m not sure if she is letting the milk dribble out the side of her mouth or if she is actually regurgitating it. She often throws up a little when being burped. And she does lots of burps as well as passes a lot of wind. It takes some time to burp her and often she screams and arches her back. Interestingly, she seems to burp best if I lay her across my knees on her stomach. She is mostly breast fed and her mother expresses milk for me to feed her during the day. However, she was delivered by emergency Caesarian and administered antibiotics immediately after birth. I suspect her gut micro biome is not in good shape. Is the only answer for her mother to follow the fast tract diet or is there something I could give her, given she’ll be starting solids soon? Thanks Norm, or any of your readers if you’re able to shed some light on this.

    • Norm Robillard September 4, 2014 at 12:49 am

      Hi Ruth,
      A visit to her pediatrician might be in order. Having the mom on the diet won’t work, but considering FP levels of your granddaughter’s solid foods when the time comes and limiting lactose and fructose might be helpful. Please do work with her pediatrician before making any changes.

  5. Ruth September 4, 2014 at 1:49 am

    Thanks Norm for your speedy reply. We have her appointment with the doctor early next week, but it just seemed such a coincidence to read this article when we having this problem.

  6. Pamela Gray September 4, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Hi there Norm.

    I have been following the fast tract diet for hertburn for roughly four months now. I am not expereincing LPR symptoms at the moment, but this is a fter experimenting for quite a while. I worked out that a very low carb version of the diet works for me if coupled with the Dropping Acid principles put forward by Jamie Koufman (bascially no strawberries, tomatoes, coffee, cholcote etc etc etc). I have eliminated any potentially troublesome foods, and I am reintroducing them slowly , one at a time. I went off the diet briefly to set myself up for a SIBO test. The process followed for this was a baseline lactulose test (breath into a bag every 20 mins for 2 hours) , followed three days later by a glucose test (breath into a bage every 15 mins for two hours). This test came back negative. I know from reading your book and talking to you that you believe the lactulose test to be the most effective form of testing for SIBO. Could you please outline what process this test would follow?

    Secondly, about 1.5 months into the diet I started getting IBS symtpoms. I had experienced IBS a few years prior to starting to have reflux, but had not experinced it again until the time mentioned above. I am still experiencing low level IBS regularly, and find myself quite consitpated a lot of the time. Do you think I would benefit from going on the IBS diet?

    kind regards

  7. alex October 1, 2014 at 7:50 am

    pathogenic lactobacilli????please inform

  8. Wayne May 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I realize this is an old topic. However, I have not been able to find anything on your site to help with this:
    Is there a similar list (gas producing vs those that do not) for bifidobacterium?


    • Norm Robillard May 24, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Here is an article that may help Wayne. It provides this quote: The heterolactic fermentation process is normally used by Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium thermophilum, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus plantarum, (Kun, 2003)

  9. chris October 24, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    dr norm,

    what other bad species use gas producing fermentation other than bifidus?
    i have sibo but no bifidus in stool genetic studies.
    i think i was infected with a strain that loves my small intestine, is resistant to antibiotics and very resistant, it ferments carbs and fiber and caues more than just brutal bloating but systemic flulike symptoms ,eye trouble, headaches, and other seemingly unrelated symptoms that improve on strict fast tract diet application…is there any chance of ever eliminating such a resistant bacteria by diet alone??

  10. chris October 24, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    hello Norm:

    Do you know which lactobacillus strains produce D_LACTATE ?

    I have CFS-lyme and SIBO and many Neuro type complaints making me be wary of
    d-lactate, ammonia etc ..

    any ideas ? i followed the Fast tract diet for 3 months and improved lots , then got slack started eating icecreams and after a few weeks got worse and worse.. now i am fasting on water and some fat and protein (maybe 200 kalories ) for 2 weeks and then i will resume Fast tract diet..
    my problem is my job aswell.. late nights with eating before bed.. can´t seem to break this cycle . i think eating before bed is a very bad habit for SIBO:

    any suggestions are welcome ..

    what i always wanted to mention is: eating high gycemic foods with foods high in fat and protein will slow their absorption. won´t this affect their FP value ? for instance eating jasmine rice with milk as milk rice , or jasmin rice and meat and cream … hmm
    i noticed this jasmin rice still gives me bloating and other symptoms the next day as i eat it as milk rice ( with lactose free milk, cream )

    • Norm Robillard October 24, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      Hi Chris, I feel for you friend. I am currently on Doxy for lyme after a hike in New Hampshire earlier this month followed by flu symptoms and finding a deer tick and rash on my back. I suggest reading the trouble-shooting sections of the book or in the mobile app write up. Contact us if you need some support.

      As for high GI foods being affected by fats, it’s true. But the most significant affect is for amylose-containing starches. Amylopectin (jasmine rice) not so much. All things considered, you’re better off with low FP foods. And you can always ditch starches all together for a week or two when symptoms break through.

  11. chris October 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    hey thanks norm… doxy alone will not do the trick -it is the worst drug for borrelia as they are pleomorphic.. it will just knock them into cyst form…. good thing is yoiu go it early !! you should hit them with a mix of claithromycine 500mg (for l-forms , metronidazole 1000mg / day ( for cysts ) and high dose grapefruitseedextract ( for the cell wall spirochete forms ) or augmentin for 3 weeks — stay on fast tract diet and do some stuff to calm nervous system while you are on it.. who knows it might wipe out your sibo aswell..

    did you read my other post regarding d-lactate — which lactobacillus produces d-lactate ? i am weary of introducing now bacteria in from the top down.. i do fecal transplant every 3 months for my LI

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.