182: Fascinating research on Staph Infections + Probiotics (PART 2) w/ Kiran Krishnan

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This is a two-part interview! Check out part 1 by clicking HERE!

Today I continue my conversation with Kiran Krishnan about the potential role that certain probiotics can to potentially eliminate Staph infections. 

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

My guest today is Kiran Krishnan, a Research Microbiologist who has been involved in the dietary supplement and nutrition market for the past 18 years.

He comes from a University research background, having spent several years with hands-on R&D in the fields of molecular medicine and microbiology at the University of Iowa. Kiran established a Clinical Research Organization where he designed and conducted dozens of human clinical trials in human nutrition.

He is also a co-founder and partner in Nu Science Trading, LLC.: a nutritional technology development and research company.

In addition, Kiran is a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Microbiome Labs that makes products like MegasporeBiotic + MegaIgG2000.

Kiran is currently involved in 16 novel human clinical trials on probiotics and the human microbiome.

Join us as we continue our discussion about some really interesting research about staph infections and probiotics.

Have you tried MegaSporeBiotic? Let me know in the comments!

In this episode:

  • How fast does MegaSpore work? Is it a quick fix?
  • Managing expectations —  How long does it take to rebalance your GI tract?
  • Bacillus probiotics — are they colonizers or transitory guests in the gut?
  • Topical application of Bacillus + skin infections
  • How to take MegaSpore when on antibiotics


“Staph is a phenomenal competitor. So it's not like they're just going to go away quietly, so they're going to fight back and it's going to be a battle and it'll take some time.” [22:16]

“We actually have one study we published not last year, but the year before showing that getting the spores into the system will start to help to recover the system from the auxiliary damage that antibiotics can do.” [33:46]


Click HERE to try MegaSporeBiotic

Healthy Skin Show ep. 10 How Your Skin Health Is Tied To Your Whole-Body Health w/ Kiran Krishnan

Healthy Skin Show ep. 11 The Role Of Probiotics When It Comes To Skin Health w/ Kiran Krishnan

Follow Kiran Krishnan on Instagram

Article: The probiotic that kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria

STUDY: Pathogen elimination by probiotic Bacillus via signalling interference

182: Fascinating research on Staph Infections + Probiotics (PART 2) w/ Kiran Krishnan FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: So with the Bacillus subtilis, and say someone is like, “Hey, I'm already on MegaSpore, or I want to give it a shot.” Is this something where you take one bottle or do it for two weeks, and poof, your Staph aureus is gone? I mean, to me it takes time to kind of repattern the microbiome within the GI tract.

Kiran: For sure.

Jennifer: It's not a fast overnight, I think we're so used to medications where we expect this magical change within three days or seven days, that that's going to happen. Could you help give people some, I like to call it helping people manage your expectations. What are you looking for as far as timing is concerned? If Staph aureus, you do have this in your GI tract, or you have chronic staph problems, even at the level of the skin. What do you think more or less someone should anticipate? It's obviously this is not probably the only thing you're going to need to do but it may be a really big helpful partner in the process.

Kiran: Yeah. It's an ecological shift, and one thing we have to remember is, staph is a phenomenal competitor. So it's not like they're just going to go away quietly, so they're going to fight back and it's going to be a battle and it'll take some time, it's no different than changing the landscape of a forest or a really big complex garden, it takes a little bit of time to change that ecosystem. But the key here is consistency will get you to where you need to be. Because what you're doing when you add in the spores, is you're creating a new selection pressure in that ecosystem.

Kiran: It's like adding a new species into an ecosystem that's completely imbalanced, and this species is going to drive more balance but it does it through a number of ecological forces. It does it through the compounds it produces that inhibit the function of the pathogen. It does it by producing things like short-chain fatty acids that help the beneficial bacteria, it produces compounds that actually feed like prebiotics, some of your commensal bacteria, so your commensal bacteria become more robust and grow and then they can help compete against the pathogenic or opportunistic organisms.

Kiran: So there's this shift that happens over time, the problem occurs when you stop that new ecological force. Let's say you take it for three weeks, four weeks, you're starting to get a shift, and then you stop because you forget, you're distracted by things, or it's not quite meeting your expectation just yet. Because we're used to, oh, I have an infection I'm doing a three days Z-pack and then the infections under control. It's not the same kind of mechanism, what we're looking at is a long term, permanent shift in your ecosystem and that takes time.

Kiran: So I would say to people that many of the studies we're doing we went from 30 days to see what happens to changes in the gut and all that within 30 days and you can see some profound changes in 30 days. But really, it's 90 days, six months, where you start to get more of that permanent shift. You have to maintain that ecological pressure, so you've to keep the Bacillus coming in, because the Bacillus is also designed naturally not to stay in your system forever.

Jennifer: Yeah, I was going to ask you that. Are they more transient? They're sort of like visitors that pass through, do their thing and then after a certain period of time they're kind of like, “I'm out of here, I'm on to my next journey.” Because that's what at that conference where we met, that was one thing that was really impressed upon the audience and one of the talks that I was in is that probiotics are more transient, They move through, they do their business and then they move on. So can you speak a little bit to that? Because I think people think, well, I took it for a month they're in there now. I'm good.

Kiran: Right. No, yeah. The reason why and this is my reasoning why I think that especially Bacillus tends to be transient in its functionality is because in the natural environment we're supposed to get a quite a bit of exposure to Bacillus. We get it from the ecosystem from soil and other areas. So from drinking water and so on. We're supposed to get a constant exposure to this organism, the idea is that these organisms have kind of established their own threshold limit within the system. They know that if they exceed that threshold limit that's less beneficial to the ecosystem because the ecosystem does well having good balance and good diversity. That is the picture of a healthy microbiome, it's good balance and good diversity. Lots of different species, pretty well balanced.

Kiran: If you could have 200 species and if 10 of them make up 90% of the cell count then you still don't have good balance within the system. You want 200 species with almost equal distribution of most of them. So these organisms that are beneficial to our system that we've lived with for millions of years have figured that out, and when they reach certain threshold amounts, they tend to leave. So they have this constant tendency to move down and through the digestive tract, and then end up leaving. For Bacillus, it's even more important because they use the environment as a vector to get from host to host.

Kiran: So evolutionarily, they're designed to go through the system, clean up the system while they're in there, and then go back out to get to the next host. So that's how they transfer from person to person. In fact, glacial ice core studies on Bacillus have shown that as far back as three to five million years ago, these same Bacillus that are present in the environment today were present in those environments, in that ancient environment and they were found in every corner of the earth. In the north pole, in the south pole, in the Tibetian plateaus, and they don't have wings to fly around, how did they get there once they get transferred from different hosts? Whether it's birds, insects, mammals, they colonize all kinds of things.

Kiran: So that transient quality is important to them. So you want to keep constant exposure to them because they move through the small intestine, they do work in the small intestine, they do work in the large intestine, then they move up, and they keep going and to keep doing that.

Jennifer: Perfect. So I want to ask you some questions for people who are struggling with skin staph infections. So, for example, right now I have a client who approached me needing help and I could tell immediately from the symptoms I'm like, “I think you have a staph infection, you need to see a dermatologist ASAP, because this is going to get bad if you try to manage this on your own.” It's to the point where he desperately, he's gone through three different oral antibiotics. He's tried the topical antibiotic, none of it has worked it's barely managed his symptoms and now he's facing IV antibiotics, because it's so bad.

Jennifer: So for someone who they're trying to antibiotic thing and it's not helping, and they're having oozing, and they just cannot control staph at the level of the skin. Do you know of any… because obviously, we want to be careful here, because we're not suggesting you start like applying things to wounds and things of that nature. I want to be very clear about that. But do you have any thoughts about… Obviously, I think it would make sense to me that potentially some oral supplementation could be helpful in this whole process, but we've talked about in the past of using megaspore topically, and we talked about that in the two episodes that you were on pretty much the beginning of the Healthy Skin Show.

Jennifer: Any thoughts on somebody who even if they don't have wounds or anything like that, like maybe let's just say they have issues where they swing in of chronic skin staph infections. So obviously, there's an issue there, there's an issue with the skin microbiome being able to hold a more healthy balance. Could the Bacillus species applied topically possibly also crowd out? Because we talked about the gut and crowding out the gut staph. Could it possibly help also crowd out the skin microbiome, the staph that lives there?

Kiran: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I mean, one of the things that Bacillus does well is crowd out pathogens on almost any kind of surface. So we've actually done a small internal study on the phone. Phones tend to be really, really dirty things when it comes to presence of pathogens, fecal matter, and all of that stuff. So we've actually been able to show that even on your phone, the spores can work to exclude the functionality of pathogens.

Kiran: So yes, theoretically, it can. We haven't done any studies on the topical surface, we do intend to do that. But keep in mind that when you're in a natural environment, you got a healthy microbiome, you've got Bacillus spores on your skin. They are everywhere. So it's not unusual to have spores on your skin. So if people end up getting it on their skin from the oral probiotic, should be perfectly fine if you've got open wounds and cuts and all that work with your doctor if you have active infection, but having it on your skin is a normal part of how we interact with these organisms. So it shouldn't be an issue and it could be beneficial as well. Certainly the oral use of it, because the microbiome is a central command center for how your immune system deals with lots of things, distal from the gut, that is going to be a place that really kind of helps train your immune system, trains your competitive exclusion bacteria within the gut that will translate to places like your skin, your nose, your sinuses, and so on.

Kiran: But here's another interesting part as well, and I've had a few people do this and it may help. If you've got constant patches of dysfunction, and you may have colonization of Staph aureus there, you may have an imbalance, you don't have enough of the epidermis and you've got a microbiologic imbalance in that area. One of the things I've told people is take swabs from healthy parts of your skin that don't have that and transplant it there. In fact, a few people have reported back to me that they've seen really good progress on that. So let's say this is an area that I tend to have irritation, dryness, and all that and I've used steroid creams, I've used antibiotic creams and it hasn't really worked in fact, it's maybe made things worse.

Kiran: One of the things you can do is kind of clean that area, just kind of basic soap and water, reduce the microbial load in that spot, and then take a moist Q-tip and then swab a healthy party a skin that you've never had an issue with, and then transplant it to that area. What you may be able to do is transplant some of your better ecosystem onto an area that is struggling. So something for people to try and think about, obviously there's no harm that's going to come from that. It's your own bacteria that you're transplanting from one area to the other. It's kind of like a fecal transplant that people do, but it's your own. It's an autologous transplant.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Kiran: So it's something to think as well.

Jennifer: Exactly. Actually, I want to ask you about the use of MegaSpore with antibiotics. So say, for example, someone is on oral antibiotics because they have a staph infection, are there any issues or concerns or is there a best practice of how to use MegaSpore? Because people are like, “Wait, can I take this with antibiotics and how should I take it if I'm on antibiotics?” I've always been told that you should try to separate probiotics and antibiotics by about two to three hours. But is that the same case for a spore-based probiotic that tends to be a little bit more robust? So what are your thoughts on that?

Kiran: Yeah, you don't have to. I mean, I would say if you're on an antibiotic, it's the absolute critical time where you do need the Megaspore, the spores in your system. We actually have one study we published not last year, but the year before showing that getting the spores into the system will start to help to recover the system from the auxiliary damage that antibiotics can do. That's the damage to the lining of the gut, the ecosystem, the immunological response in the gut and so on. So the spores do start to recover the system back towards its good homeostatic state. But you can take it with the antibiotics, you don't necessarily have to space it.

Kiran: We did a study on liver failure patients that are on Rifaximin all the time, and they were taking the probiotic spores with the Rifaximin at the same time and they still got a significant amount of benefit from it. If you could space it, fine. If you can't, you don't have to worry about it because it'll still function within the system. Why does it function, right? So then that brings up the question as well, how does it function in the presence of antibiotics? Well, the key to spores is that when the environment is hostile to them, they simply stay in their spore form. They remain in that spore form, which is a metabolically inactive form. So they're not trying to come out and grow and do things that can then make them susceptible to the antibiotic.

Kiran: So what they'll do, if we take it with the antibiotic is they have little sensors that stick out of the spore that sense the environment, and if the environment is not hospitable to them they'll just sit in the spore form until the antibiotic has either diluted to a low enough level or it's left that area then they'll come out and start functioning the way they function.

Jennifer: Wow. It's almost like they're like hiding in a little seed or shell and then they like poke out when the environment is just right.

Kiran: Totally. Yeah. They could sit dormant like that for millions of years. I mean there are Bacillus spores that have been found in the digestive tract of ancient fossilized honeybees that are 50 million years old. So these are honeybees that were fossilized in amber. Remember the old Jurassic Park thing where you have a whole mosquito fossilized in amber? They were able to find whole honey bees that were fossilized in amber like that in South America and then they drilled in to see what's in their gut, what were they eating and what were they consuming? They found Bacillus spores in there and they could still plate them, they were still alive. After 50 million years sitting in that fossil.

Jennifer: Wow.

Kiran: The oldest bacteria that I know of that have been found alive is in a cave in Southern California, in salt crystals. So they were able to go deep into the recesses of the cave that no human's ever been in. Part of the reason why they were doing this actually, and they've been doing this quite a bit for years now is they're looking for new antibiotic mechanisms. Because they're looking for organisms that have new chemistry that can act as antibiotics and compete with some of the pathogens.

Kiran: So they're going into deep recesses of caves where humans have never been to sample organisms from bat dung and from the surfaces and all that looking for new bacteria. So one of the things that they found in the salt crystals were fossilized bacteria, and when they dissolve the salt crystal they were able to pull out Bacillus spores and still plate them, they were still alive. And they were 250 million years old.

Jennifer: Oh my gosh.

Kiran: Talk about ancient bacteria, they were here before the dinosaurs and they've been here ever since. So these are the most commensal bacteria, we've co-evolved with them ever since the dawn of man, or even ever since Homo erectus and then of course, through the evolution of Homo sapiens. They've been here forever. We've been working and living with them forever and they provide us all of this protective benefit. So that NIH study was so clear, if you have good colonization by Bacillus subtilis, you did not have this really scary pathogen MRSA. It has this protective effect.

Jennifer: Wow, that is so cool. The microbiome is complicated. I think this also speaks to how much we don't know, which is cool, because it's like, we think we know it, and then we're like, “Oh, no, there's more to the story.” There's always more to the story and that's one of the amazing things, and I'm sure that's why you love what you do.

Kiran: Yeah.

Jennifer: Because you have this opportunity to keep digging in and asking those, “Why this and how does it work and what does it do?” Asking those questions, and then you get to come here and share with us.

Kiran: Totally, yeah. Incidentally, the Ferjeson is actually getting… The Ferjeson is that compound, the lipoprotein compound I mentioned.

Jennifer: Yes.

Kiran: That Bacillus produces that inhibits Staph aureus growth. That same compound actually have really strong antiviral properties as well. So it protects us from a number of viral infections as well. So this one bacteria is sitting in our system producing a compound that not only protects us from a common opportunistic pathogen like Staph aureus, and an antibiotic-resistant version of that, nonetheless, it also does that for a number of common viral pathogens as well.

Kiran: So it's got this plethora of functionality and effect that is so elegant, that we cannot design that ourselves. As humans, we've never that I know have created a compound that can selectively inhibit a bacterial pathogen and that same compound have an anti-viral effect. You would win the Nobel Prize in molecular chemistry if you could come up with something like that and these bacteria make hundreds of these things.

Jennifer: They're just smart, they're very smart.

Kiran: They're honed in on by time. Time is what has given these organisms, the ability to do this and time and mistakes. So that's the beauty of evolution. Evolution is a product of mistakes, genetic mistakes that occur in bacteria really house that capability of ut genetic mistakes for their good because they accidentally produce these things, and when they accidentally produce them because they're trying to produce something else and there's an error in the sequencing of the DNA to protein, or to mRNA to protein, and in that sequence, they accidentally produce something else, but then when that's something else has a benefit to them or the ecosystem that they live in, they select for that, and then make that a normal part of their functionality.

Kiran: So I used to do that kind of research when I was at university, we call it directed evolution. We create a stressor for the bacteria that would normally kill the bacteria, but if you keep adding in that stressor, and keep growing the bacteria, you will eventually find a version of that bacteria that is completely immune to that stressor. Because it produces new chemistries now. So nature is so elegant, so complex, so mind bogglingly, bogglingly? I don't know what the word is. But it's both simple and complex at the same time. The simplicity to it is really kind of alarming when you think about it, but then when you dig into how it works, it's so complex, like you said, just realize we scratch the surface, we don't realize things that are happening in this invisible microbial environment that is happening every minute of every day that we don't even know about.

Jennifer: Yeah. It is amazing. I just want to thank you so much for peppering us with tons of incredible information, as always, I'll make sure too to share some of the research that you've talked about in the show notes so people can go and take a look at that for themselves. Because I always think it's great when we can show where we're pulling this information from.

Kiran: Yeah.

Jennifer: Also too, for those of you listening if you have more questions. There are two other excellent episodes that Kiran, I talked to him about many of these topics, but more in-depth earlier in the Healthy Skin Show. So I'll definitely make sure to link those up as well, and hopefully we can have you come back again, hopefully it will be two years.

Kiran: Absolutely. Well, we're all just at home so we might as well get on Zoom again.

Jennifer: Very true. I just want to thank you so much and for those of you who are looking for, if you want to test out Megaspore give it a shot, you can grab a bottle at QuellShop.com if you'd like to give it a try. But we'll talk more about this in the coming weeks because I think it's an important tool that could be useful in your toolbox of what you're doing, whatever your protocols look like and may be worthwhile to consider. So thank you so much Kiran I really appreciate everything that you shared and just making the time to come back on the show.

Kiran: It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

“Staph is a phenomenal competitor. So it's not like they're just going to go away quietly, so they're going to fight back and it's going to be a battle and it'll take some time.”

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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