The History of Probiotics: The Untold Story

Benef Microbes. 2015;6(2):159-65. doi: 10.3920/BM2014.0103.

Abstract

Probiotic, a word derived from Latin, means 'for life'. A long time before the awareness of probiotic microorganisms, fermented products, such as beer, bread, wine, kefir, kumis and cheese had been very frequently used for nutritional and therapeutic purposes. It is widely believed that fermented products were probably found, or better to say, discovered spontaneously. The legend tells that yoghurt is most likely resulted from a fermentation process within the animal skin bags used for transportation of water and milk in regions with low humidity and high temperatures (Middle Asia and Middle East). The history of probiotics goes paralel with the evolution of human race and, thanks to the sophisticated techniques at the moment, can be traced back to the ancient times, nearly 10,000 years ago. The aims of this review are to highlight the important events for probiotic history, to correct the widely available anonymous misinformation in the literature and to remind to the readers important characters in its history.

Keywords: Elie Metchnikov; Henry Tissier; Stamen Grigorov; fermented products; history of probiotics.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Fermentation
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Probiotics / analysis
  • Probiotics / history*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use