Widespread use of nuclear power and the frequent accidents in the last decades (Chernobyl, Russia 1986 – 1 reactor, Fukushima, Japan 2011 – 4 reactors at the same time) showed that the influence of the ionizing radiation is not only a military threat. Meanwhile ionizing radiation is widely used in medicine for diagnostics (X-ray, radioisotope studies) and treatment of cancer (radiotherapy). Radiation affects the bone marrow above all. The results are a decrease in the number of leukocytes and thrombocytes and weakened immunity of the organism. As a result infections develop, caused by both exogenous agents and penetration of pathogenic (harmful) bacteria in blood leading to development of sepsis (total blood poisoning).
The general principles for treatment of acute radiation sickness are well known as most of the used radioprotective remedies for treatment are chemicals. Their beneficial effect is transitory and they have a lot of adverse and toxic effects. These complications are intensified in cases of prolonged administration, necessary for people working in nuclear power plants or people living in areas of nuclear catastrophe. Therefore the search for remedies for treatment and stimulation of the immune system after irradiation continues. After the accident in the NPP in Chernobyl efforts focused on testing natural products that can be used for a long time and included in the diet of the victims. In this respect Lactobacillus bulgaricus is of indisputable interest.
At first studies were made on experimental animals because of the obvious impossibility to set up control groups of people irradiated with lethal doses of radiation. At the same time the experimental studies on laboratory animals in medicine are considered significant (reliable) and testing of all medicines starts in this way.
Experimental studies by Pl. Petrunov, L. Hadjiiski 2003 show that the use of Lactobacillus bulgaricus reduces the degree of injury to the bone marrow, accelerates recovery of haematopoiesis and the post-radiation disbacteriosis, it has radioprotective effect on the stem cells and reduces the rate of mortality of experimental animals irradiated with lethal dose of radioactive substances
compared to the control group (that have not taken Lactobacillus bulgaricus).
Experimental studies with the probiotic product Biomilk made by B. Gyosheva (1992, 2005), M. Georgieva (2007) show that the experimental animals that have taken Biomilk normalize statistically faster haematopoiesis of the bone marrow on the 10th day after irradiation. Most likely the radioprotective effect of Biomilk with Lactobacillus bulgaricus is due to its immuno-stimulating effect and the fact that it limits the lipid peroxidation, i.e. reduction of the free radicals (antioxidant effect). There are some other studies on the effects of the probiotic bacteria as antioxidants by B. Bay (1999), Lin My (1991) and others.
It is not possible to irradiate people experimentally with different doses of radiation and that’s why clinical studies of patients who are irradiated under control to treat cancer deserve special attention. Studies of A. Gigov (2008, Department of Hematology and Oncology, Military Medical Academy, Sofia) on 95 patients with cancer show that the patients that have taken Biomilk Antioxidant
(Lactobacillus bulgaricus and bloody geranium root extract - Geranium sanguineum) with the main treatment have a statistically significant increase in the number of the ?-lymphocytes, thrombocytes and leukocytes, moderate increase in hemoglobin, accelerated recovery of the bone marrow and haematopoiesis. The patients who have taken Biomilk Antioxidant endured ray- and chemotherapy better than the others and have longer and better life. Similar results have been published in 1976 by A. Atanasova, Medical Academy, Sofia in 36 children with leukemia.
The radioprotective effect of the probiotic Biomilk Antioxidant is due to its immunostimulating effect and to the fact that it limits the lipid peroxidation. Live cells of Lactobacillus bulgaricus activate the specific and non-specific immune response of the gastrointestinal lymphatic tissue and the systematic immune response. Studies of famous scientists show that regular intake of probiotic bacteria increases:
• The production of cytokines (Solis-Pereyra B, 1993, De Simone C 1986; Solis-Pereyra B, 1991; Miettinen M 1996; Halpern GM, 1991)
• Phagocytic activity (Schiffrin EJ, 1997; Schiffrin EJ, 1995)
• Production of antibodies (Link-Amster H, 1994)
• ?-cell function (Aattouri N, 1997; Losacco T, 1994)
• The activity of the natural killer cells (Simone C 1986; De Simone C, 1989)
In conclusion, the above data show that regular intake of probiotic products with Lactobacillus bulgaricus allows to reduce damages from radiation and creates conditions for accelerated recovery of the organism as a whole. Currently NASA recommends to people in Japan, exposed to higher radiation, to take more vitamins as strengthening remedies, as astronauts also take such remedies to protect themselves from the cosmic radiation. Here we should note that the Bulgarian probiotic products Biomilk have been developed and used by the astronauts from the international space program „Intercosmos“. The products contain Lactobacillus bulgaricus and also 21 amino acids, milk vitamins and minerals in a form ready for absorption by the human organism. In this aspect
probiotics with Lactobacillus bulgaricus are natural bio-radioprotectors and they are essential for people, affected by nuclear accidents, for people working in the sphere of nuclear power and for cancer patients undergoing chemo- and radiotherapy.