Vitafoods Insights is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

The intersection between probiotics and natural ingredients

Article-The intersection between probiotics and natural ingredients

The power of premium probiotics paired with natural-based ingredients.

Due to the global pandemic, consumers have a heightened motivation to support their health and are prioritising dietary supplements to meet their needs. In fact, 33% have reported that taking supplements now is more important than it was in 2019.[i] To amplify the average supplement, consumers are also seeking natural products—like elderberry and turmeric—to bolster their immune system, support weight management or help promote sleep, translating into a 10% increase in natural-based product sales, compared to projections made before the pandemic.[ii]

Probiotic sales have also seen an increase in demand. At the end of the summer, the global probiotic market saw an 8% increase—a stark contrast to 2019 projections that foresaw market demand flattening in 2020.[iii] As consumers continue to prioritise immunity and become more informed about the microbiota gut-brain axis, probiotic sales are set to continue growing.

Savvy formulators seeking to develop a supplement that stands out on the shelves can consider combining probiotic strains with herbals or botanicals that support the strain’s benefits. In doing so, they’ll be able to maximise supplement potential and streamline consumers’ pill intake while meeting market demand.

Boosting the immune system

For many consumers, immunity will remain a major priority throughout 2021. This sets the stage for botanical all-star elderberry to make an appearance, alongside an immune-supporting bacterium.

While Native Americans and ancient Egyptians used elderberry to treat infections, improve their complexions and heal burns, the 21st century consumer has just recently discovered this botanical. The second highest growth botanical in 2019[iv], elderberry is packed with antioxidants that may help support immune function[v], among other potential benefits.[vi]

Formulators can incorporate the robust phytonutrient profile of elderberry into solutions with immune-supporting bacterial strains like Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04®, found in HOWARU® Protect Adult. This strain helps to stimulate and prime the immune system prior to infection, helping users maintain their natural immune defense.[vii] A clinical study demonstrated that after five months, users saw a 27% decreased incidence of risk upper respiratory tract illness episodes.[viii] Combined with the natural effect of elderberry, this strain offers formulators a versatile immune support product ready to meet consumers’ immune needs in 2021.

Naturally reducing stress

Another group of natural born ingredients—ayurvedic herbs—have also seen a significant surge in growth. Traditionally, these herbs are a major component of Indian medicine. One of the most well-known of these is ashwagandha, of which a standardised extract has been shown in studies to reduce cortisol, a hormone produced in response to stress.[ix] Similarly, an amino acid found in green tea, L-theanine, has generated interest as a supplement because of its ability to enhance alpha brain wave activity and increase the synthesis of GABA—two outcomes that can lead to relaxation without drowsiness.[x]

The benefits of ashwagandha and L-theanine present an excellent opportunity to formulate new probiotic blends that cultivate a sense of calm. Clinical studies, such as those completed with probiotic Lacticaseibacillus paracasei Lpc-37® show promise of formulating solutions that help balance and regulate stress.[xi] Formulators may be able to combine such strains with one or both natural relaxants to help mitigate the feelings of stress. For consumers grinding their way through the trials of modern life, this may mean new types of over the counter solutions for their everyday stress.

Other emerging natural born ingredients

Turmeric and cranberry don't just belong in the kitchen. In fact, they’re some of the other popular naturally based ingredients on the rise. And, when paired with the right premium probiotic, these herbals and botanicals may further support gut health and amplify women’s health.

Turmeric is considered one of the most effective natural ingredients in use today—another ingredient that has its origins in Indian medicine. Turmeric’s main active ingredient, curcumin, has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant.[xii]

Due to this unique profile, turmeric can be strategically paired with probiotic strains that support immune health to achieve strong benefits. Savvy formulators can consider pairing turmeric with a probiotic combination,such as HOWARU® Balance, which is built to support digestive and immune health and has been shown to strengthen the body’s natural defenses while also supporting gut comfort.[xiii],[xiv] By combining both ingredients, formulators can develop a natural-based dual solution for immune and gut health support.

Often referred to as a superfood due to its high antioxidant and nutrient levels, cranberry is commonly used to help lower urinary tract infection (UTI) risk[xv], and may also support digestive and cardiovascular health.[xvi],[xvii] To maximise end-product benefits, formulators can consider pairing cranberry with particular strains such as Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus HN001™ and Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14®. These probiotic strains are clinically proven to promote healthy vaginal microbiota.[xviii],[xix] By pairing cranberry’s natural benefits with quality probiotics, formulators can create a personalised product that helps women support vaginal health.

Natural-based solutionswhy now?

Natural ingredients are interesting and maybe effective but are not always easily processed in the laboratory or factory. It’s essential to collaborate with an ingredient partner that knows how to get the most from nature’s bounty. Emerging formulations require expertise in the probiotic and natural-based space to ensure the content as declared on the package are valid through the end of the product’s shelf-life. Formulators also need to consider several factors when sourcing new probiotic strains to merge with natural-based ingredients such as high performance, stability and functionality.

By partnering with a supplier that understands both the natural-based products and the science behind developing complex formulations, brand owners can seamlessly incorporate both elements. This enhances the supplements’ benefits and meets consumers demand while delivering a product that stands out on the shelf, consequently leading to amplified brand awareness in an industry that continues to rapidly evolve.

Lori Lathrop Stern, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., is science liaison at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences


[i] April 2020 New Hope Network NEXT Data & Insights survey
[ii] Nutrition Business Journal
[iii] Daniells, Stephen, Global probiotics market grows 8%, says IPA’s Paraskevakos, Nutra Ingredients USA.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Tiralongo, Evelin et al. “Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.” Nutrients vol. 8,4 182. 24 Mar. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8040182
[vi] Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food – a review,Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 18, Part B, 2015, Pages 941-958, ISSN 1756-4646,
[vii] Turner, R B et al. “Effect of probiotic on innate inflammatory response and viral shedding in experimental rhinovirus infection - a randomised controlled trial.” Beneficial microbes vol. 8,2 (2017): 207-215. doi:10.3920/BM2016.0160
[viii] West, Nicholas P. et al., Probiotic Supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals. Clinical Nutrition, (2014) Volume 33, Issue 4, 581–587.
[ix] Chandrasekhar, K et al. “A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.” Indian journal of psychological medicine vol. 34,3 (2012): 255-62. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022
[x] Mason, R. (2001). 200 mg of Zen; L-theanine boosts alpha waves, promotes alert relaxation. Alternative & Complementary Therapies 7, 91-95.
[xi] Elaine Patterson, Síle M. Griffin, Alvin Ibarra, Emilia Ellsiepen, Juliane Hellhammer, Lacticaseibacillus paracasei Lpc-37® improves psychological and physiological markers of stress and anxiety in healthy adults: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled and parallel clinical trial (the Sisu study), Neurobiology of Stress, 2020, 100277, ISSN 2352-2895,
[xii] Menon VP, Sudheer AR. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:105-25. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_3. PMID: 17569207.
[xiii] Waller PA, et al. 2011. Dose-response effect of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on whole gut transit time and functional gastrointestinal symptoms in adults. Scand J Gastroenterol. 9: 1057-1064.
[xiv] Dietary probiotic supplementation enhances natural killer cell activity in the elderly: an investigation of age-related immunological changes. J Clin Immunol. 2001, 21:264-271.
[xv] Hisano, Marcelo et al. “Cranberries and lower urinary tract infection prevention.” Clinics (Sao Paulo, Brazil) vol. 67,6 (2012): 661-8. doi:10.6061/clinics/2012(06)18
[xvi] Jeffrey B Blumberg, Arpita Basu, Christian G Krueger, Mary Ann Lila, Catherine C Neto, Janet A Novotny, Jess D Reed, Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, Cheryl D Toner, Impact of Cranberries on Gut Microbiota and Cardiometabolic Health: Proceedings of the Cranberry Health Research Conference 2015, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 7, Issue 4, July 2016, Pages 759S–770S
[xvii] Novotny JA, Baer DJ, Khoo C, Gebauer SK, Charron CS. Cranberry juice consumption lowers markers of cardiometabolic risk, including blood pressure and circulating C-reactive protein, triglyceride, and glucose concentrations in adults. J Nutr. 2015 Jun;145(6):1185-93. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.203190. Epub 2015 Apr 22. PMID: 25904733.
[xviii] De Alberti D et al., (2015) Arch Gynecol Obstet 292(4):861-867
[xix] Russo R et al., (2018) Arch Gynecol Obstet 298 (1):138-145