While Greece is now famous for the probiotic properties of its Greek yogurt, interestingly, the first probiotic was not found in Greece, but in the small country just North of Greece – Bulgaria. In 1912, the New York Times published an article about the first probiotic, discovered as part of a study from the Pasteur Institute in Paris into the unusual longevity of Bulgarian mountain village communities. At the time, the oldest person on earth lived in one of these villages – baba Vasilka – thriving at 126 years of age with her son Todor, 101 years old at the time. In fact, in baba Vasilka’s community there were 6 times more centenarians per capita than in the United States today. Professor Stamen Grigorov of the Pasteur Institute discovered that part of this community’s daily intake was fermented milk containing probiotic bacteria, which he named after the country, calling it L. bulgaricus.
More than a century later, significant scientific research has been completed on these bacteria. Scientists have discovered more than 300 bulgaricus strains, and while each has similar DNA, there are substantial differences between them. Many of the bulgaricus were initially thought to possess plant origins, but the scientists could only find them as part of the yogurt starters of the local population. As attested in a direct record as part of the Budapest Treaty, PROVIOTIC® is the only bulgaricus available today extracted not from a traditional yogurt, but from a beautiful flower – the snowdrop.