Will Taking a Probiotic Supplement Improve Your Health?
A large body of research shows that probiotics are beneficial for a surprisingly wide variety of conditions. I’ve summarized evidence from more than 500 studies in this chart.
|Probiotics Improve These Conditions|
|High level of scientific support for:|
Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain
Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
Depression and anxiety
SIBO, H. pylori, candida/fungus, pathogens
Gut damage & permeability
Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, tooth decay
|Limited, but encouraging, scientific support for:|
Cognitive function, brain fog
Thyroid health, PCOS, endometriosis, bone density
Dairy intolerance, seasonal allergies
Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis
Blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, weight loss
Sleep quality and disruption
Let’s take a closer look at each of these conditions:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Probiotics have been shown helpful for the symptoms of IBS, which include constipation, loose stools, diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas.
- Two meta-analyses, involving more than 1,100 patients, have shown probiotics to be an effective treatment for IBS, with no side effects.[1, 2]
- Another meta-analysis, involving 1,404 patients showed improvement in global IBS symptoms when compared to the placebo group.
Based on this compelling data, the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome recommend a trial on probiotics for IBS.
How Do Probiotics Help You?
- Increase healthy bacteria 
- Fight harmful bugs
- Recover from imbalances
- Promote a healthy immune response in your gut [4, 5]
- Reduce gut inflammation 
- Reduce leaky gut [4, 7, 8, 9]
Unhealthy Gut Bacteria = Inflammation
Inflammation = Symptoms
The Benefit of Probiotics
Here is a science-based summary of the therapeutic benefit of probiotics.
Research to date provides high-level scientific support for:
- IBS: Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain
- IBD: Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
- Mood: Depression and anxiety
- Gut microbiota imbalance: SIBO, H. pylori, candida/fungus, pathogens
- Leaky gut (gut damage and permeability)
We have limited, but encouraging, scientific support for:
- Thyroid health
- Female hormones
- Autoimmune conditions
- Blood pressure and cholesterol
- Brain fog
Taking probiotics doesn’t need to be complicated. Yes, there are a lot of different probiotic species and strains, but all you really need to know are the three main probiotic categories. Nearly every probiotic product can be classified into one of these categories.
|Lactobacillus & bifidobacterium species predominated blends|
|These are the most well-researched, with over 500 trials assessing their validity. These live microorganisms are also known as lactic-acid producing probiotic bacteria. They typically do not colonize the host but do improve the health of the host.|
|Saccharomyces Boulardii (a healthy fungus)|
|The second most researched probiotic, with over 100 studies. Saccharomyces boulardii (S. Boulardi for short) is not a normal part of the human microbiota, meaning it does not colonize us but does improve the health of the host.|
|Soil-Based Probiotics using various Bacillus species|
|The third most researched category of probiotics is soil-based probiotics. This group has roughly 14 clinical trials evaluating their effectiveness. This category is also known as spore-forming bacteria. This category of probiotic can colonize the host.|
This is great news. This means you don’t need to try every probiotic on the market, but rather you can pay attention to the category and pick one quality formula from each.
You also don’t need to match specific probiotics to specific symptoms. All probiotics work in a similar way by addressing the underlying reasons for your symptoms.
The 3 for BALANCE Probiotic Protocol
Many people don’t seem to achieve balance in their microbiota with just one probiotic formula. Some lucky people do, but for many, one probiotic won’t suffice. I have seen the best results with my patients following a protocol that includes all three probiotic categories. For many patients who have tried probiotics in the past, this approach makes all the difference.
What you need to do – easy as 1, 2, 3
- Try a quality formula probiotic from category 1, category 2 and category 3 – take all three together.
- Monitor your symptoms for 3-4 weeks. If you’re improving, stay on the 3 for Balance protocol until your improvements have plateaued.
- Once you’ve seen your maximum improvement (you’ve plateaued), stay here for about a month to allow your system to calibrate these new improvements. Then reduce your dose and find the minimal effective dose. Stay on the minimal effective dose.
Take Probiotics When It’s Convenient for You
Despite advice that you might read elsewhere, taking probiotics is simple:
- You can take them with or without food.
- You can take them at any time of the day.
- You can (and should) take probiotics with antibiotics.
If you haven’t noticed any change in your symptoms after 3-4 weeks, you can stop taking probiotics and feel confident that you have fully explored probiotic therapy. There’s no need to go shopping for other probiotic products.
Quality assurance practices do matter. Probiotic manufacturing is not highly regulated and some labels claim do not stand up to scrutiny. Consider the results of these investigations into probiotic quality:
- Of 26 commercial probiotics assessed in this study, none fully supported label claims, and some of them contained unacceptable microorganisms .
- One study found only half of the probiotics examined had the specific strain listed on the label .
- Another study found 43% of the probiotics assessed contained less than half the amount of probiotic listed on their labels .
What to Look for in a Quality Probiotic Supplement
If a company follows quality assurance practices, a probiotic supplement will meet its label claims and not contain potentially harmful organisms.
Dosing Your Probiotics
Each probiotic has a dose range. Anywhere in the range is fine, more isn’t better. Some like to start at the lower dose, wait a few days and then try the higher dose. Others like to go right to the high dose. Do whatever appeals to you.
|Lacto-Bifido Probiotic Blend||1/4 tsp. OR 4 pills||1-2||N|
|Saccharomyces Boulardii Probiotic||2-4 pills||1-2||N|
|Soil-Based Probiotic||1-2 pills||1-2||Y|
Here are the standards that we follow and crucial aspects to look for when buying probiotics:
Independent Laboratory Analysis
All probiotic raw materials and final products undergo independent laboratory analysis ensuring probiotic quality and fulfillment of GMP requirements. This ensures the probiotic meets its label claims.
To ensure the species or strain of probiotic meets the label claim, thus protecting you from using a frankenstein probiotics or harmful organisms. Harmful organisms is one of the most common problems with probiotics.
Free of Major Allergens
Probiotics should be grown on media which are free of the common allergens: wheat, gluten, milk, casein, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts and soybeans. A quality probiotics will also be free of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Probiotics should always meet their labs claims upon testing. Certain probiotics should be stored by the manufacturer and shipped in refrigerated conditions to retain the potency list on the label claims.
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Manufacturing
GMP are a set of best practices for dietary supplement manufacturing in the United States. This includes utilizing a state-of-the-art facility where temperature and air quality are tightly controlled. This produced a consistent quality and purity of product.
You don’t need to purchase the most expensive probiotic supplements. But, you should be wary of a probiotic that is substantially cheaper than the rest. This usually indicates corners have been cut in the quality assurance standards.
All three of the probiotic supplements that I sell and also use in my practice, meet these quality standards.
The above probiotic protocol can be very effective in addressing the underlying cause of many health ailments. I encourage you to try the protocol today.
Please remember, while probiotics can be very helpful for a variety of health conditions, they are not a cure-all and sometimes other, more advanced, therapies are needed.
Want to Learn More?
I’ve recently published a comprehensive, 43-page guide to getting the most out of your probiotic supplements. Check out the guide below.