Which Probiotic is Best?

which probiotic is best
 
Our family has spent about 5 years and several thousand dollars trying to answer the question “Which Probiotic is Best?” We have purchased and experimented with about 20 probiotics, all of which were recommended by health care practitioners. Symptoms and reactions were observed. Thousands more dollars worth of stool tests were sent to the lab and compared.

 

I am publishing our results in the hope that it will help others find the right probiotic without all the time, money, experiments, and lab testing that our family endured. Remember that I receive no affiliate links, kickbacks or monetary gain from any of these recommendations. Ok, on to the rankings, from winners to losers, concluding with some general observations.

 

The Winners

These are the probiotics that we almost always keep in stock in our home. We have found them consistently beneficial for multiple family members over many years. I have noted in the table the best uses that we found. Probiotics ranking in the same category are listed in the table from most beneficial to least beneficial.

 

ProbioticHealing Leaky Gut & Supports Recolonizing the GutStomach Flu, Acute VirusTransient DigestionSkin Microbiome
Ultimate Flora Extra Care 50 billion
X
Udo’s Choice Adult Probiotic
X
Kirkman Lactobacillus Duo
X
Mutaflor**
X
Florastor
X
Energetix Flora 12+
X
Prescript Assist
x (secondary)
X
Fermented Foods
X

 

** Mutaflor is great at pushing down dysbiotic (bad) E.Coli that shows up on a stool test. If no bad E.Coli is showing up on stool tests, then I probably wouldn’t bother with Mutaflor. Mutaflor is also difficult to obtain in the USA these days.
 

A quick explanation of the table categories:
 

  • Healing Leaky Gut & Supports Recolonizing the Gut – This means helping establish healthy bacteria and push out bad bacteria. Generally the probiotics with less than 10 billion CFUs didn’t win in this category.
  •  

  • Stomach Flu, Acute Virus – These probiotics consistently either warded off the stomach flu, or aided in recovery.
  •  

  • Transient Digestion – Fermented foods helped the most with digesting meals.
  •  

  • Skin Microbiome – What?!? Yup, I believe the bacteria that live on our skin are second in importance only to the bacteria that live in our gut. Put Prescript Assist in raw shea butter and use it as body lotion.

What if you are making a fermented food that needs a starter? I use the top two listed in the above table. Most of the ferments we make do not need starters. Ferments that might need starters have typically been heated. Some examples that we occasionally make are coconut milk and cranberry sauce.
 
 

In The Middle

The following probiotics were ‘In The Middle’. This means they were occasionally handy, but not ones that we must always have in our refrigerator.

ProbioticHealing Leaky Gut & Supports Recolonizing the GutStomach Flu, Acute VirusTransient DigestionSkin Microbiome
Ultimate Flora Critical Colon Bifido 80 billion
X
Udo’s Choice Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotic
X

 

The Losers

The ‘Losers’ category probiotics aren’t necessarily bad or contaminated. I’m honestly not sure why they weren’t beneficial. Losers simply means they weren’t nearly as effective as the probiotics listed in the ‘Winners’ and ‘In The Middle’ categories.

ProbioticNotes
VSL3Lots of practitioners recommend VSL3, but I haven’t found it to make much difference.
Bravo Probiotic YogurtSome practitioners seem convinced that this one is great. We found it made no difference. It comes in a powder from which you have to make a yogurt. It’s a lot of work and has a hefty price tag for no benefits. However, the yogurt does taste really good. But maybe that’s just because of the price tag!
Bio-kultRecommended by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride on the GAPS diet. I respect Dr. McBride, but I think the probiotics listed above are more effective.
11 Strain Powder by Custom Probiotics
HLC High Potency Powder
Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics
Primadolphilus Reuteri
Jarrow Probiotics (we tried all their various ‘flavors’)
BioGaia
Klaire Therbiotic CompleteRecommended by lots of DAN doctors, but I found it not so beneficial. I’m guessing the polysaccharides feed bad bacteria.

 

General Results of Our Probiotic Experiments

A few trends were noticed while figuring out which probiotic is best. Some of these ideas I have heard from practitioners. Others are new theories I have come up with after our experiments.
 

  • FOS/Inulin/Polysaccherides tend to feed the ‘bad guys’. These so-called pre-biotics also feed dysbiotic or ‘bad’ bacteria. Probiotics with bacteria only seemed to be the best at healing leaky gut.
  •  

  • For a chance at healing leaky gut, a minimum of 10 billion CFUs are needed. Otherwise there just aren’t enough to shift the bacteria balance.
  •  

  • Fermented foods helped with transient digestion but did not have a high enough bacteria count to significantly help recolonize the gut.
  •  

  • Probiotics should ideally be shipped cold so the bacteria don’t die. Even when buying from the refrigerated section of a store, there is no guarantee that the probiotics were kept cold when being shipped to the store. At the time of writing this article, I’ve done my best to ensure that the product links ship with ice packs. Be watchful of Amazon listings, many of them ship without ice packs.

 

FAQ

Q: Why don’t you list XXX brand of probiotic?
A: The probiotics reviewed in this article are primarily the result of many, many years of “gut-expert” practitioner visits. Each practitioner recommended a different probiotic, and we tried them all. We also tried a few probiotics that were recommended to us by other people who claimed success. If a probiotic isn’t listed here, it’s because I have yet to hear of a success story, and no independent practitioners have recommended it. Note: By ‘independent’ I mean a practitioner who doesn’t make money off of the sale of that probiotic. I do not monetize any referral links on this website, and do not make any money from these recommendations.
 
 

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Last Updated: Jan 5, 2017 @ 6:26 pm

 

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11 thoughts on “Which Probiotic is Best?

  1. I often make homemade milk Kefir. I thought that homemade Kefir would be superior in all aspects to store bought probiotics since the home-made kefir has significantly more bacteria to help recolonize the gut. Please advise.

  2. We also tried homemade milk Kefir. And homemade coconut milk Kefir. I had heard a few patient stories about good results specifically from Organic Pastures Kefir grains. Supposedly they are from an old European origin. So we tried making Kefir from those grains as well. (Organic Pastures no longer sells the grains last I checked.) Generally all of our Kefir experiments landed in the ‘fermented foods’ category in this article. Great for transient digestion, but not strong enough to help recolonize leaky gut cases. Note that our family does make and consume our own fermented foods with almost every meal.

    • Honestly, I’m not the right person to ask. I haven’t made dairy kefir in many years. I made several versions many years ago when we were trying to figure out how to heal leaky gut. When I did make it, I used grains from Organic Pastures (OP). They are supposedly the best. However, they no longer sell them, at least not here in California. OP does still sell kefir. If I were to make dairy kefir (goat or cow) today, I would get some kefir from OP, and use it like grains. If the OP kefir wasn’t available, then I would empty a capsule of the Kirkman Lactobacillus Duo AND Ultimate Flora Extra Care 50 billion into the milk and let it sit on the counter top out of the sun. Put it in the fridge when you think it is ‘done.’ How long until done depends on how fermented you want it and the temperature of your counter top. Personally I am too lazy and cheap to order grains mail order. I do occasionally make coconut milk kefir as a special treat, and when we are having dental surgery. Note that our family does not eat dairy, and I generally do not recommend eating dairy, even in a fermented format. Check out the ‘Diet’ tab of this website for more details. The fermented foods we eat at every meal are vegetables. Our favorites are sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.

  3. We have been giving my son, who is autistic and has recurring gut infections, Ultimate Flora Extra Care 150 Billion for about three months. There have been small improvements, but I’m wondering if perhaps the efficiency of the product isn’t degraded during delivery. Someone mentioned the site iherb.com as a good place to purchase probiotics, but the product isn’t refrigerated during shipping.

    Where do you buy your Renew Life Ultimate Flora probiotics?

    • No. Copying from the FAQ:

      Q: Why don’t you list XXX brand of probiotic?
      A: The probiotics reviewed in this article are primarily the result of many, many years of “gut-expert” practitioner visits. Each practitioner recommended a different probiotic, and we tried them all. We also tried a few probiotics that were recommended to us by other people who claimed success. If a probiotic isn’t listed here, it’s because I have yet to hear of a success story, and no independent practitioners have recommended it. Note: By ‘independent’ I mean a practitioner who doesn’t make money off of the sale of that probiotic. I do not monetize any referral links on this website, and do not make any money from these recommendations.

  4. Question:
    I was healthy and a very contented, active woman before breaking my knee in an accident. I had major knee surgery [tibial plateau fracture] along with tons of drugs and anesthesia. Immediately after surgery I developed anxiety and bad nausea. I still suffer from it almost a year and a half later. Dr.’s put me on anti-anxiety and antidepressants to cope with life. A physician [Dr. Neil Nedley/Nedley Clinic in CA] ordered bloodwork and discovered a zinc/copper imbalance. He has since placed me on zinc piccolinate, molybdenum, Omega 3, B6, etc. to help slowly bring me into balance. I also found online that probiotics can help with anxiety in animals and there is hope that it can help anxiety/depression in humans. Do you know anything about this and what would be your recommendations for a probiotic tohelp with this anxiety? Thanks.

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