Probiotics

First some updates:

  • My mood has improved a lot in the last week – It’s not euphoric but definitely in the optimistic range.  I can concentrate at work again and I’ve been cleaning up all the messes I’ve made over the past 2 months by being unable to focus…or care much…due to poor mood.
  • I was getting heart palpitations a few days ago that came and went through the rest of the week.  I stopped taking the colloidal silver and they went away.  I’m not sure if those two things were related – maybe the silver was affecting my ability to hold onto potassium or something.
  • I got some labs drawn yesterday…will probably have results Monday or Tuesday.
  • Still having hot flashes.  I have them every hour or so.  They tapered to every 3 hours and then I ate Chinese food on Tuesday and they resumed their hourly schedule again since then.  I guess the occasional Chinese take out – all starch-free and dairy-free as far as I could tell – is also off the menu.  Hot flashes are really annoying – they wake me up at night and make me sweat for no reason in front of people.
  • Weight hasn’t changed – haven’t lost or gained anything.  I’ve started adding small amounts of carbohydrate to my world at night – some orange juice to get more potassium (in addition to my supplement), and some raw honey.  Blood sugar hasn’t changed so far.  I only eat these things if I really feel low-blood-sugarish, and even then not too much.  I’ve been feeling that way almost every night.
  • I reported a while back that my hair was falling out more so than before.  Well, that has stopped.  I think it was just a reaction to stopping the progesterone.  The same thing happened after giving birth to my daughter – progesterone level dropped and the hair that didn’t fall out over the previous 9 months all fell out.  Anyway, my hair is fine now.

Anyway, on to probiotics.

I was considering taking Elixa probiotic.  I liked the idea of getting a lot of beneficial bacteria in there at once to fill in the space left by anitmicrobial supplements.  (I don’t know if there actually *is* a space, but that’s how I picture it in my head.) I’m a little afraid of having a pathogen like yeast or an opportunistic bacteria move in so I’m trying to stay ahead of the game.  So I decided to research Elixa.

A comment on here got me thinking that L. Acidophilous – one of the bacterial strains in Elixa – might not be good for me to take due to the production of D-Lactate by that particular strain.  What is D-Lactate?  Well, I didn’t know either so I looked it up.  It’s a byproduct of certain types of lactobaccilus bacteria – not to be confused with those that produce L-lactate, which is easier managed. Some people – particularly those who have had surgery to the intestines, but also with GI disorders – have trouble with D-Lactate, and it can cause neurological problems.  D-Lactate was one of the markers tested by my Organic Acids Profile:

My D-Lactate was pretty mid-range last time I tested, and perhaps is even lower now since 1.5 courses of antimicrobial treatment have taken place.  Still, the last thing I need is fatigue and brain fog.  Seriously.  I was also curious as to how the Elixa critters survive in there with no food, considering the Elixa FAQ recommends avoiding prebiotics during the probiotic treatment.  According to the FAQ:

If possible – avoid taking inulin/FOS, resistant starch (e.g. potato starch), and other fast-fermenting prebiotics, during the Elixa course. If not possible, separate your prebiotic/inulin/resistant starch intake from Elixa by several hours.  It is completely fine to resume your normal regimen as soon as you’ve finished your Elixa course.

So I wrote to Karl Seddon, the founder and director of Elixa, first to find out how the bugs live without intentional prebiotic supplementation or ingestion. Here was his response:

The reality is that there is always fermentable material reaching the large intestine, even when eating on a low-carb diet. Even on a low-FODMAP diet too. The only time when no fermentable content is reaching the large intestine is during fasting. But even then, our bodies have a mechanism for maintaining their gut populations by manufacturing a fucose complex (see here- http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/10/01/gut-bacteria-still-get-fed-when-hosts-are-too-sick-to-eat/).

While I discourage prebiotic supplement use, I do not discourage the inclusion of natural prebiotics in the diet.  In my eyes, an inulin shake/drink is much different to a complex array of prebiotics encapsulated within organic structures (such as in a root vegetable). It’s related to GI transit time, etc.

Interesting.  I liked that, considering I haven’t tolerated prebiotics well at all.  I’ve been gradually increasing the vegetable to meat ratio in my diet – I’d like to get to a point where my food offers enough in the way of prebiotic fiber while maintaining mental stability.

Then I asked him about the L. Acidophilous and about potential problems with D-Lactate.  Here is his response:

D-lactate acidosis and/or hyperlactemia is only likely to occur for individuals with short bowel syndrome. Under [anatomically] normal circumstances, lactate degraders scale up with lactate producers, inside the large intestine. It has been my experience that although we make no medical or health claims whatsoever regarding Elixa, one of THE most commonly reported benefits is a reduction in mental fatigue and an improvement in mood and calmness.  So quite the opposite to the symptoms you’ve detailed (which I have assumed was following the thought pattern of side effects of metabolic acidosis). Lactate acidosis or hyperlactemia would be easily identified and nobody has ever reported effects that have implied acidosis to me. L. Acidophilus is but one of many D-Lactate producers. All the bactera in Elixa are LAB.

He couldn’t be a nicer guy, really.  In the interest of space I left out the social niceties, but he was very responsive and helpful.  I do get the impression from the research I’ve done that D-Lactate doesn’t cause problems for most people who use probiotics.  Still, I wonder if maybe when it’s time to fiddle with the formulation he shouldn’t get that L. Acidophilous out of there.

My own gut is so sensitive, it seems, that I’m hesitant to use Elixa now.  Even with his reassurance that nobody has reported neurological symptoms, I think I need to be cautious.  I have also considered VSL#3 probiotics for the same purpose – high CFU count and nice website – these are apparently my 2 criteria for choosing a probiotic.  Unfortunately, their product contains L. Acidophilous too.

I have this other probiotic currently living in my refrigerator called GutPro. Gut Pro prides itself on containing no fillers or prebiotics, and “no strains that contribute to d-lactic acidosis”.  I have tried it off and on over the last few months and it makes me very sleepy.  I use it for a couple of days and then can’t keep my eyes open.  I guess that could be some kind of die-off reaction, but I just don’t have time to wait around and find out.  But as far as side effects go, sleepiness isn’t the worst thing I’ve experienced.

I wrote to the GutPro people to see if they can recommend using high doses of their product.  I wrote to their customer service and asked if I could safely take 10x the recommended dose of 1/32 of a teaspoon (25 billion CFU).  Here was the answer I got:

To start off at such a high amount suddenly, especially if you have a compromised digestive system, is not a smart idea with any probiotic. Have you heard of a die-off reaction? This can happen when your body tries to detox too quickly. Basically, if your body is not well equipped to get rid of the toxins in your body at such a fast pace, the toxins can get into your bloodstream and affect your body negatively. Die-off reactions can take the form of irritated bowel movements, rashes on the skin, brain fog, and headaches, for example.

With that said, you can absolutely experiment with the dosaging of the GutPro – but do so slowly. The amount you should be taking is very dependent on the individual. Try increasing to a little over half of the next spoon size up, and stay there for at least a week as it can take some time for symptoms to show up. If you see improvement, there is no need to continue increasing! It may even be more harmful than beneficial to add more.

So I guess the answer is no, according to GutPro – don’t be bombing your gut with probiotics or you may rue the day you started such shenanigans.

My coaches at Nourish Balance Thrive have consistently recommended soil-based probiotics such as Prescript Assist. These contain spore-forming organisms, which are supposed to be naturally more resilient and able to survive the trip through the GI tract.  According to their website (which, incidentally, is pretty good and thus meets my criteria for probiotic ingestion):

Unlike other probiotics, Prescript-Assist has inherent viability. That means the species selected for inclusion are naturally adapted for survival in the human GI tract. Among the 29 beneficial organisms found in Prescript-Assist are a class of bacteria commonly referred to as “spore-formers”.

Dr. Mehmet Oz of the well-known Dr. Oz Show has said:

“Spore form probiotics are the Chuck Norris of probiotics: total tough guys.”

While other manufacturers struggle to invent novel manufacturing techniques such as patented nano-encapsulation and hard-shelled enteric-coated capsules in an attempt to essentially “force feed” lactic-acid based organisms into survival, the environmentally based (SBO) species included in Prescript-Assist are selected from the terrestrial microbiome where they have prospered and adapted for millenia to beneficially co-exist with humans.

Well if Dr. Oz says so, I’m in!  I’ll probably just try taking these again at some point.

2 thoughts on “Probiotics

  1. Taking some progesterone in small doses? Hair is usually a prolactin response. Probiotics issue is too complex. I dont know what the real answers are at this point.

  2. Not taking any progesterone right now. My cycles have returned to normal in the last 2 months (they had disappeared while I was taking progesterone) and I have no PMS.

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