Probiotics: Wasting Your Money? Not if you know 3 things

by: Jason Blalack (04/06/2016)

In my clinic I only give my patients probiotics from companies that rtclere 100% transparent and use the correct strains for the condition I am trying to address. Read on to learn more…

Acupuncturist Jason Blalack in Boulder, CO

I have a long time interest in gut health and how it relates to healing chronic disease. Understanding our good and bad bacteria, probiotics, and prebiotics is essential to our vitality and health. Using probiotics can lead to greater beneficial gut bacteria, which can support a wide range of health benefits. However, gut health is not as easy as buying a ‘good’ probiotic from the health food store. This article will help you learn how to choose the correct probiotic for your body / condition by explaining key issues, and how to read labels to avoid useless products. Here are three points worth understanding.

1. Strain matters! Know the difference between strain vs. species vs. genus.

Let’s examine a common probiotic name, Lactobacillus Acidophilus CL1285.

Genus: Lactobacillus
Species: Acidophilus
Strain: CL1285*

* This id is essential to choosing the correct probiotic for your condition.

To elaborate, the genus Lactobacillus has over 180 species, two of which are: L. acidophilus and L. rhamnosus. L. acidophilus has many strains, such as, DDS-1, LA-5, NCFM, CUL-21, La-14, etc. Each strain has a different effect on the body!

2. Pick the correct strain for your condition

There are at least 5600 strains1 of gut bacteria and many of them are not beneficial to our overall health. Certain strains have been shown to have specific health benefits. For example, a single strain may benefit:

  • a decreased immune system
  • high cholesterol
  • anxiety
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • chronic digestive disorders
  • allergies
  • side-effects from antibiotics
  • obesity
  • inflammation etc.

It is essential to match the probiotic strain to the condition one is trying to shift.

For example, one strain will benefit diarrhea, while another will benefit constipation. Each strain has unique effects on the body. Some are positive, negative, or unclear from research.

Over the last years I have complied a long list of researched strains and their corresponding conditions that they benefit. Here is a abbreviated version for your education. If you are just considering a probiotic for general health, please see my follow-up article on improving your overall gut health (coming soon).

Bifidobacterium lactis HN019
  • Intestinal Dysbiosis
  • Intestinal Transit Time – Slow
  • Constipation
  • Immune enhancement- especially in elderly
Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5
  • Immune enhancement (such as increased cytokine, phagocytic activity and antibody production), as well as phagocytosis of Salmonella
  • Inhibit growth of breast cancer cells, and positive effects on chemotherapy patients
  • Lipid metabolism
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
  • Immune enhancement
  • Infectious diarrhea in children
  • Primary prevention of atopic dermatitis
Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12
  • Immune enhancement
  • Diarrhea in children
  • Probiotics for Standard Triple Helicobacter pylori Eradication
Bifidobacterium infantis 35624
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Lactobacillus casei DN114-001
  • Immune enhancement
Bifidobacterium longum BB536
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Intestinal micro-ecology
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM
  • Symptoms of lactose intolerance
  • Reduced small-bowel bacterial overgrowth
  • Fever, cough and runny nose
  • Inflammation
  • Pediatric diarrhea
Bifidobacterium animalis DN173-010
  • Normalizes intestinal transit time
Lactobacillus plantarum 299V
  • IBS
  • Post-surgical gut nutrition
Lactobacillus casei Shirota YIT9029
  • Superficial bladder-cancer recurrence,
  • Intestinal microbiota
  • Immune enhancement
Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
Lactobacillus johnsonii La1 (Lj1)
  • Immune function
  • Helicobacter pylori eradication
Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii (Biocodex strain)
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Clostridium difficile infections
  • Amebiasis
  • Candidiasis
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
Streptococcus thermophilus (most strains)
  • Symptoms of lactose intolerance

3.  Understand Marketing Strategies: Seeing Through the Deception

Let’s see how supplement companies manipulate data for their benefit. Notice this marketing statement:

Bait and Switch

In a study held at the University of Turku in Finland, researchers studied the effects L. rhamnosus on 132 infants with eczema.”2

The associated product being sold contains L. rhamnosus Lr-32. However, the original research on eczema used L. rhamnosus GG and HN001. I have not found evidence that Lr-32 benefits eczema and according the Probiotic Advisory3, it has no reliable research data. This deceptive tactic of marketing a researched species, without naming the strain, nor using the correct strain in their product  is rampant. Don’t be fooled many ‘trusted’ supplement companies do this. Essentially, you get what you pay for; probiotic strains that have strong positive research cost more. Higher-end companies only use positively tested strains.

Non-Specific Strains
Often instead of buying specific strains, companies will buy a single species, such as a conglomeration of strains of L. acidophilus. This is much less expensive and contains numerous non-specific strains. Thus, we consumers do not know what is in a conglomeration of probiotic strains, some may be beneficial for your health, while others may be harmful. Notice the label on the top right. There are no specific strain IDs next to the species. Compare this to the lower label.

Also notice the term “proprietary blend” (in the upper label) and the lack of Probiotics Supplement labelspecific amounts for each probiotic. We have no idea how much of each one is contained in the blend. Often the cheaper less effective probiotics will dominate.

In my clinic I only give my patients probiotics from companies that are 100% transparent and use the correct strains for the condition I am trying to address. For example, the lower label is from the company Xymogen. They are top notch.

Three Bonus Points

1. The greater number of active strains (e.g. 70 billion or 15 billion) are NOT better for your health.

Often the research dictates how much is needed to treat a specific condition. I follow these guidelines. Too many can cause problems and too little can not be effective.  Furthermore, we have to trust that what a company says is true. Do I really believe there are 225 billion active strains as mentioned in the above label?

2. The greater number of different kinds of probiotics (L. rhamnosus & L. Acidophilus) are NOT better for your health.

Probiotic Label many speciesThere is a trend to put 10 or even 15 different probiotics together, suggesting more is better.  Again, I like to diagnose a specific need for that patient and find the specific strains for them, instead of using a mysterious grab bag. See picture to the right.

3.  Are they alive?

We might assume that when we take the probiotic that we are getting what the label says, e.g. 15 billion active strains. This is definitely not true. There is no regulation on health supplements. Therefore, finding a trustable company is imperative. I choose companies who third-party test. For example, when trusted companies say there are e.g. 15 billion active (live) strains, this number is calculated after months of shelf life. Not when the strain is coming out of the factory. Companies also blatantly lie, which unfortunately is more common than one might think.

Taking random probiotics is not very useful. Even using probiotics marketed for general health is often not the best strategy. I will explain more in my followup article, improving your overall gut health. For now, it is important to understand that picking the specific strain(s) / probiotic for a specific condition is intelligent. If you are trying to treat anxiety, you are going to need a different probiotic than you will need to treat eczema, or to boost your immune system, or for gastrointestinal disorders. According to this level of discernment, we see that the vast number of probiotics on the market are not worth buying.

Thank you for reading and I would love to hear your comments or questions.




3. (checked April 2016)

Open Gate Acupuncture, located in Boulder Colorado, serves patients throughout the Boulder county region including Denver, Longmont, Gunbarrel, Lafayette, & Louisville. Jason Blalack has been treating patients in Boulder for over 14 years after graduating from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Jason is an international lecturer on Chinese medicine and has an extensive collection of Chinese medicine articles published in professional journals worldwide. He is also the author of, Qin Bo-Wei’s 56 Treatment Methods: Writing Precise Prescriptions. Jason specializes in autoimmune, digestive disorders, fertility, and emotional disorders using Chinese and functional medicine at the Open Gate Acupuncture Clinic and also via long distance & online medical consultations.


  1. Thank you so much for the piece on probiotics. I learned a great deal and I’m reminded that I have a micro biome testing kit from you that I need to use. It will tell me (and you) what is deficient. I am hoping for some indication of why I experience so much fatigue.

    Written by Karyn on
    1. Your welcome Karyn. Let’s look and see… 🙂 -Jason

      Written by Huang Qi on
  2. I purchased nucific bio x4. After i received the product i was diagnosed with breast cancer is this agood probiotec

    Written by on
    1. As far as I can see from the online label they are not using specific strains.

      Written by Huang Qi on
  3. Hi. What about California GOLD nutrition LactoBif Probiotics. Is this a good product? And what does the different bacterias work for?

    Written by Erica on
    1. Hi Erica, I am not familiar with this product but looking quickly at their label I am not really sure what they are trying to do. They are stating they are using specific strains, so that is good, but I would email them and ask specifically the intention they have by combining those like strains. I would be curious if you find anything out. -Jason

      Written by Huang Qi on
  4. i will email them, and come back to you with an answer (if I get one) 🙂

    Written by Erica on
  5. No luck on this request. Got a disappointing answer:

    “Hello and thank you for your email.

    Regretfully, we are unable to answer your question as we are restricted from providing you with this type of information. The FDA and FTC have made this perfectly clear.

    We suggest you consult with a qualified healthcare professional in order to learn more about probiotics.

    Customer Support”

    So, now I feel insecure about the product I have in my refrigerator, and what I have been taking the last seven days :p

    Written by Erica on
    1. yes, I don’t blame you. This is not an answer that I would trust… -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  6. Can you give recommendations…this is too overwhelming when compounded with candida/possible hpa axis dysfunction/anxiety/ sleep/ leaky gut…ahhhhh I am looking to heal gut of possible fungal infections as well as support mood/cognition/mental clarity

    Written by katie on
    1. Hi Katie, I am sorry you are suffering with these multiple issues. Recommendations should only be made after a proper intake, unless, for example, just trying to find a simple probiotic for anxiety. I would recommend working with a qualified health profession that knows this stuff in your area, or if there is no one, I am happy to work with you long distance via skype / phone consults. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  7. Hello. I bought Dr. Mercola probiotics and after two months of taking the 2 pills daily and eating regularly, I notice my stomach grew. I’ve never had such a large stomach in my life. I read that it may be the L. Acidophilus strain causing weight gain. I decided that L. rhamnosus bought separately without the L. Acidophilus might help but all the products I’ve found on the internet includes L. Acidophilus! 🙁

    Is there a brand of probiotics you could recommend me for weight loss? I regret taking the ones I bought because I want my stomach to be smaller or at least back to how it was! If not, how can I fix my gut bacteria so I can return back to my earlier weight prior to taking the probiotics?

    Thanks very much.

    One Who Regrets

    Written by Regret on
    1. Hi Regret, I am sorry you had a bad experience with probiotics. Unfortunately you are not the first. Finding the correct strain is important. One small technical note, L. Acidophilus and L. rhamnosus are not strains, this is the genus and species. There are many strains of both of these, and they have different functions in the body. Mercola’s looks non-specific and he does not tell us what strains are actually in his complete probiotic. Therefore I would not recommend it for specific purposes like weight loss. You can try the specific strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14 for weight loss or if you can find the general species of Acidophilus gasseri. Good luck and let me know how it goes. -Jason Blalack

      Written by Jason Blalack on
      1. Jason, you say that the “general species of A. gasseri” is good for weight loss. I have read that one particular strain of l. gasseri can cause weight gain. (I can’t remember which one).

        Written by Tobey on
        1. You may be right, but I have not seen that research, please let me know if you find a link to it. Thanks – Jason

          Written by Jason Blalack on
  8. Hi Jason,
    Is it possible to give me your opinion about Buokult advanced probiotic product? I mean generally as a probiotic used from time to time to keep posotive gut flora and women’s flora.
    Which is better womens multi probiotic by natural factors or biokult?
    Thank you in advance?

    Written by Evgeni on
    1. Buokult does not seem to tell us if they are using specific strains, so we should assume they don’t. Therefore I would not buy it. As for woman’s it depends on what you are wanting it for. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  9. Thank you for this very informative work. I have spent countless hours reviewing peer-reviewed journals regarding possible positive correlations between some “friendly microbiota” and up-regulation of GABA receptors in the brain (via the vagus nerve). However, some studies show “promising results” using some species or others with specific strains, etc but I can’t seem to find any products available for purchase that match up with the researchers’ choice of bacteria used in their studies. (Like you said, a product may say L. Rhamnosus but after contacting the company, they other say they cannot reveal that info or the strain has not been researched…..) Do you have any product recommendations for probiotics that have anxiolytic effects or up-regulate GABA receptors (I.e with L Rhanosus JB-1 or any others?) Thanks

    Written by Kyle on
    1. Hi Kyle, you are on the right track! Many times strains have multiple names, so you must hunt this down. I have not investigated Rhamnosus JB-1. But I would look into Bifidobacterium longum R0175, Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 for anxiety. -Jason Blalack

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  10. Hello from Australia, Jason! Just came across this very interesting and informative article of yours. Do you have a more extensive list of your research into species and conditions? Also, can you please advise any recommended strains for chronic fatigue syndrome (5 yrs and counting cause by CMV virus). Lastly, do you recommend just taking a course of probiotics, just as needed, or daily? Many thanks!!

    Written by Kelly on
    1. Hello Kelly! Since you are down under, please check out Probiotic Advisor website. They have a large list there. Also CFS is complex and I do not know of any specific probiotic for, and specifically related to CMV. My guess with working with many CF cases, and once having it myself, there is a lot more going on. Hope this Helps -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  11. Hi Jason. I underwent a PTB therapy for six months and noticed that acnes started to breakout on my back and chest on the third month, eventually on my forehead, then almost all over my face. I also started experiencing stomach discomfort (bloating and rumbling). I read online that probiotics should be taken with antibiotics but I hope it’s not too late for me now; my PTB teatment has ended last April but I’m still suffering from acnes and stomach discomfort. I’m feeling depressed already… I’ve started taking L. Acidophillus from Puritan’s Pride but I’m not sure if it is the right strain for me. What probiotics do you think should I take given my current situation? I’d also appreciate if you could recommend a specific brand. Thanks.

    Written by Mary on
    1. Hi Mary, Sorry you are suffering around this. It is never too late to rebuild the gut. But with 6 months of antibiotics, without much else at the time, your gut is probably not that happy, hence the symptoms you are experiencing. There is not an easy fix at this point, because you will need to rebuild your gut based on your personal presentation. I suggest finding a qualified practitioner in your area, and if you are unable to do this, I am happy to do some skype consults with you to get you back on track. In Health, -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  12. Hi Jason,
    I was wondering if you would recommend what to purchase if I only have one condition and that is athletes foot fungus. Abut a year ago, a pharmacist pulled a bottle off the shelf and said try this. It was a brand called Rugby and says: Acidophilus extra strength with L Sporogenes on the label. The supplement label says: L Acidophilus 70 million a time time of manufacture & L Sporogeneso 50 million.
    I felt that it definitely worked. I ran out of it and bought a brand called Signature Care (the front label just said Acidophilus. The supplement facts say: proprietary probiotic 175 MG Blend providing 10 billion CFUst Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus salivarius, Streptococcus thermophilus.
    My athletes foot started to return and I don’t know if it was a coincidence or . ? Since I do not understand much about all of the differences, I was wondering if you would kindly tell me what I may want to try for my condition.
    Much appreciated! – Sandra

    Written by Sandra c on
    1. Sandra, I don’t won’t to sound simplistic here, but if a previous product worked, I would buy that product. Many products are suspect ojn the market, so buy what has worked. Let us know how it goes! -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  13. This is a fantastic write up that accurately reflects the literature. The main issue I have is finding those specific strains in quality products. If you were able to link to some products that contain the specific strains by themselves that would be extremely helpful!

    Written by Maximilian Kohler on
    1. There are 100s of strains, so too much work for me to post all of this. In my clinic I know what I see often and have those strains figured out and when something new comes along I do the research to find the best products. You can do yourself for the conditions you might have.

      Written by Jason Blalack on
      1. Oh, I only meant for the 15 strains you listed here 🙂
        Or perhaps just the primary products you use in your practice. Some of them are easy like Lactobacillus GG, but others are harder.

        Written by Maximilian Kohler on
        1. The brands I use are generally only professional brands with transparency and testing, and most can’t be purchased by the public. Thus researching the public brands and trying to vet them is too much work for me. Because many non-professional brands are suspect due to lack of regulation and lack of verification testing. Sorry I could not be of more help. I suggest you find a professional with experience that can help guide you for your specific condition. Good luck… -Jason

          Written by Jason Blalack on
  14. Hi. Thank you for your great article. My beta-glucuronidase elves are high >6000 u/g. Can you please recommend which lactobacillus strain I should be taking. I have been given rhamnosus by my doctor but read it should be acidophilus and bifodo. Can you please suggest? I live in Australia but can buy online. Thank you so much.

    Written by Melissa Brown on
    1. I suggest you work with a qualified health care practitioner that takes into consideration your whole condition. You need to find the right probiotic for you. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  15. Hi really interesting article and comments – I too have found taking a probiotic with acidophillis and one of the bifidus strains my stomach has gone huge. I feel so bloated – which probiotic will reduce this back to how it was – I also notice that some of the probiotics make my face bloat too. Is rhamanosus on it’s own good for weight loss/reducing the tummy and I have heard L.Gasseri is good but would really value your opinion. Please can you help me because at the moment under my navel it looks like I have swallowed a rugby ball Do you think if I stopped taking probiotics altogether this horrible big tummy/bloat would go

    Written by Janet on
    1. You need to have your specific situation evualted by an hleaht care practitioner and take the appropaite strain for your condition. Notice that you are not mentioning strains in your post, which makes me think you were taking something that was not good for you. Does that make sense? -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  16. Hi
    I have been taking Biokult which is multi strain, Gut Pro Infant Blend, one with acidophillis, bifidum bifidus and bif breve. Custom Probiotics, – I have taken so many I now have a cupboard full and none seem to help. I took Swanson L.Gasseri on it’s own, I’ve tried their plantaurum single strain – and to be honest I haven’t found one probiotic that seems to help or sort out my problem which is bloating – I think a lot of them have made it worse – I find prebiotics make it worse and it doesn’t help that I have histamine intolerance so Biokult although it is one of the ones that is better for me I can’t take as it has a histamine raising strain in L.Casei. I just read the article from the man above who said the same about his tummy going huge after taking probiotics – that’s how I feel – I feel I now have more of a problem now than I did before and all I ask is how can I get it back to where it was – think if I did I may quit probiotics because I am wondering maybe I don’t need them – also I have found that certain probiotics seems to make my mood really low and make me depressed. Can you help me please or suggest something – I am desperate and can’t afford to go private to an alternative therapist – GPs in the UK just won’t entertain you

    Written by Janet on
    1. Janet, Your situation requires an evualtion and I cannot offer medical advice in this fashion. When I work with people I take into consideration the whole person. Also you may have certain conditions that need specific treatments, such as SIBO. But simpy, if the probiotics are making you have bloating and you are fine without them, then I would suggest you not take them. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
    2. Hi Janet, I am interested in your post as I too have histamine intolerance. From what I can see all of the Biokult products contain the Lactobacillus genus (thanks Jason!), which make histamine worse. We have to be very careful what probiotics we take as some can make matters worse as you have found. And most if the prebiotic foods contain high amounts of histamine if they are fermented. Can you tell me which Customprobiotics you have tried. I am interested in this brand as they contain no fillers, which can also make histamine worse. Thanks.

      Written by Karen on
  17. So can I ask where can you get the acidophillis LA14 that helps weight loss or the rhamanosus or gasseri.

    Can you recommend something for me when my problems are bloating and constipation and unable to lose weight – which I think probiotics have now made both the weight loss and bloat worse

    Written by Janet on
  18. I am in the USA, our products are different then the UK- so I am not sure for you. You will have to search. I also use professional brands, that can only be obtained through a licensed practioner. -Jason

    Written by Jason Blalack on
  19. Thanks for that – if you could suggest something I have purchased from USA before i.e. Custom Probiotics – I know it is expensive but if it sorts me out I’m happy to do it

    Written by janet on
    1. I cannot suggest anything without a consultation. I have no idea what you need, if that makes sense. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  20. Hi! I’ve got constipation and also have breakout on my face. I’ve started taking probiotic (L. Acidophillus) for almost 2 weeks (ppl said that constipation and acne are related so I gave it a try).
    My bowel moves regularly but it makes me bloated at the same time. And still no improvements on my face. Should I stop it? Thanks in advance 🙂

    Written by Dita on
    1. Hi Dita,

      It is hard to say without evulating you. But in general you will want to pick a probiotic strain that is specific to you and your condition. It does not sound like you are doing that. Or consult a health practitioner that can evulate you. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
    2. Thanks for your reply. Could you give any recommendation about the (probably) right pribiotic strain for my condition?
      I also have another question. Does acupuncture help digestion, acne, and anxiety? I had 5-6 sessions last year. And it helped my period back on track. Should I give a try now? Thanks!

      Written by Dita on
      1. Dita,

        I cannot make recommendations without knowing the full details as a client. It is not as easy as just take this for that. You are welcome to do a long-distance consult with me to evaluate your full condition, or I suggest finding someone in your area. Yes, acupuncture can most likely help you with a qualified practitioner. -Jason

        Written by Jason Blalack on
  21. Have you heard of bifidobacterium adolescentis before. I’ve not heard of this before and wondered if you had any information on it and what it is good for – is it a “new” strain

    Written by Jan on
    1. I do not know much of this one. But the strains usually contain a number and letters after it. For example, Bifidobacterium adolescentis Reuter (ATCC® 15703™). It is usually important to get the strain that has been researched to be beneficial. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  22. Hi from New Zealand. Can you tell me the best probiotics for children attending daycare? Coughs, colds and diorreah seem to be going around all the time. Thank you 🙂

    Written by Ginni on
    1. It really depends on the child and their presentation. But you can try strains that have been shown to benefit the immune system as listed above. – Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  23. L. Reuteri is getting a lot of publicity at the moment – what are your thoughts on this strain of probiotic

    Written by jan on
    1. Please read above information. This is not a strain. – Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  24. Also can I ask if you take a probiotic in water does it have the same effect as if you took it normally. I normally break mine open and just take off an end of a spoon but recently Gut-Pro I have been putting in glass of water baby measure in one teaspoon out – does this make the probiotic more potent when put in water – does it still have the same actions or does it change it’ chemistry and how it reacts on the body

    Written by jan on
    1. A little water is no problem. Best to take when stomach acid is minimal. I have heard two thoughts. 1. Take first thing in the AM or 2. in the middle of a meal (to buffer it). I do the former. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  25. L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 – this is the strain I was wanting more info on

    Written by Jan on
    1. I would google it and see what you come up with. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  26. Hi, thankyou for your informative blog. Just wondered if you use Customprobiotics and whether you would recommend as they seem to be one of the few who sell individual species of probiotics as well as blends, and with no fillers in the powders. Love to know your thoughts.

    Written by Karen on
    1. I do not use them. I looked at one of their products, 11 Strain Probiotic, and it DOES NOT disclose specific strains. This is the issue that I discuss above. So I do not recommend this specific product. – Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
      1. Thanks Jason (and sorry for duplicate post – I’m learning!). Customprobiotics do state the ‘strains’ for all of their single ‘species’ – hope I’ve got that right! Due to having mast cell activation syndrome, I am looking for pure strains with no added fillers, which is why I’m interested in this brand. Do you know of any other sources to buy probiotics in pure powdered form? Many products that state ‘pure’ are not when you read the full ingredients!

        Written by Karen on
        1. Hi Karen, Please post the link of the probiotic you are talking about so we can evaluate. Thanks, -Jason

          Written by Jason Blalack on
          1. So the next step is to see if the strain you are taking is something you need. I do not know any research on BI-26. So not sure. Also, realize that just because they bought a strain does not mean it is good for you. Also consider, if a company is not putting clearly on the bottle the strain they are using then be skeptical. -Jason

            Written by Jason Blalack on
  27. I know I need to repopulate my gut flora. I appreciate that you are unable to give specific advice without knowing the full history etc, but, in principal, for histamine intolerance and mast activation syndrome (react to many ingredients in foods and supplements), would you advise to start with a single strain probiotic and build up my microbiome slowly adding different strains once my body has accepted one strain, or would you say it would be better to introduce small amounts of a multi strain (of a those species that are helpful for my particular symptoms) and gradually increase the amount of the multi strain and repopulate in this way? Would love your opinion on this.

    Written by Karen on
      1. Unfortunately, I am unable to tolerate most prebiotics. My plan is to repopulate the gut flora first so that my whole digestion may become more stable and then to introduce prebiotics. My questions are: would you recommend starting with a low dose of one Bifidobacteria strain and building it up gradually and then introducing another strain, or, starting with a low dose of a blend of B.Bacterium and building that dose up? Thanks

        Written by Karen on
        1. I do not recommend this. Probiotics do not build up the gut flora. -Jason

          Written by Jason Blalack on
          1. I am skeptical! The problem is I am looking for probiotics in powder form with no added anything. Do you, or anyone else, know of any other brands that supply probiotics in pure powdered form? I completely understand they do not build up the gut flora, but they would build up the flora in my gut whilst taking them. And hopefully from there I could introduce more foods, including prebiotics. I don’t have much of an option as I need to do something to try to improve my digestion and enable me to include a wider range of foods. I am also looking at ‘Alflorex’ which do state the strain 35624, but which do, unfortunately have added fillers. There is a lot of research on this product for IBS.

            Written by Karen on
  28. HI Karen – I tried the Custom Probiotic for Infants and was ill – did baby scoop in glass of water and next day I’d blown up all over my body -I hate when that happens and you can’t really ride the storm looking like that if you have to go out to work and nothing fits and you look bloated and fat – don’t know why this happens. What are you using now

    Written by jan on
    1. Jan, I just looked up “Custom Probiotic for Infants” and it is NOT strain specific. Therefore you have no idea what you are getting. For $100 you can do much better and choose something that has been researched. Does this make sense? -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
    2. Hi Jan, I understand how difficult, and painful it is when you swell up like that. It might be because that Infant formula also contains Lactobacillus. With Histamine intolerance it is advised to take only the Bifidobacteria probiotics. B.Infantis is one of the recommended species, but that is different to the “Infant blend”. That said, I have not tried it myself yet as I am still researching. I am looking for pure powders so that I can be in control of my dose and also has no fillers which can aggravate histamine symptoms.

      Written by Karen on
      1. I have tried the Probiota Bif one recommended for histamine issues and it puffs my face up it also makes my constipation worse – I did come to the conclusion that I need acidophillis in which is the best strain for my constipation issues. Maybe I try and just get an adult infantis strain – but where do you find that – one which is clear of all the baddies. I was looking at perhaps trying Bimuno as a prebiotic instead of prebiotics and probiotics. If you find anything suitable please do share

        Written by jan on
        1. Hi Jan – that is the problem – where to get pure probiotics!! That’s why I was looking at the Customprobiotics. They have supplied info on the strains, but as Jason says, there is no research on these strains. I have found that most probiotics I look at actually do not state the strain on the pack. You might want to consider Alflorex – it is B.Infantis 35624. The capsules do have fillers, however they also do ‘straws’ where the bacteria is suspended in a droplet of oil only. What’s holding me back from trying this is that it will not be possible to alter the dose which as you will appreciate with histamine issues is important. Please post if you find anything else suitable.

          Written by karen on
  29. Yes it does like Karen said none of the strains on the website have “which” strain it is. It’s finding a probiotic that suits my needs which is difficult and I’m not too sure how I would get testing for that. The other question I have is do we really need probiotics – I’ve taken a variety over three years and think now my gut health must be improved and the good bacteria must be getting there having had no antibiotics or medication other than homeopathic remedies the last few years. Maybe I don’t need them – I feel sure that I did better with my bloat before I took probiotics and being histamine intolerant it’s proving to be a nightmare for me – thanks for your help though – this article on probiotics that you wrote has been such an eye opener

    Written by jan on
    1. Jan, Probiotics do NOT replenish the gut flora. They are temporary to accomplish a goal. To rebuild you must do other things, such as taking prebiotics, see my post on “Want Gut Health? Take Prebiotics (not Probiotics)”. As for testing see my post on gut biome testing here: – This is a good start. But working with a professional can help direct you to the right probiotics and prebiotics and other things to heal your gut also, especially if you are feeling worse with the things that you are taking. Many of the health food bought supplements are not worth the money, in my opinion. This is because there is no regulation for the industry, and marketing seems to be the deciding factor. Glad the information is helping you. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  30. Just a quick reply to say thank you because I need to read some of these articles – but wow that is an interesting comment you make about prebiotics being better – I always avoided those because I felt they bloated me more however I have got a box of Bimuno powders in my cupboard and nervous of starting them. Also can I get the test for gut health in the UK

    Written by jan on
    1. Certain prebiotics can aggravate certain conditions such as SIBO, so you must choose the right one for your situation. Not sure what is in the UK. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  31. And if you get the results of the test what kind of practitioner would I need to look for to work with me

    Written by jan on
    1. Look for a functional medicine practitioner that has experience with this sort of test. It is pretty new and not many understand it yet. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  32. I am 26 with severe endometriosis, done 2 surgeries to remove chocolate cyst and after that 2 failed IVF. Fast recurring of endo cysts. TTC for 4 years. Can you please suggest a good probiotic for my condition?

    Written by Irene on
    1. Hi Irene, I cannot recommend probiotics like this. I recommend finding a qualified health care practitioner that understands the details of probiotics, and that you can work with. If you cannot find someone I am happy to work with you via Skype to get you on a program to deeper health. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  33. HI Karen – if you find that really perfect probiotic without the added baddies I let me know – I tried Probiota bif for histamine issues but just couldn’t seem to tolerate it and it didn’t help my bowels at all that’s why I feel I need the acidophillis in I did find a good one yesterday that has Infantis in with inulin which I have heard so many good reports lately of inulin as a prebiotic and also for removing visceral fat around the tummy.
    I’ve tried Alflorex and it does have fillers but for me I had to stop taking it as it gave me really bad depression an bad mood – just thought I’d tell you my experience of this

    Written by Jan on
    1. Jan, how long do you give these probiotics that you have tried but don’t get on with? Im wondering if its die off that made you feel depressed and moody, can’t think why it would have that effect. By the way did you get a diagnosis of histamine intolerance in the UK?

      Written by Karen on
  34. I’ve given them a good go Alflorex I tried a few times – and gave it a month – the last time I tried I quit after two weeks because the mood got worse and as soon as I stopped it improved. Same as Gutpro – used that for about six weeks and the mood got worse then this horrible full body bloat seemed to kick in – like you go up a size. I tried Gasseri in the summer and that was good – but did not help the bloat nor did it do what it said about fitness weight loss probiotic because I gained weight on it despite monitoring my already limited diet and exercising. No official diagnosis but as a member of a forum for gluten free etc. someone said to me did I have HI so as I could never pinpoint what it was or why I reacted to certain foods read up on it and it matched all I went through – and how I react to foods mentioned and also the HI raising probiotics – if I avoid offenders I am OK. Regarding single strain Infantis have you checked Biocare out – let me know what you think

    Written by jan on
  35. Its so disheartening when you give something a try and it doesn’t work, or makes you worse. The Biocare Infantis, is not the Infantis species per se, it is a bifidobacteria lactis. No strains shown, as I have learnt from Jason’s blog. Lactis is supposed to be helpful for HI, however, all those Fructooligosaccharides worries me. Its nearly 100% FOS! I hope you find something good to help soon.

    Written by karen on
  36. Is Paracasei a strain that raises histamine symptoms. I know I can’t take L. Casei for this reason but I don’t know if this is the same strain or two different ones and I cannot find anything on the internet to say paracasei raises histamine – can anyone help please

    Written by Janet on
  37. Hi Jason, this is such an informative article! I am looking for l rhamnosus HN001 to treat my infant’s eczema and food intolerances/allergies. Do you know a brand that sells this specific strain? I am having a very difficult time finding this specific strain. I will happily order from your office if you carry it. Thank you!

    Written by Jasmine on
    1. Yes I carry a product with HN001 in it (and 1 other). It is a practitioner only brand. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  38. Good afternoon,
    Please, May I take Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14 with the medicine Trimebutine maleate?
    Thanks you so much.
    Sonia Mascaro (from Brazil)

    Written by Sonia Mascaro on
  39. Hello from Ireland,
    Which strain would you recommend for Anxiety?
    Many thanks,

    Written by Caroline on
    1. Please see above answer to this question. Best, -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  40. I first tried a probiotic at the end of December when I discovered I could actually finish a full 10 day treatment of antibiotics if I also took a probiotic.
    What do you think of My only negative side effect has been irritability, that has not been pleasant though. That side effect has been associated with “die off” would you say that is something that occurs and for how long? Overall I don’t have specific problems to address. My whole life I’ve had what I call a sensitive digestive tract. Overeating generally results in consequences, but I can’t pin down what causes the race to the bathroom. As I age I noticed this phenomenon getting worse. I’ve never been diagnosed with any illness but I am looking to avoid those periods of diarrhea, they sometimes last for a week but usually it’s just a bad day or night. I would also like to have improved immune function and avoid colds and flu. Lastly I am an avid runner and would love to improve my performance.

    Written by Maureen on
    1. The probiotic is fine overall, it is just unclear if that is what you need to correct your problem. I think you need a more in-depth evaluation to determine how to fix your gut / health problems. But of course if the probiotic works for you, then continue to take it. -Jason

      Written by Jason Blalack on
  41. After i read the article and the comments i’m more confused. My son has histamine intolerance , malabsorption, dental problems, anxiety, light eczema. No doctor paid attention on witch probiotic is good for his condition, i have receveid different probiotics but here i found out that they were no use to him or made him worse (like the specie Lactobacillus). On the label were no specific strains. The last probiotic was the Only one that had specific strains but at the time i didn’t now that was important. It was my choice because i wanted a probiotic that was”clean” and a i found Omnibiotic Panda. Now who knows if he was any good for my son and my conclusion after this article is that a have no chance to get a good probiotic for his condition ….specialy in my contry…. This is so sad….

    Written by Natalia on
  42. Hi. Very good and informative article that I finally found on internet detailing the specific strains. Can I have your opinion that, I’m a frequent sufferer from gassy stomach pain and indigestion pain, especially after high protein meal. I tried many products some work (ease my gassy pain) initially but few months later it doesn’work anymore. Recently I find a product solely contains this Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299v), do you think it works for me? Am I considered as a patient of IBS? For Chinese therapy, the doctors said my spleen is weak. Thank you.

    Written by chan on
  43. Hi,
    I saw a study that L.rhamnosus hn001 may aid in preventing gestational diabetes.
    I did not find any products that have this strain.
    Is L. Rhamnosus GG the same thing?


    Written by Becca on
  44. Thank you for all the information regarding specific genus and species in there are specific strains they can contain. There is so much information from retailers/ internet bloggers that can sway us in the wrong way, when trying to find the right probiotic for our specific needs. This detailed chart you set up has been very beneficial. I’d like to ask, is there a specific strain you highly recommend for IBS & constipation?

    Written by Rose on

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