Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PROBIOTICS UNCOVERED!

Probiotics, (meaning: for life) are common in health food stores, drug stores, grocery stores and even Wal-Mart in recent years.  But this was not always the case.  Two decades ago only health food stores carried them and an occasional grocery store in liquid form in the dairy section.  The average person had no idea what they were.  I remember many years ago explaining to my clients the value of taking probiotics while many of them displayed a confused face as to what in the world I was talking about.  You can imagine the faces I would get as I continued to explain that they were living microorganisms, good bacteria and that they should ingest these living things!  Nowadays most of my clients are familiar with probiotics.  This is no surprise in view of the extensive advertising that is common in magazines, newspapers, the Internet and on television.  With all of this advertising how is a consumer to know which one to choose?  This is especially an issue for probiotics since they need to be alive to be of benefit to the individual.  As a colon therapist it is most important that I direct my client to probiotics that are known for their stability and potency.  For the colon to function properly it needs a proper balance of approximately 80% beneficial (friendly) bacteria to 20% bad (unfriendly) bacteria.  The beneficial bacteria is a major component of our immune system since they fight against viruses, fungus, bad bacteria, parasites and carcinogens constantly and by doing so they accomplish 70% of our immune system fight in the healthy individual.  Sadly, antibiotics, steroidal drugs, a poor diet, constipation and even stress can destroy some of this much needed beneficial bacteria.  During the course of a colonic, some of this bad bacteria is removed from the body.  It is imperative that friendly bacteria, probiotics, are reintroduced into the body orally with the aim of adjusting the ratio of friendly to unfriendly bacteria closer to the 80%- 20% ratio of a healthy person.  
So there is the dilemma.  When I first started as a colon therapist I was naïve to the claims made by supplement companies and so I tended to believe that what was written on the bottle as to its contents was truly in the bottle.  My ignorance was blown to bits with a discovery that became deeper and deeper.  It turned everything I believed upside down.  And so I will now tell the story that has changed my viewpoint about a lot of things.

It started about 16 years ago with a client named Tom who showed me a flyer he had received from his health food store about probiotics that claimed to be far superior to other probiotics on the market.  It claimed that instead of centrifuging, (spinning at high speed) the bacteria from its growing medium, they used a method employing ultraviolet light so that the short chain fatty acids were not destroyed in the process.  It also claimed a unique oil matrix system to protect the viable bacteria from stomach acid for better delivery to the intestines.  Although I was happy with the probiotics I carried in my office I felt that I shouldn’t be closed-minded and so I did research on the matter.  I contacted the company that produced the probiotics and mentioned that I was a colon therapist.  They quickly sent me a book about probiotics.  I learned later that this same book was being given free at health food stores.  As I read the book I came across a disturbing paragraph.  The writer said that after extensive research on several probiotics on the market they found that all of the products except for one failed in their claims of potency.  I was especially shocked when the book mentioned the company I used and said that it didn’t refrigerate their product after manufacturing.  The book even said that the company didn’t have refrigeration units on site.  This information shocked me.  I knew that to keep probiotics viable they have to be refrigerated.  They can withstand a few days without refrigeration if the bottle is tightly closed and kept out of direct sunlight or heat.  After a few days out of refrigeration they start to lose their potency.  I had to call the company and ask about this.  I had to know the truth!  What came next changed my life and became my most career-altering moment as a colon therapist.

The company decided to arrange a three party call at some time in the near future with the famous scientist, Dr. Khem Shahani, the developer and manufacturer of their probiotics.  This was very exciting for me.  Dr. Shahani had written over 200 articles that were peer-reviewed and published about beneficial bacteria.  He also served as an expert panelist for the World Health Organization for 14 years.  Additionally he had received numerous awards worldwide for his work.  He is accredited for the discovery of the DDS-1 strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus. (Not to be confused with DDS).  Interestingly, the book that started me on this search even refers to Dr. Shahani as an expert in the scientific community.  In fact, about a third of the way through the book the writer states, “ The name Dr. Khem Shahani has by now cropped up a sufficient number of times for you to realize his enormous research contribution to our knowledge of the friendly bacteria.”  Yet this very same book denounced the probiotic I carried which was produced under his 
supervision.
For more information about Dr. Shahani please go to the link below.

In this upcoming conversation I would be allowed to ask Dr. Shahani ANY questions that I wanted!  I had ten days to figure out the questions.  I wanted every one to count.  I wrote them all down in anticipation.  The obvious initial questions would be about the probiotics I was using and the claims made by the book I had read.  He was the actual producer of the probiotics I used as well as the producer of many other privately labeled probiotics for other companies, each having their own unique blend.

Our first conversation lasted 45 minutes long with the company I was doing business with on the phone line as well.  Dr. Shahani was a well-mannered gentleman.  He would kindly answer my questions one by one.  When I mentioned the book, he said that he had received a copy from the writer since she had been one of his students, but he had not had the time to read it since he was working on finishing one of his own books.  When I read the paragraph that was so disturbing to me from the book, he was clearly taken aback.  He told me that when the writer was his student she often essayed the very product that I carried in his lab before she graduated as a scientist.  Dr. Shahani was disturbed that she would write in this publication information that she knew personally was not so.  To add to this, she owned the very company that produced the probiotics that she said in her book was the only one that tested accurately, yet she never discloses this in her book.  How deceitful!

Dr. Shahani decided to have independent scientists from several companies essay her probiotics.  The results were very poor.  In fact, one scientist from Switzerland said that it tested like a potato chip.  This I learned on a subsequent discussion over the phone.  I also learned that the statement made on the brochure I had received claiming that centrifuging the bacteria from its growing medium caused the short chain fatty acids to be destroyed, was not supported by any scientific data.  Additionally, when the writer was confronted at a scientific convention about the data to support her claims about using ultraviolet light instead of centrifuging, she would not produce any data to her peers for a peer-reviewed study.

Over the course of several years I had many interesting conversations with Dr. Shahani.  I would always have a pen and paper ready to write down any new gems I would learn.  Dr. Shahani had given me his home and office numbers on that first call so that I could freely call him with questions.  I spoke to his courteous wife on several occasions and we would exchange family information with each other.  He traveled extensively all over the world giving lectures at scientific conventions and would occasionally call me from an airport somewhere in the world just to chat a bit when he had some extra time.  He told me from the start that he enjoyed my thirst for knowledge.  I felt especially privileged when he came for a visit to meet me since he had flown into an airport an hour away.  I learned so much in those years.

Approximately one year after our initial conversation, Dr. Shahani called me with some unsettling information.  I was to keep it confidential, so I have not disclosed any of the companies I mentioned above.  He told me that the company that distributed his probiotics to me, the one that had put me in contact with him in the beginning, had not paid a large sum of money that they owed to him and for the last 6 months had been filling their bottles with probiotics from a company in Canada instead of using his proven DDS-1 strain.  Despite this, their label read the same, that it was Dr. Shahani’s product.  This explained a quandary I had been having.  One of my clients used my probiotics for her 16-year-old son for his acne.  The acne had disappeared for a year but in recent months his acne had returned despite faithfully taking the probiotics as before.  Additionally, I was not having the same success with my clients, especially those with pronounced colon problems, as I had before, but I had not understood why.  Now I learned that the probiotics I was using in my office for the last 6 months was not at all the same product I was using for many years prior and what was labeled on the bottle was not at all in the bottle!  Not long after I learned this information, the company from Canada that produced the probiotics went bankrupt and the initial company that distributed them to me was bought out and went under a different name.  Such greed and dishonesty!  But now who could I trust, what would I do since I was so dependant on my clients having quality probiotics?  Everyway I turned there was no integrity but greed instead.

Dr. Shahani knew my concern and so he surprised me with the privilege to carry my own privately labeled probiotics, which I named Quintestinal.  I would be by far the smallest company that he did business with.  We worked together in developing a unique product, one that would greatly benefit my typical client.  He put together the appropriate quantities of each of the five strains of microorganisms for the formulation.  Since then I have no worries about the probiotics I carry in my office for the health of my clients.  Additionally many doctors, chiropractors and osteopaths, naturopaths and other therapists sell my probiotics in their offices.  I feel so honored that Dr. Shahani has provided this option for me and since his death, his son, Michael, has carried on his wishes.

I learned so much from Dr. Shahani, a true wealth of knowledge that would benefit my work for years to come.  He explained the many different strains of bacteria and how each benefits the body in its own unique way.  He taught me that the word, acidophilus, means acid loving and so a high potency product could survive stomach acid and remain intact as it enters the small and large intestines.  Many companies direct their consumers to take their probiotics on an empty stomach with the concept that less acid in the stomach allows for better survival into the intestines.  Dr. Shahani explained that just thinking about food creates more acid in the stomach and that in actuality all living things need food, warmth and water to survive.  Since probiotics are living microorganisms they do best when taken with food to make them stronger.  Although some may not survive the stomach acid, if a person took high potency probiotics, the strongest strains in the product would survive and do very well in the body and would have strength to proliferate.  In those years the average probiotics product on the market had strengths in the millions, now many claim strengths in the high billions.  Dr. Shahani’s probiotics have always measured in the billions.  His was also one of the few that contained multiple strains of bacteria.  At that time most companies claimed that having several bacteria in the product would cause them to compete against one another.  Dr. Shahani explained that the bacteria are different from one another just as people are different from one another yet in most situations people have learned to live peacefully together.  The same is true with the multiple bacteria.  We have thousands of friendly bacteria in our bodies, and although at times there may be a little war, for the most part they live harmoniously with one another just as people do.  Interestingly, today it is rare to find a singular bacteria probiotics on the market.  Some even have extraordinary lists of different bacteria.  With such a list one has to wonder as to how much of each could really be in the bottle to be of any benefit.

Dr. Shahani also explained that the live activity of the microorganisms would burn themselves out over time and so to keep the probiotics alive, refrigeration was necessary to put them in ‘suspended animation.’  He always had an interesting way of explaining things.  With the many products on the market came claims of ridiculously high potency and many claimed no need to refrigerate their probiotics.  Dr. Shahani told me in one of our latter conversations that all of the laboratory studies he had done along with his colleagues showed that probiotics do lose their potency over time and become dead and therefore useless.  So why are non-refrigerated products becoming more and more popular?  We return to what I learned in the early years with Dr. Shahani, greed.  The consumer typically trusts that what a company says is in the bottle is truly in the bottle.  I learned that is not always the case.  Refrigeration costs money, not just the units but also the electricity to run them.  Think of the refrigeration needed by a company for its probiotics before they are shipped to the different suppliers.  That spells big bucks.  Now think of the refrigeration needed by professionals and health food stores, etc.  Again, more bucks.  This is why you will never see refrigerated probiotics at Wal-Mart.  When I am shipped my probiotics from Nebraska Cultures they are sent over night.  This too is very costly.  I as the provider pay the freight.  I am charged only what Nebraska Cultures is charged, no extra fee for their handling.  One of my larger shipments was in the summer and was sent Fed-Ex Priority Over Night, the quickest shipping process.  That shipment cost me $945!  Yep, you read right, and that doesn’t include my refrigeration units or the electricity to run them.  So I have reason to have confidence in the quality of the probiotics, Quintestinal, the one my clients take.  The results I get with them prove this as well.  

A well-known supplement company, Kyolic, recently had a full-page ad in a magazine called Natural Solutions.  Let me quote what it says as to why they don’t use refrigeration for their probiotics,  “If you’re getting your probiotics (like acidophilus) from the refrigerated section, you might want to reconsider.  Moisture’s the main enemy of probiotics, not heat.  When probiotics are refrigerated, condensation develops, killing these beneficial bacteria.  Keeping what’s inside the bottle dry helps keep the probiotics alive.”  Yes, moisture will destroy beneficial bacteria but this company believes consumers are idiots.  When was the last time you opened a bottle or jar in the fridge and found droplets of water in it?  If the lid is on properly it doesn’t happen.  This statement is ridiculous!  I carry my probiotics Quintestinal in powder form as well as capsules.  In all of the years I have carried it I have NEVER opened a bottle and found any condensation in it.  In fact I could take a bottle of powder Quintestinal and pour it out like fine sand without a single lump if I wanted to.  The real issue is that this company doesn’t want the expense of refrigeration for their product and by this statement they will also lure their suppliers to carry it without the need for them to have to pay for refrigeration.  Clever, huh?  This is another example of a company making claims that have truth to them but putting a twist on it to fool the public into purchasing their product. 

A client told me yesterday that she received an ad by e-mail from a well-known multi-level marketing company, Shaklee, about the probiotics that they carry.  It claims that its non-refrigerated probiotics is the ONLY one that has live bacteria in it.  Here is another ridiculous claim.  Seriously, have they tested ALL of the probiotics available?  There are many good probiotics products out there.  The consumer needs to be aware of such outrageous claims.

In the July 2005 Consumer Reports magazine, a non-biased magazine that allows no advertising, there was an article about probiotics.  This is one of the conclusions they made after their extensive testing process.  “At testing time, 4 of the 14 pill products had no more than half of their claimed number of probiotics, on average. For example, Origin Acidophilus, sold at Target, claimed to have more than 100 million CFUs per serving when produced, but our sample had 20 million. Three of the four liquid supplements listed bacterial count but fell far short of those numbers when we tested.”

So what does a consumer do?  I have found that the most expensive products are the most advertised and usually don’t have the bacteria count they claim according to independent laboratories.  Guess who pays for all of that advertising?  So my advice is to go to your trusted professional or local health food store.  Look in the refrigerated probiotics section and most often you are safe with a mid-range price product.  Make sure it measures the bacteria in CFU’s, not mgs.  It is also best if it identifies the strain of L. acidophilus, usually the most prominent bacteria in probiotics, because it is responsible for producing many more other forms of bacteria once it implants in your intestines.

What about yogurt probiotics such as Activia?  Good quality yogurts such as Mountain High and Stony Field Farms as well as numerous Greek yogurts like Faga, my personal favorite, have valuable cultures of beneficial bacteria.  The advertising campaign of Dannon’s Activia has been very successful but it has also caused a lawsuit that began in 2008.  In part this is what it was about, “The lawsuit against Dannon says that even their own studies failed to prove that Activia has health benefits superior to other brands of yogurt. Yet, Dannon has stated these yogurts were proven “clinically” and “scientifically” to have health benefits. In the lawsuit, it is mentioned that Dannon charges about 30% more for the Activia and DanActive yogurt lines than other yogurts.”  So there you have it, more false misrepresentation.  Additionally, Activia has refined sugar in it. This feeds unfriendly bacteria and any candida (a yeast form) in the intestines.  This would be counter-productive to its purpose of raising the beneficial bacteria in the intestines to attain a higher ratio of good verses bad bacteria.

Taking a daily probiotics supplement has benefits that extend far beyond helping our digestive tract.  I remember a physician's report on CNN a few years ago at the beginning of flu season.  Instead of recommending the typical vitamin C, garlic or Echinacea he stated that probiotics are a person's best defense. The physician  continued by saying what I have been telling my clients for decades, that 70% of our immune system function comes from the friendly bacteria lining our gut wall.  Taking probiotics will increase this fight making one better protected for the flu season.  Kudos to CNN!

UPDATE OCT. 15, 2018:
As years have passed since the writing of this blog science has made many  advancements.  This is very true of probiotics as well.  With our decades of experience we have had the ability to ascertain which products work and which do not.  To guarantee that our clients get the best possible probiotic available we have carried our own private label for 25 years.  With advances in science we have also made advances in the probiotics we offer.  As the consumer you can be assured that Quintessential guarantees genetically identified strains with clinical research that back benefits to our health.  Also guaranteed is the potency per dose through the date of expiration based on proper storage.  Quintessential has been certified by NSF and given the GMP seal.  To purchase please go to the website below: 






12 comments:

  1. Wow! This is such well-explained facts about probiotics. Thank you for sharing this to everyone, really appreciate it. People should really know the real benefits of this supplement. Me and my family already knows this because we've been supplementing ourselves with this great supplement for more than a year already and we're glad with the results.

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  2. Thank you Valerie. I appreciate your comment. It is incredible how long the road for probiotics has been.
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    1. Thank you Vipul. It is my pleasure to share my journey in learning about this very important supplement.

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  4. Should children be given probiotics and are there any probiotics brands available for them. Have any studies been done to prove their health benefits for growing children? Should a healthy person be using probiotics?

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    1. So sorry I didn't see this much sooner! Yes! Children can take probiotics, even newborns. My Quintestinal has been used by many children and babies with remarkable results including a child scheduled for ear tubes due to chronic ear infections. The infection went away completely and the child's temperament changed to a calm happy child. Just halve the dosage. Probiotics can even be given to pets. Say goodbye to gassy dogs! No need to pay $ for specialized ones for either. Just be sure to get refrigerated probiotics.

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