Starting up on Probiotics – my thoughts

<Disclaimer>As always, discuss with your knowledgable medical professional before doing any changes in supplements or probiotics, etc </Disclaimer>

A reader sent me the following email:

Hello Ken,
I am preparing to test out various probiotics.  I want to see how I react to the various probiotics prior to starting on the herbs.
I plan on trying:
1. Align
2. BioGaia Protectis
3. 4X probiotics (If I can find a company that will ship it to Canada)
4. Jarrow Femdophilus
5. Mutaflor
Probably in that order.
I would appreciate your recommendations on how long I should try each probiotic, and what maximum dose I should aim for, for each?
Also, do you recommend taking the probiotics with food or on an empty stomach?
Should I take a break in between each probiotic?  If so, how long?
I thank you, in advance, for your input.


My general comments are:

  1. Start with one capsule (or if in tablet form, 1/2 tablet) for the first 3 days, then increase every three days unless your body is clearly adjusting to it. Once an adjustment starts — keep on that dosage until it stops.
    1. If it does not stop within 7 days stop.
    2. When it stops, increase the dosage for another 3 days
  2. Maximum time on any probiotic should be 10-14 days – I prefer the pulsing model.
  3. Maximum dosage is 2x recommended dosage — there are some studies suggesting a negative return from higher amounts. Of course, we do not know where that threshold is.
    1. Remember, the purpose is nudge your gut bacteria in the right direction — not to clobber it with “strangers”.

Keep notes on any changes that you experience. If you are living with a significant other, ask them to note any changes of mood, speech etc.

When / How to take

My usual pattern is to take the probiotic just before bed-time. This is a habit from the antibiotics days — if a herx or other reaction starts, you would rather sleep thru it! In some cases, it will help with sleep. I would suggest a 100% rye bread (no wheat flour) slice as an evening snack because rye bread appears to be encourage more diversity of gut bacteria. My usuals can be purchased on Amazon or my local grocery store (and likely a few deli’s).

Additionally, supplement with D-Ribose. It is the food for e-coli (Mutaflor)

Specific answers: