Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Truth About Culturelle Probiotics

My Story

I bought Culturelle some years ago at the recommendation of a friend, who was giving this to her autistic son to treat his leaky gut syndrome. Costing approximately SGD40 for a 30 day supply, this product did not come cheap. But I decided to give it a try anyway, hoping that it would ease the digestive troubles I was experiencing at that time. To cut the long story short, I did find relief from my indigestion three days after taking Culturelle , but did not understand or appreciate why or what makes it so effective then.

Recently I became highly interested in the topic of probiotics and started doing research on Culturelle for some time. My relentless pursuit in the jungle of information that is the internet finally revealed some fascinating facts about this product.

What Places Culturelle Apart From Other Probiotics Supplement?

Culturelle is a probiotics supplement that contains the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (strain ATCC 53103), a bacterium that occurs naturally in the human digestive tract. This bacteria strain was discovered in 1985 by two Boston based scientists, Professors Sherwood Gorbach and Barry Goldin, who were looking for a strain that could satisfy the following stringent criteria:- 

1) The bacteria should be of human origin; 2) It must be capable of attaching to human intestinal lining 3) It must be capable of colonizing the gut to prevent competition from invading pathogens; 4) It can withstand stomach and bile acid in order to survive the journey from the stomach to the intestines; and 5) The strain should have health-promoting benefits in the human body 6) It needs to be safe for human consumption. LGG satisfies all of these criteria and is the best-studied and most extensively documented probiotic lactic-acid bacteria strain in the world. At present, Lactobacillus GG has the most extensive safety assessment record of any other probiotic strain. Few other strains in the Lactobacillus rhamnosus species have received this kind of scientific attention.

Pretty amazing, I would say. But I wasn't satisfied yet. Not until I see some real scientific data behind these claims. Below is what I uncovered....

LGG proves effective for acute and traveler's diarrhea

 o LGG is an effective form of treatment for diarrhea caused by the clostridium difficile bacteria. (a) This type of bacteria is also responsible for more serious intestinal disorders like colitis. In one study of 32 patients carried out in 1996 in Boston and Baltimore the LGG treatment success rate is a significant 94%.

o LGG also significantly reduced the duration of diarrhea in another study particularly in rotavirus-caused diarrhea.(b) Professor Gary Huffnagle, renowned author of "The Probiotics Revolution" also cited a study carried out at European medical centers on 287 children (ages 1 month to 3 years) that "the duration of the diarrhea was reduced by an impressive 13 hours.."(refer to page 128 of "The Probiotics Revolution")

 o The incidence of traveler's diarrhea is lower in people who consumes Lactobacillus GG .(c)

 LGG moderates milk-sensitivity

o LGG prevents inflammation in individuals sensitive to cow's milk.

o In a double-blind, crossover study, it was found that LGG eliminated inflammatory response in the milk-sensitive subjects to a significant degree. In non-sensitive subjects, LGG stimulated their immune system.(d)   LGG decreases the incidence of atopic eczema

o Lactobacillus GG has been clinically shown to prevent occurrence of atopic eczema in children.

o In a 6 months trial of 159 infants who are at risk of developing atopic eczema, it was found that infants administered LGG were only half as likely to develop the skin disorder compared to the placebo group during the first 2 years of life.(e)   o The protective effect of LGG continued to for at least 4 years.(f)

Other Proven Therapeutic Effects of Lactobacillus GG

o Reduce H.pylori antibiotics side effects. LGG significantly reduced sided effects such as bloating, diarrhea and metallic taste in the mouth while on triple therapy, the standard treatment for H. pyloric infections.(g)

o Anti-Tumor Effects.Lactobacillus GG was observed to slow down the development of colon tumors in rats on a high-fat diet.(h)

o Prevents relapse in ulcerative colitis patients.(i)

What Else Do I Like About This Product? A check at Culturelle's website shows that they guarantee 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) of Lactobacillus GG at the time of use-the scientifically researched amount proven for beneficial clinical response. Most manufacturers only list the number of viable bacteria cells at the time of manufacture.

Another point worth mentioning here is that each capsule in Culturelle "is individually double-foil protected and nitrogen flushed to assure maximum potency and stability, as well as to act as an effective barrier against light, moisture, heat, and air."This makes it very convenient for travelling as well as people who have limited space in their refrigerator.

Culturelle is proven safe for infants and children and pregnant women. It has no known adverse interactions with medications.

What To Watch Out For....

Milk-sensitive people be aware

Although the scientific data I presented above claims that LGG is safe for milk-sensitive individuals, I personally feel there may still be potential for allergies since Culturelle contains trace level of casein and whey which are milk protein. A search on some review sites shows that a very small minority of users experience digestive disturbances and colon irritation when taking Culturelle. Well, I suppose nothing works perfectly well for everyone, since every human being has a unique makeup in their biochemistry.

You might to consider other brands like UAS Lab's Probioplus and Natren's Healthy Trinity which are good non-dairy options.

No one type of bacteria strain works for everything

Due to the huge amount of attention place on the LGG strain by the scientific community, it is easy to neglect the potential benefits other strains of bacteria may have on the human body. In the words of Professor Gary B. Huffnagle, a highly respected immunologist and microbiologist, "all members of a bacteria species share many microbiological and biochemical traits, and others might be just as beneficial as - or even superior to-the GG strain....Until all the information is in, variety is your best bet."

My Verdict

Overall, Culturelle is a good all-rounder at an affordable price, so I would give it a 4 1/2 out of 5 star rating. Despite its flaws, I would still purchase this once in a while to create a diverse probiotics colony in my gut. It would very likely be my first choice should I ever need to fight a bad bout of gastrointestinal infection.

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