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Has anyone tried the VSL#3 probiotic or a probiotic of similar potency?

by (1510)
Updated about 2 hours ago
Created November 14, 2010 at 3:50 PM

According to the website,

VSL#3?? has the highest available concentration of beneficial bacteria with 450 billion live bacteria per packet. The human gut has thousands of billions of resident bacteria. In order to modulate the composition of this gut flora in a positive way, an extremely large amount of probiotic bacteria is necessary. VSL#3?? is the only probiotic preparation that delivers enough bacteria to beneficially affect the gut flora in patients with serious intestinal disorders.

And by serious intestinal disorders, they refer to medically diagnosed ulcerative colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or an ileal pouch.

VSL#3?? works by colonizing the GI tract with optimal quantities and types of probiotic (???good???) bacteria. These bacteria adhere to the walls of the GI tract and form a barrier that protects the inner layer of the gut from pathogenic (???bad???) bacteria and other toxic substances that can cause inflammation by modulating intestinal defense mechanisms.

In addition, VSL#3?? modulates a variety of substances that are involved in the healing of inflammation. For example, VSL#3?? has been shown to induce the production of interleukin-10, an important ???chemical messenger??? that suppresses inflammation. 22,35,39,49,64

Finally, evidence suggests that VSL#3?? reduces intestinal permeability by tightening up the junctions between the cells in the outer layer of the intestine (the epithelium).39 If the spaces between the cells of the gut wall become too large, bad bacteria and toxins can leak in, causing inflammation.

At about $86 for 30 packets (of the unflavored powder), it seems like a good deal for 450 billion live bacteria per packet. Or at least compared to what I've seen at Whole Foods. Anyone have personal experience with using VSL#3 or a probiotic of similar potency?

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1786 · August 22, 2012 at 8:53 PM

How did u identify other than trial & error?

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1386 · November 18, 2010 at 11:52 AM

if i (still) had a problem, and lived in the US, i probably would go to this very competent dude: http://ibstreatmentcenter.blogspot.com he has an excellent blog about IBS and all things related to the gut and food intolerances, and also offers DNA stool testing, which apparently is way superior to the usual "simple" stool tests done by most labs. but again, it depends what your current problem or need is. if you don't have an actual problem but just want to support your gut a simpler and cheaper "off the shelf" probiotic, for example by now foods (see http://is.gd/hlukn ) will just do fine.

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2399 · November 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM

I believe one would be Metametrix (http://www.metametrix.com/test-menu/profiles/gastrointestinal-function/dna-stool-analysis-gi-effects). 500$ or so ?

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2399 · November 17, 2010 at 9:12 AM

While fish oil mechanism isn't comparable to everyday fight in the gut flora, I wish you all the best since I can relate to the antibiotics damage. You might want to experiment with inulin/oligofructose (cheap on eBay). I hope everything turns out for the best.

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1510 · November 17, 2010 at 3:55 AM

The probiotic I used before was Theralac, which my doctor recommended. I took it for two months and saw a lasting difference for about 6. But now, a year later, I'm having some digestive issues again and recently had to take some antibiotics, so I think it's time for a probiotic tune-up. Because of it's potency, VSL#3 works out to be cheaper than Theralac, but both are considered "medical grade," for whatever that means. I also don't necessarily expect probiotics to work after I stop taking them. Just like I don't expect fish oil to work months after I stop taking it.

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1510 · November 17, 2010 at 3:42 AM

That's definitely a great point. To ask a totally awkward question, do you where to get a stool test like that done?

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1510 · November 17, 2010 at 3:36 AM

That's a great point about needing to identify specific strains of probiotics that are causing problems because of overgrowth or insufficiency.

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558 · November 16, 2010 at 2:31 PM

yes,it actually had a noticeable effect for constipation and helped cure my wifes bout with ulcerative colitis,with VSL#3 all I had was a lighter wallet.My wife and I have never noticed benefit from probiotics and I've tried many.I've also had success with cooking up a pot of lentils to eat every 2-3 months for the prebiotics

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2399 · November 16, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Systematic review says "Probiotics appear to be efficacious in IBS, but the magnitude of benefit and the most effective species and strain are uncertain." This is actually the best answer I've seen on the topic of probiotics.

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3690 · November 16, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Excellent answer. Using wrong strains can even make things worst.

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56616 · November 16, 2010 at 12:53 PM

There are a lot of studies on probiotics. Pubmed people...

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2399 · November 16, 2010 at 12:26 PM

I understand that I can come across harshly online, so I apologize for any possible hostile tone. Intent wasn't there. As for VSL's contact Paleo Seb.

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2399 · November 16, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Ego tempting indeed. The point that I'm trying to get across is, 1. that if your probiotics work, why do you want to change them ? Do you presume that more would work better ? And two, I'm positive you can find one testimony on the internet where people will say that they work but they seem expensive for "trial and error" and I wouldn't want to see people spending money on another marketing hype not backed up with science (not saying that about probiotics).

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1510 · November 15, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Icko, I don't understand what your beef is. No, I'm not asking for general views on whether probiotics work, there are lots of other questions here about that. I personally don't need objective proof that all probiotics work. If you do, you can ask that question or go read the others. I'm asking if people have had personal experiences with VSL3 or other high potency probiotics. If you think my question is inappropriate, you can flag it. Otherwise, I don't see what your interest is.

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2399 · November 15, 2010 at 7:18 PM

All I'm saying is that if you don't have any proof that Z works, why bother asking if a brand of Z is good. Why do you want to change from your working probiotics ?

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1510 · November 15, 2010 at 2:18 AM

For me, certain probiotics have produced lasting effects in the past, but I've never tried VSL#3. But I'm not asking for proof, I asking for personal experience with a particular product.

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2399 · November 14, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Do you have any proof that probiotics work ? Meaning that the effects stay even when you stop taking them ? If not, 86$*12*n years is one Bernie Madoff deal.

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2399 · November 14, 2010 at 7:37 PM

Do you have any proof that probiotics work ? Meaning that the effects stay even when you stop taking them ?

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24523 · November 14, 2010 at 7:27 PM

Can you specify how it worked better?

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18 Answers

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3690 · November 16, 2010 at 1:36 PM

I've taken the VSL#3 for about a month with sometimes up to 4 doses per day because my gut problems seemed so hard to shake down.

It is a very powerful probiotic, but keep in mind that a powdered version like that one will lose much more potency passing through the stomach than an enteric coated version.

Unfortunately for me though, vsl#3 made things worst, but on the good side it was the only probiotic that was strong enough to tell me something had been wrong all along with the probiotics I've been using. It made me discover that bifidum is probably overgrowing in my small intestine and that any probiotic formulation that contains it will keep my problem alive.

I agree with qualia that you should strive to learn exactly what you're dealing with.

I've tried lots and lots of probiotics and I've found that what works best for me are acidophilus formulations in enteric coated capsules without any FOS or inulin.

Hope this helps somewhat.

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1510 · November 17, 2010 at 3:36 AM

That's a great point about needing to identify specific strains of probiotics that are causing problems because of overgrowth or insufficiency.

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1786 · August 22, 2012 at 8:53 PM

How did u identify other than trial & error?

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1386 · November 16, 2010 at 11:54 AM

good question. i have wondered this myself if the 30x potency brings a noticeable benefit compared to the usual 5b potency. i would guess so. however, in my personal experience, it's even more important to find the right type of probiotic species for one's specific problem. for example, one needs different strains for a "simple" disbyosis caused by antibiotics than for bacterial or fungal overgrowth in the small intestine, or even an infection with a pathogen like difficile. so, i guess its more important to find out what the problem is (maybe doing a stool test), and then look for the strain that has proven to be most effective for this specific problem (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probiotic for example). otherwise one can treat for month by using something that has absolutely no effect on ones specific problem. the strains i would try out first are boulardii, coagulans, L.GG and acidophilius.

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3690 · November 16, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Excellent answer. Using wrong strains can even make things worst.

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2399 · November 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM

I believe one would be Metametrix (http://www.metametrix.com/test-menu/profiles/gastrointestinal-function/dna-stool-analysis-gi-effects). 500$ or so ?

E46d4f7e35e46ee4e8211ab4bc852023
1510 · November 17, 2010 at 3:42 AM

That's definitely a great point. To ask a totally awkward question, do you where to get a stool test like that done?

5f0158c23fcb5636e57b4ce097784da0
1386 · November 18, 2010 at 11:52 AM

if i (still) had a problem, and lived in the US, i probably would go to this very competent dude: http://ibstreatmentcenter.blogspot.com he has an excellent blog about IBS and all things related to the gut and food intolerances, and also offers DNA stool testing, which apparently is way superior to the usual "simple" stool tests done by most labs. but again, it depends what your current problem or need is. if you don't have an actual problem but just want to support your gut a simpler and cheaper "off the shelf" probiotic, for example by now foods (see http://is.gd/hlukn ) will just do fine.

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15 · October 11, 2013 at 10:49 PM

I use kombucha and ferment different veggies just using sea salt, since I need to go the lost cost route. What I found to have a very positive effect was not a probiotic, but diotomaceous earth. It sure improved my bm, and I don't really know why, but it has been nothing if not good for my digestion. I believe it cleaned out my yeast problem much faster than the probiotics which I do keep using a lot.

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0 · October 11, 2013 at 10:17 PM

I haven't tried it but I am seriously considering it. But I'm worried it isn't right for my specific problems. I have candida which is causing major GI issues. Bloating, acid reflux, indigestion, thyroid and hormone issues, lethargy and muscle fatigue, but no bleeding so I don't think I'm at the point of ulcerative colitis. I may possibly have leaky gut because of my instant reaction to added sugars, gluten, dairy, and soy- hot flashes, muscle pain, and instant sinus problems. Does anyone know if VSL #3 would be good or bad for my condition? I eat Paleo each and every day! Love it but it isn't helping so I know I need to step up my game!

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0 · September 02, 2013 at 8:27 PM

I took VSL#3 (pill form) for one month. However, it seemed to make my IBS worse, I would suffer from severe abdominal cramping after taking it. I then discovered that VSL#3 contains dairy, and that most people with IBS do not tolerate dairy well. I have now switched to a dairy free probiotic which seems to work better for me than the VSL#3

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0 · August 25, 2013 at 2:00 PM

I have been taking VSL #3 for about a year now. I take one capsule per day and for the first time in my life, I do not have problems with IBS. The effect of this probiotic has been very dramatic for me and life changing. For the first time I do not have to worry about everything that I eat. I give it a big thumbs up!!

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0 · August 03, 2013 at 3:56 PM

After numerous tests with no results, when I mentioned that I had read that only 60% of the tests for SIBO, small intestion bacteria overgrowth, were accurate, my gastro guy finally decided to treat me for it. He did give me free samples for a three week regimen, along with antibiotics to treat e coli only. I've been doing them for 10 days. I am better, but I just before I started, I also changed my diet dramatically to the one recommended by Norm Robillard on the Digestive Health website. http://digestivehealthinstitute.org/ It is similar to the paleo diet but allows some dairy. I strongly recommend this site for info; he described my symptoms to the tee.

One key thing: almost everyone I've read who takes VSL #3 feels bloated. I certainly do, but I'm way better than I was before.

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0 · June 28, 2013 at 6:52 AM

I've been taking VSL 3 for about 9 months now, and while I can't report anything dramatic, it does appear to help with my IBS-D. My problems were (1) finding a doctor with enough brains and heart to really listen, consider options, and know her stuff (I've lost count of the doctors who missed this, but it's been a nearly 3 year battle), and as I later figured out (and got confirmation via testing), I have an intolerance or "slow" allergy to two proteins in milk as well as to gluten. So, good bye to about 90% of the food on the planet, and grocery shopping takes forever. However, when I do have a bad episode, I can nearly always trace it to some contaminated (for my system) food or food that turns out to be on the no-no list for IBS.

My doctor also has me taking a high-end fish oil supplement (w/ lemon scent...ick, fish and lemon, both in strong amounts), plus ginger and turmeric. Because of the invasion of foods on my list to leave alone, I still run into problems with cross-contamination, someone being careless, etc. My 15 year old niece has similar allergies, and she said she's run into that problem her whole life. Overall, I'm re-ordering VSL 3 for about the 4-5th time, and I wouldn't be laying down that kind of money if I didn't think it was worth it. And if you're in the Seattle area and looking for a good gastro doc, Shoba Krishnamurthy at the U. of Wash. is who I would recommend. She spent over an hour w/ me on my first apt, asked a ton of questions, etc. When I reached the stage where I could have normal BMs for the first time in about 2.5 years, I nearly cried.

BTW, if you're in WA or a state that allows it, I recommend looking into medical MJ to help w/ the cramping. I got to the stage where I was taking Immodium 6-8 at a time, 40-60 a day while doctors still scratched their heads. I have enough other issues (knees, back, migraines) that I easily qualified for medical MJ (in case the law legalizing it for everyone over 21 dies), and a good sativa helps with cramps and makes life a little more tolerable. Please remember not to drive while high, however. Cops scrape enough bodies off the roads as it is.

Oh, and one other things, taking pills is no problem for me, so everything I listed I take in pill form, FWIW.

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0 · April 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Get lost Ikco, you sound like an idiot.

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0 · March 01, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Does this have any sulfa in it? I just took 2 post colonoscopy and feel I had a sytemic reaction with severe itching to the point I couldn't sleep. It's had to tell the ingredients on the sample package.

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5650 · February 28, 2013 at 9:17 PM

i used VSl on and off for about a year. i bought it when i could afford it. didn't do anything for my digestive problems so i stopped taking it. i used the regular and DS versions. i think it's just too expensive to contain the fillers and additives that it does. it should be pure for the amount i was paying for it- $186 for a 20 day supply.

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0 · February 28, 2013 at 8:49 PM

I JUST HAD MY SECOND COLONOSCOPY UNSUCCESSFULLY AGAIN DUE TO DIVERTCULUM. I'VE BEEN TESTED BLOOD AND STOOLS NEGATIVE. HAD THE VIRTUAL TOO. PRIOR TO RECENT TEST GO TRIED ANY FOR TRAVELER'S DIARRHEA. IT HELPED A LOT BUT ONLY HAD 7 Days worth sample. Like CD have multiple sudden DIARRHEA to where it interferes with daily living...including "accidents"the. Today GO gave samples to try of VAL #3...so, other than cost I'd also like to hear about other's experiences. I'm also a nurse who hasn't done much with probiotics.

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0 · November 18, 2012 at 12:38 AM

I took these now for 3 weeks and all of the sudden I started shitting my pants with no awareness. Definitely did not work for me- made things worse. Imagine the embarrassment of sitting at your desk and all of a sudden you feel something warm and wet and it is running down your leg... happened 3 times before I linked it to the VSL3.

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0 · May 02, 2012 at 4:56 PM

I know this comes months after the original question but I thought I'd add to this. From what I learned from a GI, a lot of probiotics do not work for the simple reason that the probiotics are dead by the time they are in the capsules. Probiotics are living cultures that require processing and storing at cold temperatures (fridge cold). Many manufacturers do not observe this simple rule, AND if you find your probiotic on a non refrigerated shelf, chances are you are taking a dead culture (won't help). I just started VSL#3 so I can't attest whether it works or not, but I know they are manufactured at the right temperature and need to be refrigerated so that the strains stay alive. Hope that helps.

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8270 · January 06, 2011 at 12:50 AM

My opinion, more is not necessarily better pro-bioticwise. More is good when you're replacing (say after antibiotics). Not necessarily when maintaining. So Cost vs Benefit, it isn't worth it UNLESS you're having the issues specified it is for.

Speaking of which, I didn't see anything readily visible on their site as to how many of each species is in the product. They've got a boatload of species listed, but not how much of each = 450 billion. Might be evenly spread among all of them, or might be 449.9 billion of the cheapest one...

It might be on there, I didn't see it. Example of what I expect to see. Look at the Jarro site http://www.jarrodophilus.com/ Lists it right on the front page. 4.4 billion total spread out in differing amounts on the various strains.

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2399 · January 05, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Any update on this ?

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558 · November 14, 2010 at 7:04 PM

for me it wasn't worth it,home made yogurt and kefir worked better

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24523 · November 14, 2010 at 7:27 PM

Can you specify how it worked better?

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558 · November 16, 2010 at 2:31 PM

yes,it actually had a noticeable effect for constipation and helped cure my wifes bout with ulcerative colitis,with VSL#3 all I had was a lighter wallet.My wife and I have never noticed benefit from probiotics and I've tried many.I've also had success with cooking up a pot of lentils to eat every 2-3 months for the prebiotics

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-2 · August 22, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Ikco... Get a day job!

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