When to take your probiotic supplement to maximize effectivenss


To many it probably seems counter-intuitive to intentionally introduce live bacteria into the human body. Bacteria causes disease, right? So, who would want to willingly introduce bacteria into their body? The reality is that trillions of bacteria — some harmful, some beneficial to human health — live in and on the human body.

These beneficial bacteria are known as probiotics, and the growing body of evidences suggests that the balance of healthy to harmful bacteria within the human gut is critical to human health. Research suggests that probiotics influence immunity, digestive health, inflammation, allergies, mood, and nutritional status. Indeed, probiotics aid the absorption of calcium, fats, B vitamins, proteins, and phosphorus. To learn more about how these tiny organisms benefit human health, and what the therapeutic dosage is, read pages 99-100 of my book The Doctor’s Guide to Surviving When Modern Medicine Fails.

Now, the question I am frequently asked — when is the best time to take a probiotic supplement. If you search the internet for this answer you are likely to get a number of varying opinions and answers. Some say to take them on an empty stomach, some at night, others in the morning, and still others say they must be taken with food. So, what is the right answer?

As usual I looked to what science tells us about this question and applied the evidence to come to my conclusion. To answer this question it is first important to understand that probiotics are living organisms that must remain viable in order to provide a benefit. They must also be able to survive the acidic environment of the stomach and then colonize the intestines.

Research suggests that probiotics are able to survive a stomach with a pH of 3 or higher. Unfortunately, the stomach has an average pH of 1-3 when empty, but it usually remains at a pH of 2 — too low for probiotics to survive. However, when food is in the stomach the pH rises as high as 4 or 5 pH, which is ideal for probiotic survival. This helps us answer part of our question — that it is best to take a probiotic with a meal.

Now, to the timing debate. Is it better to take your probiotic in the morning or at night? Again, this requires a knowledge of how a meal affects stomach acidity (or pH). One study evaluated the effect of meals on stomach acidity and found that breakfast increases stomach pH to 2.5 to 3, whereas a high-fat dinner raised the pH to between 4.0 and 4.9. Interestingly, a spicy lunch induced a stomach pH of 3.0 to 4.2. The study authors concluded that a fatty meal had the greatest buffering effect on stomach acidity. That tells us that taking your probiotic with dinner may be best — as long as it includes some healthy fat.

So, now we have a solid evidence-based answer as to when we should take our probiotic to maximize survival and effectiveness. The best time to take your probiotic supplement is with a meal and at dinner time, with some healthy fat.

Now, one last thing before we leave the subject of probiotics. People are often concerned about how antibiotic medications alter intestinal balance of bacteria and if natural antimicrobials like essential oils harm friendly bacteria. It is unquestionable that antibiotics severely disrupt gut balance, and some researchers believe this alteration is permanent. Researchers have also investigated the effects of antimicrobial essential oils on probiotics and found some interesting conclusions. To discover these conclusions refer to pages 45 and 46 of Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy.

The Doctors Guide to Surviving When Modern Medicine Fails-smCover_EvidenceBasedEssentialOilTherapy

Do you live in a world of fear or abundance?

The essential oil industry is expanding rapidly and more people are enjoying the benefits of essential oils. As the industry experiences this phenomenal growth the number of companies offerigoats-692660_1280ng essential oils also increases. This has provided the consumer a variety of options of essential oil brands to choose from, but it has also created deep enmity and hostility among the different factions. Indeed, essential oil brand choice is as divisive as religion and politics for some people.

Competition is healthy and encourages both innovation and fair pricing. Without it, companies may not be driven to introduce cutting-edge products, nor fund key research. But competition also creates rivalry (some healthy, some harmful) and may confuse consumers as they wonder which brand to choose for their family.

Lately, I have been thinking about how sad it is that when a person researches and then chooses an essential oil brand some people feel the need to attack that person because their choice of brand is different. This is akin to a person choosing a church to attend based on the brand of car that the preacher drives. I personally care more about what the preacher teaches and what his foundation is built upon.

I believe that people have the right to choose whatever essential oil company they are comfortable with (yes this even includes me) after they have done individual and objective research. This is why my books and Facebook page don’t support any one brand and the tone is neutral. My interest lies in helping people achieve greater wellness with the products they have found beneficial. And I have dedicated thousands of hours to research, writing, speaking, and answering thousands of questions to do that, without ever expecting something in return.

If one truly believes in a world of abundance (one with plenty for all), another person’s choice of essential oils is not a threat. Those who are threatened by another person’s choice of essential oil company may be expressing deeply rooted regret for their own choice, or are solely protecting their financial interests. Martin Luther King Jr. said “People fail to get along because they fear each other.” People have to decide whether they want to live in a world of fear or abundance. But if they choose fear, they need to take the high road and show respect for other’s choices.

I have personally experienced these unkind attacks, when people find out I choose a different brand than they do for my family. I have been criticized, condemned, “unfriended,” and had my Facebook page un-liked because of my choice. Some have even gone as far as to make attempts to discredit me (after praising me until they discover I don’t use their chosen brand). This flip-flopping is not only unethical and hypocritical, it lacks integrity. In reality, these spiteful reactions are very sad and equivalent to cutting off your nose to spite your face. What I share is neutral – and therefore not a threat to a person’s chosen essential oil company – and based on science and evidence. These people disconnect from the trustworthy information I share simply because we don’t “drive the same brand of car.” While I disagree with their reasoning, I respect their decision to choose what is best for them. I only ask that they provide the same respect in return.

It is important that people scrutinize a company and their products before choosing their brand. This is because not all essential oils are created equal. While there are several brands that have pure and good quality products, not all of the essential oils on the market are pure and of therapeutic value. To help one in their research to find an essential oil company they trust I offer the following guide from my book Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy.

To ensure you are using a pure oil, look for

  • a company that has expertise in the distillation process and innovative distillation equipment;
  • a company that has published essential oils research in scientific journals and takes a clinical approach to essential oil development;
  • a company that is personally involved in the farming and cultivation process through the inspection of supplier farms by a qualified expert;
  • a company that verifies purity with their own laboratories, third-party testing facilities, and educated scientists to read and interpret test results;
  • a company with oils that smell like the natural plants and whose single oils vary in aroma from batch to batch due to inherent variations in plants. Slight variations in the smell of each batch of oil is a good indication that Mother Nature has created the essential oil and not a lab. This trait is desirable and normal; whereas if your lavender oil always smells exactly the same, it could be an indication that the oil is adulterated.;
  • a company that is willing to share results from the tests their essential oils have undergone to ensure purity and authenticity, for the specific batch of oil you have purchased. If a company is not willing to share this information, you are placing blind faith in them and may very well be using a product that doesn’t meet the high quality standards required for therapeutic use.

Hating someone for their choice of essential oils will only do you harm. I’ll end with this quote from Mark Twain, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”