Colostrum makes a strong foundation — and a potent first step — for any gut health protocol.
One of the most gentle yet impactful supplements available, colostrum affects the gut in multiple positive ways — with low risk of intolerance.
Colostrum boosts immunity, fights pathogens, feeds beneficial flora, and regulates the speed of motility in the gut.
Colostrum is incredible for both constipation and diarrhea, as well as when fighting off an illness. Most products recommend a higher dose to knock out a bug when sick.
Colostrum is safe for nearly all people, with the only exception being those with sensitivity to dairy. That said, many lactose-intolerant folks have no issues with colostrum.
Antimicrobial herbs create hostility in the gut against microbes, reducing pathogen counts and boosting immunity. Rotate through herbs to prevent excessive killing.
Oregano oil is a powerful full-spectrum natural antibiotic with antioxidant properties.
…more about Oregano Oil
A main ingredient of oregano oil, carvacrol, has strong antiviral properties.
Because oregano oil is quite powerful, it should only be taken for several weeks at most, and then cycled off for at least month or two. In dire cases, it may be used a month or so for its immune-boosting, antiseptic properties.
Oregano oil is most effective when the body is sick, fighting off illness, or struggling with dysbiosis of the gut, but it should not be taken daily for long periods of time.
Oregano oil may even reduce pain perception and increase a sense of calm, although these should not be the primary reasons to take this supplement.
Note — Oregano oil can deplete iron levels, and should be used cautiously or avoided when iron levels are too low.
Cinnamon oil has potent antimicrobial properties against virtually all pathogens, even in drug-resistant strains.
Cinnamon oil is powerful stuff. If taken too frequently, it can kill off good gut flora in the gut.
Cinnamon oil can work against biofilms that allow hardy pathogens to resist antimicrobial compounds.
- Ceylon is the only variety with low levels of coumarin, a compound with known liver and kidney toxicity concerns.
- Cassia has high levels of of coumarin.
- Burmannii is the most commonly-sold in the USA, and has the highest levels of coumarin — higher than cassia.
Therefore, choose ceylon cinnamon to avoid liver toxicity.
Triphala is an ancient Indian blend of three ingredients: two fruits and a berry.
- Amla — (berry)
- Bibhitaki — (fruit)
- Haritaki — (fruit)
Triphala is loaded with beneficial compounds: Vitamin C, antioxidants, polyphenols, and other ingredients.
Its biological effects have been studied quite extensively, with benefits discovered for oral health, weight loss, lipid peroxidation, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, diabetes, and, of course, gut health.
Triphala has potent antimicrobial properties and, therefore, it should be classified as a “killing” gut supplement, in that it will increase hostility in the gut against microbes. It also tends to have a mild laxative effect on the gut, helping to produce more complete and regular stools.
Peppermint oil is a gentle antimicrobial, with varying rates of effect against different species of bacteria.
Peppermint doesn’t kill all microbes equally, but it can absolutely support the immune system by making the gut more hostile. Peppermint oil is known to have good results in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s but it also has value as a general antimicrobial for ongoing gut health.
The main active ingredient in ginger is gingerol, which has powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Ginger is beneficial for dyspepsia (which is related to GERD, ulcers, gastric reflux, and gastroparesis), improving the rate of gastric emptying.
When used as an antimicrobial, ginger greatly reduces the growth of bacteria and viruses. Gingerol then absorbs into the bloodstream, exerting its anti-inflammatory and antmicrobial effects throughout the body.
Garlic has powerful antimicrobial properties that affect the full spectrum of microbe — including bacteria, yeasts/fungus, protozoa, and viruses.
It’s antimicrobial effects are due to sulfur compounds that form as the garlic is chopped. Allicin is the main example, and it exhibits powerful antiseptic effects against microbes. Allicin is unstable — it breaks down shortly after garlic is chopped.
In this Zhou garlic supplement, allicin is stabilized — so its benefits are available anytime. The sulfur compounds in garlic are absorbed and travel around the body, behaving as an antioxidant and killing pathogens.
Curcumin is a legitimate antimicrobial compound with far-reaching benefits for the entire body.
Against bacteria, curcumin has the most severe effect against H. Pylori, but also has broad-spectrum antibacterial effects.
Curcumin is being considered as an antiviral drug, and has broad-spectrum antifungal effects — most especially against Candida.
(section in progress)
TUDCA is best known as a liver supplement (and a great one, at that), but it also directly improves the microbial balance of the gut.
TUDCA is a compound found in bile, but humans only make tiny amounts of it. On the other hand, bear bile is extremely rich in TUDCA, and for centures bear bile was used as a health tonic. Thankfully, it’s not necessary to hunt bears for their bile any longer.
TUDCA’s effect on the liver is beneficial for the gut. Bile ducts are gently, yet powerfully cleaned and nourished — improving liver health and bile flow to the gut. Bile is notoriously antimicrobial, meaning TUDCA improves the gbut microbiome indirectly, too, by making the gut hostile to pathogens via increased bile flow.
The UDCA stands for ursodeoxycholic acid and it’s a powerful compound in its own right. The “T” in TUDCA stands for taurine — a key amino acid that cleanses the liver and aids in digestion on its own. Therefore TUDCA provides the many benefits of UDCA while also those of taurine.
Liver health is essential for gut health, and the best first step toward both liver and gut health might be the powerful, yet quite tolerable, healing effects of TUDCA.
All enzymes are antimicrobial, increasing hostility in the gut against microbes.
Digestive enzymes are the array of enzymes released when food enters the digestive system.
They are designed to specifically break down carbs, proteins, and fats.
Pancreatin is a commercial name for these three enzymes:
These three enzymes are foundational to human digestion. Supplemental pancreatin is sourced from pigs and will have different ratios from human pancreatic juices.
This does not mean pancreatin is of no benefit to digestion, just that it is not a perfect replacement for human pancreatic enzymes.
“PPE [pancreatin supplements from pigs] do not provide a full substitution of the lipolytic enzymes present in HPJ [human panctreatic juices].”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31288050
Other enzymes are often included in digestive enzyme products: cellulase (breaks down cellulose, or plant fiber), and lactase (breaks down the milk sugar, lactose). Invertase breaks down sucrose (table sugar) into glucose and fructose. Beta-glucanase breaks down beta-glucans, a sugar found in plants (oatmeal, barley), and the cell walls of microbes (making this enzyme an antimicrobial and anticancer compound).
All in all, digestive enzymes can slightly improve the risk of maldigestion, ramp up gut hostility during digestion, and increase the absorption of nutrients. They may especially play a minor role when gut health is truly struggling and food is not well digested.
Sometimes, enzymes can increase energy in the body to the extent that they interfere with sleep. Enzymes can also deplete minerals in the body, particularly sodium and magnesium. Enzyme products also tend to advertise large doses per capsule — when smaller doses would be more tolerable and effective.
If you have any negative symptoms, such as insomnia — or feel that sodium or magnesium levels are being depleted — reduce the dose or frequency or stop taking enzymes altogether. Discontinue enzymes if any pain is noticed after taking.
All enzymes are antimicrobial, increasing hostility in the gut against microbes.
Systemic enzymes not only benefit the gut, but also enter the bloodstream and break down microbes, toxins, metabolic waste, and junk protein.
The benefit of systemic enzymes to the gut shouldn’t be overlooked, though. In fact, this is a critical component of why systemic enzymes seem to improve symptoms, performance, and quality of life so much.
The most popular systemic enzymes are all considered proteolytic — which means they break down proteins. This term is often used interchangeably (with “systemic”) to describe systemic enzymes, though it isn’t a perfect translation.
Systemic enzymes are quite popular — and for good reason. Taken exclusively on an empty stomach, they function in a more alkaline environment (the intestines and bloodstream) rather than an acidic environment (the stomach).
Attacking pathogens without the interference of food entering the digestive tract allows systemic enzymes to make significant headway — cleaning up the gut and bloodstream, and lowering inflammation as a result. Many folks notice more energy, better brain function, less joint pain, and improved mood as a result of systemic enzymes.
The most popular systemic enzymes are:
- Serrapeptase — (from silk worms)
- Nattokinase — (from Japanese natto)
- Trypsin — (pancreatic enzyme)
- Chymotrypsin — (pancreatic enzyme)
- Bromelain — (from pineapples)
- Papain — (from papaya)
It’s best to take these enzymes in a blend, together, to benefit from all of them simultaneously.
Too, the benefits of enzymes are possible in smaller doses than are often supplied in products. High doses can be jarring to a weaker system, and aren’t necessary. These products are often formulated to “impress” the average person — when the needs of those struggling with chronic digestive issues are very different.
As with any gut supplement, it’s common for a person’s response to systemic enzymes to be highly individual. Formulas change frequently — with the new ingredients being less effective than the old. Keep your wits about you; If you know why a product works you can be better suited to finding a replacement if a product changes or becomes unavailable in the future.
Continually introduce good microbes. Then feed them with prebiotic fibers.
GutPro has been recommended to me by clients for several years, but I always balked due to the higher cost and online-only availability.
I’m glad I tried it, because this may be the highest-quality probiotic on the market.
With zero fillers (it’s literally the probiotics and nothing else), the formulation is designed to produce as little histamine or lactate as possible, minimizing negative reactions in those with hypersensitivities.
Negative reactions are still possible with any probiotic (GutPro acknowledges this on their website), so finding the right product for you is what’s most important. However, GutPro is likely one of the most tolerable and helpful products available.
When the powder form is purchased, customers receive a fair price (lower per serving than most other high-qauality probiotics) and option to pick the dose that works best. Microdosing is easy with GutPro powder. Be sure to get the dosing spoons, as well.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of 11/2021, Garden of Life has increased the nutrient dosages in this product substantially, up to nearly 100% DV for most nutrients.
- This means that the 3-capsule dose is now nearly a multivitamin — in addition to a probiotic.
- In particular, 3 capsules now provides over 100% DV in chromium, a nutrient that can induce hypoglycemia.
Therefore, this product may not be advisable in doses larger than 3 capsules per day.
I still consider this probiotic top shelf for maintenance (1-3 capsules per day), but no longer appropriate for high-dose repopulation.
This product meets many criteria for quality and has delivered excellent results for both me and endless numbers of clients over the years.
- Species Diversity — There are 31 strains in this blend, which is an extremely (perhaps remarkably) high number for a probiotic product. Results are always hit-or-miss when you go searching for “that one strain” that you need more of. Too, single strain products can cause imbalance over time (just like with nutrients). High diversity also reduces the likelihood of a bad reaction, due to diversification. Too, a healthy gut typically has more diverse species of microbes.
- Vitamins, Minerals & Enzymes — Low-dose nutrient blends can be a major positive in poor gut health. Each time you take one of these pills, you’re getting not just the probiotic army, but a light dose of virtually all major nutrients and minerals you’d expect from a multivitamin — and in natural, non-synthetic forms. I would expect the small number of enzymes to possibly detract from the effectiveness of the probiotics, but this does not seem to be a concern, based on results.
- Prebiotics — There are modest additions of potato starch and acacia fiber, which are both well-known prebiotics. This improves the effectiveness of the probiotics even when this product is taken alone on an empty stomach. It’s still optimal to take well-tolerated prebiotics with any probiotics, even if the probiotic contains some prebiotics.
It is perfectly acceptable to take one pill per day as a maintenance dose — meaning one 90-capsule bottle product can last 3 months. When we take probiotics with prebiotics, the numbers of the beneficial species can double in as little as fifteen minutes. This can be an efficient way of making probiotic supplementation more cost-effective.
The ability to take a single pill — rather than the full, 3-pill dose — also allows the user to test for tolerability when first starting the supplement.
After nearly a decade of taking probiotics and working with clients, this product clearly comes out the winner. Better results have been consistently achieved with this product than any others — even the outrageously-priced expensive brands like Metagenics (and other functional medicine probiotics).
Many, many folks struggle to swallow pills — especially when dealing with gut health issues that general weakness and/or nausea.
In these cases, a chewable probiotic can be nothing short of a life-saver.
I’ve had excellent results with this product, even if folks who struggle to tolerate gut supplements.
If tolerance is commonly an issue, let chewable tablet dissolve in mouth slowly.
Prebiotics are always more safe and effective in multiple smaller doses rather than one larger dose.
- When tolerability is confirmed, combine multiple prebiotics for maximum benefit.
- Take prebiotics with another compound that will ensure optimal fermentation in the gut (such as antimicrobials or probiotics).
Apple pectin is a gentle prebiotic fiber that is quite well-tolerated and has many, many benefits for the gut.
Apple pectin can increase (and even double) butyrate levels, feed beneficial microbes and — surprisingly for a prebiotic fiber — actually reduce the number of harmful bacteria.
Apple pectin also increases the concentration of short-chain fatty-acids, acetate, propionate, and bicarbonate. Somehow, it also seemed to lower lactic acid in the stool (some folks struggle with lactic acid).
Importantly, the beneficial effects of apple pectin were not achievable simply by eating apples, apple juice, or apple puree — apple pectin alone was required.
When the apple pectin was removed from the diet, the improvements in gut began to retreat, suggesting that consistent pectin supplementation is a good idea.
A good, small starting dose for most is 250-500mg, with a large dose range being 1.5g/day. For severe gut dysbiosis, try 50mg (even a tiny, tiny pinch), or delay usage until gut health improves.
Fructooligosaccharides are a natural fiber that occurs in foods.
FOS can be produced by breaking down inulin (usually from chicory root).
FOS is not absorbed into the bloodstream, and does not contribute to caloric intake or energy metabolism directly. However, FOS is metabolized by microbes into pro-metabolic short-chain fatty-acids (SCFA) and carbon dioxide.
Its effect on human health is as a prebiotic — selectively feeding beneficial microbes.
Taken properly, FOS can be a powerful tool to reshape the health of the gut microbiome. FOS is generally well-tolerated, except in certain more severe cases of gut dysbiosis, IBS, Crohn’s, etc. In these situations, FOS should be a later experiment, explored after other steps are in place (such as fixing the circadian rhythm, daily therapeutic light,
GOS is a fiber produced after lactose is digested, directly feeds beneficial microbes, and could be critical in the developing newborn gut microbiome.
Oligosaccharides resembling GOS occur naturally in human milk and may be one of the factors that protect human infants from gastrointestinal pathogenic bacteria.
In infants, the supplementation of formula with a mixture of GOS and fructo-oligosaccharides can modulate bowel function and stool characters in the same direction as does breast-feeding.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607002/
H.M.O. uses human milk oligosaccharides to improve the gut microbiome and relieve symptoms associated with IBS.
I formerly recommended Holigos. However, Layer Origin claims to have a product that is 99% pure, whereas Holigos only claimed 95% purity.
I personally notice a better effect — particularly a cognitive boost — when taking Layer Origin’s H.M.O. I believe it’s a better product.
Infants consuming a formula with 2′-FL and LNnT had significantly fewer parental reports of bronchitis, reduced incidence of lower respiratory tract infections, reduced use of antipyretics and reduced use of antibiotics compared to infants fed a formula without HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides).https://jennewein-biotech.de/en/products/human-milk-oligosaccharides/lacto-n-neotetraose/
Inulin is the primary fiber in chicory root, long prized for its gut health benefits.
Chicory root has been shown to improve liver bile flow and fat digestion — with increases in short-chain fatty-acid (SCFA) production.
Many of the benefits of chicory root are attributed to inulin, although other helpful compounds are certainly in play, such as chicoric — which can improve blood sugar levels.
Inulin and chicory are longer-chain fibers and, therefore, may cause trouble in situations where gut health is weak. Coffee can have some minor benefits for the gut microbiota and can help relieve constipation — and makes a delightful pairing with chicory’s rich taste in this traditional New Orleans-style beverage.
Inulin is the least tolerable prebiotic on this list.
It is not recommended in situations where gut health is sensitive to fiber. Instead, start with something more tolerable, such as pectin — or non-supplement approaches like the circadian rhythm, therapeutic light, and environmental health.
Honey is shockingly antimicrobial.
Yet, honey also contains prebiotics (oligosaccharides) which feed beneficial microbes — making honey a near-perfect food for gut health.
Honey is known to increase the populations of beneficial bifido- bacteria strains, while white sugar had no effect.
Researchers were able to completely eradicate antibiotic-resistant bacteria on the skin via topical medical-grade (standardized) honey.
When honey enters the digestive tract, it simultaneously feeds beneficial microbes, kills harmful pathogens, and provides nutrients and energy to the body.
Honey is even a complete food, providing micronutrients, amino acids, Vitamin C and B-vitamins — and encourages the intestinal absorption of these nutrients while discouraging pathogenic activity.
Flavonoids, polyphenols, and organic acids also contribute to the digestive, immune, and metabolic benefits of honey.
Research in animal models even suggests that not only does honey provide calcium, but it improves calcium absorption into the body.
Honey is praised and valued in nearly every ancient religious and wisdom tradition as both a food and a healing topical balm and internal medicine — with known hunter-gatherer tribes utilizing it as 20% (and more) of daily calories, while commonly living into their 80s.
Honey even seems to directly interfere with cancerous cells:
“[Honey] has significant anticancer activity against human breast and cervical cancer cell lines.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21167897/
Manuka honey has every benefit of raw — and more.
Known for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities, manuka honey has been used for centuries to heal wounds and improve oral health.
When compared to normal, local varieties, manuka honey has significantly more antimicrobial effects.
Manuka honey can even stimulate macrophages to release compounds such as TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6 — which are critical for combatting microbial infections and wound healing.
The higher the UMF rating of manuka honey, the more potent the antimicrobial properties.
The only downside to manuka honey, for most locations around the world, is its expense — and higher UMF ratings can be extremely costly. On the bright side, even lower-UMF content seems to have profound antimicrobial activity.
I recommend buying what you can afford — don’t worry about achieving the highest UMF ratings. My results with various affordable manuka honey have been stellar.
Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly, & Propolis
There are over 2500 articles on PubMed concerning the benefits of propolis.
“Propolis has been reported to have various health benefits related to gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, and gynecological, oral, and dermatological problems.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549483/
Twelve different flavonoids, along with most vitamins and some enzymes are present in propolis.
Royal Jelly may even protect the skin from UVB-induced damage by improving collagen formation in the skin. Royal jelly also contains the unsaturated fatty-acid (10-HDA), which may have antitumor and antibacterial activity.
Apple cider vinegar is incredibly popular — and for good reason. Its beneficial effects are many.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is known as a digestive tonic, and it can actually help overweight people lose weight. It also leads to more satiety after a high-carb meal and improves blood sugar stability. ACV may also lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduce oxidative stress.
A main benefit of apple cider vinegar is its acetic acid. Acetic acid is highly antimicrobial and its attributes align almost perfectly with the broad-spectrum benefits of apple cider vinegar. ACV’s acidity also may allow minerals to be absorbed more effectively, and improve the acidity of the stomach after a meal — leading to increased immunity from opportunistic pathogens.
Take 1 tbsp (15 mL) in a glass of water 1-2x/day before meals or on an empty stomach.
Is ACV a cure-all? No, nothing is. Instead, apple cider vinegar is a powerful tool, and one component of a well-rounded gut regimen.
Miracles don’t happen with any individual supplement.
Very, very few people will find a gut supplement that restores amazing gut health on its own.
Instead, gut supplements must be combined — with each other and with a greater approach (the circadian rhythm, therapeutic light, good air quality, gentle movement, & wise nutrition) — to achieve the best effect.
It’s important that we understand 1) how the gut works and 2) what restores its function over time:
When these factors are in play, great things can happen and gut health can be systematically restored.
This completes Big Supplement List (Gut).
To continue, select Supplement Timing.
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The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. All information is presented for educational purposes.