We often associate bacteria with disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day sounds hard to swallow, but there is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests you can prevent and even treat some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain strains of bacteria.
In Northern Europe, these beneficial microorganisms, also called probiotics, are cultural. Scandinavians eat plenty of foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Other countries, such as Japan, also consume probiotic beverages.
Digestive disease specialists recommend probiotic supplements for disorders that are hard to deal with in conventional medicine, namely irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We now have plenty of clinical studies showing that probiotic therapy can help with several gastrointestinal problems, and other issues like allergies.
Ingesting bacteria isn’t a weird thing to do, since there are about 100 trillion microorganisms represented by 500 different species inhabiting a normal bowel. Most of them are helpful and keep harmful bacteria in check, while also aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption, and positively affecting your immune system.
Physician’s Choice supplement contains 60 billion probiotics represented by 10 different strains, which are substantiated by clinical research. The manufacturer claims they have a complete probiotic supplement for ultimate digesting health, but can we trust their claims? We’re going to figure that out in this review.
How Does Physician’s Choice Probiotic Work?
Physician’s Choice Probiotic is a supplement that contains two blends: one blend is a probiotic blend with 10 different strains of bacteria, and the other blend is a prebiotic blend with three organic ingredients rich in soluble fibers that support those beneficial bacteria.
The probiotic blend contains bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are considered “friendly” bacteria that normally live in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems without causing illness.
They are both commonly used to treat diarrhea, general digestion problems, and a long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes horrible stomach pain called irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
However, for these probiotics to work, they need to make it through the digestive tract.
This means these strains of bacteria must be robust enough to survive the journey and resist against stomach acidity to reach the gut while also being able to inhibit the growth of pathogens (or harmful microbes).
Getting through stomach acidity
To effectively provide you with the aforementioned benefits, the strains need to reach the gut, but that’s challenging even for robust strains, so having 60 billion microorganisms (like Physician’s Choice supplement) represented by 10 types of strains increases the chances of that happening.
Though, you can also increase those chances by taking your probiotic supplement in the morning with or just after breakfast because your stomach acid is at its lowest level in the morning.
Keep in mind that stomach acid actually protects you against pathogens as it helps kill the harmful bacteria present in food and water you ingest. While it protects you from food-borne diseases, it can also get rid of helpful bacteria attempting to go from the stomach to your gut.
Reaching the gut
Once they get through the stomach, the strains of bacteria get released into the small intestine where some of them will inhabit for a short time, while others will get through to the large intestine.
Where probiotics choose to live depends on the type of bacteria or strain, and also the specific conditions in different areas of the gut, including pH (levels of acidity or alkalinity) and oxygen levels.
Some areas of the digestive tract have more oxygen available, like the small intestine, while other areas have little to no oxygen, like certain parts of the large intestine, making it an attractive place for certain bacteria that don’t require oxygen to survive.
Also, pH levels differ throughout the digestive tract, with the smaller intestine being more acidic than the larger intestine. These are all factors that influence where certain strains choose to live.
It’s important that you choose a probiotic supplement that contains strains that have been proven to reach the gut alive. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus (which is present in Physician’s Choice probiotic supplement) is one of those strains.
It’s also noteworthy to mention that probiotics need to be taken in enteric-coated capsules (Physician’s Choice capsules are acid resistant and designed for a delayed release), as they will protect the strains from stomach acid before being released into the gut.
Inhibiting the growth of pathogens
As the probiotics increase in the gut, the pathogens lose influence, and since both compete for food sources and space, the good bacteria make it difficult for the undesirable bacteria to thrive.
Probiotics also produce acids that discourage pathogens, while improving the gut environment for their own benefit and for the various strains of good bacteria.
When the gut experiences an increase in beneficial bacteria and a decrease in pathogenic bacteria, the individual is bound to notice an improvement in their digestion and overall wellbeing.
Pathogens produce toxins, or substances that negatively impact our health, but probiotics produce substances that positively impact our health, namely vitamins and short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate.
For this reason, taking a probiotic such as the one by Physician’s Choice, you can actively improve your health.
Physician’s Choice Probiotic Ingredients
As we have mentioned briefly, Physician’s Choice probiotic supplement contains a probiotic blend with 10 different strains of bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
The 10 different strains of bacteria are:
- L. Casey (Lc-11)
L. Casey is safe and potentially helpful in regulating the digestive system.
Existing evidence shows that drinking probiotic drinks containing Lactobacillus casei a beneficial adjunctive therapy for people with chronic constipation.
A trial in 2007 studied a probiotic drink containing L. casei, L. bulgaricus, and S. thermophiles, and the researchers concluded it may reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and C. difficile-associated diarrhea.
Later in 2014, a clinical trial found that L. casei supplements can help ease symptoms and improve inflammatory cytokines in women with rheumatoid arthritis.
- L. Acidophilus (La-14)
L. acidophilus is another strain present in Physician’s Choice probiotic supplement, but it’s not exclusive to this supplement, which means you can find it in many others.
Researchers have extensively studied this probiotic, and the results show it may provide several health benefits.
There is evidence suggesting that L. acidophilus can help reduce cholesterol levels more effectively than other types of probiotics. However, the evidence is mixed, and it’s difficult to determine whether this benefit comes from consuming this probiotic on its own, or with other probiotics.
Other potential benefits (which are common among bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) is that it may help prevent diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, vaginal infections, among other benefits.
- L. Paracasei (LPC-37)
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled and parallel clinical trial (also referred to as the Sizu study), found out that the intake of L. paracasei for five weeks improves psychological and physiological markers of stress and anxiety in healthy adults.
There is also evidence that L. paracasei is effective in inhibiting pathogens such as Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, Escheria coli and Listeria monocytogenes. This same probiotic has also shown to stimulate an immune response of the cell wall lining of the gut to fight off viruses and allergies.
- L. Salivarius (LS-33)
The species L. salivarius was first isolated from human saliva, and in recent years, it has gained some popularity as a promising probiotic species.
L. salivarius has been used to treat and prevent certain chronic diseases, including asthma, cancer, atopic dermatitis and halitosis, and to a more limited extent – prevent or treat infections.
- L. Plantarum (Lp-115)
L. plantarum is a versatile member of the Lactobacillus family, and is can be found in many fermented foods, including sauerkraut. Like L. salivarius, it was also first isolated from saliva.
Researchers have connected these species to IBS, in the sense that certain strain of L. plantarum have been extensively researched in IBS sufferers. L. plantarum can suppress the growth of gas-producing bacteria in the intestines, which may aid patients suffering from IBS.
- B. Lactis (BL-04)
B. lactis is one of the many types of probiotic in the large intestine that makes up the human microbiota, and like other strains of probiotics, be aware of specific strains and their benefits.
The specific B. lactis BL-04 strain has been used in a variety of studies where the focus has been to determine the potential of the strain in supporting immune function, regulating and improving gastro-intestinal function, and improving the side effects of antibiotics.
For instance, in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the researchers administered 115 participants with the “rhinovirus” (or cold virus). The researchers also gave the group the B. lactis BL-04 strain 28 days before and during the rhinovirus challenge.
Results showed a reduced incidence of respiratory tract infection and ‘viral shedding’ (or the spreading of the virus), compared to the placebo group.
B. lactis is a largely researched probiotic for immunity and allergies with very positive results.
- B. Bifidum (BP-02)
Since distinct strains of bacteria have unique properties, let me say that I didn’t find any unique effects associated with the consumption of B. bifidum BP-02.
This strain belongs to the genus Bifidobacterium, so it’s possible that the effects it produces are like other strains, but this specific strain is not a by-product of extensive research.
- B. Longum (BL-05)
In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, researchers found that B. longum was shown to shorten the duration and minimize the severity of symptoms associated with the common cold, but it’s important to note that the strain they used in the study was B. longum SP-07/3.
Therefore, it’s hard to say whether B. longum BL-05 does, in fact, provide the same benefits.
- B. Breve (B3)
B. breve is a probiotic species believed to be beneficial in inhibiting pathological bacteria, although, like all strains of bacteria, the effects vary based on the specific strain.
B. breve is linked to chronic obesity. A growing body of evidence suggests that variations in the human gut microbiome correlate with excess weight gain.
A study conducted by Bioscience of Microbiota, Food and Heath (BMFH) suggests that treating pre-obese patients with the B3 strain of B. breve may stop or even reverse obesity.
Still, more research is required to confirm those results.
- L. Bulgaricus (Lb-87)
L. bulgaricus LB-87 has a long history of documented safe use, and it’s actually one of the two bacterial cultures required for yogurt production.
It’s a type of bacterial strain that can survive at high temperatures, so it’s widely used in the production of dairy products.
More researched is necessary to understand the benefits produced by L. bulgaricus, but the NIH points out some potential benefits from initial research, particularly in managing conditions such as liver disease, common cold, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea caused by antibiotics, and more.
Physician’s Choice has also included a prebiotic blend in the supplement which basically feeds the existing beneficial bacteria and aid in their reproduction.
Those prebiotics are:
- Organic Jerusalem Artichoke Root
The Jerusalem Artichoke is high in thiamine and potassium, so it can help your nervous system and promote proper muscle function.
It’s also been shown to increase the friendly bacteria in the colon and help strengthen immune system and prevent certain metabolic disorders.
- Organic Acacia Senegal
Acacia is a gum extracted from the Acacia tree, and it’s also a dietary fiber that can dissolve in water.
It’s used for conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other conditions, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support its use.
So compared to the other prebiotics in Physician’s Choice supplement, this one doesn’t have conclusive data.
- Organic Chicory Root
Among the three, chicory root is probably the popular and widely researched prebiotic. The inulin (prebiotic fiber) in chicory root nourishes gut bacteria, improves digestion, and helps relieve constipation.
Chicory root can also help increase bile production, which improves fat digestion, and it’s also rich in antioxidants that protect the liver from oxidative damage.
Pros and Cons
With the growing body of evidence suggesting that both probiotics and prebiotics are helpful in ameliorating the human microbiome which consequently has effects on different aspects of our health.
The human gastrointestinal system contains about 39 trillion bacteria, based on the latest estimate, most of which live in the large intestine.
In the last two decades, researchers have established that these microorganisms are essential for health because they crowd out harmful bacteria, break down fibrous foods into more digestible components, which is a way of enhancing nutrient absorption.
For this reason, a probiotic such as the one by Physician’s Choice can play an important role in drastically improving one’s overall wellbeing.
With that being said, there are plenty of things I enjoy about this supplement, and also a few things that may be questionable.
To start with the pros:
- It contains 60 Billion CFUs per serving with 10 different strains.
- Besides containing a probiotic blend, it also contains a prebiotic blend that supports “friendly bacteria”.
- It is 3rd-party tested for purity and potency.
- Each bottle gets manufactured in the United States using both imported and domestic ingredients.
- It is probably the most popular probiotic supplement in the market, with thousands and thousands of real customer reviews vouching for the results the product claims to produce.
Now, this is what I least like about this product:
- Two of the probiotic strains (the B. bifidum BP-02 snd the B. longum BL-05) don’t seem to be supported by enough evidence, unlike other specific strains of the same kind.
- Organic Acacia Senegal (one of the prebiotics) has not been extensively researched so that Physician’s Choice can fully justify its use as a prebiotic.
- 60 Billion CFUs might be too high a concentration for some people.
Other than the aforementioned cons, I feel like this supplement is quite effective and the amount of positive reviews can attest for the claims in the manufacturer’s website.
Does It Have Any Side Effects?
Physician’s Choice has a few side effects, with the most reported being bloating and an upset stomach.
However, you can also note that among the positive reviews, many have stopped experiencing bloating and severe constipation after switching from a previous probiotic to Physician’s Choice probiotic supplement.
Plus, even though you may experience bloating or an upset stomach, those should side effects that subside over time as you take the blend regularly.
Conclusion: Is Physician’s Choice Probiotic Worth Your Investment?
There are MANY probiotic supplements in the market, but few can effectively make a difference in improving some digestive conditions many people fret about.
Physician’s Choice probiotic supplement works, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone, not only because of its composition and the social proof it has to back up its claims but because the brand is very transparent, and ensures that every product is of the highest quality.
If you’re interested in purchasing this probiotic supplement, the best way to do so is via Physician’s Choice official website, although you can also do it through different retailers.