(pic by @debouched)
As a busy mom with little time for sleep or taking care of myself, I try to support my health at least through quality supplements. A while ago my naturopath diagnosed me with Hashimoto's thyroiditis and "leaky gut" (increased intestinal permeability). She suggested probiotics to help heal my gut, which I started, but found they didn't make more than a minor difference in my symptoms. Several brands later I was similarly disappointed. Could probiotics be useless, I wondered? Or was my gut beyond repair? I started probing for more answers.
It was around then I came across a lecture on YouTube by a microbiologist, Kiran Krishnan, which enlightened me on why probiotics could fail. A few main reasons were:
- Most probiotic strains are aerobic bacteria, but the gut is an anaerobic environment, so they don't flourish.
- Most probiotic strains are susceptible to stomach acid, and so they don't survive the low pH to make it to the intestines alive.
- Most probiotic strains pass right through the digestive system even if they survive.
Krishnan and his team of scientists determined five characteristics they look for in good probiotic strains:
- Naturally survive the harsh gastric environment, in an acidic pH range of 1-3.
- Be able to colonize the gut. That is, it has to have binding site attraction.
- Be what's called a "facultative anaerobe." That is, it must be able to survive in an oxygen rich and non-oxygen environment.
- Have a biphasic life cycle, dormant and active phases.
- Have a clinical demonstration of safety and efficacy.
Bacillus endospores fit these criteria. They have an spore phase (dormant) and active phase. When they're dormant, they can survive all kinds of environments. So Krishnan worked with health seeking entrepreneurs, Billy and Tina Anderson to create a spore-based probiotic (Just Thrive) that not only will survive in and colonize the gut, but allegedly can do miraculous things like:
- Produce powerful antioxidants in the gut such as, astaxanthan, carotenes, lycopene, etc.
- Selectively kill bad gut bacteria while simultaneously promoting good bacterial growth.
- Produce a short chain fatty acid called "butyrate," which can heal the lining of the gut thereby alleviating "leaky gut syndrome."
- Regulate ghrelin and leptin, which are hunger hormones that help you decide when you are hungry and when you are full.
- Protect against insulin resistance and inflammation.
To say I was very excited to try this probiotic is an understatement. I ordered a large supply because I was sure I would take this the rest of my life and I needed all the benefits this product offered. So, after taking it for two months, what do I think it's done for me? I have not had a life changing experience, unfortunately. I don't have any blood work to prove it's not working, but my symptoms that I suffer from continue to persist, like, my gut still feels inflamed. I still have leaky gut and the food sensitivities that go along with it. When I first started Just Thrive, I noticed a slight improvement in regularity and calmness in the stomach and gut, but it didn't last. If my symptoms don't improve, I probably will not order it again after my stock is used up.
I tried emailing Dr. Simon Cutting, a "world-renowned probiotic expert at London University Royal Holloway," who supposedly worked closely with the couple who started Just Thrive, to ask him about the strain of bacteria he patented and is used in this product, but he didn't respond. And Kiran Krishnan, even though he seems like a proficient microbiologist and I've enjoyed his YouTube lectures, is very hard to find contact info for. I eventually gave up trying to contact him.
So, I'm not sure Just Thrive is a scam. There are incredible testimonials about the product having life changing effects on people. If it even did a quarter of what it claimed it would be worth its exorbitant price (about $45/month). And I still believe in the importance of probiotics. Maybe I just need to keep looking for the right one that is going to help me. There is variability in response to all things because we are all unique individuals, and I point no fingers at Just Thrive. I would like Krishnan to be less involved in the marketing of their products, and ironically more accessible to people who would like to talk about the efficacy and safety of the product, however.
I rate Just Thrive 2 out of 10 stars for myself. But maybe it will work for you.
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