Gut Bugs, Probiotics, Prebiotics…And how our microbes make us who we are


[This series of posts about probiotics and prebiotics has been incorporated along with other material into a new and much expanded series, see below. You can get Elixa Probiotic here.]

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. Dave on April 19, 2015 at 12:33

    Just purchased the Elixa. First time trying any probiotics so intrigued to see the effects…

    • George on May 29, 2015 at 15:39

      Did you get your stuff yet? I ordered the same day as you did and I haven’t seen it yet. Sucks!

  2. John on April 19, 2015 at 12:33

    I want one of those, but don’t feel like dealing with ATF requirements.

    I’ve been planning on picking up Mark’s new formula. It’s great that “Primal” isn’t betrothed to a single theoretical ideology that cannot adapt.

  3. Jed on April 19, 2015 at 13:02

    I’ve been using Mark’s new formula for the past 4 days. I did notice that my farting, (which I continuously do, due to the approximate 40 gms of RS I take a day) subsided for several hours.

    But the “fart” is strong in this one, and the gas returns. I’m hoping that as I continue Primal Flora, the farting will subside. I am Fartman! – and thank god I am single, for no sane lady would have any part of my intestinal folly.

  4. marie on April 19, 2015 at 14:06

    Richard, how much of the potency that you or anyone experiences with a probiotic supplement is at least partly reliant on the prebiotics in their diet? You have had yours dialed in for a long time now, so I’m thinking you’re a great ‘test subject’ for all kinds of probiotics.

    Also, due to happy personal experience, I’d love to paraphrase number 4 in your story : “If you feel hungry, but instead down some prebiotics with water (specifically, PS), what does it mean when hunger goes away and doesn’t return for hours, sometimes nearly the whole day?” Not to mention the really awe-inspiring ‘side-effect’ of being better able to tolerate alcohol after PS bolus 🙂

  5. John on April 19, 2015 at 16:56

    I just ordered the Elixa. Never stuck with probiotics or RS much in the past, cause I didn’t really see much difference over time. But a six day course with the potential of a noticeable difference? Yeah, I’m willing to try that. Also, I’m tracking everything at the moment (food, activity and weight), so it will be interested if there is a change secondary to the main caloric deficit I’m establishing.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2015 at 11:46

      Everyone’s mileage may vary.

      I’m guessing eating a peanut will not kill you. It can kill some, those who’s human genome is 99.99% identical to your own.

      See the latest post, which speaks to these issues.

    • John on April 22, 2015 at 19:25

      You are correct, I do not have any peanut or other allergies.

      I actually feel I should clarify my earlier comment. I’ve used various probiotics before, including prescript assist and aor, and noticed no changes. Resistant Starch, bit of a different story. I was on board initially, had one crazy vivid dream, and noticed some small improvements. Over time, I noticed worse digestion (I had expereimented with PA and AOR at this time), and it cleared up when I cut out the RS and all probiotics. However, I was pretty sedentary at the time, and my diet kinda sucked.

      Anyway, diet and exercise are much more on point right now (and I’m seeing good results, both objectively and subjectively), and since I still had some PS lying around, I decided to add a small dose back in. I decided to weigh it, and that “small dose” was 30 grams! I might have been using 150 grams or more before. That amount could certainly cause some problems.

      Anyway, I don’t know if I didn’t respond at all before, if any benefits were masked by diet or other factors, or if the probiotics I used were just ineffective in general. Both Elixa and Mark’s product sound really interesting and promising, so I’m gonna try them both (and RS as well), but in a much more measured approach. I’m not looking for that weight loss magic bullet any more (Colpo’s plan seems to be working just fine), but improved skin, digestion, mood, dreams, and even body recomp would be most welcome.

    • Izwan on May 16, 2015 at 11:24

      John, may i know, any difference after You taken the probiotics, Elixa?

  6. sassysquatch on April 20, 2015 at 04:02

    Great post. Keep em coming.

  7. golooraam on April 20, 2015 at 08:48

    curious as how this works with someone like me who is ketogenic 6 days a week mostly…
    I ordered the 6 day set and am excited to receive!

    Richard – yet once again may I add how awesome it is to drink the tigernut flour mixed with water, slightly sweet and I love it!

  8. Jessi on April 20, 2015 at 15:49

    Hi Richard, I’ve become quite a fan of your blog these past couple months and am always happy to see a new post in my RSS feader in the morning. Thanks for being you!

    I was thinking about buying your book but when I reviewed the Table of Contents, I didn’t see anything related to your experience with probiotics and resistance starch. Will you be updating it with any of this information?

  9. Jared on April 23, 2015 at 11:49

    Elixa sounds interesting so does Marks. Obviously with those you order direct from the seller. However, I was wondering with AOR, Prescript-Assit and Primal Flora what vendors do you prefer to buy? I’ve heard that sometimes supplements sold on Amazon can sometimes be counterfeit or outdated.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 23, 2015 at 15:54

      Eliza is direct.

      Mark’s you can get via Amazon. That fake supplement fear is BS, promoted by Grace who prefers iHerb (but they are idiots in terms of dealing with affiliates–lost $300-400k in sales over the last year by being fucktards in dealing with me) and probably got some bad shit via Amazon China or something. No idea.

      All my links to Amazon are the verified producers or authorized dealers of the product.

  10. Louise on April 24, 2015 at 22:37

    Isn’t Elixa very much the same as VSL#3?

    • Richard Nikoley on April 25, 2015 at 06:46

      How the eff should I know, Louise?

      Why don’t you contact either or both companies and ask them if you’re truly interested.

  11. Navin Patel on April 25, 2015 at 18:34

    Perfect timed post, Richard!
    I have had a question for you about resistant starch, since it seems you have a lot of experience with this.
    I’ve noticed that Elixa has rice powder in the ingredients and I contacted the company to ask if this would be classified as resistant starch. The guy who developed it replied saying that it is resistant starch but the quantity is not enough for it to have the effects one would get from taking a normal dose of resistant starch separately. He did speak about some kind of indirect benefit relating to binding to bacteria but I did not quite follow. I think I saw a video on your site saying something similar..
    I’ve taken Elixa, on and off, for a few months now and the stuff is amazing. I’m not clued in on all the mechanisms of how it works (I prefer your shotgun analogy anyway) but I noticed a few improvements right away (keratosis pilaris reduced to almost non-existent, more energy/better sleep, greatly lower incidence of heartburn, less brittle hair… what little I have left!)
    I’ve also taken resistant starch in the past (on your recommendation) and I noticed a few benefits from that (deeper sleep, better BMs) and also a few negatives (smelly farts and a headache occasionally) which I did not experience with Elixa.
    I might be far out here but I was thinking that maybe the resistant starch content has some kind of synergistic effect (hate to use that word…) because some of the improvements were similar.
    I posited this theory in another email but he said that the reason that some of the results were similar is because they are both affecting the microbiome, not because of the resistant starch (not directly, anyway).
    You seem to be one of the more experienced RS takers. Any thoughts on this?

    I’d like to add that I’ve never taken any of these things for bowel issues. I’ve not been affected by any of that in my life so I never thought I’d be a candidate for RS or probiotics, until I tried the potato starch you recommended.

  12. James on May 6, 2015 at 10:00

    Hello Mr. Nikoley,

    I’ve just re-ordered the Elixa you recommended. Great stuff. Was wary at first to try supplements. I usually don’t take them or, at the most, use natural type things (e.g. potato flour).
    Asides from the improvement in my gut function, I noticed an interesting benefit of increased alcohol tolerance.

    I went on a stag-do on the same weekend that I began Elixa and I was drinking 3 nights in a row… heavily. I expected to be the walking dead on every morning, but I seemed fairly fresh. Actually I seemed fresher than a normal, sober night’s sleep! My friends were brutally hungover. Yet I was good.

    Interested to know if anyone else has experienced that…

    I’m going to continue to take it because I’m noticing random improvements popping up here and there. One of my favourite aspects is I feel much less fatigued and depressed during the afternoon. I’ve actually been able to stop drinking coffee a couple of days ago because of this.

    • Mo on May 7, 2015 at 13:16

      Just finished my first three days of Elixa. I’m only a 3 glasses wine/week drinker anyway, but I have zero desire for it now. I usually drink about 1/2 cup of coffee each morning, now I don’t even want that. I feel so alert during the day I’m thinking that I might not need the tiny amount of thyroid med I’ve been taking for hypothyroidism. There’s none of the bloating I got from potato starch. My skin even looks better.

  13. solomani on May 10, 2015 at 20:14

    I had a bad experience in 2012 with probiotics and haven’t touched them since (1 pill of boulardii gave me inculcating intestinal pain for 2 weeks, was on serious pain killers).

    However I have UC and its getting worse so revisiting probiotics now. Can these pills be easily cut up to reduce the dosage and has anyone had any significant side effects?

    thanks all.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 11, 2015 at 06:32

      From what I gather, encapsulation is important and if you break them open they might could be destroyed in your stomach. Guess it’s only to try and see what happens.

    • solomani on May 11, 2015 at 17:51

      Thanks Richard. I thought you opened the capsules for your morning shake. Isn’t that the same thing as opening it up and only eating/drinking half?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 12, 2015 at 03:19

      Yea, I did that for a short time way back. I don’t anymore.

    • solomani on May 12, 2015 at 03:28

      Thanks Richard. I am still catching up on your blog so may have read an outdated post. I’ll play it by ear. First pill was today and no negative side effects. Next is the primal dirt probiotics. I am mixing all of them with RS.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 12, 2015 at 03:55

      Excellent. Boldly into the night!

      What I like to hear.

    • Jake on May 18, 2015 at 16:35

      Richard, just trying to understand the protocols here, didn’t I read previous articles where you broke open capsules and put them in morning ‘green shakes’ for yourself and your wife?

      Trial and error all good, just trying to figure out how to do this. Cheers man

    • Richard Nikoley on May 18, 2015 at 18:09

      Yea, did that for a while and then figured they must be encapsulated for good reason.

      • solomani on November 21, 2015 at 13:12

        Hi CasUC,

        I was very careful with Elixia as I have had a bad reaction in the past to probiotics and it took me out for two weeks. So I ended up only taking a tiny amount on the first day, then a bit more and then by the third day took a full capsule.

        They seem safe to me as I took double dose at one stage to test. I would suggest you start slow and make sure you first full load is on Saturday. That should alleviate your worries 🙂

        If you are like me you would know pretty quickly if there is an issue.

        I also just finished my v2 course. Definitely an improvement with a little more permanency but still not as long as I hoped.

    • solomani on June 18, 2015 at 06:03

      I wanted to give feedback after using Elixa for 12 days. I have ulcerative proctitis which is a mild inflammatory bowl disease.

      My symptoms improved dramatically. The day after I stopped taking the probiotics the symptoms returned.

      Based on this short experiment it definitely helped me but it seems I need a continuous supply.

      • CasUC on October 6, 2015 at 19:53


        Any update? I’m in a similar boat as you and wondering what the outcome was.

        Did you start out taking Elixa as instructed or did you do something different?


      • solomani on October 7, 2015 at 03:40

        Hi CasUC,

        Happy to update. So after the initial trial I ended up trying it for 6 days at double dose. So basically 20 pills/day. I had the same improvement in symptoms but the longevity was not there. It did last 2 days instead of 1 after cessation of the treatment before the symptoms returned.

        I then decided to try and have it continuously. I have been having 10 pills per day since about August 6 and this week is my last week. I found that the improvements from the short dose cycle didn’t translate when taking it long term. The symptoms returned, though blunted, after a couple weeks of continuous use and the ongoing use of Elixia didn’t improve the symptoms after the initial remission of symptoms.

        I next plan on trying the new version recently released to see how that goes but I will take a break between doses. Still waiting for the latest version to be delivered.

        I also tried some alternatives like Primal Flora and a local brand. But the dose I had to take of those to get a similar result ended up only being slightly cheaper.

        Even if it didn’t “cure” me I do feel Elixir is a step in the right direction. It also confirmed for me that this disease is definitely gut-flora related AND soil-based bacteria is damaged as other non-soil based probiotics don’t help me at all.

        Hope that helps! If I remember I will come back and report here in a month or so.

      • CasUC on November 21, 2015 at 07:37


        When you started your first round of Elixa, did you experience any worsening of your symptoms (gas, bloating, bum frequency, etc)?

        I got my first 2 rounds of Elixa and am trying to figure out if I should be worried about taking it during a normal work week.

        Any other updates on your situation would be awesome as well.


    • Richard Nikoley on June 18, 2015 at 06:38

      Hey Solomani:

      I’d suggest you contact Karl privately and discuss. Obviously, you’re onto something and perhaps with some tweaking you can get where you want to be.

      May require some dietary changes for a time so that things operate on their own.

    • Louise on June 18, 2015 at 07:07

      You could also try VSL3, about the same as Elixa but less expensive. Lots of research done with VSL3, see Pubmed.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 18, 2015 at 07:17

      “about the same”

      Can you explicate? Since it’s only about, what are the differences, and are they meaningful?

    • Louise on June 18, 2015 at 07:32

      Both have diferent strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, 450 billion cfu per serving. However, Elixa is capsulated, VSL3 is not. See or Google vsl3.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 18, 2015 at 08:03

      Ok, got it.

      So you completely ignored the chief technology of Elixa, encapsulation in order to get it to the colon quick, in order to promote your own agenda.


      “about the same” my ass.

  14. Richard Nikoley on May 17, 2015 at 15:29

    Hey folks, if not all, a lot of what you might want to know about how Elixa Probiotic was developed. A post buy its inventor:

    FODMAP Prebiotic Arms Dealing, Probiotic Mercenaries, and Uganda

  15. George on May 29, 2015 at 15:37

    This Elixa guy, is he still in Uganda or what? I ordered the stuff 10 days ago and haven’t seen anything yet coming my way. Must be in far, far away land since it has taken so darn long.

    • M on July 10, 2015 at 23:23

      Did you ever recieve your Elixa?

  16. Carl on June 30, 2015 at 05:59

    I’m on my 4th day of Elixa, am very happy with it, and just ordered more.

    A few things I’ve noticed:

    Decreased interest or “need” for caffeine. I usually drink about a pot of coffee every day and I’m down to 8-10oz (out of habit, at this point).

    An unbelievable feeling of calm. Perhaps it’s because I’m not sucking down a pot of coffee everyday, but in the past when I’ve detoxed from caffeine, the anxiety would linger.

    I’m not really hungry in the morning after taking Elixa and the ravenous hunger right before lunch is gone. Cravings for sugary foods are almost non existent.

    Needless to say, I’m very thankful I happened across this series of posts.

  17. Natasha on September 7, 2015 at 21:11

    I just read this post but I am very excited to hear updates!

  18. John on October 26, 2015 at 06:50

    Hello, sorry if this is the wrong place to post this… Anyone else having horrible intestinal cramping and whole, undigested capsules in the toilet after a BM? (I’m only on the 4th day of 24)

    I’m worried that the new formula capsule is not dissolving properly and I’m just pooping my $$$ down the drain. Not to mention that I have serious health issues I really need help with and dont want to miss out on the benefits of this product… I’ve emailed the owner, I’ll wait and see what he says and post an update.

    • John on October 26, 2015 at 07:19

      BTW my batch has an “F5 Mk3” on the packs…

      (Fortress 5 version 3 I’m guessing?)

  19. Karl S on October 26, 2015 at 10:50

    Hi there John,

    Yes you’re absolutely right: Mk3 is the third iteration of Fortress 5 and it includes the increased gastric resistance that you are witnessing with the capsules.

    I have replied to your email but will type up a brief summary for anyone else who is interested 🙂

    Elixa is intended to experience as short a transit time as possible through the small intestine. This is a desired effect. It appear you are experiencing an amplified version of this effect which explains the cramping. This is not something I have heard (from what I can recall), however it certainly makes sense. While it is understandably disconcerting, it is not of any harm. You’re spot on with the word ‘cramping’. That’s exactly what it is, because the muscles of the small intestine are contracting to move the capsules along. Although this must be a 1 in 10,000 response or less, it certainly makes sense.

    The increased visibility of the capsule wall material in your stool is due to the updated capsule wall tech in combination with aforementioned increased motility. The update is an increase in gastric resistance. This is a desired effect. I think it highly likely that the powder contents have dispersed within your large intestine. The capsules have been working much better than expected and I have had several reports of visible capsule wall material in stool. This is optimal because breaking down and absorbing the capsule material is not an objective here. However, I have not had anyone say that the capsule has made it all the way through, unopened and filled with powder. I would imagine that the powder has dispersed. It only requires a small exit hole to escape from and I would think that the capsules would have been breached in several places during the transit.
    You will no doubt be experiencing a higher proportion of visible capsule wall material because your peristalsis appears to have funnelled the capsules along your GI tract faster than usual.

    So, normally these are desired effect. However, it appears that they have been exaggerated in you and I will await your email and we can discuss it further! 🙂

    The feedback is much appreciated.

    Kind Regards,
    Karl (Elixa)

  20. […] Gut Bugs, Probiotics, Prebiotics…And how our microbes make us who we are (47 comments) […]

  21. Alex on February 17, 2016 at 07:11

    Greetings, friend of friends; forgive me for commenting on such an old post that may or may not have a follow up with the answer to my question, but your site is too huge and I am too lazy and fat. :'(
    In regards to this post:
    and this one, I got confused as to your preferred form of taking probiotics. In the post from 2014, you give your smoothie recipe that contains all of the probiotics listed here, but in this post, it made it seem as though you just started taking them. So, I wasn’t sure what your preferred form of probiotic ingestion is… it is a very important matter. I wish to achieve probiotic-based enlightenment.

  22. […] Gut Bugs, Probiotics, Prebiotics…And how our microbes make us who we are (49 Comments) […]

  23. Steph on December 16, 2017 at 16:01

    Hi Richard,

    What are your thoughts about Prescript Assist containing Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, which has been implicated in research as a causative/amplifying agent in Multiple Sclerosis? ( I am drawn to this product because it’s so unique, but would not try it while this species is included, or until reassuring information emerges.

    In the meantime, have you come across any other complex primal species probiotics along the same lines this one?

    BTW, I politely enquired with Dr Amy Myers about this twice online, expressing genuine interest in her product and asking whether this aspect of the formulation is being looked at in light of the research. My question on her personal page was ignored, and the other in the forum was promptly deleted. That’s something I find incredibly off-putting! It’s made me suspicious where I was not before. I worry about this product being promoted to a vulnerable subgroup specifically suffering with autoimmunity, instead of withdrawing it for precautionary reformulation – or at least offering a considered response the concern.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 19, 2017 at 20:10


      This post is a couple of years old. I still use PA and I still see from Amazon that others keep buying it after all these years.

      Anyway, if you look at recent posts, this blog, as it does, has once again shifted focus.

  24. Kevin on May 12, 2020 at 04:08

    That “Ted” Talk with Bob Knight was an eye opener.
    If they put gut bacteria of an obese person into a mouse, The mouse then became obese. If they put gut bacteria of a slim person, the mouse stay slim.

    Lesson. We can muck around trying to figure out, how to get the right gut bacterai into us, when there are people who already have it.
    We “borrow” theirs.
    And Id be willing to “transfer” their good bacterai into mine.
    Some people take YEARS to try and fix their bacteria ratios, when there are already people who have it right.
    We NEED to borrow theirs!!

    Bob said, that when a sick person had this “transfer”, their gut bacteria recovered…THE NEXT DAY!!

    So we can muck around guessing how to get our gut bacterai right, when all we need to do, is use a healthy persons gut bacteria.

    Which means, olympic athletes beware! Im going to kidnap you, to steal your poop.

  25. Lorena on July 19, 2020 at 14:35

    I’m aware that this post is several years old, but I just found this site and I have a question that gut health veterans might have a good opinion on. Do you think that a baby not being breastfed plus taking 2 rounds of antibiotics in childhood + plus a moderately processed diet would be enough to set someone up for chronic dysbiosis? There is a lot of data about babies being born through C-section that aren’t inoculated with bacteria but I’m really curious whether not being fed breast milk for (let’s say a year) is just as much a causative factor if they are born the regular route.

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