FODMAP Prebiotic Arms Dealing, Probiotic Mercenaries, and Uganda

I think I have a real treat for you. I asked Karl Seddon, creator of Elixa Probiotic, to write a post offering his perspective on probiotics and prebiotics, or FODMAPs. Little did I know he was clever enough to write such an engaging travelogue about Uganda, making it such an engaging read. I previously blogged about my experience with Elixa here.

Based on the emails I receive, I’d say that the average person interested in probiotics and gut health are well-read on the topic. Due to the relatively recent emergence of majority access to the internet and mainstream awareness of the microbiome, there’s a huge amount of crowd-sourced research and shared information regarding probiotics, the microbiome, and prebiotics—or what I prefer to call FODMAPs.

Self-experimentation, anecdotal meta-analysis (collating 2nd hand reports), and scientific experiments are all legitimate means to increase our understanding of how the gut bacteria affect us and how to manipulate this understanding to our advantage.

Although I am the developer and manufacturer of Elixa Probiotic, this article does not directly concern probiotic supplementation. There is plenty to discuss about the individual attributes of Elixa, however I would prefer to start chronologically by detailing some of the R&D that came before. Hopefully this will be a brief insight into some of the thoughts and work performed during the 3+ years of development that has occurred since I graduated.

With a science-based, academic background, most people will assume: Oh, so you learned this stuff at university, right?

As it happens …No. And I would be a bit worried about the security of my intellectual property if that were the case, since there were at least 50 fellow students on my degree course!

But it has provided me with the tools to scientifically analyse and test, in addition to the manufacturing engineering knowledge I would subsequently expand upon to begin my business.

But First – To Uganda!

Entebbe International Airport, Uganda

My primary reason for taking a one way ticket to Uganda was that I felt like doing some humanitarian work while things were ticking along with my uncharted venture into probiotic R&D. Like writing a book, progress in research is not linear. Filling the lulls with other activities keeps you sane.

However, as many of you will know, when you’re obsessed with a scientific concept, you will always have some theory ticking over in your mind. You’ll catch yourself considering it in all situations you come across, attempting to apply it to these situations via a form of mental simulation. Since my plan was to take a taxi bus straight from Entebbe airport to a rural town (Kiboga), I felt that there’d be ample opportunity to make some observations and throw in a little bit of cold, hard science as a side-hobby to my primary intentions.

Skip forward almost a year and many, many things had happened and I had blown past all my expectations over what I’d intended to achieve there (in the domain of scientific investigation, as well as my original goals).

Looking back down on Kiboga Town after wandering up a mountain
The view in all other directions

The Local Ugandan Diet

Food is about the first thing on the list of things to do when you enter a new country. Anything you eat in these villages has been cooked a few hours or minutes before you eat it. Not only that, but much of it has—just minutes prior to cooking—been grazing around and enjoying the warm Ugandan sun…unaware that a Rwandan cattle herder is sharpening his panga, with an eye to retail old Bessy for 7,000 shillings per kilo.

No denying the meat is free-range

I made a few immediate observations about the dietary habits of Ugandans in non-urbanised settlements outside of the main cities. (Rwandans were slightly different. More on that another time.)

  • They eat very substantial portions
  • With lots of carbs
  • And lots of red meat. With the subcutaneous fat still attached

But they’re not all obese, diabetic, and suffering from heart failure. In fact, they’re quite the opposite. I won’t spin you the fairytale that they’re all 6’6”& 250lbs of lean muscle with glowing skin and flowing hair. But healthy they certainly do appear.

Some of my friends. An accurate representation of the typically healthy men in Kiboga

This isn’t new news. Nobody reading this article is thinking that carbohydrates are automatically unhealthy, or that fatty meat will unquestionably predispose you to coronary heart disease. But first hand observation is certainly worth a thousand hours of reading 2nd hand reports.

So what’s the diet like, and why it is an extremely healthy diet in my opinion?

As grass-fed and organic as you can get. The best meat I’ve ever eaten

This is the typical range you will find in each meal. It’s usually served with carbohydrates on the plate, and the meat in a bowl of its own cooking soup. This was all served on a dish so I could carry it up to my hostel room to snap a photo.

The carbohydrates include (2-3 in the same meal):

  • Green Banana (Matoke) – Steamed in banana leaves and mashed.
  • Plantain – Grilled over charcoal or Boiled
  • Cassava – Boiled
  • Sweet Potato (of both the orange and white variety) – Boiled
  • Rice (long-grain white or pilau) – Boiled

Less often would be:

  • Posho (Maize/Corn flour boiled in water like rice)
  • Beans (cooked into a half solid, half soup state)
  • Groundnuts (Aka. Purple-skinned peanuts. Cooked into a thick paste.)

It’s an unimaginably vast array of naturally sourced and naturally prepared prebiotics/FODMAPs conspicuously lacking virtually all of the rabbit-food greens various Western diets tout above all else.

The meat on offer is slow-cooked chicken and beef. And occasionally slow-cooked goat or pan-fried fish. The beef and chicken is ridiculously tasty. The beef, especially, will ‘melt’ apart in your mouth due to it being so soft. They’re cooked in a boiling broth of freshly prepared onions, green peppers, aubergine, tomatoes, and salt. Sometimes a bit of garlic for the phonetically spelled menu item: Gallick Chicken.

As you can see: a veritable prebiotic/FODMAP soup! It goes without saying: there’s no deep-frying in sight.

Steaming green banana, wrapped in banana leaf, on a charcoal stove

There’s an old adage: a calorie is a calorie. This is patently untrue. Eat 1,500 calories per day of doughnuts and french fries for just a few months and see how you fare versus the 100-year-old Japanese eating 1,500 calories of fish and rice. Your skin, waistline, and mental state will not thank you for the former, but may thank you for the latter.

So how about a calorie of macronutrient X is a calorie of macronutrient X? For example: A calorie of carbohydrate is a calorie of carbohydrate.

Sound better? Whether it does or doesn’t, it’s still untrue. Bread, Rice, Potatoes, Maize/Corn, Yams, etc., are not all created equal. A 100g plate of carbs from plantain would not generate the same response as would 100g of carbs from bread, if consumed regularly as your staple.


So what causes the difference? Is it the micronutrient content (i.e., the vitamins and minerals?), or is it perhaps something to do with the speed at which the substances are broken down and absorbed into the blood stream?

It’s All About The FODMAPs

It’s my belief that the most important factor to consider in a meal are the FODMAPs contained within. Before proceeding, I should define what I mean: Fermentable: Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.

Generally speaking, this correlates to Indigestible: Carbohydrates, Dimer Sugars (e.g., lactose), Monomer Sugars (e.g., glucose) and Sugar Alcohols (e.g., sorbitol, xylitol, etc.).

I should clarify that indigestible here refers to the inability of a human to digest the substance via our own digestive enzymes and processes. So, fermentable correctly implies the idea that microorganisms can digest these substances.

With my friends, the founders of Orphan Hope Centre, getting our RDA of sugar alcohol. Well…. alcohol, atleast

For purposes of this discussion: FODMAPs include anything we eat/drink which makes it all the way to the large intestine in a form that can be digested (or further digested) by the microorganisms colonising our gut.

The reason I believe the FODMAP content on your plate to be of such significance is because I happen to be entirely convinced that the profile of microorganisms in our gut microbiome plays an enormous role in our health, across a huge range of systems (neurological, dermatological, gastroenterological, immunological, etc.).


So it stands to reason that we should consider the microbiome‘s daily diet just as much as our own (our own being the human-digestible portion of the meal). It has been comprehensively demonstrated that the profile of our gut bacteria can be manipulated via the use of prebiotics. Prebiotics are, of course, FODMAPs. I prefer to use the latter term because it does not bias the phrase towards symbolising something inherently good or inherently bad.

FODMAPs—fiber, prebiotics… whatever you choose to call them—have a context dependent response. Specifically, the profile of the eagerly awaiting population of gut microorganisms sitting there with mouths wide open, waiting for that next trickle of fermentable substrate to be passed from the latter portion of the small intestine (the ileum), through the ileocecal valve, into the first portion of the large intestine (the ascending colon)—where it will then make its way through the 100 trillion bacteria that reside between the IC valve and exit sphincter.


The resulting effect from consuming one FODMAP versus another is determined via 2 main mechanisms:

  1. The bacterial strains whose populations it increases/decreases
  2. The byproducts produced by the fermentation (a function of the bacteria metabolizing it and the substrate itself)

There’s already plenty of information on Richard’s site about the various byproducts produced by gut fermentation (especially among the Resistant Starch discussions). For now, I’ll discuss point number one.

How does the dietary FODMAP profile affect the populations of our microbiome?

Of Arms Dealers and Mercenaries

A whole article could be written about this, but the fundamental mechanism at play is the preferential feeding of certain strains over others. What this means is that certain strains of bacteria are better equipped to break down a particular substrate and use it to fuel their proliferation and survival. If there’s enough food (and room) to go around for everyone, all is well. But what happens when the food source is not a limiting factor and bacterial population growth occurs? The limiting factor in survival now becomes epithelial space, i.e., the surface area on the large intestinal wall for the bacterial populations to colonise. When populations expand into each other’s territory, competitive exclusion must occur to one or more belligerents. Who wins (in this example) is determined by who can best metabolise the food source, and this is determined by their metabolic pathways.

Think of it like this: Imagine a group of primitive humans sitting in one corner of an enclosed field and a group of cows sitting in the other corner. These two species are analogous to two different species of bacteria. Now, for the sake of analogy, imagine that each of these cows is equally matched to the fighting capability of each of these humans. They peacefully coexist because they rarely cross paths and have no incentive to venture over to the other corner and start problems. Life goes on and all is good. Once per day, a crate of food is air-dropped in. It contains a small amount of food (just enough to maintain both populations at a fixed size) and it contains a range of food types. For the cows we have some nice grass and other plants. For the humans we have meat, yams, and some fruit. This crate represents the fermentable portion of your daily diet. The parts of the diet that make it all the way to the large intestine (the field). The average Westerner will eat only a small amount of FODMAPs and this is represented by there being a meagre one crate dropped per day.

However, one day the air-drops change. (This part is analogous to you making a dietary change in your FODMAP consumption.) Now the air-drop consists of 10 crates. 1 of them is identical to the previous daily air-drop but the other 9 are all filled with…. grass! ‘Oh great!’ say the cows, and they begin to feast. The humans continue to eat their previous diet but also attempt to eat some grass, because… you know… they’re hungry and when they see more food they want to eat it (bacteria, like most organisms, will at least attempt to eat anything food-like). The humans manage to extract some nutrition out of the grass but they’re very poorly equipped to digest and extract the calories from this grass. Nevertheless, in times of peace, this is sufficient for these humans to continue living as usual.

A few years go by (in the gut this would be equivalent to hours or days) and the population of the cows is booming, thanks to all the grass consumption, and they’re starting to occupy most of the field. In fact, they’re almost infringing on the human population’s area. The surface area of the field represents the surface area of the large intestine’s epithelium.

Another year goes by and the cows make their move! They need that land because they literally can’t fit on the field without that last corner. So the clash begins. As we’ve already contrived, a human here is equal to a cow in fighting capability. The Great War of Cow and Human ensues, but the cows outnumber the humans and all the cows are sinewy and energized…well-fed…on grass.

The humans attempt to increase their numbers and bolster their physiques by consuming grass (of which there is plenty to go around!) but, alas, they just can’t get anything out of it except green-specked bowel movements. Eventually the humans are outnumbered and overpowered by the cows. They’re killed off with no other place to procreate and colonise. They have now been competitively excluded.

And all because they didn’t have the necessary mechanisms to efficiently metabolise that grass!

A friendly Ugandan cow that I walked into, in the pitch black night. It, understandably, did not appreciate my use of camera flash to see what I had just bumped into

In case you hadn’t realised, the grass here represents the particular FODMAP that you have decided to dietarily (or via supplements) increase within your daily diet. This could be…. for example, resistant starch or inulin.

It’s a simplistic analogy, but acts as a good introduction to the idea of ONE of the modes by which a change in dietary FODMAP profile can change the bacterial profile: stimulating population growth to a degree which necessitates competitive exclusion by the better-adapted strains.

The reality is much more complex, with 100s of species present and dozens of fermentable substrates, most of which can be metabolised fairly easily by the vast majority of bacteria present. Bacteria are more omnivorous than one may be lead to believe by reading about prebiotics and their ‘selective’ ability to feed only ‘good’ bacteria.

Having said that, I previously stated that not all macronutrients are created equal and, by inference, this is because not all FODMAPs are created equal. Delving deeper should be kept outside the scope of this article, lest I stray completely off my point. But if you were to modify the Cow vs. Human analogy to say that the humans could metabolise the grass, let’s say… 80-90% as efficiently as the cows—instead of the 1-2% implied—you may be getting closer to reality.

The specific bacteria already residing within the gut (and the size of their populations) can determine the steady-state result arrived at after the transient ‘war’ that ensues soon after the point of introduction of the new FODMAP. Based on my own research and hypotheses I believe an example of one of these ‘wars’ would be the transient increase in flatulence after initial adoption of inulin. Or the transient predisposition to headaches after initial adoption of resistant potato starch. It credibly explains why the symptoms arise initially, yet subsequently resolve. The layman explanation—your body adapts to the increase in fiber—was a tad unscientific for my liking. Ultimately, the negative symptoms will settle out IF your pre-existing microbiome was sufficiently healthy and you possessed a critical threshold of beneficial bacteria.

Many variables (particularly the type of FODMAP itself) can affect whether your pre-existing microbiome will indeed be able to adapt in a positive direction. But it remains true that a hugely influential variable is the starting profile. Going back to my analogy (assuming we use the more representative model of humans being able to metabolise the grass at 80-90% the efficiency of the cows): If the starting population of humans was 10x that of the cows, to begin with, how do you think the results would turn out? Now, what about 2x? What about 1.1x?

Or, what about equal population size… but humans are actually superior (on a per capita basis) in fighting capability? What if they are just a little better? What if they’re a lot better?

This is what can lead to different results for the exact same FODMAP.

Take inulin, for example. Give it in high quantities to someone with IBS and they may experience the worst pain, flatulence, bloating, and diarrhoea imaginable. Give the same inulin to someone who has never suffered from gut issues and they may find they have deeper sleep, more sustained energy throughout the day, and cleaner bowel movements.

There is huge potential in prebiotics. But what about right now? How can we guarantee we’re feeding up the good and not feeding up the bad?


Recruiting Mercenaries

One obvious route is to omit the ‘feed-up’ altogether, and go for a more precise approach where the bacterial profile changes are determined more by the supplement than by the pre-existing state of your microbiome.

This is where Elixa Probiotic and the whole concept of beneficial probiotic bacteria enters the scene. The uncertainty of the pre-existing state of the gut microbiome is rendered practically irrelevant when you’re now able to determine the affected bacterial populations by incorporating them into the supplement itself!

But probiotics aren’t new, so what’s so revolutionary about Elixa?

The answer is quite simple. In fact, it almost seems trivial. The not-so-trivial part is the technological innovations of the manufacturing process that have been invented to create Elixa. There’s a big difference between theorising how a probiotic could be superior, versus developing the means to actually manufacture it in practice.

For starters, the CFU count of Elixa is 50x that of the average probiotic. This means it has approximately 50 times the number of bacteria compared to an average 10 Billion CFU probiotic. Getting a true factor of five times higher concentration of viable lactic acid bacteria, on a capsule for capsule basis, is no easy feat.

And this is not 50x too many. Or an ‘overdose’, ‘megadose’, or any other superlative. It’s actually a reasonable dose compared to perhaps insufficient doses in other products. Don’t take my word for it. Consider the number of bacteria in the large intestine. We’re talking approximately 100 trillion. If you take your 10 billion CFU average probiotic, you are consuming a pill containing one 10,000th of the residing population. It’s like a droplet of food-dye in a bucket of water. There simply isn’t enough to generate a noticeable change. And certainly not enough to initiate a reversal of a significant imbalance in an unhealthy microbiome. With the recommended starting point of a 6-day course of Elixa, you’d be consuming over 3 Trillion CFUs. Whew, finally into the trillions now! This is more like a whole bottle of food colouring poured into that same bucket of water.

And this is no ‘monochrome’ probiotic. We utilise 9 strains within the blend. The choice of the specific species and strains is based upon, in part, research performed in Uganda on raw-milk drinking Rwandans and several other population-sets in rural Africa. But that’s a story for another time! It suffices to say that all are adapted for colonisation of the human large intestine and from species that have undergone extensive scientific studies. And in addition to a fundamental leap in yield, our Fortress-5 technology produces Elixa in a more ‘protected’ supplement format than conventional formulations.

This is an oft-used description for probiotics. More stable; better protection; acid-resistant; etc. However, the reality (and as the inventor and manufacturer I feel I have good insight into this) is that surviving in the stomach acid and duodenum environment is fairly simple. There’s much more to the viability of the probiotic than surviving the brief exposure to less than optimal pH. Questions such as: what exactly occurs during lyophilisation? (freeze-drying) and what is the precise mechanism by which rehydration causes reanimation? (reviving the bacteria once in the gut) and what obstacles to epithelial binding are presented to a freshly reanimated bacteria in viscous suspension? and what aversion mechanisms/constructs have the—already-settled—bacteria got lying in wait for the new entrants into the neighborhood?

An elaboration on the answers would encroach upon revealing the gears and cogs underpinning our Fortress-5 technology, so I’ll allow the questions to remain rhetorical and stimulate an appreciation that the simplistic manufacturing & administration concept of: Grow bacteria. Dry bacteria. Encapsulate bacteria. Swallow bacteria. Hydrate bacteria. Reanimate bacteria. Done! is where Elixa differentiates itself.

I hope this article has been enlightening to novices and informative and stimulating to the more expert among you. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to expounding on some of the other topics I touched upon…such as the dietary, clinical, and physiological variations among rural Africans…and subsequent extrapolations to the field of the microbiome and human health.

For further information about Elixa, check out our website here. And for Richard’s experience with Elixa, see his previous post, along with some comment testimonials as well. I really had no idea what he’d do about all of this when I contacted him months ago and sent out some product. That he seems to have found benefit, passed it along, and many hundreds of orders later I’m getting unsolicited thanks by email and many re-orders is way more than I ever imagined. Thanks Richard. Under that eclectic facade is clearly a man who cares about helping other folks.

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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. Elliebelly on May 18, 2015 at 05:55

    So fascinating that there were few or no greens or other colorful veggies in the Ugandan meal. Would love to see studies comparing diets such as the Wahls protocol and this kind of meal.

    • sassysquatch on May 18, 2015 at 07:29

      I agree about the ‘lack of greens’ in the Ugandan diet. I have been drifting that way myself (lack of greens).

      I file the ‘Gotta have greens’ in with the other diet dogmas B.S.

      This post was AWESOME.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 18, 2015 at 08:31

      Why? Uganda itself is the “study.” The Wahls Protocal is a restrictive diet that purposely eliminates almost all starch and other good gut food. If it works for you if you have MS, cool, but why in the world would a Ugandan give a shit?

  2. Fred on May 17, 2015 at 16:38

    Wow, awesome post… the idea about the cows and humans thing has possibly changed how I think about this prebiotic-probiotic thing forever…

    • Fred on May 17, 2015 at 16:44

      I currently have a fuckered gut and can’t tolerate any FODMAPs, not even starch. I do okay with some RS2. If/when I first start Elixa, should I be doing it with my current diet or should I be taking a ton of prebiotics at the same time?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 17, 2015 at 18:51

      I’d say give the 6-day regimine a shot, water only first in AM, eat as you do now. Perhaps after last day, experiment with bits, see how it goes.

      You on youR own.

  3. Jackie D on May 17, 2015 at 18:42

    I got my Elixa and took it week before last. I was amazed by the depletion of appetite I had – often forcing myself to eat dinner because I was getting hunger-induced headaches and shakes but did not feel hungry.

  4. Allan Folz on May 17, 2015 at 21:35

    Would it be impolite to inquire whether Karl has any specimen data showing his probiotic up against any other big name brands?

    At the risk of going full-engineer (heh) how about a 6-way trial, sampling 1 and 14 days after 6 days of:

    1) Elixa
    2) Amazon’s #1 selling brand (taken in a CFU equivalent dosage)
    3) Prescript-Assist (again, CFU-equivalent dosage)
    4) GoodBelly Probiotic Drink
    5) Danon yogurt
    6) Nothing. Just a regular, whole-food, full-fiber PHD-ish diet or similar.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 17, 2015 at 21:55

      Yes, it would be impolite.

      In the 50s, folks actually recognized that this is such a cool car, it might take others a while to catch up, didn’t really expect test data, and went with their gut.

      Not in Allan Folz’s proper universe, though. Has to have tens of millions in testing data before he’ll risk 40 quid.

  5. Konstantin on May 18, 2015 at 07:15

    I would like to ask about Karl’s opinion on the Vermiform appendix, biofilms and the ability of probiotics (no matter the dose) to actually rebuild the gut flora in the long-term.

  6. Roy on May 18, 2015 at 10:58

    I am interested in Karl or Richards opinion about fermented vegetables, specifically cabbage. I have been culturing the ferment with commercial probiotics and think I can increases the usefulness of one pill, on average, by about twelve fold. Probiotics are extremely expensive and using them to culture cabbage ferments can save huge money….can’t it?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 18, 2015 at 11:10

      Doesn’t cabbage already have the resident bacteria—assuming you don’t spay it with sanitizer—to ferment on its own with just water and salt? It’s called sauerkraut. Add some garlic and hot spices, it’s called kimchee.

    • Roy on May 18, 2015 at 11:21

      You are right Richard….especially with organic cabbage. Also, the ferment should eliminate pretty much all toxins such as pesticides anyway. However, and this is why I asked, I don’t know whether the best species are on the cabbage to begin with.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 18, 2015 at 11:24

      Well I’m just talking out my ass because I don’t know, but I would assume that organic, unwashed cabbage has exactly the bacteria that’s supposed to be there, no more and no less (environment dependent, of course). I wouldn’t fuck with introducing buggers that didn’t evolve to be on that micro-ecosystem.

    • sassysquatch on May 18, 2015 at 11:52

      by the way, how’s the back doing?

    • Rudy on May 18, 2015 at 17:12

      Michael Pollan’s book, “Cooked” has a nice chapter on fermentation describing successive generations of bacteria that result in the final product. First, Enterobacteriaceae, then Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and eventually Lactobacillus plantarum. Clearly other species are involved but each stage creates a more acidic environment for the later species. So, adding probiotic capsule contents to a ferment will likely not get what you are after in terms of a multiplier effect.

      Commercial starter cultures favor the early appearing species as a sort of insurance but as Richard notes ‘wild fermentation’ is unerversual across cultures. Chop, brine, pack, wait. I do.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 18, 2015 at 20:19

      Pretty reasonable. About 12 days from surgery and the only thing lingering is weakness in the lower back. So, I fatigue easily taking walks. I suppose it takes a while for the muscle they cut through to heal. Slight numbness in left foot, but apparently that’s normal and usually goes away in time. At least it did for my brother.

      Thanks for asking. Certainly nice to not have crazy pain 24/7 for more than a year.

    • karlseddon on May 25, 2015 at 14:41

      Hi Roy,

      Good question.

      The idea that one substrate can act as a culturing plate for bacteria, regardless of their species, is unrealistic.
      Different strains have different optimal conditions for proliferation. While certain microorganisms will thrive on damp bread in a warm room, others will thrive in raw chicken left on a chopping board. Bacteria that is adapted to live within our large intestines, will survive optimally at the warm temperature, anaerobic environment, and pH found within. It will also be adapted to metabolise the substrates that are found there – Mucus, FODMAPs, etc.

      While there is some flexibility, I can guarantee that a multi-strain lactic acid bacteria (LAB) probiotic will not proportionately multiply on a damp bit of cellulose (cabbage). Some strains may have mild success at surviving in this suboptimal niche, although most likely none will last beyond a single generation. To speak specifically of your example: A cabbage would be characterised as aerobic, pH 7, cellulose and room temperature (or whatever temperature you keep it at). This is NOT the type of culture medium one would use for ANY of the bacteria within Elixa. If it were this simple, please let me know and I can discard the high-tech, high cost, high-everything, biofermentation facility and start plotting a cabbage patch 😉

      Think of it this way. Different species of microorganism are like different species of animal. You wander past your garden pond and see pond-life thriving – newts, frogs, fish, etc. So then it occurs to you that this pond is evidently a great place for animals to proliferate. So you grab a handful of cats, dogs, birds, sheep, (etc.) and you dump them into your pond and stroll away with a big smile on your face, knowing that soon these species will have proliferated exponentially to create a heaving mass of varied wildlife in your pond.
      Unfortunately you return the next day to find a bunch of floating, lifeless furry creatures. Oh, well. A failed experiment.
      Things are similar with the bacteria and the cabbage. Dumping a load of lactic acid bacteria on a cabbage is like dumping land-based animals into a water ecosystem. The cabbage may be a good culture medium for some microorganisms, but certainly not LAB. They simply are not adapted to breakdown that substrate, attach to that surface, nor operate in that temperature, oxygen level, or pH.
      Someone may point out that one or two probiotic species DO manage to survive on that cabbage, but that is analogous to pointing out that one species, in the big bunch of birds you chucked into the pond, survived in the water ecosystem – a duck. A single solitary species out of the whole range of animals you threw in: Duck. And the duck may be thriving more than ever, but the other species are nowhere to be seen.

      So, unless you want to REDUCE the species variety in an LAB probiotic and/or kill them all, I would advise against using a cabbage for fermenting. If you are experimenting with SBOs or other species then it will still depend on the specific species and their optimal niches. One could wonder if it DOES grow on cabbage then how likely is it to grow in the large intestine (a completely different ecological niche)……

    • Lute Nikoley on June 15, 2015 at 11:05

      My left foot numbness has never gone away, in fact it haste increased to my whole foot, not just the left side of the foot.
      Also it has now spread to my right foot. Spinal stenosis the neurologist tells me, and I’ll just have to live with it. Of corse at 77 I probably won’t have to live with it for too long, maybe 20 years?

  7. T C on May 18, 2015 at 11:41

    I did the 6 day course and noticed no positive effects other than increased bm frequency during the days I took the pills. That subsided 2 days after.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 18, 2015 at 20:14

      Hi TC

      Thanks for the input. So, something you characterize as positive, but non-lasting.

      Could you provide a bit more info?

      – general diet

      – any other positive effects you’re looking for?

      – how’s general health, body comp, etc?

      – any serious digestive issues?

      Anything else you think might be of value to others reading this.

  8. Eric on May 18, 2015 at 12:07

    Green plantains and yuca are really tasty when deep fried are they really bad for you that way if you use tallow or lard from grass-fed and finished animals?

    • John on May 18, 2015 at 14:05

      They are so tasty. So So tasty. No matter how full I feel I can eat a massive serving of fried plaintains and yuca.

      IMO that is the real problem.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 18, 2015 at 20:07


      Can’t resist: so, you want to make plantain and yuca “Paleo?” 😉

      Or, how do you make a doughnut Paleo? Fry it in animal fat.

      Seriously though, I have parted with the idea that just because natural fats are better than industrial lubricant, I still don’t want to be piling it on and for me, except for the occasional splurge, I keep away from deep fried and even most pan fried, except eggs and fish (because it’s quick, so not a lot of time for fat to break down). Now, I’m mostly into slow cooking, braises, soups and such.

      But just me.

    • Eric on May 18, 2015 at 20:30

      Yeah I had stewed brisket and a fried green plantain today. I felt quite full, I wouldn’t have reached for more tostones even if I’d had any. I’ll try boiling the yuca tomorrow instead and top with fresh ‘ramps’ sautéed in olive oil.

      I never saw a fat person in the south of Spain either and they deep fry many things, sweet dough included. The ‘flamenquin’ was delicious 🙂

  9. Jake on May 18, 2015 at 16:10

    This is a phenomenally well written article and wicked cool story. Great way of framing and contextualizing a lot of things I thought/believed already. This needs to become more mainstream knowledge+permeate in the literature.

    I don’t think it was impolite of the commentor who asked for data about species comparisons. Big claims should have big proof. However, I buy into the good vibe and intentions of Elixa PLENTY to give it a try!

    What’s the best way to get in touch with Karl over interviewing him for my podcast? And you Richard? All the best, gents.


    • Richard Nikoley on May 18, 2015 at 18:08


      Email me at the address on the About page. I’ll get you in touch with Karl.

      As to Allan, I was just feeling a bit snarky last evening. No, of course no harm. But when someone asks “would it be impolite,” I can just not help myself. Even had to delete some of yesterday’s Tweets this morning. 🙂

    • Allan Folz on May 18, 2015 at 22:52

      Haha. Yeah, “would it be impolite” is a pretty passive-aggressive douche way to take exception. Clearly I was feeling a bit snarky last evening as well.

      In my defense, I did try to leaven it with the self-deprecating “full-engineer” comment. Too esoteric?

    • gabkad on May 19, 2015 at 03:53

      Allan, something’s going on. Seems to me you’ve got a touch of ADD these days.

    • Allan Folz on May 19, 2015 at 23:29

      Fair enough.

  10. Dave on May 19, 2015 at 09:11

    Hey Richard. Brilliant read.
    I took the Elixa for 6 days. First couple of days my stomach seemed to be making all sorts of noises and I had some slight nausea – mainly in the mornings (maybe just a coincidence?). But the positive effects were apparent from about day 3 onwards. I swear I had better clarity of thought and general mood was lifted. Also, my skin and scalp is much improved (smooth and dandruff free).
    Didn’t change anything else diet wise.

    P.S. Homeschooling going great. Will send an update in due course.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 19, 2015 at 09:42

      “I had some slight nausea”

      I had that a time or two myself, also, mild flu-like symptoms, where I would apparently get a fever and chills—but lasted only perhaps an hour.

      Who knows, other that it’s at least confirmation that something is really going on down there. But otherwise, yea, and the good effects—particularly appetite suppression—last far beyond the dose regimen.

      Oh, so your kids are actually learning real shit from real people who really care the most about what they learn and how they apply it? Remarkable.

      Any guest appearances by Obama’s stupid bitch, yet? 😉

  11. wildcucumber on May 19, 2015 at 06:01

    “go for a more precise approach where the bacterial profile changes are determined more by the supplement than by the pre-existing state of your microbiome”

    I believe I experienced something like this when I decided to add more inulin to my diet. I have a yard full of sunchokes, so I simply dug one up, brushed off (most of) the dirt and ate it. My theory was that the correct bacteria were right there on the tuber. Right or wrong, I can eat sunchokes with no prob. They’re particularly wonderful fermented.

    But then I had no pre-existing digestive difficulties, so who knows what really happened there.

  12. Ashwin Patel on May 20, 2015 at 16:00

    Great read! I was born in Uganda and only left at the age of 19 when Idi Amin came on the scene. I enjoyed the feasts mentioned in the post. The Starches from Green Banana (Matoke) and Cassava (Mogo) are consumed COOKED and COOLED, often on the next day. This is where the Resistant starch comes in………….Retrograded RS..
    I like the idea of a high dose probiotic as in the “Enteric Coated” Elixa and have ordered my 6 day pack. However, 9 strains of Bacteria do not make a gut microbiome and most of the Gut microbiota are anaerobic bacteria that have not or cannot be cultured into a probiotic supplement. Taking large doses of just 9 strains will not mend a Dysbiosis or replace the missing species. The only approach here is to feed the remaining small populations of the desirable microbes and some how discourage growth of undesirable bugs.Therefore, prebiotics or FODMAPS are the real answer to modulating the microbiota. I do agree that you should not start feeding the “wrong” species during a Dysbiosis episode as when suffering IBS, IBD or even systemic conditions linked with the Gut microbiome such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, Psoriasis , etc before attempting to first correct the Dysbiosis . Elixa may be of help here as will the use of natural Polyphenols to eliminate Pathogenic Bacteria that may be responsible for the Dysbiosis.It is also possible that some the 9 strains in the product Elixa may behave as “prebiotics” by producing nutritional “factors” for the growth of the missing species. Cross feeding among the microbiota is very common and the by products of fermentation by one species is often “feed” for another. I hope this is the case for Elixa.

    • Ashwin Patel on May 21, 2015 at 04:36

      Hi Sonoma,
      I am a Pharmacist and dish out a lot of synthetic wide spectrum Antibiotics daily on the instructions of the medical profession. However, when trying to modulate the composition of the Gut microbiota, i look to the use of Herbs and Spices in daily life. My thinking is that if something that you consume in food and has been for hundreds of years cannot be bad for the commensal Bacteria. I study the Indian system of medicine called Ayurveda. Most of the herbs derived from plant material in this system is used as medicine as well as in the diet to treat as well as prevent disease. Herbs and spices used in daily life in an Indian household are also used as medicine. I’ll give you two good examples: Curcumin from the spice Turmeric and Ajwain seed (Bishops weed). Curcumin is a Polyphenol and has antibacterial properties in addition to other beneficial properties. Ajwain contains the Phenolics Carvacrol and Thymol.(also found in Oil of Oregano and Thyme) both have Antimicrobial action and are used widely to flavour foods. (thymol may be found in mouthwash). When I was a child I can remember my mum using the yellow Turmeric powder from the kitchen to disinfect cuts and bruises. I urge you to Google “Indian herbs, spices with antimicrobial properties”
      The following is a list of Herbs and Spices with Antibacterial properties (a lot of studies done , most antimicrobial properties being allocated to the Polyphenols and Terpenes) :
      This spice mix has anti-microbial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is meant to be used to eradicate pathogenic microbes from the Small intestine and Stomach without affecting the population and composition of the commensal microbiota in the Colon. In this way, it can be used to manipulate the composition of the Gut microflora and as a result the metabolites formed by these microbes from the fermentation of undigested food. Removal of microbes from the ileum is likely to help SIBO, IBS and Crohn’s and conditions caused by a Dysbiosis in the Gut.
      Neem Leaf Powder…………………………………………………….100G
      Neem Leaf Extract Powder…………………………………………..100G
      Wu Mei Powder…………………………………………………………..100G
      Turmeric Powder…………………………………………………………100G
      Pomegranate Peel Powder……………………………………………100G
      Pomegranate Seed Powder……………………………………………100G
      Ajwain Powder……………………………………………………………..100G
      Triphala Powder……………………………………………………………300G
      Clove Powder………………………………………………………………..100G
      Cinnamon Powder………………………………………………………….100G
      Nutmeg Powder…………………………………………………………….100G
      Dill Seed Powder…………………………………………………………….100G
      Fennel Seed Powder………………………………………………………..100G
      Asafoetida (Hing) Powder…………………………………………………10G
      Star Anise Powder……………………………………………………………100G
      Ginger Powder…………………………………………………………………100G
      Black Pepper Powder…………………………………………………………100G
      Long Pepper Powder…………………………………………………………..100G
      Coriander Seed Powder………………………………………………………100G
      Bay Leaves Powder…………………………………………………………….50G
      Tulsi Powder……………………………………………………………………..100G
      Peppermint Leaf Powder…………………………………………………….100G
      Cumin Seed Powder (Jeera)…………………………………………………100G
      Caraway Seed Powder(Kala Jeera)……………………………………….100G
      Green Cardamom Pods Powder……………………………………………100G
      Nigella Sativa Seed (Kalonji) Powder…………………………………….100G
      Licorice Root (Jethimadh) Powder…………………………………………100G
      Salt (Sodium Chloride)…………………………………………………………100G
      27 different spices used mainly for their Anti-bacterial properties.
      Use 5ml or one teaspoonful to make two cups of Lime tea.
      Boil four cups ofwater, add the powder mix and one whole lime cut into pieces. Boil mixture until quantity is halved down to two cups.

    • Elliebelly on May 21, 2015 at 06:00

      Wow Ashwin! This is so timely. my husband and I often are bitten by ticks. For years, when we have found one, in order to prevent Lyme disease we followed a procedure of taking oregano oil and capsules for a week.

      But recently I became concerned that this much oregano would harm our guts.

      What do you think?

    • Sonoma on May 20, 2015 at 16:06


      Thanks for the informative reply. I am interested about what you said about polyphenols to eliminate pathogenic bacteria – I’ve never heard of that, where did you learn about that?

    • Gassman on May 23, 2015 at 08:58

      Ashwin, I’ve been experimenting with Primal Defense Ultra probiotic, because I have some on hand. It has 30 strains, but not as many CFUs. I have been taking higher than recommended doses to approximate the dose of elixia. I plan on trying elixa, but I’m going with what I have on hand. What are your thoughts? Also, I have rheumatoid arthritis and have been on plaquenil for years at 200 mg twice daily. My rheumatologist has told me that my RA is in remission, as I haven’t had as much as a twinge of pain or swelling in a few years (I never need pain meds for RA). I have asked about lowering the dose or discontinuing the meds, but he feels that if I stop and the RA reappears, plaquinil may not control a reoccurance. I’m not asking for medical advice, because I wouldn’t change anything without consulting the doc. But I wonder if the plaquenil may have long term consequences for my gut and overall health. I have my eyes checked twice yearly and the opthamalogist has seen no signs of plaquenil toxicity. All the medical info on plaquenil that I have read hasn’t indicated a long term problem other than vision. Do you know anything more about plaquenil? I feel like I have improved my diet and health overall and perhaps repaired a leaky gut which has put the RA in remission, but he feels that it is the plaquenil. Perhaps a little of both?

    • Ashwin Patel on May 28, 2015 at 13:58

      Hi Gassman, sorry for the delay in replying. I was away and had no internet connection. Elixa does have a very high dose of 9 strains of probiotic Bacteria but it differs from other Probiotics in that it is in a capsule that is specially coated so that it escapes the stomach Acid , Bile and Pancreatic secretions that may have anti-microbial action on the Bacteria on their way to the large intestine (the main site of fermentation). This means that taking high doses of “normal” probiotics such as Primal Defence Ultra may not achieve what you intend. Primal defence does contain more strains of Bacteria and may be a better choice. I am not convinced that high CFU is necessary though. How high a dose of Bacteria do you need to get food poisoning from Salmonella or E. Coli ?
      My 6 day course of Elixa arrived today and i will be experimenting for the next few days.
      Plaquenil is an antimalarial drug related to the drug Chloroquine and may also be effective in Hepatic Amoebiasis. It has Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppresive actions and is often used in combination with other “disease modifying Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs” such as Methotrexate and Sulphasalazine. Compared to many other drugs used in RA, it is pretty safe and since you are under the care of a Rheumatologist and being monitored for possible side effects (Opthalmic), you should not worry. Plaquenil is described as a Disease modifying agent and appears to be working well for you. I would not rock the boat. Most drugs have dose related rare adverse effects and cardiomyopathy has been reported rarely (can lead to Heart failure) when Plaquenil is used for prolonged periods (>10 years). Plaquenil doe not possess anti-bacterial properties but may enhance the effect of some antibiotic (Doxycycline) and may modulate the composition of the Gut microbiota. You might want to look up side effects of the related drug Chloroquine may be interested in this article:
      Abnormal Weight Gain and Gut Microbiota Modifications Are Side Effects of Long-Term Doxycycline and Hydroxychloroquine Treatment

    • Gassman on May 28, 2015 at 18:17

      Thank you. I will read the article. I’ve been on plaquenil for about 16 years, but no other RA meds or pain meds. I’ll talk to my Dr about long term effects at my next appt. Thanks again for the info.

    • Susan on May 30, 2015 at 14:48

      Hi Ashwin,
      I’m also interested in eliminating pathogenic bacteria. Like Gassman, I also have rheumatoid arthritis but unlike him, I take quite a few drugs. I have a pretty severe case and currently take sulfasalazine, azathioprine, low-dose (7mg) prednisone and naproxen. I want desperately to get off the drugs, especially the azathioprine and prednisone but am in agony when I cut back. I was told some years ago, based on some tests that an alt doctor did, that I had gut dysbiosis and leaky gut. I worry that diet improvements simply aren’t enough to heal my gut when I take so many meds (have taken many antiobiotics in my life as well). Is there any reason, with the meds I take, that I should not try your lime tea. How often is it consumed? Thanks so much for this detailed info and for any suggestion for me.

  13. Meredith on May 20, 2015 at 05:06

    Hiya Richard,
    I read this on today’s commute. Fascinating read! I think my IQ on the gut topic just increased a few points.

    I am a fan of Elixa, since reading your initial recommendation in a previous post, and also of Karl (who I have emailed back and forth several times). He certainly spares me time and consideration in his comprehensive replies to my novice questions. This article is going to take me another read through before I get the whole picture, but I am surprised how easily I absorbed the concepts. Now if only every train journey left me a little more knowledgable…

    I take the elixa probiotic regularly for the mental benefits. I have not thought I had any IBS type symptoms in my life but this definitely makes my stomach feel very flat and comfortable. When I sit down and hunch over, I feel like a block of gas that would permanently be in the abdomen area, is now gone. I actually noticed a slight INCREASE in appetite because I don’t have that tight bloated feeling which kills my desire to eat. I’m underweight to begin with. Maybe that explains it… (?) I have zero cravings. It’s not a hunger sensation. More like an ‘efficient’ feeling digestive system that doesn’t feel too overloaded to eat again….

    The gut thing was dealt with quite quickly but I continue to take it for the mood improvements (I feel positive and motivated for longer and I don’t get the crushing 2pm-4pm fatigue).

    I got my latest order in a different box this time. The instructions are much clearer now. I felt the original instructions left me unsure of how often I can repeat the course (that was later clarified by email though).

    Good to hear your post about the newsletter. Enjoy your move to Mexico! (i’d be too scared)

    • Gassman on May 23, 2015 at 07:59

      Mood improvement and mental clarity interest me. My clarity improved greatly when I quit wheat/glutin, but there is room for improvement. Do you continue to take a full course, and if so, how often. Once the initial courses are consumed, I wonder if the mood/clarity is dose dependent. Would one capsule daily be enough to keep your head clear?

  14. Ashwin Patel on May 21, 2015 at 07:19

    Hi Elliebelly,
    I suppose the answer lies in the Dose. Like everything else, too much of a good thing can be bad for you!
    However, occasional use of Oregano oil or capsules of same should be OK. Oregano is used in some countries in the daily diet without any “side effects”
    The Spice Ajwain is very similar to Thyme and Oregano and is also used in Indian food preparation without any harmful effects. In-fact Ajwain is used for problems related to the GI tract as a rescue remedy from the kitchen !
    I use a Tea Spice mix (Chai Masala) everyday and have done it all my life . I can say it has not done me any harm. This is the recipe:
    Use finely ground powders of these Spices
    Black pepper…………………………………….160G
    Ginger powder……………………………………125G
    Cinnamon powder……………………………..50G
    Ground cardamom…………………………….50G
    Clove powder……………………………………..5G
    Nutmeg powder………………………………….5G

  15. Elliebelly on May 21, 2015 at 07:45

    Thanks Ashwin,

    Yes, the dose is what counts. And that is probably why I became concerned last summer when my husband had one tick bite after another, and was taking the oregano several times daily for most of the season.

    Do you think your lime tea concoction would be safer to take continually for an extended length of time?

    • Ashwin Patel on May 21, 2015 at 08:09

      Elliebelly…… One should not need to take this lime Tea for extended periods. You could take it once a day for a month to manipulate the Gut microflora. If then you start taking a good probiotic (Elixa?) together with a good Prebiotic mix the Dysbiosis should not recur (unless you have to take a broad spectrum Antibiotic). The mix contains Neem leaf and Neem leaf extract . You might remember from my previous posts (perhaps elsewhere) that Neem may interact with some prescribed medication and has contraceptive properties. Like all products that may have “medicinal” properties, it should be avoided by Pregnant women and those who may be planning a family. Neem also has “biofilm breaking” properties and immunomodulatory properties in addition to Antimicrobial properties and may be unsuitable for immunosuppressed people (those who have had an Organ transplant and may be on medication to suppress the immune system).

    • Elliebelly on May 21, 2015 at 09:03

      My concern with taking something continually for a long period of time was not because of dysbiosis, but due to repeated tick bites as a means of preventing the tick borne microbes of taking hold.

    • Ashwin Patel on May 21, 2015 at 09:14

      With the precautions for Neem in mind, I would myself have no problems taking this lime tea over an extended period of time. All the other ingredients are used to flavour food and the actual amount of any one ingredient in one teaspoonful is minimal. You get a synergistic effect by using a combined mix at a low, safe dose.

    • Elliebelly on May 21, 2015 at 09:42

      Thanks Ashwin. That was very helpful. The synergy effect makes so much sense to me.

    • jonw on June 4, 2015 at 05:48

      something to consider… deer and mice spend their entire waking life eating herbs and are still infested with Lyme spirochetes… no amount of primal eating or supplements can trick a bacteria whose existence depends on infecting a host. avoid ticks.

  16. golooraam on May 21, 2015 at 07:47

    Hi Richard

    This was really informative. I know it’s not the same country, but I used to have a number of friends from Nigeria and they also were really big into the big portion starch/meat/stew thing and all looked good to phenomenal

    I went on the 6 day protocol and definitely felt something – maybe I’ll redo after I get back from vacation.

    Over the last few weeks I started incorporating a lot of sauteed mushrooms and onions into my evening meal – TMI has much improved.

    the other day I bought some yacon syrup – had a tablespoon or two at night – had the mighty wind all night – but a few days later TMI is way way improved…

    needless to say when I go on vacation I’m packing my tigernut flour and plantain flour with me!

  17. Rebecca on May 23, 2015 at 13:44

    Really interesting stuff! Bacteria and gut health is something I’m always trying to find out more about. I’ve seen other discussions about bacteria on your other posts here, but thought I’d ask these questions here.
    What about bacteria found in and around mushrooms? Especially those found on trees. My thinking goes something like this – that soil could be a good place to get bacteria – especially B12, but it’s a risky strategy. I wonder if mushrooms are a safer option as the mycelium travels for miles bringing nutrients (and perhaps bacteria) right into its fleshy body? Would soil around mushrooms, and the mushrooms itself be a good source of b12 and soil based organisms?

    Also – there was this article ( on a fermented leaf tea – called Batabata-cha which says that there was b12 that was bioavailabe to rats. Any insights?

    I spent months volunteering in Uganda, and always thought I ate quite badly – good to know some deem it healthy, makes me feel a tad better. Although I did come back with campylobacter gastroenteritis. As I had IBS anyway, it was a walk in the park.

  18. Konstantin on May 25, 2015 at 23:45

    I too have took the plunge with 2×3 Elixa packs. Actually, my order was placed after reading the first article here, where I first heard about it. To be honest, after six days x1 dose in the morning I didn’t feel a thing. Nada. Nothing positive or negative. My bloating and gas levels are unchanged, my terrible skin and rosacea are just the same, my tonsil stones are still there, the awful sweet smell in the mornings too. As If I took a sugar pill. This is very similar to my previous experience with BioKult – 2 full packs didn’t produce any results whatsoever. I’m beginning to wonder why. Right now, I’m trying ImmuProBio at the same dosage as Elixa (3 days x 10 pills = 3×500 billion) and see how that goes.

    • Tayo Kazzim on June 2, 2015 at 16:21

      Hi Konstantin, I suspect you may be in the same boat as me. I have SIBO and as this is linked to the small intestine you would need to kill that displaced bacteria first before reaping any real benefits of increased beneficial gut flora in the large intestine. I have actually just contacted Karl and he advised me against taking Elixa during my antibiotic treatment course as it would be counter effective. In my opinion IBS symptoms are similar with both dysbiosis of the large intestine and displaced bacteria both beneficial and or pathogenic of the small intestine but the course of action is very much dependant on what is going on and where and this must be established first. Just throwing in my 2 pence-if I was you I would either try the long winded difficult approach of getting a allopathic MD to agree to treat the suspected SIBO and either offer a breath test or the antibiotics or choosing a few courses of natural antimicrobials whilst restricting all sources of fodmaps except perhaps for resistant starch (not fermentable in the small intestine) and then trying Elixa. It is likely that you also have leaky gut which you need to heal also so glutamine and or collagen is perfect for that. Good luck!

    • Konstantin on June 4, 2015 at 04:57

      Hey Tayo!

      Yes, I do have SIBO indeed – confirmed with a hydrogen BT (the only place in my country where they do this test lacks the tool to measure methane, unfortunately).
      What I took after my diagnosis (actually the first thing in years regarding tests that showed up – all my blood work is flawless despite symptoms) is Metagenics Candibactin AR and BR for one month + L-Glutamine (15g/day). Felt great after 3 weeks – no bloating, could tolerate FODMAPS, etc. My doctor advised me to do a follow-up breath test a month after finishnig the protocol. And it was worse than the first one… Soon after that, the symptoms also returned. What I tried in the last 2 months was Biofeedback – in my opinion, it really helped me lower my stress and anxiety levels and through that relieve my IBS/SIBO symptoms. As it is a skill for life, I am very optimistic for the first time in years. I’ll continue with P. Assist and S. Boulardii now.

  19. Gordon on May 30, 2015 at 16:02

    Received two-six packs of Elixa today for my wife and myself. Took the first day’s dose, did our exercise routine, and then ate lunch. Wife came down with flu-like symptoms shortly thereafter. Feels very weak in arms/legs, hot/flushed, headache, says her jaw/teeth hurt. She found this blog post about how certain strains of probiotic including acidophilus produce D-lactate which if not degraded by other bacteria can produce acidosis and is a neurotoxin:

    A quick search confirms that the scientific literature contains info about probiotic-induced D-lactate acidosis: Probiotics Provoked D-lactic Acidosis in Short Bowel Syndrome: Case Report and Literature Review:

    The literature seems to imply that a shortened small-intestine is necessary to cause acidosis, because it allows undigested carbs to reach the colon where they can be fermented to D-lactate. My wife is not such a case, and who knows if what she is experiencing is even D-lactate related, can’t tell. However, it is scary enough to her that I’m sure she won’t be continuing the experiment.

    It seems like a cruel trick that the symptoms of a theoretical “die-off” would match those of a theoretical excess of D-lactate.

    I had thought the worst case scenario for a probiotic was that it would do nothing, but apparently there are situations where probiotics may actually do harm. Something to be aware of, though I’m sure it is not known exactly what conditions would cause one to want to avoid probiotics. I’m not feeling any worse than usual so I’ll probably continue the Elixa for now.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 30, 2015 at 20:35

      Gordon, just so you know, I’ve had the same thing a few times, and with the others I take as well. Usually when high dosing them.

      Mild fever, chills, etc. I’m weird, took it as a sign something good is going on.

      Anyway, never lasted more than a couple of hours and always continued on my merry way. But to each his/her own.

    • Gordon on May 31, 2015 at 06:52

      Yeah, I’ll just roll with it myself. It’s not any worse than being hungover. Plus is looks like the kidneys are good at excreting D-lactate so you normally need to have a shortened small intestine AND kidney problems for the neurotoxic effects to be a real concern.

      Interesting possibility though that the flu-like symptoms might be caused by the D-lactate and maybe they dissipate as D-lactate consuming microbes increase.

    • Karl S on June 2, 2015 at 02:06

      Hi Gordon,
      Feel free to contact me directly to discuss your theory further, as it is interesting indeed – as far as acidosis-susceptible individuals are concerned.
      However…. while there is a logical chain linking it all together on paper, I happen to have had clinical experience with patients suffering from several conditions, 3 of which could relate (for purposes of discussion) to this type of situation: bacteremia, metabolic acidosis (including lactic acidosis post-surgery for ileal pouch), and Jarisch-Herxheimer response to IV antifungals.

      The ‘hot/flushed’ symptom you have listed is a typical presentation of Jarisch-Herxheimer and would differentiate the diagnosis away from investigations of acidosis or hyperlactemia.

      While the J-H response is an indicator that large amounts of non-beneficial microorganisms are experiencing cell lysis (a GOOD thing), I can fully appreciate that it may be a disconcerting experience. In any case, I think she will make the right choice to discontinue it if the response is this acute.
      The unfair irony is that certain people who can benefit from probiotics, will experience this type of Jarisch-Herxheimer response much more than others. (I believe this is what you are referring to as ‘die-off’).

    • Tayo Kazzim on June 2, 2015 at 17:29

      Just a thought, i’m no expert but could impaired detox pathways, methylation and or transsulfuration pathways and or intestinal permeability be an issue in impaired individuals and affect ones ability to deal with the Jarisch-Herxheimer response?

      I think ones gene expression and the role of nutrigenomics goes hand in hand with ones individual microbiome make up. And stress the importance of being clear on any underlying causes for ones digestive issues before experimenting although i’ve learnt by trial and error myself and am still going!

    • Karl S on June 3, 2015 at 14:20

      Hi Tayo,
      I don’t see methylation and transsulfuration pathways as playing a direct role in how the body would react to the acute influx of endotoxins. I’d be interested to hear the precise mechanism you were implying.
      However, I would certainly think that intestinal permeability would play a role. It would determine the maximum endotoxin concentration reached within the bloodstream (with little-to-no effect on the area under curve) and it is this ‘acute-ness’ of the influx which can determine whether J-H symptoms are presented.
      In any case, J-H is a rare presentation that is not as prevalent as one may be led to believe by online resources.
      Myself and Gordon have explored the theory further (via email) and considered all the other contributing factors of this specific case (which of course will be kept confidential, as is all my customer correspondence, no matter the subject-matter). It has been extremely interesting because it has made me re-visit various topics in a new light!

      As far as gene expression affecting microbiome makeup – I would certainly expect it to play some moderate role. However this topic then leads to the larger discussion on (what I believe to be) the most significant determinant of *inherited* microbiome characteristics: Oral inoculation of the newborn during natural (vaginal) birth. Which is not a *genetic* inheritance, yet retains the same ability to affect phenotype expression as genes!

  20. Konstantin on June 1, 2015 at 00:20

    OK, just a quick follow-up. After completing 6 straight days of Elixia and basically felt nothing, I continued (no pause) with 3 days x 10 caps of HealthAid ImmuProbio (same strength, 50 billion per cap, and very similar strain profile) – the bottle was sitting in my fridge for 2 months. And guess what – again nothing. No flu-like symptoms, no increased flatulence, no reaction at all. I am puzzled, to say the least. To be honest, my last venture into probiotic supplementation was with Bio-Kult – 3×1 capsule with each meal for a month – and again I didn’t experience any effects. Maybe I’ll order more of Elixia and experiment with the timing. I’ll complete one course taken with meals, and one before going to bed on an empty stomach. And just to add something – I have the occasional nonacid reflux, so I guess It’s not my stomach that’s killing all the bacteria. I’m also beginning to wonder if the mouth is the best entry point for probiotics… given the success of fecal transplant therapies.

    • Karl S on June 3, 2015 at 14:26

      Indeed, one would assume that! But…. when you look a little further, you will find FMT success via nasogastric route to often have superior clinical outcome versus retention enema administration. Surprising to many. Also worth having a look at some of the trials done with triple-encapsulated FMT samples taken via oral route.

      The plot thickens…!

      Kind Regards,

  21. jonw on June 4, 2015 at 06:01

    I used a six-pack and noted effects, meanwhile avoiding influence by reading any accounts here. Took caps in mornings on empty stomach, followed by breakfast. First two days: incredible amount of noisy gut-churning, bad diarrhea. Energy levels good, workout performance great, strangely low appetite. (I ate anyway just by habit and it’s recommended on the label, but def less than normal.) Diarrhea cleared by third day, still feeling fine otherwise through the rest of the doses. Probably lost some weight. A weird effect – beer is not appetizing to me now – couldn’t be bothered to finish my 12oz IPA.

    so I guess the colony should be established by now… not sure if it had any permanent effects… hard to say.

    • Karl S on June 4, 2015 at 16:41

      Hi Jon,

      Your feedback is much appreciated. Thank you! This transient effect on intestinal motility is quite common. Rarely to the degree that you experienced, but certainly a handful of people have reported similar. I have also noted it in several people during the development phase of Elixa (at higher dosages and higher water consumption with the dose).
      It’s related to the fortress-5 encapsulation process. The body is detecting (via chemical receptors in the stomach) that the unknown items that have just been swallowed do not seem to be digestible, so it chooses the best course of action to be to increase rate of gastric emptying and peristaltic contractions in the small intestine. No doubt an evolved reaction to when we accidentally ate bits of bone, teeth, small stones, etc. For purposes of delivering Elixa to the large intestine as quickly as possible, I aimed (successfully) to take advantage of this response.

      The macronutrient attributes of the food we consume determine our intestinal motility. Fats and protein are intentionally retained in the stomach for longer (for emulsification and protease action, respectively), while carbohydrates are funneled on through to the duodenum, fairly rapidly. Non-digestible oligosaccharides and hypertonic solutions; even more so.

      If you get a chance, send me an email in a few days to give me an update on your steady-state results. Thanks!

      Kind Regards,

    • Richard Nikoley on June 4, 2015 at 16:50

      I have so far done 4 rounds of the six-pack, though I believe I split the first one into two rounds of three.

      Anyway, early on I had the same TMI issues, but smooth sailing the last two six packs, perhaps 2 weeks between rounds.

      Decidedly the major change is appetite. Just not hardly ever crazy for any food. This is helping with the new life down here as I basically eating beans, eggs, fruit, small meat & fish.

    • jonw on June 8, 2015 at 11:34

      Completed the 6-day course. Days 3-6 no digestive issues except appetite as noted below.

      to Karl:
      – I wasn’t distressed at all by faster than normal peristalsis and evacuation; reminded me of what happens the first couple days drinking tap water in a new country: a day or two “changing of the guard” then everything settles down.
      – first loose BM was about 8 hours after dose 1; last was about 36 hours after dose 1. In your theory, why did the body stop expelling the stuff? I was still eating and drinking enough volume to keep it up, but somehow it all normalized…
      – disagree that the stomach would recognize bones as indigestible, and I expect inert objects like teeth or stones would have no effect — I routinely swallow poultry/fish bones when they’re small or soft enough to do so; shellfish (crustacean) exoskeletons as well… outside the West this is pretty normal (

      Too early to say if it’s permanent, and I hate just repeating what others have said, but appetite is strangely low. As a very active 200-lb man I have who often skips meals, I do enjoy a quality feed (2nd and 3rd helpings yes please) when it’s available, and it’s hard to see this changing in the long term. Living in a camper van the past few months I have slipped into a bit too much beer and restaurant food habits… the past week I’ve had no desire at all for crappy food. So, if nothing else this purchase was valuable as a “reset button” and I’ll try it again.

      Want to add a thought about anecdotes and comments bias. A few of the things Rich has recommended over the years have been compelling enough that I expermiented with them. For most I don’t notice much effect and don’t comment. When there is something I like I do comment. If this is at all typical for blog readers, the result is obviously a silent majority of “meh” and a bunch of positive comments… therefore, to the extent this is a community of people sharing expereiences… share your negative data as well.

      Thanks Karl for participating in discussions.

  22. Mark on June 5, 2015 at 13:14

    Thanks to all for the various updates and reports on Elixa, and to Karl for this great Uganda backstory.

    I’m on day 4 of the 6-day course, and over the first three days I noticed a few of the mild “symptoms” described here (slight headache, slightly increased motility, somewhat smaller appetite). I take them on an empty stomach in the morning and generally don’t eat until midday.

    I referred back to this page today because late this morning (day 4) I got hit with a sharp wave of nausea that forced me out of a client meeting and had me running to the bathroom. Sorry if TMI, but I actually threw up a little bit, then had a bout of diarrhea. All seems to have calmed down (similar to Richard’s experience, after almost 2 hours), and at least the acute nausea has subsided at this point.

    I’m hoping this is all a sign of positive progress. I wasn’t expecting a huge impact – my gut “seems” quite healthy and I generally feel vibrant and energetic – but maybe some dying off needed to happen. Will share if anything else dramatic emerges, and meanwhile cross my fingers for an uneventful completion of the protocol.

    Thanks again to all, especially Richard and Karl.


    • Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2015 at 14:28

      Mark, I have had “little vomits” now and then since focussing on gut health, predates Elixa by a lot. I joke with my wife that I’m like a dog who’ll vomit at will and whim if something isn’t quite right, but that at least I don’t come liking at it.

      To me, vomiting when you’re perfectly fine otherwise is a sign of a robust gut that either knows right away something is off, of exercises the precautionary principle.

      Anyway, it’s not like it’s way frequent or anything, and it’s usually just a heave or two, done. And sometimes, it feels strangely invigorating afterwards, as though your stomach needs a good reflexive convulsion now & then. Than go about your day.

    • Mark on June 5, 2015 at 19:31

      Thanks Richard. I like your take on it, so I’m going with that. Little vomits = quick reacting, taking precautions then moving on, healthy gut.

      It’s evening now, and acute nausea has not returned. Had to force myself to eat some dinner – I felt the “hunger without appetite” (described by others) very strongly. So far, so good after eating. Don’t feel 100% – more like I have a (very) mild flu – but interested to see what tomorrow (day 5) brings.

  23. Karl S on June 5, 2015 at 15:24

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you very much for the kind words and for the feedback.

    Initially I was surprised that it was possible *at all* for someone to ingest the amount of bacteria in Elixa orally, without triggered some kind of nausea from the huge amount of microbes entering the GI tract.

    The actual reason for that is because I’ve designed it such that the bacteria won’t be proliferating until well past the jejunum (and, in most cases, not until the ascending colon).

    This kind of reaction is seen in two types of individuals:

    1. Those consuming large amounts of fermentable substrate (i.e. prebiotics/fibre). Usually this would need to be in supplement form to be large enough quantity and fermentable early enough within the tract. The reason being is that the high concentration of substrate in the S.I. during normal transit, will reduce the time it takes for the bacteria to start increasing in numbers. This will obviously increase the likelihood of the numbers getting to a point where the body says: ‘Hey, what the heck! My S.I. is supposed to be practically sterile… something must be wrong!’. This passes quickly since LAB will not colonise an anatomically correct small intestine. They are also not producing any byproducts that would be detrimental.

    Encapsulated FMT is delivered via triple-layer capsules. I wished to reduce the volume of capsule material being taken per dose, hence some manufacturing innovations of my own; to increase it’s acid resistance. I am working on furthering this in the upcoming months. However, my self-imposed limitation is not to increase the quantity of capsule material. I want as few excipients and facilitating materials (e.g. capsule material) as possible. As you can see, I have even avoided manufacturing aids such as magnesium stearate, etc. A lot of probiotics you will see a large list of excipients on the back. Anti-caking agents, dessicants, filler, etc.

    2. Those with a particularly severe dysbiosis (i.e. J-H). I used to think this was the more common cause, but it appears a lot of Elixa users are taking potato starch and other prebiotics (hence why scenario 1 is occurring more frequently). However, for this scenario, the response is usually a bit delayed as you have experienced.
    It took me a while to work out why this was.

    Ultimately I determined it to be due to the following mechanism:

    Lactic acid bacteria will benefit the large intestinal microbiome in several specific manners but also atleast one ‘broad-spectrum’ manner: by the mechanism of lowering the pH in the large intestine. While Elixa does not contain the 100s of species that would comprise the ultimate probiotic, it does however contain species which create an acidic environment. This in turn will favour the majority of beneficial bacteria, whereas the non-beneficial tend to not thrive as well at the similarly low pHs.

    Now…. what happens is this: If you go look up optimal proliferation rates for several LAB, you will see that there is a huge spike in their proliferation and acidification once their environment reaches about pH 5-5.5. This takes time to achieve. A delayed J-H response is due to this time in which the LAB are lowering this pH (mainly via lactic acid production). Proliferation is slow until the pH hits around 5.5. At which point they have essentially created their own optimal environment, like some kind of terraforming human colony on Mars suddenly having created the right atmosphere and their numbers can boom. At this point LAB activity spikes and the chemical warfare can really begin. Massacres lead to endotoxin dumps into the bloodstream. This results in the J-H response. And the time it took to lower to that pH, explains the delay.

    This is all part of why my approach is the short-course approach. I really do not think that regular intake of low doses of bacteria can ever match this. The microbiome needs to be corrected, and then you need to get back to healthy consumption of beneficial FODMAPs and normal nutrients. The human GI tract is not designed to continually intake bacteria! It is only supposed to happen ONCE in our lives: when we pass through the vaginal tract during our birth 😉

    Hope that was somewhat clear!

    Kind Regards,

    • Susan on June 8, 2015 at 08:02

      So is it not a good idea, if someone has severe dysbiosis, to take Elixa? Or split the dose? I assume I have at least some dysbiosis as I have an autoimmune disease (RA). (I’m new to all of this, trying to learn.) Thanks!

    • Karl S on June 8, 2015 at 12:47

      Dear Susan,

      Sorry for any confusion.
      Elixa is definitely designed for the exact purpose of tackling gut dysbiosis! That is its SOLE purpose! (and the varied benefits are a result of that)

      I just wished to highlight that certain cases of a more severe dysbiosis (especially one in which the aggravating bacterial offenders are particularly/rapidly susceptible to the bacteria in Elixa’s blend) can result in some temporary side effects during the first course.

      I have actually followed up with a few of the people who experienced nausea. It appears all of the ones I have been in contact with were consuming some form of inulin or potato starch fibre blend in the daily regimen.
      I believe this could be the most likely cause of any transient nausea. I’ll update as more data presents itself.

      Kind Regards,

  24. Mark on June 5, 2015 at 19:47


    Thanks for your detailed reply! Very interesting and informative, and the notion of a large-dose/short-course approach as more effective, for the reasons you note, strikes me as very compelling. I do fit within the category of people consuming a fair bit of fiber/prebiotics – potato starch almost every day, plus large amounts of fibrous veggies. Cooked/cooled potatoes and rice are a fairly significant staple for me, too – I tend to have one or both of these several days per week (this week included).

    Sounds like, in your observation, the delayed nausea response for people in my “category” is unusual, in that it would typically happen earlier? (I feel pretty certain that I don’t have any severe dysbiosis like J-H – no gut issues that I know of.)

    As I think back, it turns out that I’ve supplemented with potato starch on every one of the days I’ve taken Elixa. Maybe I’ll lay off the PS for the next two days and see what happens. Bottom line – sounds like the nausea/mini-vomit thing is no biggie, and possibly a promising sign?

    Thanks again!


    • Karl S on June 6, 2015 at 07:18

      In all the time I have taken Elixa (which is hundreds of doses during development and hundreds in the past 1-2 years), I never once felt nausea. Even when I experimented up to 3 or 4 daily doses per day. Never felt it. Not once.

      Several weeks ago I decided to run a normal 6-day course alongside a slowly tapering up dose of Inulin. THAT was the first time I ever felt it. Very mild but I was in no doubt.
      I stopped the inulin and it went away. I’ve taken inulin separately in the past (post-Elixa but not DURING an Elixa course) and was totally fine.
      Even going all the way up to 90 grams per day. (yes, ninety grams of inulin!).

      (As an aside – prior to developing and taking Elixa myself, even a bit of onion would give me intestinal pain. Now here I was taking a pint glass of *90* grams dissolved inulin with zero problems!)

      And to re-clarify: I was only taking a mere 2 to 5 grams per day in the recent scenario when I experienced this sensation.

      Anyway, my point is this: Before I started seeing the nausea mentioned on here, I had never heard from any users having that effect. When I saw it spring up on here a couple times, I thought there might be some ‘common thread’ that may be present in most readers of Richard’s site which could possible predispose them. The only one that sprang to mind was the awareness and consumption of prebiotics (potato starch being a prime example on here).

      The majority of my customers will come from elsewhere, some with no knowledge of what a prebiotic even is. That probably explains why I hadn’t heard that feedback before.

      So this is what lead me to experiment with taking inulin in parallel with Elixa. And the result was some very mild… well… i wouldn’t say ‘nausea’. For me it was more like I wasn’t in the mood for food. Like someone could have put a big tasty deep-pan pizza in front of me and I would’ve preferred to push the plate away and reach for some water instead…

      Not experienced it since discontinuing prebiotic consumption *during* Elixa courses.

      Having said that, the majority of people who I know are taking prebiotics in parallel with Elixa, have been totally fine. But certainly something to be aware of and to inform people who may ask.

      Elixa is potent stuff. It packs a punch. Disruption is caused. Usually beneficial. Sometimes (temporarily) disconcerting.
      I won’t spin the old BS line: ‘It’s a sign it’s working!’
      The question is only answered truthfully by the steady-state *results*, not words 🙂

    • Wilbur on June 6, 2015 at 19:01

      Karl –

      90 g of Inulin is amazing!

      By way of introduction, I have been supplementing 120-150 g of prebiotics per day for a year and a half. About 30 g of that is pure inulin supplement. My philosophy is to get a broad array of types of prebiotics in hopes of getting a diversity of gut bacteria. I take about 20 different types of fiber every day. On top of this, I eat a high fiber diet, including lots of raw garlic, raw onion, beans, raw fibrous greens like collards and broccolini, etc. My supplement drink includes dandelion root and yacon root, also high in inulin.

      I lost 40 lbs without trying, and my weight is unchanged over this time. I lost horrible seasonal allergies, hypoglycemia, many signs of autoimmunity, high blood pressure, and on and on. My bloodwork went from statin-worthy to beyond stellar. My bowel movements have been perfect every single day for months. I eat anything I want (pasta, bread, carbs) and as much as I want, but truthfully I only want the “bad” things occasionally. I never touch food preservatives or processed oils, except when unavoidable in restaurants.

      Anyway, my purpose in posting is to mention – and you might know this – is that not all inulin is the same. Some time ago, I had problems with dandelion root and yacon root. Dandelion gave me horrible gas, and yacon gave me diarrhea. I could eat raw garlic and onion all day with no issues. With some study, I learned (I hope correctly) that dandelion and yacon are short chain inulins that ferment quickly. Garlic and onion are seemingly longer chain. Depending on the brand of supplemental inulin, it is a mixture of short- and long-chain. The Jarrow brand, for instance, is 50% short-chain Orafti P95 and 50% Long-chain Orafti HP.

      The brand Syontix, in contrast, is 100% long-chain Orafti HP. Many people, myself included, find that its effects are amazing. Intoxicating even. Hard to explain.

      Potato starch is very fast fermenting. Even now, I find that leaving this and short-chain inulin out of my drink reduces gas considerably. This is useful knowledge when I find it socially desirable to reduce my fartage.

      My thought is that if potato starch and your average inulin are associated with ill-effects, maybe it’s the fast fermentation that’s the issue? That switching to longer chain products (Syontix, cellulose, larch arabinogalactin, gums, etc.) might allow good feeding without the problems?

      I now have no problems with dandelion root and yacon root. But I had to push past the pain, so to speak.

      • Linda on September 1, 2016 at 13:42

        HI Wilbur,
        I just went to order Syontix and it appears no longer available. 🙁 One of your favorites is gone? Have you found a replacement? Thanks!

    • Karl S on June 7, 2015 at 14:27

      Dear Wilbur,

      This is an extremely intriguing and informative post. Thank you for sharing your observations and thoughts on the topic!

      I agree completely with all the points you have made.

      Your health improvements sound phenomenal and it sounds like your gut microbiome is so robust you could drink a gallon of Clostridium Difficile and barely break a sweat 😉

      You are indeed spot on with your observation of varying fructan length in the commercially available inulin. I myself happened to be experimenting with inulin derived from chicory root. However, I am not sure of the chain length in that particular product as it was also labelled as FOS which may imply they had degraded the fructan’s length during extraction.

      I agree with your final musing regarding different FODMAPs potentially having differing effect in parallel with an Elixa course. I should add that I have not seen a strong correlation between consumption of potato starch (plus Elixa) equalling the temporary odd effects – but my earlier hypothesis may certainly explain things IF it were the case. I’ve heard a very limited number of people report this (infact, as I recall, the 3 or 4 within the comment sections of this site are the only incidences I’ve heard about in total). I’m always looking for feedback though, and considering various theories to explain all the data.

      Your anecdotal experiences are very insightful.

      May I ask:
      What has been your experience with hemicelluloses (e.g. glucomannan)?
      Do you have any experience with arabinogalactan from Acacia Tree (gum arabic) as opposed to Larch Tree? What’s your view on arabinogalactan in general?
      What’s your view on Psyllium Husk, Pectin, and GOS?

      I understand you may have tested these in a shotgun manner and not be able to differentiate between different effects, but any thoughts are appreciated!

      Some side thoughts for us all to condsider:
      Another thing about ‘ease-of-fermentation’ may be that chain-length might not be the largest factor. Perhaps the bond-types, the tertiary structure, and/or the physical structures (in which the entire thing is consumed) are more/equally as impactful!
      What I mean by ‘physical structure’ is, for example; refined inulin in a powder is different to inulin stored in a cellulose bound plant cell, that one would be munching down when you eat various root vegetables (inulin being a storage carb for many plants, ofc). While the former is a very simple solution of water and inulin (prime for bacterial consumption) the other one is a complex array of organic forms which inulin will slowly make its way out from, as mechanical action (and limited cellulase activity) gradually lower the structural integrity of that particular block of plant cells.

      Interesting stuff!

      Kind Regards,

    • Wilbur on June 8, 2015 at 10:42


      Interesting stuff indeed. I am very lucky. I forgot to add that I cured IBS and I was showing some signs that I was developing Crohn’s (but had no formal diagnosis). All gone.

      Glucomannan is one I take twice per day. I had hypoglycemia. The other fibers helped, but my symptoms went away 100% when I started the glucomannan. It might be coincidental timing, but I’ll always take it.

      I take all of those you mention. My source of pectin is baobab fruit, which is 30-50% pectin. I do psyllium husk. Sometimes I grind the whole seeds and put them on stuff. They have a nice smell. Good on omelettes.

      This will probably get me an eye roll, but I seem to have preferences for certain fibers, like preferring certain kinds of food. But it’s not taste. Some fibers are very important to me. One is the Lon-chain inulin Syontix. I feel almost giddy BEFORE I drink it! Others have reported this too. Just smelling it would make one person happy.

      My theory is the bugs at this distal end were signaling their pleasure at not being ignored, but who knows.

      Certain ones like baobab make me feel good. Some, like GOS, are neutral. Some I just don’t want, like acacia gum. I have a jar that just sits there. I tried mesquite powder, loved the taste, but never want it in the drink.

      I eat lots of raw garlic and onion. The more I eat the more I want.

      It’s crazy I know. But I had these feelings before people started finding connections among the stomach, mind, and gut.

      I echo an earlier request for your thoughts on how to recover the gut from a colonoscopy. Thanks in advance.

    • Mark on June 8, 2015 at 11:11


      Thanks for another informative response! I hear you on all points, and the elaboration is great.

      FWIW, I did lay off the potato starch for days 5 and 6, and had no issues whatsoever other than some mild “hunger without appetite.”

      I look forward to following your development of Elixa, trying it again, and learning more along the way.


    • Karl S on June 8, 2015 at 13:09

      Dear Mark,

      ‘FWIW, I did lay off the potato starch for days 5 and 6, and had no issues whatsoever other than some mild “hunger without appetite.”’

      This kind of feedback is extremely valuable for a company like mine; where research and development is the primary business activity, and where improving the product on a regular basis was a founding principle.

      Elixa’s start point is exactly that: a start point! Big developments in the works here 🙂
      Stay tuned!

    • Karl S on June 8, 2015 at 13:24

      Dear Wilbur,

      Another very informative post!

      It seems you are a man of intuition when it comes to experimentation. I appreciate you sharing your various ideas.

      GOS has a lot of research backing it up, yet I have found it to be very… ‘inert’, in most cases I have observed. FOS, on the other hand, seems to have a very distinct effect.

      GOS was linked with mental improvements in various studies.

      How many grams did you ramp up to?

      Have you posted anywhere on this site about the exact breakdown of your fibre blend and the quantities?

      I must have missed the earlier request about the colonoscopy recovery. Oops!

      It would depend largely on the *preparation* undertaken beforehand, more than the physical entrance of the colonoscope.
      Usually the preparation entails reduction of faecal matter in the large intestine by restriction of fibre/fodmaps and enema prior to the scope. Sometimes a hyperosmotic solution, such as lactulose, is consumed to empty the bowel via laxative action.

      However, despite the majority of faecal matter being removed, the mucus lining of the intestinal wall will retain the same profile of bacteria throughout the procedure itself.
      Whether the preparation beforehand affected it, would depend on what type of prep was performed.

      I did not see the original question so I’m not sure if this covers it!

    • EF on June 9, 2015 at 13:01

      I want to start eating more raw garlic but not really sure how to eat it. How does one consume enough raw garlic to make it therapeutic? Seems hard to get enough to matter. Swallowing whole cloves like a pill? How much is enough? Thanks!

    • Mycroft Jones on June 9, 2015 at 13:54

      I’m wondering the same thing. Hope Wilbur is still on this thread!

    • Wilbur on June 9, 2015 at 14:03

      My biggest dose comes in the form of an omelette. My wife does that. I cannot cook an omelette. I put about 1.5-2 Tbsp crushed, which usually works out to about half a bulb. I suppose it is technically not raw since it gets heated by the surrounding ingredients, but it is certainly not cooked garlic. It is hard to tell which is hotter, the garlic or my homemade Carolina Reaper sauce.

      Other ways to get it not cooked include: mixing crushed garlic in rice just before serving, pesto of an infinite variety of types, a Lebanese sauce of garlic, olive oil, and lemon that is excellent on chicken and fish, as a raw condiment on hamburgers, steaks, lamb, hotdogs, etc.

      It takes some time to get used to it. Some of these ways I’d not serve to guests. But the rice is very good, as is the raw condiment. I learned about the latter at a chain steak restaurant we ate at while traveling. I was tickled to get a good dose of garlic on the road.

      Today my favorite farms stand was open, and they have Spring garlic. I’m thinking about very lightly sautéing the necks and cloves with kohlrabi. Cooked, but very little. The necks are not scapes. Super fibrous.

      Garlic scapes are also good and in season where I am. Sprinkle raw over baked potatoes or anything you’d use green onions on. Oh, crushed raw garlic is a great potato topping.

    • Elliebelly on June 10, 2015 at 05:35


      This is such helpful information. I had been picturing you just chugging down straight hanfuls of garlic and knowing I could never do that in spite of wanting to get more into my daily intake. I usually have eggs for breakfast, so I will try that omelet tomorrow. And,…duh! Hello? Of course pestos of all kinds. And salsas too.
      Please post any orher recipes/ideas as they occur to you

    • BigRob on June 9, 2015 at 16:17


      My wife has IBS and actually may have undiagnosed Inflammatory Bowl Disease. I would be very interested in hearing how you cured yourself from IBS, what your protocol is, etc..

      I obviously know that it would take experimentation for my wife on our own.

      Thanks much.


    • BigRob on June 9, 2015 at 16:19


      Meant this comment for Wilbur.

      Not that I don’t love the info Karl!

    • Elliebelly on June 10, 2015 at 08:13

      OMG, THE SOUP! I make a green soup with any and all greens, from our garden, pureed with cooked onion in bone broth, and always have a big jar of it in the fridge ready to have cold or hot at least once a day. And we have lots of garlic in the garden. And it is now time for lunch!

    • Wilbur on June 10, 2015 at 06:49


      Salsas are great! Greek yogurt sauce – tzaziki? – which is great on fish, lamb, etc. if you eat smooth soup, just before serving run through a blender with garlic and their skins.

      BTW, the bulbs of Spring garlic are easy to eat raw.

      BigRob – I started the whole fiber thing with no idea what it would do. I had no protocol. Just one day I noticed that foods I couldn’t eat without intestinal distress no longer bothered me. That suddenly I was smelling Spring flowers instead of being miserable with allergies. That my blood work turned excellent.

      I don’t mean to be unhelpful. I just don’t know what magic sequence of things I did. I think Karl will be more helpful I. Correcting the dysbiosis, and what I do more helpful in maintaining a healthy gut.

      And sometimes ignorance is a good thing. I know I had some reactions as things progressed – for instance, I was surprised to get acne which I haven’t had in forever – but I didn’t know it might be related at the time. I just kept on. Eventually I got to where I am.

      Getting to the other side is totally worth it. IBS sucks. It’s nice being able to do things without worrying about where the bathrooms are! Good luck!

    • Wilbur on June 10, 2015 at 06:50

      Oh, and use the skins in pesto. You won’t notice them.

    • Sharyn on June 13, 2015 at 15:52

      I take raw garlic most days as a warm drink: peel and chop finely 2 or 3 garlic cloves and let sit while the jug gets filled and comes to the boil. To a mug add 1 tsp honey and enough water to dissolve it. Add cold water till lukewarm, and only then add the garlic. Chug it all down. The honey is optional but makes it more pleasant.
      This is a daily winter habit to boost my immune system against colds, also taken anytime I feel a sore throat etc coming on.

  25. Wilbur on June 8, 2015 at 14:36

    Thanks for the reply about the colonoscopy. I face the issue in a couple of years, and I am trying to collect info for what I should do. This helps. I might skip it. My wife knows someone who got punctured. Scary.

    I forgot to say that I share your opinion that whole food sources are best. The problem is that cultivated vegetables have lost a lot of their fiber. I could not get as much as I do just eating veggies. I do, however,mad things like dandelion root powder and yacon root powder that I suppose retains much of the complex structure. Baobab fruit is naturally a powder, so it is the original fruit.

    When I first started this, I had the idea of combining as many fiber types as possible to promote gut diversity. The idea is really an obvious and modest extension of Jeff Leach’s suggestion to eat as many species of vegetables as possible to promote gut diversity. I read studies all day long looking for new fibers that showed some benefit. I tried each one that did.

    I read lots of studies showing GOS to be awesome too. I’ve always been “meh” on it. I take between 5 and 10 g per day (I don’t precisely measure). I don’t remember my max dose, but it was probably 15-20. When I run out, I will probably stop. I will then see if I want to start again.

    I have posted my blend. I’ll search and get you a link later. My blend changes all the time since, I believe, that the gut bugs are telling me what they want. I know this sounds silly, but I’m sure you’ve seen the research that has discovered the gut-mind connections influencing cravings and such. If I had to choose, say, 3 that I had to live on for a month, it would be potato starch, Syontix, and Baobab.

    If I travel by car, I have a big giant cooler I fill with bottles and bags of fiber, plus enough water to mix. People at hotels wink at me thinking it is beer, but if they knew…

    • Wilbur on June 8, 2015 at 15:01

      Shoot, I hit the wrong reply button above.

      Here is what I was doing last December. I have copied it from Tim Steele’s blog because a search is a little painful.

      “Amounts approximate because I don’t measure and it varies. Split into multiple drinks, as best I can remember: 4 T PS, 2 T inulin, 2 t larch, 2 T cellulose, 2 T ph guar gum, 2 t GOS, 1 t maltodextrin, 1 t dextrin, 3 T baobab, 1 T amla, 2 t mesquite powder, 1 T banana flour, 2 t original amazing green grass, 1 T glucomannan, 1 T ground flaxseed, 1 T of whole fusion fiber (incl marshmallow root and slippery elm).

      Some are not pure prebiotics, I guess, but are high fiber enough that I include them.

      As always, I consider the drinks supplements to real food. I’m now eating a whole bulb of raw garlic per day, including the skins. I eat about 1/2 raw onion, including the skin. I eat several raw green onions per day, including the roots. Leeks, when I can find small, dark green ones. Lots of vegetables. Lots of berries. Currants. Figs. Kumquats just came out, and I eat half a pint (?) per day. I thought I had an aversion to mushrooms, but I was wrong. I am making up for lost time.”

      I’ve dropped some things. Added others like 1.5 T of dandelion root powder, 2 t of yacon root powder, t of Hawthorne berry. I am surprised to not see psyllium in the December list, but I take about 1 T now.

      My probiotics are dandelion-leek miso (1/2 T), l. Reuteri, a homemade fermented hot sauce. I’ve done the three Richard recommends. When I first started, I did some of the store prebiotics. If I were starting now, I would have very likely tried Elixa. Right now I’m in a good place…

      I really enjoyed your guest post and follow up. I e learned quite a bit. Thanks!

    • Mycroft Jones on June 9, 2015 at 13:03

      Hi Wilbur. Do you take any particular brand names or varieties for those fibers? For instance, the maltodextrin and the dextrin? How about inulin? Do you have to source this stuff from different places on the internet? Where do you find baobab fruit? Would you consider making your mix into a shippable product?

    • Wilbur on June 9, 2015 at 14:25

      I get everything through Amazon. In fact, I’m stopping the GOS when it runs out because Amazon stopped the brand I use. The others seem too expensive.

      I think regular inulin is regular inulin no matter the brand. I’d personally look for chicory or agave inulin, but that is just me. The brand Syontix is a good source of Orafti HP, a long chain inulin. I take both regular inulin and Syontix.

      My baobab comes from Amazon. I am very happy with the Baobest brand, BUT Limitless Baobab has a consistently orangier color. Whether that matters I do not know, but the color pleases me. It is fun to note that the powdery substance you get is not powdered dry fruit, but what comes out of the fruit pod. It is a seller’s dream because it needs ittle processing.

      The others I have no brand attachment.

      This stuff is expensive. I priced things once, and I figured that the cost per fiber was around $7 per month. I am fortunate that I can experiment. But I figure I come out even when I subtract the costs of meds, including allergy meds, BP pills, (nearly) statins, Tums, anti-gas, Immodium AD, and on and on.

      Sorry, my belief is that our fiber needs are individual and ever-changing. A set mix runs counter to my experience. Also, I have an order of mixing the fibers that prevents clumping and brickage. Baobab is important for that!

      • Linda on September 1, 2016 at 11:51

        Hi Wilbur,
        Hope you are still lingering (or posting which I haven’t found yet). I’m wondering two things,
        1. Do you think that the amount of raw garlic you are taking helps with your health because of its amazing anti-viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic values?
        2. Do you have more to add about your current fiber routine?

        I’m in a long going battle with Lyme (+co-infections) and auto-immune. (Raw garlic is big in the Lyme world) Have come close to winning the war a few times, then switched up my protocol and set myself back big time – a few times. Gets discouraging. Gave up on the whole pre/probiotic, fiber thing years ago, but now that I’m following FTA – I’m pretty sure I just wasn’t doing this right. I’m 52 and need a life.

        Now, my husband has crashed his adrenals (working so hard), and his bp is through the roof. Our 18 yr old needs to drop 40 pounds.

        Our family wants to do this together and get healthy……..yesterday. Glad I found this site, just trying to figure out a plan.

        PS: You wrote $7 per month, did you mean day?

      • Wilbur on September 1, 2016 at 14:53

        Linda –

        I check in here quite a bit. I’m a little more active on VegetablePharm which is also awesome.

        My fiber routine for the most part is the same. I think the earlier posts represent it well.

        I have been as consistent as ever. My health has never been better. I am nearing 50, and quite honestly I feel 20.

        The $7 is per finer per month. At, I’m not sure, but 15 fibers that’s about $105 per month. It could probably be done cheaper, but I’m set in my ways!

        I don’t know why I’m love garlic and onion so much. I think it might be for the antioxidants. It seems that every meal consists of stuff that’s bitter or burns.

        Good luck! But don’t try for yesterday. It won’t happen and you’ll be disappointed, frustrated, and stressed, which are contrary to good gut health and persistence. It took me months before I started seeing results. Often the results came so slowly that I didn’t notice things were gone until something cued my memory. BP was the slowest. Check out enzyme co-q10. Also maitake mushroom. I like to think that I snuck up on the old bugs so that they didn’t get alarmed or put up a fight. It was too late when the good guys won.

    • Mycroft Jones on June 10, 2015 at 11:42

      Thank you Wilbur! I’m willing to pay $100/month to get a 90g daily dose of fibre, so $7/fiber/day sounds alright. I agree, our needs probably change daily. Probably why Richard didn’t go ahead with his own personal fiber blend as a product.

      Right now I’m drinking a boron/iodine/magnesium carbonated tea. It tastes a lot better than it sounds. My body really likes it.

    • Mycroft Jones on June 10, 2015 at 11:52

      Wilbur, if packing things in small portions wasn’t so expensive, I’d still want to make an “all in one product” just because of scales of economy, buying things in 50 pound bags is often much cheaper. And by all-in-one, I mean, separate tablespoon quantities of each fibre type.

      Or a care package of equal amounts of all the different fibre types, enough to last a month or two. I’ll think this over.

  26. […] FODMAP Prebiotic Arms Dealing, Probiotic Mercenaries, and Uganda (98 comments) […]

  27. SIBO Part on July 1, 2016 at 13:53

    […] trigger a gastrocolic reflex, it means that it can (a) cause fermentable components of the diet (FODMAPs et al.) to move along the GI tract. It can also (b) shift lumenal fermentation byproducts (SCFAs, ethanol, […]

  28. […] with customers via email. For instance, one woman had some flu-like symptoms, detailed here, here, and here. That last one is Karl’s […]

  29. Beau Dean on July 5, 2018 at 13:52

    Can someone please help me find an article that seems to have vanished..Karl speaks of Ugandans or Rwandans consuming raw milk. I remember reading that these people have diarrhea for a couple weeks or something along those lines but then they adapt. Reason is they only consume the dairy seasonally. Do I suck at using google? Thanks for your time

    I also cant find Wilburs original comments about all of his fibers he consumes and the euphoria he gets or when he talks about how he thinks his microbes tell him what to crave. There are enough comments I have found though that break it down pretty good so that is less important.

  30. Benjamin David Steele on April 28, 2020 at 13:57

    What do you think about prebiotics in animal foods? And what about SCFAs that can be obtained in or by way of animal sources?

    Some doctors have pointed out that even those on a carnivore diet seem to maintain large microbiomes, even if it includes different kinds of microbes. In studies of hunter-gatherers. their microbiome will complete change from season to season.

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