The New Science of Probiotics

I’ve previously blogged about my use of a new high-dose probiotic called Elixa. It’s not one you take all the time, but a 6-day course you take now & then. I’ve written about it twice before:

One thing its creator, Karl Seddon, is happy to do is to interact personally with customers via email. For instance, one woman had some flu-like symptoms, detailed here, here, and here. That last one is Karl’s input.

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’).

Very un-sales-pitch like, one might say.

In another testimonial, commenter ‘jonw’ writes:

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.

I had similar “TMI” issues with the first 2 rounds of the 4-rounds I’ve taken over about the last 3 months. Best of all the “meh” aspect of appetite persists down here in off-the-grid Baja, on a diet of mostly beans, fruit, eggs, dairy, fish. Weight is normalizing at a fairly good pace—noted by drawstring pull on swimming trunks. I’m getting rather optimistic about putting up a body-comp pic in a month or so.

Here’s Karl’s enlightening response, adding clues to what’s special about Elixa Probiotic and why it’s probably best to take on an empty stomach first thing in AM.

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!

Very interesting indeed. Designing a probiotic not so much as to be resistant to digestion, but designing it in such a way that the stomach sees it as a foreign object and sends it on its way faster.

So great, personal customer service, and from “the guy” himself. So, if that all impresses you and it probably should given for what so often passes as no direct answers to real questions or input, then maybe you want to give Elixa a look. Just click here.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. KL on June 5, 2015 at 11:10

    Just received and took my first dose this AM. No issues…yet. But I do consume Kefir and Kombucha –not every day. I have been upping my RS via taters and beans. The only way I can consume beans is if they are prepared via pressure cooker. I think (hope)preparing them this way doesn’t degrade the RS too much.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2015 at 11:12

      Cooling what you don’t eat, or freezing them, increases RS, then reheating increases it a bit more (squeezes more moisture out of the retrograde RS3 structure).

    • KL on June 10, 2015 at 15:32

      I do cool them in the frig. I actually like taters & beans better when cooled. I just finished my six day Elixa. Really nothing to report health wise as well as reaction wise. No mental/physical/ appetite changes. Not sure if it worked or not? I plan on doing another six day in a month or so. What do you think about parboiled brown rice for RS? I picked up a bag at TJs. My problem with rice is I can’t stop eating it –YUMMM

  2. Alex on June 5, 2015 at 12:16

    I figured what’s an extra $30 and ordered the 12-day round a couple weeks ago, first dose tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to see what effect it has. Especially the skin benefits I’ve heard of, I have a bit of seborrheic dermatitis that I’ve had on my scalp for quite some time.

    • Dave on June 5, 2015 at 13:40


      My scalp is clear for the first time in a long while. Hopefully does the trick for you…

  3. Jason on June 5, 2015 at 13:28

    I have had a six day cycle now. I was doing Richard’s probiotic shake four months before this and I have had no negative side effects to date. Maybe that was a good gut prep course to eliminate the negative experience the TMI crowd has experienced?

    I have had the same experience as others…not much appetite and absolutely no cravings. When I was hungry, like around lunch time, I waited an hour and the hunger was gone for several more hours (I knew it was just that I have been trained to eat at lunch time, I’m breaking myself of that habit now). This entire time with the probiotics I have been amazed at the complete loss of cravings, and this coming from a background of huge cravings and eating on a schedule even when not hungry, or when bored or stressed.

    Honestly, I owe a lot to this site. Maybe I can share more later.

    • KL on June 5, 2015 at 18:37

      “Eating on schedule when not hungry” that is my issue. PLUS rosacea and hashi

    • MissMcGillicuddy on June 6, 2015 at 06:31

      Please do

  4. Dave on June 5, 2015 at 13:42

    And I love the fact Karl responds in such transparent detail. Deserves whatever success comes his way.

    • Dave on June 6, 2015 at 14:08

      Agree. For the same reasons, I still follow Sisson

    • Richard Nikoley on June 6, 2015 at 07:15

      Absolutely, Dave. This is the way of the future. So impressed by Karl’s approach and is confirmation I had the right sense when agreeing to work with him to promote Elixa.

      And consider Sisson, who’s admittedly a marketing machine, but if you even peripherally follow his blog, or at least check the stuff you’re interested in, I have never seen him dodge tough questions about diet or even the supplements he sells. When he knows and understands more, he’ll change his formulations to reflect new understandings, rather than try to sweep stuff under the rug or cherry pick stuff so that his dietary recommendations are always right and never need refinement.

      Hopefully this will be a trend because I’m sick to death of seeing nothing but self-serving marketing crap devoid of addressing real world problems, issues, new science…in both population terms and individual terms. One reason I embrace and take seriously individual anecdotes here in comments is that it’s very likely that person is unique in the world. Identifying others with the same issue gives all of them deeper insight into it and into potential fixes.

  5. bioking on June 5, 2015 at 19:32

    Richard, (or Karl), is there a specific diet one should follow to maximise the chances of Elixer working? Don’t give me fuzzy and vague shit. Cut to the chase and give me and exact diet plan to prepare for my gut recolonisation cunt(s).

    • Karl S on June 6, 2015 at 04:06

      Hi Bioking,
      Short answer:
      Anything allowed on zero carb (except the dairy produce)
      Plus as much white rice as you like.
      White bread is fine too.

      That’s the ideal low-FODMAP diet I recommend to people in email conversations.

      It isn’t all-or-nothing though. The degree to how closely you adhere to those specifications will determine the degree to how much it helps. Simple as that. No flip-switch or critical-point things going on here. It’s simply a diet void of most FODMAPs.

      The reason I’d recommend this is because (1) it reduces the total bacterial count residing in the large intestine, which increases the *comparative* size of each dose of Elixa arriving there. (2) it reduces the occurrence of large amounts of Elixa being held in suspension with large amounts of readily-fermentable substrate for an extended period of time within the small intestine (a scenario which allows some proliferation to occur within the S.I. for a brief few hours during normal transit). Low-FODMAP will make your S.I. more of a sterile barren wasteland. That’s a good thing compared with the simple-sugar-laden SAD. Especially good while taking Elixa.

      Bit of a tangent:
      If you think about it, the main difference in how the body treats ‘simple sugar’ versus ‘the simple sugar that is created from enzyme breakdown of carbohydrates prior to absorption into the blood’ is not just this whole thing about sugar spikes and insulin spikes. It’s also because you now have far more readily-fermentable substrate (because obviously bacteria can easily utilise sugar) FURTHER UP in the GI tract. A mouth full of simple sugar is up-for-grabs (to bacteria) from the get-go. No waiting around for human enzyme activity to breakdown that tasty-looking amylose (for example).

      With complex carbohydrates the breakdown all the way to monomer sugars does not happen until duodenum at the earliest AND it is a slow process which occurs within the rate at which the epithelium can whisk it off into the bloodstream (from the S.I.). This means any bacteria macho enough to try and survive up there in the barren and hostile small intestine, will really have to scavenge hard to ferment themselves a decent living.

      Now this segues into exactly why diverticulae and blind-loops/anatomical defects/post-surgery anomalies/etc. can cause SIBO.
      But I think I’ve answered your question by now ;)

      If anything is unclear, just ask.

    • Cathy on June 6, 2015 at 09:18

      In light of the new article from Duck Dodgers which is in the pipeline, how does eating white rice and white bread not have a negative effect on a man or a post menopausal woman due to the iron fortification? Is there another food stuff, such as beans or potatoes that could stand in if one is trying to avoid the excess iron?

    • meli on June 7, 2015 at 04:57

      What about taking the Elixa a few days after a colonoscopy?

    • Jen W. on June 8, 2015 at 08:32


      You said white bread would be fine during an Elixa course. What about the Gluten free alternatives, like Udi’s Gluten Free White Sandwich bread?

    • Kari on June 26, 2015 at 16:46

      What about after the course of Elixa? Okay to reintroduce FODMAPS right away to feed/sustain the newly added beneficial bacteria? Also, would it be helpful to prep by taking any herbal compounds like berberine etc. before taking the initial course? Just trying to increase the odds of success!

  6. Jon on June 6, 2015 at 06:20

    I have been experimenting for a couple of months now with prebiotics and probiotics. It’s interesting to experience the different reactions to various probiotics and prebiotics. For instance, I feel good after taking Mark Sisson’s Primal Flora, but not so after a few days of Prescript Assist. Green banana flour works well for me, but potato starch does not. The different combos have a very pronounced difference in how I feel. My wife feels good on Prescript Assist by the way so I’m not promoting one brand over another.

    Positive points so far:

    Within days of starting Primal Flora I stopped getting acid reflux after eating foods like garlic and tomato sauces. Previously I chowed down on a bunch of antacids every week. Since starting the probiotics I haven’t needed one antacid.

    I have experienced the “meh” effect to eating that Richard describes. Not super pronounced, but enough to curb the amount I’m eating.

    Another one that I haven’t read anyone report is that my eyesight has improved. Previously I would look down at my iPhone and see blurry text. I don’t have glasses yet and have been avoiding it as long as I can. I realised the other day that the text wasn’t blurry any longer.

    There’s a couple of confounders so I can’t say for sure it’s due to the pre and pros. I have been doing a cup a day of bone broth and have been eating more fibre ala the Mark Sisson Big Ass Salad and Angelo Coppola Plant Paleo. The one thing I can put down purely to the probiotics is the acid reflux. I was only taking Primal Flora when that first improved.

    I haven’t noticed any sleep benefits like others report.

    I’ll be trying Elixa starting tomorrow.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 6, 2015 at 07:04


      Thanks for pointing out that different people respond differently to the various probiotics I recommend, which are principally: Primal Defense Ultra, Prescript Assist, AOR-3, and most recently Primal Fora and Elixa Probiotic.

      I like to use them all, but have definitely been convinced by Karl that these are not for everyday, all the time. So, I suspect I’ll take another round of Elixa in a month or two (and once I get a mailbox set up down here) and in the meantime, I’ll pop some of the others. But, instead of the one cap per day like I used to do, I’ll take 3-5 on an empty stomach, take 3-5 of a different brad a day or 5 later. Random.

      Glad you saw benefit with Sisson’s new Primal Flora formulation. Me too, but I think the biggest for me was calm. Plus, because I use them all, hard to pin down what to attribute to what.

      I think people reporting “I didn’t notice anything good or bad” is a perfectly fine report. And, it may be good in the sense that it signals a healthy gut. In this case, maybe treat it like a periodic test, like bloodwork. Do a round every three months to see that’s still the case, or, perhaps, like an oil change.

      What’s ironic is that those experiencing adverse reactions are being told something is wrong in the floral balance of their gut; i.e., missing species, too many of some, not enough of others, etc. However, the species in these various forms have pretty well-established track records for benefit in humans and therefore, with adverse reactions, people find themselves in the unfortunate positions where the “poison” is actually the cure and one just needs to tough it out, provided the acute symptoms present no material health risks but only discomfort and inconvenience.

      I can surely say that in retrospect it’s remarkable how far I’ve come in all my tossing shit against the wall to see what sticks. From daily dosing of RS via raw potato starch and farting up storms for days, to inducing several times per hour runny, smelly shits with the various probiotics to now having iron grip control on appetite (bit hungry…food…eh, meh) and little to no adverse reactions to any of the gut stuff I take but for the odd 1-off thing, which is life anyway—like all of a sudden having an acute, temporary pain somewhere for no apparent reason.

    • Jon on June 6, 2015 at 17:06

      It’s a good point Richard. After reading some of your previous blogs I had come to the conclusion that after some time I should revisit the prebiotics and probiotics that I didn’t fare so well on. Start with small doses, build up and work through anything that isn’t health threatening until it improves. It does make you wonder if the ones that you don’t fare well on are the very ones that you really need.

      By the way, big thanks for writing about this Richard.

  7. Joni on June 6, 2015 at 07:41

    Why does Karl say that these are not for everybody, all the time? That intrigues me, because so many people promote that you must take probiotics continually in order to benefit because they don’t permanently colonize. They say they are transient, and their benefits are temporary -only while taking them.

  8. MissMcGillicuddy on June 6, 2015 at 14:28

    This one was recently highly recommended, so I’m looking to compare – if anyone has tried VSL 3, please advise:

    • Wilbur on June 6, 2015 at 18:03

      I’ve never taken it, but I have run across its being mentioned in many studies. A search of

      Vsl 3 probiotic

      On PubMed turns up 20 pages of studies on it. It would probably be on a shortlist if I ever have a round of antibiotics.

  9. Steve on June 8, 2015 at 17:27

    Unfortunately, the “The ‘hot/flushed’ symptom” can be from something entirely different than the Jarisch-Herxheimer die-off effect. Feed me sugar, and 5-12 hours later I get that same hot/flushed symptom. Reason: because the sugar fed something. Reason I know it fed something bad: because the next day I’ll have a complete lack of bowel movements. So no, I/we cannot assume the hot/flushed reation is a good thing if we try this br

    • Richard Nikoley on June 8, 2015 at 17:36

      Bottom line it, Steve.

      What are you suggesting? Are you suggesting that because a few cant handle a bonus dose of sugar, billions of people should forego it?

  10. pzo on June 8, 2015 at 18:43

    Americans, the consumer culture that we, well, most of us, are, love “products.” Some person or company has just what you need.

    Yeah, it’s taken me decades to be able to step outside of Madison Avenue and realize that all those products, well meaning or otherwise, are so detrimental. As has been said, don’t shop the central aisles of the stores. Generally, those are the ones loaded with “products.”

    If one has a relatively open and flexible budget, try anything and everything. OTOH, most of us don’t have that luxury, so we need to stick to the essentials.

    I.e., Eat. Real. Foods.

  11. TravellingBeard on June 8, 2015 at 20:15

    Apologies if this has been covered before…but I’ve heard that some people take a good quality probiotic product, such as Primal Defense, and seed homemade kimchi or saurkraut along with traditional starters (such as pop a couple capsules into a batch). Have you done this and is it an effective way to get a better bang for your buck on some of these supplements? Thanks!

    • MissMcGillicuddy on June 9, 2015 at 04:42

      I’ve heard of people doing this – not only with vegetables, but also kefir (dairy and juice/water based) and kombucha, etc

      Lots of interesting home fermentation going on.

  12. DLunsford on June 9, 2015 at 12:10

    But where’s the Faecalibacterium prausnitzii?

  13. SteveRN on June 29, 2015 at 18:16

    Anyone tried, or heard of trying, taking a decent dose of the other probiotics with the Elixa? I was contemplating taking 3-5 of the other recommended brands along with the Elixa. Or maybe try the Elixa as prescribed and alone and next round try them together. Any thoughts pro or con?

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