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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Felicia Fibro - Life with fibromyalgia, EMPOWERED!

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Probiotics and IBS

You’ve probably all seen commercials about yogurt with probiotcs helping to regulate your digestive system. Years ago my Gastroenterologist didn’t think I needed to take probiotics supplement pills for my IBS, but I’ve heard from many people with IBS that think taking them have improved their IBS symptoms. I decided to do a little research of my own and found some consistent information that supported forms of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria helping improve IBS symptoms. The most compelling evidence supported a specific strain of Bifidobacteria – Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, or Bifantis®. It is the active ingredient in Align and is trademarked and patented. I think one of the reasons the latter has the most compelling evidence is because it has proven fairly successful in studies that test its impact on IBS symptoms. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like many other specific forms of probiotics have been thoroughly studied when it comes to their effect on IBS.

My IBS had been extra sensitive for awhile, so I decided to start taking Align. I’ve been using it daily for over five weeks now and I think it has really helped me. I’ve only waken up once in the middle of the night with IBS cramps, but they were less severe than the ones I usually awake to. I was able to fall back asleep, without taking medicine, and my cramps were pretty much gone by the time I got out of bed. I’ve also only gotten a little sick two times, an improvement over the two months prior. One time was after eating fairly spicy food and the other after eating a cream and Gorgonzola cheese based sauce on Easter. Neither of those times turned into a full IBS flare though and I’d even forgotten to take Align the day before Easter! The one negative thing I’ve found is that the pill capsules have an odd taste that make me have a gag reflex. I’ve solved this problem by taking the pill with juice to mask the taste.

Align is easily bought over-the-counter and the pamphlet that is comes with helps you to easily track your symptoms. It warns that you may experience some gas or bloating the first few days you’re on the probiotic while your system is balancing. I was lucky that I only had some extra bloating and that it was not that uncomfortable. One of my Twitter friends, Pam, tried Align after I told her it’d been helping me and she started taking it with similar results. She isn’t bothered by the taste of the pills at all, so I’m probably just extra sensitive. Update: My Gastroenterologist later said that Align was a really good probiotic, but my RD had me switch to a high potency probiotic that also had lactobacillus in it, VSL#3.

Have you tried taking a probiotic for IBS?

You may also be interested in reading:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome at Night
Fibro Feelings – Colonoscopy (no gross details)

Align probiotic supplement

The box contents


Comment from Chelle
Time May 16, 2011 at 7:35 am


I have found that any time I eat anything with cream in it, I will have horrible cramps and get terribly ill. So I stay away from anything that I know has cream in it.

I ate Activia yogurt for about two years and I’m not sure if it helped or not. My IBS has been under much better control since I changed my diet and added a bit more fiber (in a careful way). I can’t really remember the last time I had a flare.

I haven’t been eating the Activia and haven’t seen a difference as far as any flaring, so I don’t know if it was beneficial for me or not. Which doesn’t answer your question…sorry!

I just really wanted to share what I discovered about cream, cause it took me years to figure that out.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks for sharing your experience with Activia, Chelle! I think the fact that you didn’t notice a negative change in your IBS after using it for awhile, then stopping it, says a lot! Both cream (has a high fat content) and spicy foods could get me flaring, so that is why I’m not discounting that Align helped me with those foods – since I only got sick, didn’t flare.


Comment from Fibro Girl Kate
Time May 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

Hey Felicia,
I have been on a mission to make my IBS better over the last six months. I had been really stuggling for a year and just got so sick of it that I started trying all sorts of new things. My issue, to put it delicately, is not being able to go enough or at all.

I got fairly desperate and tried laxitives at first, but the effect only lasted a day. I didn’t want to take them regularly because of the harshness of them. I tried supplemental fiber, but it just made it worse, faster.

I did start probiotics about four months ago. I’ve tried a few different brands and haven’t had any negative side effects from any of them. However, I have found that after four to six weeks on one kind, they lost their effect on me. But, switching brands (and strains of probiotics) seemed to help. I did find that the 10 million bacteria pills are much more effective that 3 million (tends to be the store brands that are much cheaper).

In addition to probiotics, I did start a yoga sequence specifically for my non-going problem (you can find sequences for the other extreme of IBS, too). I think it helped, though I’m guessing it was me taking time to slow down and breath that helped more than the actual poses. See BKS Iyengar’s sequence–I think it’s the most helpful.

Finally, I just tried Amitiza last month. It’s the newest IBS drug. My doctor gave me a long list of potential side effects, but I didn’t have any of them. He also warned that your body can get use to it fast and suggested that I don’t stay on it for more than two weeks. After a two week period, my IBS felt cured for about six weeks. It was amazing! (I continued yoga and probiotics.) Unfortunately, around week six, IBS roared back. I tried a new cycle of Amitiza, but had limited results.

I’m looking for something new to try, again, but the probiotics are now part of my regular routine!



Felicia Fibro Reply:

Kate – How interesting (and annoying) that a specific probiotic strain only seems to work for you for 6 weeks! Can you rotate back to one that previously worked and stopped working after you’ve used a different strain in between?

I did know there were specific yoga poses that were supposed to help IBS, but I’ve been concerned to try them because I wasn’t sure if they were positions that were safer for those with fibromyalgia or not. Seems like they didn’t cause you harm though. Thanks for sharing sequence name with us.

I tend to go the way of IBS-D or even IBS-A. I’m not sure if they use antispasmodics for IBS-C or not? You mentioned feeling cured for a period of time and that is what antispasmodics do for me if I take them daily, but I choose to take them as needed instead. Peppermint oil seems to be getting some positive results as well.


Comment from pam
Time May 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

Thanks for telling me about Align. It has been very helpful. I’ve seen a big improvement. I also bought some Chobani yogurt yesterday. So the science experiment continues.



Felicia Fibro Reply:

Pam, I think our bodies might end up being experiments for awhile! =)


Comment from Ang
Time May 16, 2011 at 9:41 am

I use generic store brand Acidophilus, the one with 500 millions live cultures per tablet. I take it once a day, in the morning, and it’s really made a big difference. The overall IBS symptoms have eased, although if I eat a big meal, or something with a lot of spices in it (I stay away from “spicy hot”, but I do like to use other spices when cooking), my symptoms flare up, but they’re not as bad as before I started with the Acidophilus. Recently, I ran out and it was a few days before I could get more, and my symptoms came back with a vengance! it took a couple of days back on the pills before the symptoms eased, but as long as I take it daily, my IBS is much more manageable.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Ang – good to know that Acidophilus works for you. It looks like you experience results similar to me – not a cure-all, but definitely an improvement!


Comment from karen
Time May 16, 2011 at 10:08 am

I’ve been an IBS sufferer since I was 12 but have never been treated (yes I’m insane). I went to a GP once and all they wanted to do was stuff me with fiber and send me home. My problem is the cramping, not the going and I could never get a doctor to understand that. I’ve been getting worse and worse the last several months and I think it’s time to seek out a specialist that can treat me the correct way before I go truly nuts.

I’ve tried some probiotics, but have never noticed a difference. I never have figured out what triggers my symptoms – stress seems to be one, but other than that I have no clue. I had my worse bout of symptoms yet this weekend and this morning and that has gotten my fibro into overdrive – my whole body is in achy flu-mode. Thanks for this post so much, it’s like you read my mind and knew I needed to hear this today! You psychic you!
karen recently posted: FIBRO FRIDAY – Fibromyalgia Awareness Day May 12th


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Karen – maybe I should open a psychic reading booth? hehe Thanks for sharing that you haven’t really noticed probiotics helping you, it is good to hear all sides of the story. Yes, the cramping can be SO horrible! As I’ve mentioned previously, antispasmodics are the thing that gets me through times of horrid IBS cramps. My old primary care physician was no help with my IBS either, but I got him to agree to refer me to a Gastroenterologist who ran some more tests and gave me the prescription that helped me get my life back. At that time my IBS was in a constant flare. I hope you’re able to see a wonderful Gastroenterologist and start getting some relief! *hugs*


Comment from Kelby
Time May 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

Probiotics saved my husbands IBS! He did it naturally with yogurt and supplements. :)
Kelby recently posted: So Close!


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Kelby – glad to hear it helped your husband, too! (Just to be clear, Align is a probiotic supplement.)


Comment from Maija Haavisto
Time May 17, 2011 at 9:04 am

I’ve tried quite a few probiotics, both yoghurts and capsules, but only the latter consistently. A Finnish pharmacy brand used to work great, but they changed the formula and it stopped working (bummer). Then I tried some other brand, which didn’t work. Solgar Multi-Billion Dophilus and some other brands have worked, I’m going to try Now next because many say it’s the best. But results always depend on the individual!

I also use probiotics in the form of homemade vegan yoghurt, cashew cream cheese etc. Sadly the probiotic brands that work the best don’t seem to work well for yoghurt. So I often use storebought Alpro soy yoghurt as a starter, but it’s probably not really probiotic.

I’ve also used rejuvelac as a starter. It’s supposed to have good probiotic bacteria and enzymes, but I haven’t tried taking only rejuvelac without probiotic capsules, so I’m not sure how well it works.

Besides stress, my only real trigger is greasy food. I can eat fatty food if I eat something else at the time – so I can usually have Thai curry, but not a soup which doesn’t have much else but coconut milk (as I found out the hard way).

Sometimes I use peppermint oil capsules, which work quite well. My problem is also the cramping, which I don’t have nearly every day. It’s usually in the morning, but sometimes quite randomly.

Glutamine didn’t do anything for my IBS, even in large doses.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Wow, Maija! It looks like you’ve tried quite a few angles! Thanks for sharing all the things you’ve figured out about probioitc yogurt culturing. I’m glad to hear that peppermint oil capsules work for you since I’ve never come across a person that takes them. I’ve just read and seen information that says they help.


Comment from Rebecca
Time May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I don’t take Align, but I do take Colon Health Probiotics. I swear by them.
Rebecca recently posted: Review- Fridas Bed- A Novel by Slavenka Drakulic


Comment from Bonnie
Time May 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I use “Align ” probiotics and they have really helped me. I have fibro, myofacia pain, Intertitial cytitis, arthritis and other items as well as IBS .. The IBS goes along with the IC (intertitial cystitis) and from what I hear with fibro as well. Yes the ‘align” has really helped me for a few weeks while I took them!


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Rebecca & Bonnie – Thanks for sharing how much probiotics have helped you too!


Comment from fmsjerry
Time May 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm

My IBS was really bad when I was on pain meds. MSCottin and Vicodin for pain, but after only a few months at the FFC and I am lots better. I no longer require pain meds and have a great life. IBS was still a problem with me till I listened to my nurse at the FFC and started drinking metimusal daily. Now my system is back to (normal) and I am not bloted as I was. I hope this helps others.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I’m glad to hear that decreasing your medicines and increasing your fiber helped you so much, Jerry. I know many can benefit from high fiber diets.


Comment from Gabriel
Time May 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Proctor & Gamble sent me some samples of Align to review for my blog(links below) & it did seem to help my IBS for a while, about 4 or 5 weeks & then I started getting pain & constipation. This seems to be pretty common with me & probiotics. I’ve tried some higher powered probiotics like GoodBelly’s BigShot & Custom Probiotics Acidophilus, both of which seem to sock all the energy out of me for like a week. I think this is due to the herx effect. Not sure why it’s so intense, perhaps I have some critters in me that don’t want to go down easily or my body reacts poorly to probiotics. I currently don’t take any probiotics regularly.

I did not have any gagging effect with the Align pills, but I could probably swallow horse pills just fine :P .

When I got the samples:

My follow-up:


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks for sharing your probiotic experiences, Gabriel! It is so interesting to me that about that 5 week mark people are seeing a definite decrease in how a probiotic work for them. I’m curious what percentage of people that happens to/how often that is happening.


Comment from TiffanyJoan
Time November 16, 2011 at 6:04 am

I have more IBS issues when I eat white breads pastries…and just about anything for breakfast besides fruit..and even then…breakfast is no fun
TiffanyJoan recently posted: Fashion Sense


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