All sorts of bacteria - the good and the bad - thrive in the digestive track. Probiotics (most people will be familiar with acidophilus found in yogurt) are GOOD beasties which can improve certain health conditions. For example, diarrhea is a common side effect of antibiotics because good beasties are killed along with the bad...collateral damage. So these days, it is a common recommendation to eat live culture yogurt while on a course of antiobiotics.
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Probiotics are also available as supplements, and have been found to be useful in the treatment of several digestive track disorders, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I have been plagued with this for most of my adult life EXCEPT when I was recently on a rather lengthy course of antibiotics...at my doctor's suggestion I took Culturelle to cope with diarrhea and to my amazement, I felt great. Not only did I not get diarrhea, my entire digestive track was calm and smoothly functioning. So I kept taking the Culturelle after the antibiotic, and was symptom free for several months.
Then one day those nasty old IBS symptoms (usually painful bloating and gas) came back. Counting backwards, I realized that the symptoms started after I opened a new box of Culturelle, so I thought perhaps I'd gotten a bad box. I called the company, was told to open a capsule and describe what I saw.
When I said "white powder with yellow clumps about the size of dry millet" the rep said this meant the bacteria had died off. (As I've since read at Consumerlab.com, this can happen if the product is exposed to heat above 90 degrees.) She suggested I return the product to the store.
I told her I didn't have the receipt, so she then suggested I send the box back to them and they would replace it. She advised however that they would NOT pay postage to return the product. And she warned me to box it securely since the post office doesn't take kindly to white powders these days.
Which meant that in addition to having paid $22 for a worthless product, I would now have to hunt down a shipping box, drive to the PO, pay the postage to return the product, add another $2 for delivery confirmation (so they couldn't say "We never received it.") etc etc. In short, pretty much end up paying twice.
I had a similar experience with NatureMade several years ago, and they sent me a postage-paid box in which to return the product, which I think is what any reputable company ought to do if they truly stand behind their products.
So I took my sad tale back to the Walgreens where I'd bought the product. The manager was surprised that Culturelle had responded this way, so he said if I could provide him with my credit card statement at the end of the month (so he could look up the transaction number and verify the purchase) Walgreens would replace the product for me.
I still highly recommend this product. The difference it has made in my digestive track has been nothing short of miraculous. But from now on I will open a capsule of each new box first and make sure it is still alive. And I would advise anybody using it to save their receipt in case they need to return it.
I have since joined Consumerlab.com, which independently tests supplements and publishes their findings. The following information about their testing of Culturelle might be of use to other readers. Apparently, I'm not the only one who got shortchanged on my Good Beasties.
Culturelle — (11/20/09) Amerifit, Inc., the distributor of Culturelle, provided ConsumerLab.com (CL) with information indicating that the lot tested by CL (#0186I8) contained 30 billion viable cells per capsule when manufactured, which Amerifit believes should assure the “10 billion cells” by the “Best Used By” date as guaranteed on the product.
As noted in the report below, CL found only 5.8 billion viable cells per capsule in the product. Amerifit believes that the discrepancy may result from exposure of the product to non-ideal conditions, such as heat, after its delivery by Amerifit to the retailer from which CL purchased the product. If not stored and shipped properly, the product can be compromised. Amerifit noted that the retailer (drugstore.com) ships the product to consumers via normal UPS, which Amerifit does not consider an acceptable shipment method for Culturelle as it is not temperature-controlled. Labeling on Culturelle indicates that refrigeration is not required but that it should not be stored above room temperature. Amerifit informed CL that Culturelle should be purchased from retailers that will store and ship the product so that it is not exposed to temperatures exceeding 70 degrees Farenheit, although "small excursions (hours) are not an issue as long as below 90 degrees."
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