scratch-mark

The Elixa Probiotics Manufacturer Explains How You the Customer Created Version 2

It was about a year ago that Karl, through some miracle from heaven, chose me to help promote his burgeoning probiotics manufacturing business. It’s been a cool success, with well over 1,000 orders so far. The very, very important thing is that Karl Seddon is himself the manufacturer. The importance of this critical distinction cannot be overstated.

You see, when you purchase most probiotics at Whole Foods or online, you are purchasing from a marketer who orders off-shelf stuff in big bags, then has a facility package and label it for marketing. It’s why it generally gives you only expensive poop. That attention to your gut is important is pretty clear, so I’ll turn it over to the manufacturer, Karl, who listens to every one of you, and seeks to change his manufacturing parameters hands-on, to your increasingly greater satisfaction in this cutting-edge experiment.

Intro Pic

Since being introduced to the FreeTheAnimal community by Richard, not only has Elixa Probiotic received a staggering (and much appreciated) level of interest from my North American fellows, but the product itself has also evolved by a remarkable degree in the time that has passed. I was confident from the outset that Elixa was going to gain traction because I’d already received positive responses from many of the early adopters and many people were recommending it to a friend or family. However, I knew it would take time for people to slowly and organically learn about it.

Thanks to Richard though, the big ole’ USA (and plenty of other places in the world) learned of Elixa – and things have been hard to keep up with ever since! Leading to many interesting email conversations with Elixa users throughout 2015.

We are all here to experiment as scientists. No foregone conclusions, like: ‘this XYZ diet / supplement / routine works and any results to the contrary are wrong!’ The theories here are fluid and debated—and results beat all. This matches my approach to Elixa perfectly—always open to constant upgrades as and when new feedback, results, and theories emerge.

Things get interesting when user results influence the make- up of a health product

Being the manufacturer and having awareness grow primarily online is a golden pairing that perhaps wasn’t possible a decade or two ago. These two factors present an exciting combination because (1) being the manufacturer gives me the ability to tweak and upgrade the product at an unprecedented turnaround time steered by… (2) feedback from anyone in the world at light speed and the ability to be involved with discussions in a forum that anyone can get involved with.

In the past, the consumer goods business was more about creating a finalised product and then convincing people that this is what they need and contriving all marketing to the various features of the product, despite the fact that some of those features were either purely incidental, for an ulterior purpose (logistics, manufacturing, storage), or determined by the available technology at the time.

What I prefer—and how I view Elixa—is to create a tool, release it for people to experiment with, and monitor what benefits it provides and how exactly it is being used. Much like the software industry with betas and regular updates. People have used Elixa according to many different protocols and for a huge range of conditions—many of which I had no idea the first iteration would help with. I absorb all the feedback and use it to accumulate into something more than just a folder of testimonials: i.e. data that influences the next iteration of the product.

Recap on upgrades thus far

You can view Elixa as two separate components: The delivery system—which is a fancy way of saying ‘the capsule’—and the blend of probiotic bacteria.

I have so far made two updates to the former. I called the first update Mk2 and the second update Mk3, to distinguish between updates to the capsule (MkXX) and updates to the blend (vXX).

These occurred back in August (2015) and I didn’t go into detail about what they were at the time, so I will do that here. I’ll describe them in an objective manner and you can judge whether they are improvements or not. I don’t want to state categorically that an upgrade is superior. Results will be the judge of that. But we can probably agree that these updates make a lot of sense.

Mk1 → Mk2

Mk2 was two changes at once. Firstly, we now utilise a baking process for the capsules (prior to insertion of the probiotic blend) to reduce humidity within the capsule shell. When I say ‘humidity’ I am not talking about changing something from wet to dry. Capsule shells are, from what a human can observe, completely dry. However many substances will contain a certain trace amount of moisture and the baking process removes that. This results in a reduction in humidity ingress (once again – we’re talking trace amounts) from the capsule shell into the powder blend inside the capsule. This maintains an even higher degree of desiccation of the lyophilised powder. That’s a good thing, since tiny amounts of humidity can lead to tiny amounts of ‘re-hydrated’ bacteria. Rehydrating the bacteria prematurely is the main factor that affects the difference in viable CFU count of a probiotic between time of manufacture and time of consumption. Any bacteria that are re-animated before they are in your gut, will soon use up all available energy sources and perish—thus creating the discrepancy between ‘CFU at time of manufacture’ and ‘CFU at time of consumption’.

Baking Process

The second part of Mk2 was more significant. We increased the gastric resistance of the capsule shell. The tech specifics are not something I’ll detail, which was perhaps a reason I didn’t make any fanfare about these updates when they first came out, because if you can’t elaborate when asked about it then why mention it to begin with?

But fortunately I’ve been saved from that necessity because the results of this increase in gastric resistance have been so evident that I receive regular emails (and some FTA comments) stating that some users can see the capsule shell in their stools from time to time. i.e. the two halves of an emptied capsule shell. This implies a much later dispersion of the blend within the GI tract if the shell is making it all the way to the exit without having completely disintegrated! Having the blend deposit closer to the large intestine and further away from the stomach is a core aim of any probiotic delivery system.

To sum up…this update was far better than I ever imagined!

While we can’t know for sure where exactly the blend disperses for everyone, everytime – this would have to be established on a person-to-person, event-by-event basis via use of scintography – I am extremely confident that it disperses further along the gastrointestinal tract than Mk1 did.

Gastric Resistance

Mk2 → Mk3

The upgrade to Mk3 was the switch from tubes to sachets, that many have now seen. These sachets are a laminate including Aluminium—or Aluminum [US]—as one of their layers.

Mk3

Aluminium is a total barrier to humidity and oxygen ingress. The tubes used before these sachets were, for most intents and purposes, a total barrier also. The foil seal certainly was. The walls were HDPE though, so technically this can allow trace humidity through. Having said that, they were 1.5mm thick and you’d probably have to have them in a pressurised steam room for months to measure any difference! In any case, be assured by the knowledge that I use every means at my disposal to keep the Elixa packaging several steps ahead of the average supplement packaging on the market.

For anyone wondering, when we talk about trace humidity we are talking about the occasional molecule of water passing across a barrier. We’re not talking about visible water or any kind of dampness that a human could detect.

The sachets are absolutely locked down. You can put them at the bottom of the Mariana Trench and they’ll be dry as a bone on the inside.

The Blend: V1 →V2

Now that all the delivery system talk is out of the way, we can discuss what will be the future of the probiotics industry: The blend.

A huge portion of the effect of a probiotic supplement is determined by the species of bacteria you have within the blend.

The current state of the art is nothing in comparison to what is coming in the next few years. There are so many entire genera that we have not even utilised in probiotic supplements yet. For good reason—not all bacteria are easy to culture and lyophilise (freeze dry). Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are common for a reason. Lactobacillus are particularly common because they are not as sensitive to oxygen compared to other intestinal flora. This makes them robust during the manufacturing process. Not only that, they can also act as a ‘buffer’ when used in a blend with other more O2-sensitive bacteria (e.g. Bifidobacterium).

My ambition in the very near-term for Elixa was to create a predominantly Bifido blend. The first iteration (v1) contains a ton of the stuff! But a large portion is still occupied by Lactobacilli. Not that I have anything personal against the Lactobacillus genus; I just don’t think they are the knights in shining armour of the gut flora. Some species have useful roles to play, but Lactobacilli are not the backbone of a healthy microbiota (and no one genus is). Like I said, they are useful for certain things and are also helpful during the manufacturing and encapsulation process to make a stable blend.

Upping the Bifido

This is where the v2 update comes in. The most significant upgrade comes from a reduction in the Lactobacillus genus and a great increase in the Bifidobacterium genus in the finished blend. Although both genera can produce d-lactate as a metabolite, cases of excessive d-lactate production are almost always characterised by an excess of the Lactobacillus genus (see cases of Short Bowel Syndrome as examples). So to pack the same CFU with a reduction in d-lactate output, Bifidobacterium should be increased. Many reasons, including the exclusive use of the bifid shunt metabolic pathway, leads to the conclusion that Bifidobacteria has a lot more mileage for improving the health of the gut versus Lactobacillus.

Am I saying this is undeniably an improvement for everyone, regardless of their pre-existing microbiota? We’ll see. People’s results will answer that question. A hundred or so people in the UK have already tried it and the feedback has been almost entirely indicative of an improvement across the board, versus the v1 blend.

V2 Blend ratio changes

Expanding the range

But remember that how a probiotic affects you is a function of the specific blend combined with your specific incumbent microbiota (the pre-existing flora in your gut). So that’s why Elixa can have dramatic benefits for some and mild/subtle benefits for others. So, despite a decrease in overall Lactobacillus CFU, I decided to incorporate 2 additional species from the Lactobacillus genus: L. Helveticus and L. Salivarius, and 1 additional Bifidobacterium species: B. Infantis.

Species Additions

I think that expanding the range of species in the blend is likely to increase the range of dysbiotic flora that it can target due to the increased variety of competitive mechanisms and bacteriocins that will be produced.

Potato Starch (RS2)

The third and final change is the addition of potato starch within the capsule. Potato starch is a popular form of resistant starch (RS2) which has been demonstrated to have good adhesion qualities for probiotic bacteria. Link here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC93045/.

This is usually proposed as a method of improving their transit by acting as some kind of protective taxi ride through the GI tract. But, more specifically, I think the usefulness comes from the ‘taxi’ being a food source (for the amylolytic strains) thus aiding their process of re- animation and subsequent cell division when they become rehydrated.

I have not incorporated RS2 for its prebiotic attributes for the gut microbiota as a whole. Only for the Elixa blend species that are encapsulated alongside it. I do not think that the quantities of RS2 involved would make the prebiotic effect significant on a gut-wide scale.

We might imagine that the powder dispersal will occur something like this: As the capsule begins to disintegrate, somewhere along the digestive tract, fluid enters the capsule and mixes with the dry powder. This rehydration begins the process of re-animating the bacteria and allows the potato starch to become easily adhered to and metabolised. (Moisture is necessary. Dry powders / grains don’t easily get broken down by bacteria.)

The bacteria now have a surface to divide upon and a food source to fuel said division. This is, at the least, a more hospitable environment for them to wake up to from their hibernation – as opposed to being thrust into a potentially bacteriolytic, quagmire of inedible substances if they were unlucky with the location of capsule disintegration along the GI tract.

Hopefully the bacteria will be experiencing their waking minutes more like a joey in a pouch, and less like hatching sea turtles with their Omaha Beach-esque gauntlet.

So to conclude – the changes from v1 to v2 are as follows:

1. A significantly higher proportion of Bifidobacterium compared to Lactobacillus.

2. The following changes to the species list:

  • Lactobacillus Acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus Plantarum
  • Lactobacillus Reuteri
  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus Casei
  • Lactobacillus Salivarius (NEW)
  • Lactobacillus Helveticus (NEW)
  • Bifidobacterium Bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium Lactis
  • Bifidobacterium Longum
  • Bifidobacterium Infantis (NEW)
  • Bifidobacterium Breve

3. The replacement of rice powder with potato starch powder. The latter being a popular form of resistant starch (RS2) which has been demonstrated to have good adhesion qualities for strains of Bifidobacteria.

I look forward to hearing your experiences with the new blend!

Order at ElixaFTA.com

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

25 Comments

  1. Tim on February 18, 2016 at 04:31

    Some day this story will be in text books as an example of how the free flow of information on the internet connected so many in a common cause to improve a product. Just amazing. Thank you Karl and thank you Richard for allowing it to happen. This is a shining example of the free market on steroids

    • Richard Nikoley on February 18, 2016 at 09:46

      Nothing warms my heart quite like a male of the species who gets it, Tim.

      Lovelies, no offense. But the world is in need of retroactive men, just now.

      …One mind at a time.

  2. cremes on February 18, 2016 at 06:39

    I’m out of Elixa so I should probably order up some more. I usually do a “touch up” every quarter. Just did a touch up in early January, so I’ll order some in March for my April reseed.

  3. Tim on February 18, 2016 at 10:03

    Richard, I’ve been using probiotics w/potato starch for a couple of years now. When I first had the potato starch I experienced a little extra gas & loose stools but nothing dramatic. I tried the one week course of Elixa back in January. Again, nothing dramatic. Would this experience indicate that my gut biome is in good shape? Thanks, Tim

    • Richard Nikoley on February 18, 2016 at 12:19

      No idea.

      • Tim on February 18, 2016 at 12:29

        Ha. Ok, thanks for the input.



      • Richard Nikoley on February 18, 2016 at 12:48

        Marginally better than a lie.



    • Karl S on February 18, 2016 at 16:43

      Hi Tim,

      This may sound simplistic/obvious, but I think right now the best measure of whether your gut biome is in good shape is whether you are free of any conditions/symptoms that have been linked to a dysbiotic gut.
      NOT using the null-effect of a pre/probiotic.

      Using the lack of effect of a certain intervention only tells you that the intervention (PS/Elixa) did not cause significant change in your gut. While this would *likely* be a good sign, it can also mean…. they just didn’t resolve the particular dysbiosis you have!
      There are dozens of conditions I am absolutely certain stem from a gut dysbiosis which I know for a fact do NOT resolve from taking Elixa or PS.
      That’s what we need to work towards of course. Elixa in its present iteration has strong suits in certain departments – dermatological, bowel function, mental state. A tangible slice of the whole spectrum – and orders of magnitude more than the majority of health supplements – but still nowhere near the whole thing. That’s the future that we are rapidly approaching and that’s what’s exciting. Even FMTs have strong suits and huge weaknesses. They can tackle C.Diff reliably. They aren’t very consistent in resolving IBS, skin conditions, etc.
      So to say that a null effect from Elixa means you have a perfect microbiota, would be to imply that Elixa was itself the perfect probiotic which can not be improved upon. Which it’s not…. yet 😉
      Similarly, to say that ‘PS causing no improvement in any variables’ = ‘you have perfect microbiota’ would imply that PS was a cure-all prebiotic. Which it’s not.

      If you DO have a condition stemming from your gut, then rest assured: you are living at the perfect time to see the cure come about. We’re at the epicentre of something that is flipping all of medicine on its head.
      Gut bugs change everything. The entirety of medical knowledge must now be re-examined in a new light of: ‘What role might the microbiota play in this?’
      🙂
      Kind Regards,
      Karl (Elixa)

      • Tim on February 19, 2016 at 19:49

        Thanks for that detailed reply Karl. My question to Richard was in no way meant to be disparaging of Elixa or of it’s efficacy. I’m just an old guy on a budget trying to direct my fitness dollars in a direction that will do me the most good. I agree that “Gut bugs change everything” I would just like to know what the hell my guys are doing. I wish you & Elixa nothing but great success. Change the world. Tim



      • Karl S on February 20, 2016 at 02:51

        Thank you for the kind words!
        No – I 100% understood your point 🙂 No offence taken whatsoever, friend.
        Richard’s answer was blunt and honest, with no conjecture/fluff.
        Mine was also blunt honesty – with decidedly more fluff!

        Many supplement sellers would find some kind of scape goat: ‘You’re using it wrong…. You’re not using it long enough…. You’re clearly mistaken; the benefits are *subtle*…..You’re using it for the wrong condition….Something is wrong, but it’s not the product!!!.’
        What I’m saying is that, right now, it may be the case that the malady you are trying to resolve is simply beyond the scope of the currently available remedies. Or at least the two stated.
        [General advice not directed at anyone in particular]
        The best way to efficiently search for a treatment is: Discontinue any treatments which are having no effect whatsoever after 1-2 weeks, re-evaluate and move to the next treatment strategy. If you are suffering from something severe then don’t allow the desperation and hope to muddle with your objectivity. That’s how people end up pouring money down the drain for non-effective supplements; willing them to work.
        Ignore advice resembling this (if it comes with no justification) – ‘Supplement X takes a few weeks to magically kick in, so please ignore the fact it’s doing sweet f*** all in the meantime!’.
        It’s a string-a-long, very common in the supplement industry 😉

        Kind Regards,
        Karl (Elixa)



  4. solver on February 19, 2016 at 14:17

    I’ve done 2 courses of Elixa version 1.0. The experience was amazing. I can’t wait to try version 2.0. I still have one course of 1.0 left which is about two months old. Will this still be ok to use?

    Both courses of Elixa helped me find Jesus while on the toilet. Jesus is nearly a foot long and about 4 inches in diameter. The human form people depict him as is wrong I believe.

    Seriously though. Big, long and refreshing bowel movements are part of my Elixa experience. It’s almost like there’s more coming out than you’re putting in. I guess that’s the microbes multiplying inside you.

    • solver on February 19, 2016 at 15:29

      Wow! I just started a new round of Elixa and like clock work it appears that my bowels have completely and entirely emptied themselves after just a few hours. I feel completely refreshed.

    • Karl S on February 19, 2016 at 15:57

      Good to hear, Solver!
      Not the first time i’ve heard that but possibly the most colourful description 😉

      The effect of this new round within such a short time frame will be due to the gastrocolic effect that Elixa stimulates. This shuttles the capsules towards the large intestine quickly. It explains why some people have seen the capsule fragments in their stool only hours after consuming the dose. It’s surprising how fast it can get there. Richard has discussed it in previous posts.

      The gastrocolic reflex is best illustrated by that common sensation after eating a large meal whereby an hour or so later you need to use the bathroom. It isn’t that the big meal you just ate needs to be excreted. It’s the domino effect of the gastrocolic reflex. Elixa triggers that same reflex, hence the initial ‘colon cleanse’ experiences some people have.

      As the course progresses and the bacteria have time to proliferate; that’s when the large, well-formed, one-wipers will start to consistently emerge, if things are going well.

      As an aside:
      For me there was one meal that would never fail to produce the perfect TMI, the next day. Oddly enough it was… Spaghetti Carbonara! I can only assume it must have the perfect balance of lactose and other FODMAPs that jived well with the species in Elixa. Having said that, I would definitely not recommend a regular diet of pasta and dairy! 😉

      Kind Regards,
      Karl (Elixa)

      • Karl S on February 19, 2016 at 16:06

        P.S. Yes, the remaining v1 course will be fine to use. It is hermetically sealed and its shelf life is in excess of 2 years.
        Hope that helps!

        Thanks,
        Karl (Elixa)



      • king of the one eyed people on February 19, 2016 at 17:55

        I too can confirm the gastrocolonic effect. More satisfying than sex IMHO.



  5. Kevin on February 28, 2016 at 15:27

    Richard / Karl,

    My girlfriend just got diagnosed with a condition where her body isn’t producing a certain kind of antibody and she is now getting placed on a daily antibiotic (specifically sulfameth trimethoprim 800/160 mg tb); and most likely will continue taking them for the rest of her life. Additionally, it was recommended that she combine the antibiotic with a yeast called ‘Saccharomyces Boulardii Lyo’, which isn’t affected by the antibiotic and from my understanding prevents the proliferation of ‘bad’ bacteria after the antibiotic does its thing.

    We’re obviously going to consult with the doctor on our next visit, but after reading so much about how antibiotics destroy your gut biome after many uses, I’m concerned what happens to a gut that is constantly being bombarded with antibiotics. Have either of you come across people in these scenarios? From my limited understanding of the gut, taking probiotics, even something with as many CFU’s as Elixa, would be negated by the constant antibiotic use. Any thoughts on how to move forward?

    Thanks!

    • Karl S on February 29, 2016 at 14:59

      Hi Kevin,
      I’d consider two things:
      1. If her body is not producing a particular antibody, is it certain that her overall immune system is not impaired beyond just that one antibody? If it may be, then you would need to speak with your MD about how your girlfriend will react to probiotics in general. If there is a severely weakened immune system then it changes the scenario.
      2. Saccharomyces Boulardii is not naturally resident in large populations in the human gut. Using it to competitively exclude pathogens may be effective. However, I am not convinced on how comprehensive (or targeted… or effective) the range of its exclusionary effect would be.
      Preventing C.Diff would be the primary concern.

      Taking antibiotics indefinitely is a rather bleak prospect. I am sorry to hear of this news. If you’d read some of the things I’ve read, you would consider every other alternative to the ABX (for the long term) that was available. On the bright side, being on ABX indefinitely may be better than being on them for long durations intermittently.
      FYI: Total bacterial count does not reduce as much as one would expect when on ABX. It is more that the profile shifts. It’s like using a weedkiller in a rainforest that targets some plants but not others. The total number of foliage may not decrease because the unaffected plants would simply expand to take up the space that the other plants perished. The profile would change. I think that’s the biggest danger with ABX. Not reducing numbers of good bacteria, but making room for bad bacteria to colonise the gut.

      This shift is the main concern. C.Diff being the worst case scenario. It may be possible to counterbalance the effect with diet. No matter the amount of ABX you take, the gut will not become entirely sterile. High prebiotic diet (starting asap) may keep the beneficial populations in high enough number to maintain their foothold. Perhaps it will not and it will simply exacerbate any bad bacteria that rear their ugly heads. You’d have to play it by ear. In any case, dietary experimentation is not a risky proposal.

      Sorry I can’t give you any concrete advice about this!

      Kind Regards,
      Karl (Elixa)

      • Wilbur on February 29, 2016 at 18:04

        I have no real knowledge here, but a while back I was reading about “contrabiotics.” As I understand it, these interfere with the ability of pathogens to function as intended.

        Several studies (I’ll let you search) by pretty much the same author suggest that the soluble fibers in plantains and broccoli have shapes that prevent pathogens like E. coli and c diff from adhering to the intestinal wall. Some other types of fiber (like apple) do not.

        It might seem simplistic, but “eat more broccoli” and “have a few tablespoons of plantain flour” is probably good general advice! Eating as wide a variety of vegetables as I can is what I strive for every week. Broccoli is a recurring favorite.



      • Karl S on March 1, 2016 at 14:06

        Good point Wilbur!

        Also GOS:
        ‘Purified GOS exhibited the greatest adherence inhibition on both HEp-2 and Caco-2 cells, reducing the adherence of EPEC by 65 and 70%, respectively. In addition, the average number of bacteria per microcolony was significantly reduced from 14 to 4 when GOS was present. Adherence inhibition by GOS was dose dependent, reaching a maximum at 16 mg/ml. When GOS was added to adhered EPEC cells, no displacement was observed.’

        The latter sentence may imply *prophylactic* (as opposed to curative) action is essential.
        Great recommendation Wilbur!



      • Kevin on March 1, 2016 at 15:12

        From my understanding, Saccharomyces Boulardii Lyo provides a similar function (albeit less ‘naturally’) to GOS, which is ultimately what Wilbur was recommending via broccoli and other vegetables, is that correct?



      • Karl S on March 1, 2016 at 15:28

        The article Wilbur linked to states numerous substrates that may help: NSP (which includes GOS but it wasn’t mentioned by name), Polyphenols, RS, wheat bran, etc.
        I don’t think vegetables would be an ideal source of galactans, btw (and definitely not GOS).



  6. VW on February 29, 2016 at 10:19

    Alright, boy. Just ordered some. About to take this health shit up a notch. 🙂

    • Toni G on May 22, 2016 at 10:31

      Hello Richard and Karl!

      I take Elixa at least twice a year now after the ABX I have to take for teeth cleaning, and more often if I feel like it. Let me tell you my story.

      In 2012 I had a total knee replacement and subsequently developed C Diff. More ABX. I asked my Infectious Disease doctor about taking probiotics and she said “Well, couldnt hurt”. So I took various brands. I didnt know if they helped or not.

      Eventually I found out about Elixa and it has made such a difference in my formerly chronically upset gut, my mood and also has made my skin glow. Initially I took two 6 day regimens of Elixa, now I just take one 6 day course after ABX. Never will I be without it!

  7. Karl S on June 3, 2016 at 02:54

    Hi Toni!
    Thank you kindly for the generous feedback 🙂
    Best Regards,
    Karl (Elixa)

  8. […] The Elixa Probiotics Manufacturer Explains How You the Customer Created Version 2 (24 Comments) […]

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

YouTube1k
YouTube
Pinterest118k
Pinterest
fb-share-icon
40
45
Follow by Email8k
RSS780