I discovered this probiotic through a paper Gracie Liu Pharm D. shared with me titled, Effect of Probiotic (VSL#3) and Omega-3 on Lipid Profile, Insulin Sensitivity, Inflammatory Markers, and Gut Colonization in Overweight Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial, in which they concluded that supplementation with this specific probiotic lead to a whole host of benefits.
My initial interest was this line in the abstract:
The probiotic (VSL#3) supplemented group had significant reduction in total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL, and VLDL and had increased HDL () value.
Then when I read further into the paper I came away even more impressed with it’s other benefits:
VSL#3 improved insulin sensitivity, decreased hsCRP, and favorably affected the composition of gut microbiota.
All of this from a legit peer reviewed paper with no conflicts of interest. Prior to this, the only information I could find regarding probiotics I experimented with were the review sections of Amazon, which are completely anecdotal and very hit or miss.
The next resource I typically turned to was Labdoor, which does their own independent testing and provides a ranking. While their selection is sparse, it’s probably the best and most objective system out there for determining whether you’re actually getting what’s in the stated bottle. Unfortunately, even the most highly rated brands don’t have peer reviewed publications backing them up.
Which is why I was so drawn to VSL#3.
A brief PubMed search on VSL#3 yields 11 pages of results with 214 separate entries!
I scanned through a couple of these entries a saw that this has been thoroughly tested in all sorts of conditions.
Just this October 2015 in Obesity it was reported that:
VSL#3 supplementation appears to have provided some protection from body mass gain and fat accumulation in healthy young men consuming a High-fat and high-energy diet.
Here’s a brief sample of other studies that have directly tested VSL#3 and found it to be beneficial:
- Pediatric patients with ulcerative colitis
- Treatment of active microscopic colitis
- Pediatric liver disease
- Improve brain function in patients with systemic inflammatory diseases
- Preventing postsurgical complications in ulcerative colitis
- Neonatal sepsis
- Improved breast milk microbiota
With all this data staring me in my face and the wide ranging applications in diseases in an equally wide range of patient populations spanning neonates to post operative patients to the elderly, it’s hard to not come away thinking that this is the best probiotic out there.
Unfortunately the draw back is that this isn’t cheap, but considering what it can do and all the legitimate data behind it, I was more than happy to shell out the $53.98 per bottle with $5.99 shipping.
While I normally do everything I can to avoid paying for shipping… once I received my package I understood why paying the $5.99 was necessary… and even a bargain.
I ordered two bottles and a few days later, this is what I received:
This box was the size of a small microwave, and at first I thought I received the wrong order… but it had my name on it so I went ahead and opened it.
Inside was a styrofoam container that pretty much filled the entire box. I pulled off the lid and…
… found my two bottles surrounded by ice packets.
Wow. $5.99 for this kind of shipping is quite a steal.
Each pill contains 112.5 billion live bacteria consisting of these 8 strains:
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus paracasei
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Streptococcus thermophilus
We’ve already seen that I was able to bring my cholesterol down with VSL#3 as one of the tools I used and I suspect given all the research, it probably played an essential role.
Moving forward, if I were to only take one probiotic, this would be it.
*Image found here