People LOVE to ask me why it is that ether elixir™ is a superior way to consume probiotics. I literally answer this question once a day. Depending on my audience, and the level of zest I’m seeking at that given moment in time, I answer it in a variety of fun ways. My favorite is simply the age old adage “because I said so”…but I find that it only works with certain audiences (okay fine, it only really worked with a few good friends who I’ve known for years, but still!) I find most people require some sort of science-y explanation. Which, as it so happens, I am quite proficient in science-y stuff, so let me lay it on ya:

Probiotics are living organisms. They are beneficial bacteria & yeast that actually live inside of the human body and play key roles in physical & mental health related functions. The research on the benefits of probiotics is being published in droves – they can have a positive impact on everything from simple digestive issues, to preventing serious auto-immune disease (think cancer) to reversing chronic disease (hello diabetes!)

However, for you to realize the benefits of these little critters, they have to be consumed at a high enough viable dose to crowd out all of the bad bacteria and yeast who are currently residing inside of your body.

So, I just bought this bottle of freeze-dried, enteric coated probiotic capsules labeled with 700 Gabillion CFUs, does this sound like enough?

Sure, I mean, it sounds impressive – who doesn’t want a gabillion units of all the things, right? – but for the sake of probiotics it really doesn’t mean anything.

Here are the problems I see with this type of label:

  1. Freeze-drying a living thing – and then what happens? Have you ever personally frozen some living thing and then had it come back to life?  I sure haven’t (although, honestly, I’ve never tried…but it’d make a good threat for misbehaving children & pets).  Sure, I bet there is a super top secret laser related way to freeze dry things and harm them *less* than us common people can manage – but overall, it just seems like if we are depending on the sheer living-ness of an organism then perhaps it should be consumed in a living state?

  2. Enteric coated? What’s that about?  Well…it’s a plastic-ish coating that doesn’t dissolve until it has passed through your stomach.  The idea being that the acidity of the gastric environment is too harsh for probiotics to withstand.  Seems unusual though, doesn’t it?  That probiotics (a term that literally denotes bacteria & yeast capable of surviving in the human body) wouldn’t be able to cut it in the stomach?  How else are they supposed to populate our digestive tract if they can’t be in the stomach…did Mother Nature not think this one through?  Actually, the problem is that live & active probiotics can handle stomach acid, no sweat – but the freeze-dried little buggers cannot.  Let’s just agree that waking up to an acid bath wouldn’t be anyone’s preference.

  3. 700 Gabillion CFUs, that’s a lot right?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  There are probiotics – which are individual bacteria and yeasts.  And then there are probiotic CFUs.  CFU stands for Colony Forming Unit.  What that means is that when some nerd in a lab coat peers into a microscope they are counting the number of probiotics in the process of reproducing, forming more of themselves, actively engaged in some movement to propel their species forward.  Make sense?  So, let’s talk about the birds and the bees for a moment.  Does it make a lot of sense to assume a living organism engaged the activity of replication would be able to be freeze-dried, shipped & handled across the planet, sit out on a sunny loading dock for a few hours – and then be able to hatch out of an enteric coated prison, guns blazing, and immediately be back in the middle of actively doing something as sensitive as cellular reproduction? Seems like a tall order.


The importance of these revelations is this:

In order to feel the positive benefits of probiotics, they must be consumed in high enough doses to crowd out the bad bacteria currently residing in the human gut.  When a living organism is freeze-dried, it is safe to assume that a large percentage of the pre-freeze-dried quantity is destroyed (both through the freeze-drying process and the improper shipping & handling that occurs afterwards).  Due to the necessary enteric coating on freeze-dried capsules, the probiotics bypass the gastric process.  This both renders the probiotics useless in aiding with a whole host of indigestion related health issues and also shortens the amount of time that probiotic CFUs have to regain colony forming viability.  Meaning, in order for probiotics to stave off pathogenic bacteria, they must have adequate time to not only come back to life (if they come back to life at all) but also have enough time to “set up shop” before they are propelled out of the body along with digestive waste.

Whew.  I think I digressed.  What I meant to say was this:

ether elixir™ is a faaaaaaar superior way to consume probiotics and probiotic CFUs because they are kept alive & active – therefore allowing the benefits of a high quality, high dose probiotic to be realized all the way from ingestion to excretion.  Enjoy! –Autumn