According to the presentation on the Leaf Origin website, the Essential Cultures supplement comes to the aid of those individuals who want to make sure that they get the most out of a probiotic supplement. Designing an objective and comprehensive review of any nutritional supplement is no easy task, because of the inherent controversy these products entail. To make matters more challenging, today we are tackling the already controversial subject of probiotics. Official, authority-sanctioned agents such as the FDA have declined responsibility for such products because they are in a “scientific gray area” – they exhibit a potential hinting at interesting results, yet not enough to be taken seriously and have a battery of tests performed, or maybe not enough lobbying performed. Who can know for certain?
Nevertheless, in this review we will cite and assess the manufacturer’s claims regarding “Essential Cultures”, provide you with a thorough analysis of the ingredients found in this probiotic supplement, discussing the merits of various existing testimonials, and finish with the delivery of our verdict that incorporates information about Leaf Origin’s supplement main competitors.
Considering the Manufacturer’s Claims
The main selling points of this all-encompassing probiotic enhancer are the number of beneficial bacterial strains, 15, and the high CFU (colony forming units) count of 30 billion. From the tone of this pitch, it would seem that the 139 mg capsule, meant to be taken once every day, is all a person needs to improve or maintain their digestive health. We will comprehensively review Essential Culture’s types of bacterial strains.
When discussing probiotic supplements, “colony forming units” refers to the potential of stimulating the division of bacteria in the digestive system. Naturally, the higher the number of bacteria colonies that form, the greater their activity and effects on a person’s general well-being. Therefore, if you are a healthy persona intent on the maintenance of the current state or slight improvement, it is better that you use a supplement with a lower CFU count, somewhere in the 5 to 10 billion interval. Keeping in mind the fact that there are supplements that boost counts more than 45 billion, the consumer should take into account the fact that products with higher CFU count best suit those with mild disorders such as eczema, allergies or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There have been instances where individuals consuming probiotics in large amounts (or supplements with impressive CFU counts) noticed side effects like constant bloating and/or recurrent stomach pains. Thus, Essential Culture’s CFU count feature is not necessarily something that should lure the consumer, but a fact that should elicit further consideration in the prospective buyer.
In addition to the CFU count and diverse bacterial strains, the manufacturer does not credibly single out other unique properties of their product. Some general statements regarding probiotics constitute the rest of the case made for Essential Cultures – improving general mood, regularization of bowel movements, a greater quality of sleep or a higher production of serotonin. Their emphasis on the compatibility with all kinds of diets (due to the supplement being made of natural 100 percent vegan ingredients), gluten- and lactose-free composition do not make Leaf Origin’s supplement one of a kind, quite the contrary. Furthermore, Leaf Origin backs up their affirmations by citing three scientific studies available on the National Center’s for Biotechnology Information website, however, upon inspection, the studies are concerned with the properties and effects of probiotics in general, irrespective of the form they come in (food or supplements).
Although this is an expected feature from the commercial point of view, nowhere on the site is there a mention of possible side effects of the supplement, except for the rather amusing footnote stating that some probiotic supplements may cause bad breath, yet it is not the case for their product.
Leaf Origin’s pitch concerning their primary product is average at best and totally unconvincing to most eyes. Nevertheless, we should delve deeper into the analysis of the ingredients that make up “Essential Cultures”, specifically a rounding up of the various bacterial strains so that the consumer can make their own informed decision on the possible advantages and disadvantages they entail.
Breaking Down the Bacterial Strains Contained in Essential Cultures
Marketing ploys aside, there is no question that the consumer should choose a certain probiotic supplement for what it consists and this product does impress when the number of bacterial strains is taken into consideration. Though the manufacturer insists on the Bifidobacterium and the Lactobacillus Acidophilus “wonder-strains”, a more detailed perspective is needed to evaluate this product exhaustively.
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus – of all beneficial bacteria, this one is the most widespread, and for a good reason. First of all, we should underline that its existence and effects are not limited to the digestive system, it exists in the organism of every animal that has a protective microflora. In the digestive system of humans, there is strong evidence that Lactobacillus Acidophilus acts as a pH stabilizer, thus contributing to the necessary acidity for each component of the gastrointestinal tract to function properly by releasing an extra amount of hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid. Preliminary evidence exists pointing to beneficial effects in cases of vaginal infections, traveler’s diarrhea (dysfunction caused by eating contaminated foods), the toning down of the symptoms of Chron disease, persistent constipation, the regulation of high cholesterol levels.
- Bifidobacterium Lactis, like Lactobacillus Acidophilus, is one probiotic whose notoriety is well established, the main natural source being fermented vegetables. Because of it, numerous studies of other potential benefits are underway, one of them showing promising results that the probiotic has shown in fighting against autoimmune disorders such as coeliac disease. An impressive number of physicians already prescribe supplements containing this strain against ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol. This is due to Bifidobacterium Lactis’ properties in accelerating the digestion of all fibers and sugars. Its role in overall bowel health has already been long confirmed, and there is interesting speculation regarding uses against increased anxiety.
- Lactobacillus Plantarum – this strain of the Lactobacillus is remarkable due to its sturdiness, being resistant both to attacks from pathogens as well as those from antibiotic medication. Supplements featuring it are especially beneficial for individuals with high stomach acidity because it will not be dissolved before reaching its destination in the small intestine, the place where the organism will reap its benefits. By attacking pathogens in the small intestine, Lactobacillus Plantarum plays an important part in boosting overall immunity. Furthermore, it lowers the permeability of the walls of the small intestine contributing to the reduction in the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and surprisingly, in decreasing flatulence.
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus – another strain that is a natural occurrence in the human body, however, different studies show that it has a much rarer incidence than most other Lactobacillus variations. Therefore, supplements containing the Rhamnosus branch take far longer for their effects to become evident than other probiotics. The main use of this probiotic is in the fight against rotaviruses, variants that are responsible for acute diarrhea, especially in the case of children. Moreover, it is effective against the onset of diarrhea resulting from antibiotic courses, chemotherapy treatments. Some studies point to it being an agent against urinary tract infections. Because it takes a while for its effects to be felt, a steady intake of foods and supplements containing Lactobacillus Rhamnosus is recommended.
- Lactobacillus Casei is a bacterial strain that has a significant presence not just in the gut, but also in the mouth and therefore in the initial part of the gastrointestinal This is because it has a marked role in the lowering of the pH in those parts, which otherwise would be susceptible to pernicious elevated levels of acidity. Precisely as a result of this property, Lactobacillus Casei is a natural anti-inflammatory agent where the small and large intestines are concerned. Consuming foods (found mainly in yogurt) or supplements containing this strain of bacteria is helpful in cases of chronic constipation and Chron’s disease. Studies on mice have revealed that this strain combats colonies of E. coli and help increase insulin resistance.
- Lactobacillus Salivarius – as the name suggests, this particular species of the Lactobacillus brings about positive changes in the oral cavity. Though it is of particular importance for the long-term health of the teeth in all mammals, this strain gets its name because of the place it was first isolated from, the human saliva. Its properties are not limited to neutralizing the harmful effects of chemicals in the toothpaste, however, as Lactobacillus Salivarius has a presence all over the digestive system. It is known for relieving flatulence through a more efficient breaking down of dairy products, and newer studies have shown that it has at least a palliative effect in cases of pancreatic necrosis. Undergoing studies look for corresponding actions in cases of tumors of the digestive system.
- Lactobacillus Bulgaricus is naturally found in the famous Bulgarian yogurt, hence the name of the strain. It is a strong bacterial strain, found everywhere from the oral cavity to the small intestine. Most scientists agree that a steady surplus of Lactobacillus Bulgaricus is not critical for the average healthy person’s comfort, it being vulnerable only to attacks from colonies of other bacteria or fungi that rarely develop in the human body. Nevertheless, an “artificial” repopulation is needed to fight off common skin infections, mild respiratory or stomach infections in children, periodontal disease, and tooth decay, and for a boosting of the immune function in periods of convalescence.
- Bifidobacterium Breve is one of the body’s most trusted “soldiers” when it comes to the lower gastrointestinal Research has revealed that through breastfeeding, the colon is populated with large colonies of the Bifidobacterium Breve, which has the role of breaking down the remnants of foods that are difficult to digest, while also fighting against pathogens specific to the colon. As the organism ages and is subjected to foods that are less than ideal for the overall health of the colon, the colonies of this particular strain of the Bifidobacterium shrink (proportionally) to about 10 percent of the initial amount, thus creating a favorable breeding ground for other dangerous microorganisms.
- Lactobacillus Paracasei is believed to act against pathogens right from their entrance into the human body through the oral cavity. It is a strain of the Lactobacillus which is not that easily assimilated through nutrients, as opposed to many other variants. Due to its relative scarcity, not many studies exist regarding the Lactobacillus However, it has been linked with the alleviation of chronic diarrhea in infants and, where adults are concerned, signs are pointing to a lower rate of tooth decay and possible improvements in energy levels for those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- Lactobacillus Lactis is frequently recommended for consumption in concert with other strains of Lactobacillus because it favors their development. Many specialists advocate a daily dose of this probiotic strain. Supplements of Lactobacillus Lactis best serve patients with chronic digestive disorders such as Chron’s disease.
- Streptococcus Thermophillus is a well researched and adept strain of probiotics, capable of fighting off infections as diverse as Clostridium Dificile or those resulting in pneumonia. Due to its effects in countering the Helicobacter Pylori pathogen, Streptococcus Thermophillus helps prevent ulcers. Being an energetic actor, high doses of this strain may result in the mild side effects associated with probiotic consumption.
- Lactobacillus Brevis is recognized for its potency in the digestion of carbohydrates. While best found in yogurt or sauerkraut, the caveat when it comes to this strain of the Lactobacillus is that it is very sensitive to thermic treatment. Therefore, probiotic supplements that have been stored in cool and dry places are your best bet for harvesting the best possible results out of this strain.
- Bifidobacterium Bifidum truly is one of the most significant strains of probiotics because it protects and helps regenerate the tissues that form the outer walls of the human intestines. Bifidobacterium Bifidum, when it attaches to the intestinal walls, helps keep at bay by-products from the digestion of fibers and sugars, thereby contributing to a better overall digestion.
- Bifidobacterium Longnum is one of the first bacterial strains that enter the human body, immediately after birth, through breastmilk. In the long run, Bifidobacterium Longnum is crucial in the digestion of difficult products, such as beans and some cereals, that the digestive system alone is not equipped to. Among its many benefits, cholesterol lowering and role in the prevention of colon cancer stand out.
- Bifidobacterium Infantis, as the name suggest is mostly found in the intestines of infants and children. Still, traces of it exist in the gut of adults and supplementing those cannot be a bad idea. Studies published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology relate the consumption of products containing this strain of the Bifidobacterium with significant alleviations in the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Testimonials, Criticisms and Our Verdict on Essential Cultures
There is an inherent problem with a majority of reviews these types of products have – there is no reliable way of knowing whether the manufacturer has had a say (through different “perks”) or not in the content or manner of presentation a certain reviewer may take.
Nevertheless, there is almost universal praise regarding Essential Cultures’ all-encompassing strains of bacteria, and also for the high CFU count, although we have already established in the first section of this review that CFU count is an ambivalent indicator of a probiotic supplement’s quality. The product receives compliments for having no recorded side effects whatsoever and also for the manner the customer can place an order on Leaf Origin’s website, especially the absence of a re-billing policy and the 90-day “Money Back” option. As a downside, many reviewers argue that the only way one can procure this supplement is through the company’s website. Furthermore, the price ($38.95 for a 30-day supply of 30 capsules, $88.95 for a 90-day supply and $157.95 for a three-month supply) puts the product in the upper echelons of probiotic supplements.
Even predominantly critical reviewers could not find truly scathing reviews of this product, or testimonials that attest to extended side effects. What makes this review particularly interesting is that even though the body of the review is not particularly favorable to the supplement manufactured by Leaf Origin, the verdict of four and a half stars out of five (based on 11 testimonials) is encouraging to customers. However, something that is correctly pointed out is that Leaf Origin is a new company (founded in 2014) whose business credentials are nowhere to be found (at least on the Internet), something that raises a little suspicion at least to future solvability.
This is not a particularly worrisome aspect. However, the fact that well-known portals (which publishes an annual ranking of the best probiotic supplements) do not publish their takes on Essential Cultures could instill some reserve in potential clients, especially those who enjoy performing extensive research on a product before purchasing it. Reiterating, this attitude could be a matter of specific (“shadier”) relationships between reviewers and manufacturers, because what goes around comes around.
Final Verdict on Leaf Origin’s “Essential Cultures”
First of all, we should stress that if you are a healthy person with no current problems (or prior history) of digestive problems, consuming probiotic supplements will probably have no bearing on your overall comfort. On the other hand, as is evident from the analysis above of bacterial strains, probiotics are recommended to individuals suffering from a wide range of disorders.
To go to the heart of the matter, Essential Cultures has a broad spectrum of probiotic strains that should come to the aid of people suffering from immunological and gastrointestinal problems. The high CFU count is especially recommended in these cases, and not for the average healthy person. Complaints of side effects from the use of this supplement are practically non-existent. On another note, some supplements have the same number of constituent probiotic strains and even better CFU counts (and reviews), all of this at friendlier prices. However, the case with probiotics is the same as with outfits; you cannot know if they suit you until you try them!
Consequently, if you are a consumer who was curious beforehand about trying Essential Cultures then you should probably go ahead and do it, keeping in mind that there are always alternatives out there, and in this case, the saying is especially so.