Many people are wasting hundreds of dollars on probiotics that are not worth a dime. Knowing exactly what is happening in your body is key to healing your gut. Watching and listening to what your body is telling you is vital. Finding the strains your body is weak in is imperative to the process. A compromised gut is evident through illness, allergies, even auto-immune diseases. Both over-the-counter probiotics and home brewed probiotics are important in this process.

Your intestinal tract is a long tube filled with a lining made up of good and bad bacteria. This bacteria alone weighs three pounds, the same weight as a brick. If you spread it out flat, it would cover a tennis court. When the good bacteria is killed off from antibiotics (against life), birth control pills, GMOs, pesticides, and other damaging elements, it must be rebuilt through probiotics (for life).

Probiotic foods, such as fermented coconut water, sauerkraut, kraut juice, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, kim chi, etc. are easy to make. The biggest challenge is your own fear. In his book Wild Fermentation, Sandor Katz says there is no danger in fermenting fruits and vegetables. Most importantly there has never been a reported death to the FDA from fermented fruit and vegetable products. Fermented fish and meats are different and are susceptible to botulism.

{This post contains affiliate links which help pay for this site}.



Ferments rank high in probiotic strains and give the person preparing the food the ability to introduce more strains that are specifically deficient for that person’s intestinal tract. For example, fermented coconut water, a probiotic drink, is beneficial at building up the good bacteria in the gut enabling it to fight off pathogens. Many people with yeast overgrowth say they see powerful die off symptoms specific to killing off yeast strains like candida through fermented coconut water, sauerkraut and kraut juice due to the high lactobacillus content. 

At the same time some say eating fermented foods feed yeasts and should be avoided resulting in a dire point of confusion for many people. This point of controversy can easily be addressed through those with the most severely damaged guts, these people are called canaries-in-the-coal-mine. When they eat a food they should not have their body’s respond immediately. My son is one of these people. Since we have been healing his gut I now realize, I am one of these people, too, it was never visible before due to phantom masking – where your body goes into overdrive to overcome the pathogens masking the symptoms. When  a canary-in-the-coal-mine person eats a food they should not eat they respond with symptoms specific to their body, exposing the weak link in their genetic make-up: stimming, attention issues, anxiety, yeast effects, rashes, dyslexia, brain fog, exhaustion, etc.

While you are building the gut it is necessary to introduce new probiotic strains looking for die off: headache, runny nose, cold-like symptoms, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, body aches, anxiety, depression, confusing thoughts, etc. Usually die off symptoms are specific to each person and generally follow the same pattern of symptoms caused by the illness. For example if your child is autistic and stims with drooling, once you give him the right probiotic with strains he is weak in, his die off may be stimming and drooling. 



This is the puzzle, where mom needs to become a detective as healing the gut is sometimes confusing. Those with the most damaged guts can only tolerate one drop of a probiotic liquid on their tongue or one drop in a glass of water sipped throughout the day. That is their starting point. After a month they build to two drops a day and so forth. Others can drink a whole quart or two of the same probiotic liquid and not experience die 0ff until they drink over 2 quarts. If you can tolerate that much of those specific strains you do not need to build those strains. Look further for other weak strains through other probiotic foods or over-the-counter strains.

The goal is to look for die off and progress by building those weak strains.

The Herxheimer reaction, also known as Herxing, is key to healing and recovery. This die off reaction is your marker and tells you if you are just wasting time or actually building. You want this. You are looking for this.

When making your own home ferments be sure to add a few drops of the probiotic strains in which you are weak. For example if you find you have pronounced die off with Living Streams Probiotic liquid, which rebuilds against yeast overgrowth, add a few drops to your fermented vegetables. It will make those fermented veggies more potent to your pathogens.

Some people take a fermented food, experience die 0ff, and say “I have histamine issues, I can’t have that.” This is often not the case and the person is experiencing die off, or Herxing. This is what you want, you have found the strains deficient in your body  and you need to focus on them, building them. When you find this weakness, go back and start slow building from there.

It is very important that you do not remain in the stage of die 0ff, a status involving a lot of internal inflammation. The body can not heal properly in an inflamed state.

dr natashaDr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical doctor and neurosurgeon who specializes in autism and auto-immunity lays out in her book GAPS, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, the proper method of rebuilding the system through probiotic foods, probiotics and foods that are most digestible. As the intestinal tract builds, it progresses and more can be introduced, in a certain order according to digestibility and killing off pathogens.

Every person with a damaged gut will experience these histamine issues, this is merely a reflection that the body’s detox pathways are clogged, the pathogens are overgrown and healing through rebuilding needs to take place. Often times opening up the detox pathways is assisted through the MTHF gene specifically with methyl B12. Dr. Ben Lynch has produced some of the most comprehensive studies and findings on the topic as well as putting the proper methyl B12 product to aid the situation. Click here and here for assistance in opening up these channels. Beware of any B12 product with added sugars, products ending in -ose, these feed pathogens making your problem worse in the long-run. I have seen very few B12 products that do not contain pathogen feeding ingredients in the product. To date, all B12 lozenges contain these detrimental sugars which feed pathogens.

Dr. Natasha addresses histamine issues directly several times in the book and on GAPS faqs. Click here to read more about healing the gut while experiencing histamine issues.

Taking the same probiotic daily is often a waste of money, especially if you have not tested your strengths in those strains. Most people in the process of healing build up to 11 capsules a day of each product, then hold that dosage for a month and move to other potentially weak strains. Occasionally going back to the built strains to be sure they remain strong.

If you are taking a probiotic you should be increasing your dosage of that probiotic to build up those strains. Starting small in dosage, while looking for die off, then building up and continually looking for further die off is important.

Taking one capsule daily for years will not rebuild the gut if you are not experiencing die off symptoms.

 Click here to learn more about test studies on home brewed probiotics like sauerkraut.



Click here to read more about the highest ranked beneficial probiotics specifically designed for those with Intestinal Permeability. Click here to see if the probiotic you are currently taking or plan to buy could potentially be feeding bad bacteria in the gut through fillers, binders, sweeteners, etc.

*If you learned something from this post share it so others can do the same. To support the efforts of this blog shop the affiliate links above like this one. You pay the same shopping through Amazon while the author receives a small referral fee from Amazon. This offsets the costs of this site.

*Nourishing Plot is written by Becky Plotner, ND, traditional naturopath, GAPS who sees clients in Rossville, Georgia. Since her son was delivered from the effects of autism (Asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder/manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia through food she continued her education specializing in Leaky Gut and parasitology through Duke University, finishing with distinction. This is not a news article published by a paper trying to make money. This blog is put out by a mom who sees first hand the effects of nourishing food vs food-ish items. No company pays her for writing these blogs, she considers this a form of missionary work. It is her desire to scream it from the rooftops so that others don’t suffer from the damaging effect of today’s “food”.




28 Responses to The Proper Way To Take a Probiotic And The Mistakes That Are Wasting Your Money

  1. Heather says:

    I was making my own water Kefir and milk Kefir at home for about 6 months. I also make sauerkraut and fermented beets and carrots. I have stopped the Kefir at the advice of an alternative medicine practitioner due to the fact that I was suffering sore, itchy throats, coughing, breathlessness and fatigue symptoms (Similar reactions to those things that I am intolerant of). I have IBS, MCS and CFS as well as food intolerances and chronic constipation (Which persists even though I am on an EXCELLENT eating regimen). I have been off the Kefir for about a month and no symptoms, had some for two days last week and symptoms recurred.
    My querie is this: If we stop eating a food that makes us sick due to allergies and intolerances, why must we continue to ingest things that are obviously making us sick just because they have probiotic qualities? It doesn’t make sense to me. I understand about die-off but how long must one go through that before they decide that the probiotic is causing problems in itself?

    • cassie says:

      Following. Same question as Heather.

    • Darcy says:

      Heather you did not follow her instructions. You found the probiotic that gives you a herx reaction but instead of backing off and going slow you kept going or quit altogether. You also missed her point that it’s not a food allergy you are experiencing, it’s the death of bad gut bacteria. When that happens the dead stuff starts to rot in the gut and needs to be excreted from the body. It’s not a good feeling and that is why you need to back off and go slow.

  2. Tdunc13 says:

    I was giving my mom 1 Align capsule daily, as recommended by her physician for chronic digestive issues (constipation, diarrhea, cramps, bloating), but it wasn’t helping, and now I guess I know why. Thank you !

  3. Alex says:

    would an allergic reaction (hives,flushing, itching) to a probiotic qualify as die-off?
    Also, how do you figure out what strains you’re deficient in? Most probiotics on the market contain multiple strains.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      An allergic reaction and die off are two different things. If you ate a probiotic and you got hives, flushing and itching after taking it then yes, that is die off. No one can tell you what strains to take, only your body can tell you. This can be done by seeking out die off symptoms. This means I’m weak in these strains, I need to build them up slowly.

  4. Anne-Marie Keightley says:

    I need to have a colonoscopy this year. I am concerned all the good bacteria I have built up will be flushed away and I need to start all over again. I drink both milk and water kefir daily, as well as fermented foods. I have never had any experience of die back. I am thinking I will just continue to do what I was doing before the colonoscopy but wondering if that is enough??

  5. Sandra Laws says:

    I’m confused. I currently have all the symptoms of die off…aching joints, gas, runny nose, body aches, etc. without being on the diet yet, so how will I know if I have die off after eating the saurkraut every day? I want to eliminate these symptoms with the kraut. I’m not sure I can stand anymore gas (it’s embarrassing)…no kidding!

  6. Lorrie Murray says:

    I have severe celiac sprue, autoimmune hepatitis, dermatitisherpetaformis, cirrhosis the of the liver caused by the sprue. My small intestines have no villi please help

  7. Sven says:

    Hello. I am writing to inquire if anyone has experienced a similar reaction / and or can provide advice. I did not properly research Kefir prior to consumption… I mixed about 2 – 3 ounces of Siggi’s Kefir over my granola for 10 consecutive days. My stools soon became loose followed by “Candida-Strings and Mucus”. I stopped drinking Kefir 15 days ago and remain with severe bloating and significant “Candida Strings” in my stool. My chest aches under the ribs. My diet includes lots of peppermint tea in addition to avocados, salmon, broccoli, eggs. At this point I’m tremendously concerned because the candida-strings and candida-globs continue to appear with each bowel movement. Any advice is appreciated (supplements, food, herbs, etc) Thanks!

    • Sven, I would like to see a response to your question as well…

    • April C says:

      Stop the peppermint tea, that can cause your sphincter muscle to remain permanently open causing acid reflux. Don’t eat 3 hours before bed. Eat less at each meal. Your symptoms are sound like acid reflux. I have this, I control it without medication, although I took medication for years.

      • Becky Plotner says:

        April, can you please show us the research that found peppermint tea can cause the sphincter to remain open?

        • According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint can actually relax the sphincter muscle which closes off the stomach from the esophagus. This can cause stomach acid to pour back into the esophagus and make heartburn or GERD worse.Jan 20, 2015

  8. Julie says:

    Is there any sort of test available that can detect different strain levels in your system and determine deficiencies?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      The Organic Acids Test (OAT Test) may tell you what you need. Combined with a comprehensive stool analysis you may get a full picture.

  9. […] Taking probiotics properly is vital to recovery for this reason.” […]

  10. Clark says:

    I have one question about the die-off. It’s always the same symptoms as problematic foods, as well. For instance, if i eat almonds I’ll get pain in my knuckles. However, if i drink bone broth with leek i get the same pains. How does one know if it is die-off or just the results of a damaged gut lining? Thank you for the info in this site-

  11. Devon J. says:

    The only time i took a probiotic I got so sick with a cough/cold for a month… it was miserable. I coughed so hard and so much that my right shoulder (muscles) were messed up for a year (still not 100%). I suspected die-off and stopped the probiotic after I almost finished the bottle (not really knowing what to do all around) and now I’m afraid to try any sort of probiotic… but I really think I need one. Should I start with just a couple drops of a probiotic drink? I can’t live, trying to take care of 3 kids under 5, with die off symptoms. Is it it possible to take one without getting symptoms?? I’m confused… seems like I read articles about how great people feel from their probiotics… but I don’t know how they get past the die-off phase or how long it should last.

    • Douglas Humble says:

      I’m wondering about this too. I’ve been taking Kombucha for about a month now. They come in a 16 oz bottle and there are 2 servings so I have been taking 8 oz per day. I haven’t had any problems but I tried another product and caught a cold (which I assuming is die off – but I’m still confused on this die off stuff.) This cough I have had has lingered on for weeks now and is driving me nuts. Certainly it isn’t because of the Kombucha but after reading these posts I’m uncertain.

What do you think?

Joyous Song, The Proverbs 31 Woman

The Fontainebleu Miami


Ocean Drive Guidebook

%d bloggers like this: