So the results are finally in. My full Symprove review is here. It took me longer than 12 weeks to complete the programme and I’ll explain more about that below.
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Are you sitting comfortably? With a cup of tea or coffee? For the 12 Weeks of Symprove may take longer than the 12 Days of Christmas!
Many of you will know if you have been following my blog, that back in February I suffered from a large IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) flare up.
What is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?
IBS is something you hear about a lot, and many of you could suffer from since it is suggested that a third of people suffer with it in the UK at some point in their lives. It affects more women than men and often presents first in young adults and teenagers.
That was certainly the case for me. When I was in my late teens I started to be affected.
I had severe bloating, so much so that I was often unable to eat as my tummy felt so full. The situation became a lot worse in my early twenties when travelling around South America where my diet for six months was very reliant on wheat-based products (I was vegetarian).
Upon returning from the trip I was tested for coeliac disease as I had worked out by then that wheat caused most of my symptoms.
The test came back negative and was followed by a biopsy, which was also negative. In hindsight I wonder if I had been eating enough gluten for it to show positive.
Regardless, I removed wheat from my diet and my symptoms got considerably better.
When I was pregnant my symptoms disappeared and I was able to eat wheat again.
It was only a year after the birth of Pickle that I started having problems with it again, and since that coincided with Roo being diagnosed with coeliac disease, I cut gluten out of my diet once more.
Probiotic and dietary experiments
In February I started to take milk kefir since I had been spending a lot of money on Biokult probiotics to try and re-balance my gut bacteria having read this could help with IBS.
In the past whenever I tried probiotics they made my symptoms so much worse that I had to stop. After taking probiotics for about a year and my tummy not objecting, I decided that making my own in the form of milk kefir would be a great idea!
In hindsight it was the worst idea ever! It set off a bad attack of IBS where my tummy was incredibly bloated, I couldn’t go to the toilet and I felt dreadful.
At that point I decided that enough was enough and I could ignore my symptoms no longer.
In addition to the IBS I was suffering with thrush on a regular basis, lethargy, brain fog, terrible eczema on my hands and thought that there must be some imbalance of bacteria and yeasts causing all of this.
I put myself through the incredibly strict SCD diet (SCD stands for specific carbohydrate diet and involves cutting out most carbohydrates and sugars) and when that didn’t help, the more prescriptive GAPS diet. You can find out more about them by clicking on the links.
In my view these diets did help to eliminate any ‘bad’ bacteria and yeasts that I had (the idea is that you starve the bad bacteria by avoiding certain carbohydrates and sugar) and they also helped to settle down the hormone issues that I was experiencing.
After four months I relaxed the diet and these days I avoid most carbohydrates and try to limit my sugar intake (particularly refined sugar which causes me headaches and lethargy)…which isn’t always successful!
What is Symprove?
Symprove is a water-based probiotic that is proven to reach the intestines and colonise there (unlike other probiotics) during the suggested 12 week ‘course’.
You can watch a short clip of the independent Kings College research results being presented below.
Interestingly a number of NHS consultants are starting to suggest taking this to their patients suffering from IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) or IBS. I met one such patient at the hairdressers last week, whose symptoms had almost disappeared since taking her 12 weeks of Symprove.
I started taking a reduced dose of 15ml (rather than the full suggested dose of 65ml) in mid April. In mid July I felt ready to start the full dose, having gradually built up to it by increasing the dose by 5ml every few weeks. I waited for any symptoms to subside (I found my eczema flared up and I became constipated every time I upped the dose) before upping the dose each time.
As a customer of Symprove I was invited to a private Facebook group where people could share their experiences. It was, and remains, a source of inspiration and support.
In the early days, when I felt skeptical and fed up, it was very reassuring to read others’ positive experiences. It kept me going to know that people were improving through the intake of these probiotics.
Some stories made me wonder if they were being paid to post positive things…but that is not the case. Every person there is genuine and has suffered with health issues related to the gut.
At the point of starting the full dose I had some stool test results back that showed I was deficient in a number of ‘good’ bacteria, which also happened to be in Symprove.
That spurred me on to bite the bullet and take the full dose. Within a few weeks of taking the probiotic my constipation eased and I started to feel a lot better.
I can’t really describe it. My tummy was still bloated at times, but my ‘head’ felt better and I felt ‘well’ again. Not that I had felt particularly unwell, just that I felt not well, if that makes sense?
Now I feel like I am firing on all cylinders at all times! But, I won’t lie. My tummy is still uber sensitive and doesn’t like me veering off my pretty strict diet.
I continue to take a half dose of Symprove, and will do so for at least 3 further months to ensure that my gut bacteria remain balanced. From everything I have read, if you have an unbalanced gut flora then you can never quite get it back into balance without the use of probiotics or probiotic foods (which having lived on through the SCD and GAPS diets I can no longer stand!).
I am still avoiding dairy, eggs and various nuts that the York Test showed me to be intolerant to and I have noticed that the dreadful eczema on my hands has almost entirely disappeared, unless I eat any dairy. I am slowly concluding that dairy is what causes my eczema.
With regards my bloating, if it continues my next experiment will be with the low FODMAP diet. Hopefully by then I will be able to eat eggs and nuts, even if I find that dairy still doesn’t agree with me. That will make things a lot easier!
I would love to hear from you if you suffer from similar health issues or if you have any questions about Symprove.
I have not been paid to write about it but I have been given the probiotics to try and I wanted to share my honest experience of them. Discussing such health issues can be tricky but if it makes it more ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ in society then I am happy to share my problems!
If you’re interested in trying Symprove and you buy it through any of the links (or this one) on this page, you will pay the same price but I will get paid some commission by Amazon for referring you. That helps me to continue running this website which helps people like you who have digestive issues and often restrictions to their diets.
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How you could start all of this without implementing FODMAP diet first? I think FODMAP is basis for further diet adjustments and probiotics experimentation
Vicki Montague says
That’s interesting. Thanks.
JAKE HOGG says
Apologies for commenting on what may be a moribund thread. But your experience sounds extremely similar to mine, although I went off the dairy before the gluten. In particular, your explanation of how you felt ‘well’ after the Symprove was something I also managed to achieve; but via a different route. From my own research, it seemed clear that my brain-fog, fatigue, and general low quality of life (equating to a complete lack of desire to continue living it, at many times) was caused by the presence of Candidiasis and SIBO, which I tackled through self-dosing with Rifaxamin and Erythromycin (antibiotics, but targeted to not reach the large intestine in the case of the former, and only at an extremely low dose in the latter). This gave me a good four or five months of mental clarity and general wherewithal, and the treatment can be repeated every six months if the ongoing use of a prokinetic doesn’t keep you SIBO-clear for good.
Vicki Montague says
That’s really helpful. Thanks Jake. I’ve had to remove the links you added because they can cause problems with my website. I’m glad to hear you got to the bottom of your issues.
Thanks for sharing your experiences! the more i read about everyones’ problems the less i feel like an alien. i was beginning to thinking it’s just me dealing with this and was feeling really down about it all.
I’ve been suffering from stomach issues for the past 2 years but was always worried to tell anyone about them so i went on with life and hid my symptoms as best i could. In January, my symptoms got really bad and i haven’t been leaving the house except for going to work as i’ve been worried about where the closest toilet is and not making it in time (although that has never happened). I work in a sales role so it really isn’t ideal and starting to affect my work and personal life. I’m also beginning to think my friends have had enough of me using it as an excuse but it’s hard for me to explain how controlling this can be.
After loads of tests i’m currently being treated for bacterial overgrowth in my small intestine. I was given one lot of tablets which i can’t remember the name but they didn’t seem to work. I’m now on a weeks prescription of Rifaximin 550mg and so far 4 days in i feel a lot better! If anyone is having any issues in their stomach i’d recommend you asking for a bacterial overgrowth test as it seems it was a big factor contributing to my IBS-D. With that being said i do think i have developed an anxiety issue after hiding it for so long and feel like i am creating the problems in my mind which in turn is causing my IBS to flare up. If that is the case i will have to deal with that next.
I’ve been told that when i come off of these antibiotics i need to either take Symprove or VSL3 and i don’t know which one i want to go for. VSL3 seems to deliver more types and counts of bacteria and isn’t in a liquid form so i’m edging towards that but i’d love to get your thoughts as i just don’t know.
Vicki Montague says
Hi there Chris! So glad you felt able to contact me. It is so tough dealing with tummy problems but by admitting it you are taking the first step to getting rid of it! Well done for getting tested and getting the antibiotics…sounds like you have a very good doctor. I am currently trialling VSL3 for them…so far the results have not been as I had hoped (compared to Symprove)…but then I am going through a period of anxiety so it could be that! Of course everyone is different so what works for me might not work for you. I think it is a case of trial and error even though that is tricky and expensive. It will be worth it. The support from Symprove is second to none (visit their Facebook group) and for that reason alone I would chose it over VSL3 although they may also provide support that they haven’t told me about!! I wish you lots of luck with your journey (see it as that and it really helps you to believe you will get better) and let me know how you get on. Best wishes,
Thanks for getting back to me Vicki – that’s very kind of you. Yes, I am on the Facebook group which is really great. I think I will stick with the dose I am on for now then. I am so eager to improve that I am tempted to rush things which probably isn’t the best way to go about it! Yes, you are right about worrying and it not helping. I can’t think of anything else at the moment which I know isn’t very good. I want to feel like I can have some sort of Christmas!! At the moment I don’t feel like I can go anywhere and will be having boiled rice and peppermint tea for Christmas dinner!! Thanks again for your support. Janet
Vicki Montague says
Oh Janet, I’m so sorry to hear this. There will be another Christmas. I know it’s hard right now when everyone is indulging and all you want to do is be ‘normal’ but stick with it. Do something you enjoy and try to stay relaxed. It will all come right in the end and worrying won’t do any good (it’s easy for me to say but I do it too). It is so tempting to rush, but if your body is saying not to then don’t be tempted because it will only take longer in the long run (if you see what I mean). Hang in there…there are lots of others in your position. Try the Easy on the Tummy Facebook support group too x
HI Vicki. I have been reading your posts with interest. I had a colonoscopy 2 months ago and ever since my gut has been wrecked. I can no longer eat the healthy and wholesome diet I once did and I am pretty much living off boiled white rice to control diarrhoea. I think it was a combination of the bowel prep and the antibiotics that I had to take around the time of the procedure that has wiped me out. Like you, I have started on a dose of 15ml and have gone up to 25ml today (5 days later). I want to build up gradually as I am very sensitive and don’t want to exasperate symptoms. Things are already feeling a bit odd and I am thinking of reducing it back down again for a while. You built up to the full dose over quite a long time. Do you think that is a better way of doing it? Did you feel any benefit at all whilst on the reduced dose or did you only start to feel better once on the full dose? Did you count the 12 week trial from the day you started the full dose? Sorry for all the questions, it is just nice to learn from other people’s experiences. Ideally I would like to be on the full dose ASAP and to just get on with it but I can’t handle any exasperation of symptoms. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks 🙂
Vicki Montague says
Hi Janet, I took it very slowly…only getting up to the full dose after about 3 months I think when I started to count the 12 weeks. I don’t remember when I started to see improvement but I now take a half dose all the time. I came off it for a while but started to not feel so good again so went back on the half dose. Be patient…I’m sure your tummy will settle soon. Try not to become too worried by it because of course that doesn’t help either. Are you on the Facebook support group for Symprove? I found that very helpful. I also suggest ringing the Symprove people…they are lovely and happy to give advise. Fingers crossed you’ll be better soon…but keep taking it easy with the Symprove and only increase when you have no symptoms…the key is listening to your body. x
Have you tested and treated for ‘leaky gut’?
Vicki Montague says
Yes I have Angela and I didn’t have it…which was a surprise. But then I had been following the GAPS and SCD diets by the time I had the test and they are specifically to seal a leaky gut!
Interesting! Im on my first week of symprove have had terrible nausea and D.
Have you heard of histamine diet? I thought i was more fod map intolerant than anything else but then realised i was more histamine intolerant…I mention is because you havent yet tried fod map and say you avoid eggs and some nuts
Vicki Montague says
Hi Emily, I tried the FODMAP diet which didn’t help. However I am so much better these days having had a year of following strict diets – either FODMAP, SCD, GAPS or sugar/dairy/gluten free. I have found sugar to be a big enemy for me but I will look at the histamine diet since I am a generally allergic person. Thanks!
Hi Vicky, you are a truly wonderful woman! I wrote to you a while ago suggesting low FODMAP diet as I had just been diagnosed coeliac and allergic/intolerant to dairy. It’s 8 was since I went totally gluten and dairy free and my horrendous symptoms have returned. I took the plunge and did a York Test full food and drink scan test. Staggering results came last week. Am intolerant to 29! After research what I think is happening to me now is my gut has been so used to fighting off gluten and casein that now it’s fighting everything I each and drink! Am now intolerant to potato, egg, corn maize, beef, pork, lamb, salmon, yeast, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower etc etc. Basically all my diet – the corn maize is what is used as a gluten free alternative, in pasta for example. Potato as you know is a quick alternative to gluten and it’s commonly in flour and a million other things. Thank God am not intolerant to tea or chocolate! Also a giggle, am fine with millet! Am officially a budgie! Anyway, I too discovered the Symprove reviews and yours came through the very same day! How brilliant! Am so desperate to try anything as my whole gut feels like it’s shutting down. Am waiting to speak to my dietician again then will probably take the plunge and go for it. Will let you know how I get on. Oh forgot, low FODMAP excellent. Aside from intolerances have discovered a no no for onion, garlic, apples and basically any fruit with seeds inside like plums, pears, cherries, nectarines. Huge one for IBS is onion and apple. Excluding results were remarkable in me. I can now cook with onion but pick it out and don’t eat it, and I use garlic infused oil. Good luck, am off to my tea and millet!
Vicki Montague says
Oh Lindsay what a total nightmare! I feel your pain. It is totally awful isn’t it? I feel like there is very little that my tummy doesn’t react to. Some days I think ‘sod it, it seems to react to everything so I will eat what I like’, then other days I think I will be careful. In all honesty, I never eat what I like, but some days I am a bit less strict than others! I know that sugar causes me a lot of problems, particularly disrupting my hormones so I am back off it again today. That is the toughest for me, but once I make a decision I tend to stick to it for a while! So we will see how I go! Perhaps if I do it for long enough my body will finally sort itself out. I really hope yours does too. BTW I have tried cutting apples, onions and garlic knowing them to be big FODMAP culprits but it makes no difference to my bloating at all :(.
Kate - glutenfreealchemist says
Wow! Sounds like positive progress. Well done for your incredible perseverance. I am impressed that you have been so strong in your quest to sort out your tummy problems and it is fantastic that you now see to be getting some good results. Fingers crossed that you continue to get better and that the bloating also subsides. Thinking of you xx
Vicki Montague says
Ah thanks Kate. As of today I am back on the no sugar…no fruit, sweeteners, nothing! Not great timing with Christmas and Christmas recipes to create but hey. I have to do it…I know sugar causes me a lot of grief…I just don’t want to accept it!
Kirsty Whitford says
Glad to hear you are feeling better, well done on sticking at it for 3 months no mean feat.
I have just had another IBS flare up, sucks doesn’t it? It is my own fault I have not been sticking to my diet ( dairy and wheat free) rigidly for a while. All the disruption of packing and moving has made for a lot of eating out and grabbing what we can on the go, no excuse, but there it is. As a result my tummy is now supper sensitive and from past experience will be for a few months. I have always struggled with probiotics – I need a non dairy one for a start and they make my tummy worse so good to hear your experience.
Interesting what you said about gluten, my allergy is to wheat not gluten and I don’t have coeliac disease but the IBS symptoms are the same. Eczema is often caused/ made worse by dairy products in kids. Ben is not on dairy, to help his reflux, but his eczema is better as a result.
Hopefully your tummy will get less sensitive over time as you avoid it’s triggers. I can’t wait for mine to settle down again.
Hope to see you soon, lots of love
Vicki Montague says
Sooooo lovely to hear from you and to know that you read my ramblings every now and again!!! I am super fed up with my tummy and all the other stupid symptoms I get! As of today I am strictly back on no sugar, sweeteners, fruit…along with all the other things!! I know sugar causes me grief but I hate giving it up completely! I think my problem is with wheat rather than gluten…well it used to be anyway. Now I just think my tummy pretty much hates everything!
I really hope your flare up goes away quickly. I’m not surprised you have had to grab food with the amount you have on your plate! I hope you are all settling in again! I can’t believe I didn’t see you while you were back!
Take care and give the Symprove a go…you have nothing to loose and it is dairy free and gluten free…but I would advise taking it slowly (low dose) and building up if you have had problems in the past. I have no problems at all with it by doing it that way…
Hi. I have found this interesting to read. My daughter is diagnosed coeliac and she still get bloating and gut symptoms, Inc constipation. I have tried to go along with the Fodmap diet and this has helped but she struggles with so many different things in particular sugar. I have tried her on different probiotics and she can’t seem to tolerate even the smallest amount. I was going to see if there was a symprove stand at the free from allergy show in a few weeks. Do you know anything about it for children? She is 5 and will be 6 in January .
Vicki Montague says
Hi Amanda, I’m really sorry for my late reply…we have been on holiday! I have just started them on my two kids (6 and 8 – the 8 year old being the coeliac and dairy intolerant)…with mixed reactions! My daughter hates the taste of even the flavoured one (it isn’t great I admit), but Pickle just drinks it (probably to annoy Roo!). It is quite hard because once they have it they have to wait 10 mins before eating or drinking. I have noticed that Roo has had to go to the loo a bit more and has had a few tummy aches. I see that as a good thing because it means it is doing something and she is the one who probably needs it more than Pickle (although they both would have ended up with my duff bacterial mix so it won’t hurt either of them!). I have started them with a 15ml dose. There doesn’t seem to be much clear guidance on how much for kids but I figure if an adult has 65ml then try and get them to have a dose that is relative to their weight…and that they will actually take! I would hope to get them up to 20 or 25ml based on their weights compared to mine. I would suggest contacting Symprove…they are an amazingly caring bunch and will be very willing to help answer your questions. Good luck!
Vicki Montague says
By the way have you tried her dairy free? Roo was terrible with ongoing symptoms after diagnosis and to cut a long long story short, when I took dairy out her symptoms went almost over night!