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Seb, Co-founder IBDrelief
What's in Symprove?
Symprove is a water-based multi-strain probiotic that contains four strains of live, activated bacteria -. Each 60ml shot contains around 10 billion of these bacteria:
It also contains:
Extract of germinated barley
Potassium sorbate (preservatives found in berried fruit)
Sucralose (in mango and passionfruit flavour only)
It is gluten free and dairy free and suitable for vegans, although it is manufactured using barley extract (which has gluten in it) which is then removed from the product.
It comes in two flavours - original and mango and passionfruit (which contains artificial sweeteners).
How do you take Symprove?
Symprove is a liquid drink taken on an empty stomach 10 minutes before eating
How does Symprove work?
Symprove say it works because:
Symprove’s bacteria are alive and active in the bottle
Symprove is water-based so it doesn’t trigger digestion when drunk, meaning it survives the hostile environment of your stomach
The four strains of bacteria in Symprove work together to ensure they thrive in the intestines and targeted areas of your gut quickly and effectively
Some research has been done which supports these claims. A study comparing eight commercially available probiotics (Actimel, Align, Symprove, Biobalance, Probio7, Yakult, VSL#3 and Bio-Kult)1. In the study (published in March 2015) the eight probiotics were put through three viability tests - to see if the bacteria was in a live state before being taken, if the bacteria survived the transit to the stomach and if the bacteria then thrived in the targeted area of the gut. Symprove was the only probiotic of the eight to pass all three tests. These tests were carried out 'in vitro’ (test tube experiments).
What is the research into Symprove and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) - ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease?
A recent research study was carried out into the use of Symprove and ulcerative colitis (UC)2. It found that 76% of those with ulcerative colitis taking part in the study had reductions in faecal levels of calprotectin - elevated levels of calprotectin indicate intestinal inflammation.
There are no studies in relation to Symprove and Crohn's disease or other forms of IBD.
What is the research into Symprove and other bowel conditions?
A study into Symprove and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was published in 20143. The study was completed by 152 people symptomatic with IBS who took either Symprove or a placebo for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks a statistically significant improvement in overall symptom severity of symptoms in those who took Symprove was seen.
No other studies have been carried out into Symprove and other conditions.
Who makes Symprove?
Symprove is made by Symprove Holdings Ltd. Symprove was founded by Barry Smith, a UK (Surrey) farmer who created Symprove to help his farm animals. It was so successful he decided to see if it worked for humans too. The human trials were successful and Symprove started being manufactured for human consumption.
How is Symprove made?
It is all made on site at Symprove’s factory. Symprove sources barley from local growers in Surrey and Hampshire. This barley grain is then germinated. The germinated barley is rolled and water is added. It goes through a series of temperature changes. Food structures (such as amino acids, vitamins and enzymes) are extracted which is then pasturised and the four strains of bacteria used by Symprove are added. Symprove has the bacteria grown for them from the core stock used originally to ensure purity of the strain. After 24 hours the bacteria has reached optimal numbers and it is ready to be bottled. The whole process - from germination to bottling takes 10 days.
Symprove says that during the production process any gluten in the barley is removed - through germination, pasteurisation and filtration. Samples are also sent to be checked to ensure Symprove remains under the 20 parts per million limits for a gluten free product.
How does Symprove guarantee the number of bacteria in its products?
Samples are sent to an external GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) accredited laboratory to verify the exact strains of bacteria grown and check there are no other bacteria or contaminants in the product. To pass the tests there must also be in the region of 10 billion live activated colony forming bacteria units per 50ml serving.
How long do you need to take Symprove for?
Symprove suggests you take a full dose (60ml) daily for 12 weeks. After this time they believe you should see results. After 12 weeks you can choose whether to take a maintenance dose’ (of anywhere up to 60ml) each day.
How do you store Symprove?
Unopened bottles should be stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened they should be refrigerated. It has a shelf-life of four months.
How is Symprove governed?
Symprove is made in the UK and is considered to be a food supplement (it is not a medicine).
In the UK most probiotics are governed under the same laws as foods, not medicines, and governing bodies include the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Food Safety Authority (FSA) and the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances.
These bodies issue guidelines around what probiotic companies can say in relation to their product and health claims they can make. Even if a probiotic has medical evidence to support its use for a certain condition they cannot publicise this unless they go through strict medical testing - a very expensive and lengthy process.
This is why you will often find that probiotic companies do not mention specific health conditions on their website and marketing material. Guidelines have also been issued to say that the term probiotic may no longer be used in the promotion of supplements by the companies. The Advertising Standards Authority also has oversight regarding claims made and any complaints arising. In general the industry is self-regulated so some companies choose to ‘bend’ the rules around making health claims in relation to their product.
How much does Symprove cost?
Eight weeks of the course cost £158 (and your final 4 weeks are free) - that’s £13.16 per week or £1.88 per day if you complete the 12 week course. If buying from outside the UK there are added shipping costs.
Comparative survival of commercial probiotic formulations: tests in biorelevant gastric fluids and real-time measurements using microcalorimetry. Fredua-Agyeman M, Gaisford S. Benef Microbes. 2015 Mar;6(1):141-51. doi: 10.3920/BM2014.0051. PMID: 25351484
Assessment of a Multi Strain Probiotic (Symprove) in IBD. Guy Sisson, Bu Hayee, Ingvar Bjarnason. Gastroenterology, April 2015 Volume 148, Issue 4, Supplement 1, Page S-531
Randomised clinical trial: A liquid multi-strain probiotic vs. placebo in the irritable bowel syndrome--a 12 week double-blind study. Sisson G, Ayis S, Sherwood RA, Bjarnason I. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Jul;40(1):51-62. doi: 10.1111/apt.12787. Epub 2014 May 11. PMID: 24815298