Garden of Life Primal Defense HSO Formula is one of 3 different probiotic supplement formulations in the Primal Defense family. Since the formulations are significantly different enough, this review is for the HSO one, and not the ULTRA or the KID’s formulas. This probiotic supplement is marketed to be “the only probiotic formula that contains a unique whole food blend with Homeostatic Soil Organisms (HSOs).”
It is also marketed to:
This supplement contains 12 species of microbes in the form of their HSO Probiotic Blend. Garden of Life states, “The HSOs in Primal Defense are important probiotics you would get in abundance if your food came from soil untouched by pesticides, herbicides and other widely used chemicals.” But what are HSOs?
Homeostasis is the tendency of something to maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium, such as the way your body is able to maintain a rather constant internal temperature of 98.6 degrees F no matter what the environmental temperature (within reason, of course.) A Homeostatic Soil Organism, then, is an organism which is from the soil and which maintains homeostasis. Garden of Life actually trademarked the phrase, as it has no real relevance in scientific terms. While some of their microbes may in fact be sourced from soil, there is no significance to their term.
Their proprietary HSO blend in Primal Defense HSO Formula consists of barley grass, oat grass and the following microbes:
And it is created using microbes or their enzymes from the above-mentioned species and from:
There are two forms of this supplement, powder and caplets. The caplets and powder have the same microbes, but they are listed in a different order on the powder’s label than on the caplet’s label.
I’m really disappointed to see that Garden of Life does not list the ingredients of Primal Defense HSO Formula on their website. Reputable companies should always disclose ingredients before expecting you to order from them.
Looking at labels shown on other sites, the ingredients at the time of this writing (late April, 2016) are:
Please verify ingredients of any supplement prior to taking it.
For the powder and the caplets, the suggested use is for adults to take 1 scoop (1/3 teaspoon) OR 1 caplet 3 times per day with 8 ounces of water or juice, preferably on an empty stomach. It is recommended to begin with 1 scoop per day and gradually increase to the suggested amount.
The pros of this probiotic supplement as I see them are:
Some positive reviews, with 4.8 out of 5 stars from 97 reviews, from the Vitacost.com website stated:
“I ran out of this product and decided to try another probiotic for a change. I bought one at a local store. After a few days my old digestive problems (bloating, indigestion, nausea) returned despite taking the probiotics as directed with every meal. So, I hurried re-ordering this product from Vitacost. I'm so glad I found Garden of Life Primal Defense. Taking one a day in the morning on an empty stomach makes all the difference for me! Will stick with it for sure!” 11/17/15
“I love this! I was terrified to travel due to having to hurry to the bathroom when it was time and if not close enough, having a disaster happen. So embarrassing. Primal Defense has helped tremendously, granted it does not cure, but it certainly has made my situation livable within days and getting even better in less than 30 days!!” 11/2/15
“…I added it to my general health and fitness regimen some time ago and noticed that it helped combat my histamine-response (versus anaphylactic) food allergies. Since then, it has become one of my primary methods of preventing those reactions…” 2/10/16
The cons of this probiotic supplement as I see them are:
The negative reviews totaled 6% on Amazon.com and featured reviews like these:
“The product states it is gluten free, however it contains barley and oat grass, which can be gluten free, but if there are seeds present it will absolutely contain gluten. This product made me sick for weeks until I finally figured out what I was consuming that contained gluten, after reading other reviews.” 2/17/12
“They gave me a rash. If they did anything else I have no idea. I sent them to the friend that said he used the product, but it is not the one for me.” 6/13/14
“These are very large hard pills (tablets) not capsules (caplets) at all. I was very disappointed. I was getting much better results from eating yogurt daily than from these. It is past the time frame for return or I would do so in a heartbeat. I will never buy these again. Additionally, after starting to take these pills I started to have neurological issues. Issues such as dizziness, cognitive issues, ringing in my ears, migraines, and much worse…” 5/14/15
Amazon.com has the powder and the caplets in bottles of 180 or 216 caplets.
Amazon Canada has the powder and the caplets in bottles of 90 caplets.
Amazon UK has the powder and the caplets in bottles of 90, 180 or 216 caplets.
Vitacost has the powder formula and the caplets in bottles of 45, 90, 180 or 216 caplets.
If you would like help in determining if this probiotic supplement is right for you, please consider nutritional consultations with me. A supplement is just that: supplemental to other healthy lifestyle factors. A supplement should not replace good eating habits and taking care of oneself and nutrition consultations can certainly help with those.
Garden of Life has some very good products, but this may or may not be one of them. While many folks have success with Primal Defense HSO Formula, others seem to not just have no improvement in their conditions, but have adverse reactions. Please exercise caution with this supplement if you have allergies or sensitivities to wheat, gluten, milk or soy, or if you have any disruption in the health of your small intestine (celiac disease, Crohn’s, etc.)
Thanks to Ward for suggesting a review of this supplement!
Ward emailed me his response to this review and this is what he said,
"Jo, Thank you for your detailed analysis. Your work was unbiased and helpful for me to better appreciate the contents and purpose of the product. I have had satisfactory results from this product and will continue to use it.
Thank you, Ward"
I appreciate your response, Ward!
If you decide to take Primal Defense HSO Formula, I would combine the health benefits of it with the benefits provided by:
To read about my approach to supplement reviews, and about my reviews of other probiotic supplements, click here.
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