Raw Probiotics Women: A Probiotic Supplement?

Raw Probiotics Women uses Bulgarian yogurt and milk kefir as the microbe sources

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Women is a whole-food probiotic. It contains bacterial and yeast species, vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and dairy-digesting enzymes to help break down lactose and casein.

This supplement is marketed to:

  • Support colon health, bowel regularity and overall digestive function
  • Support gut-related immune system function and overall immune system health
  • Support healthy microbial balance by promoting healthy bacteria in the gut
  • Support healthy nutrient absorption and assimilation
  • Support vaginal health and healthy thyroid function
  • Support breast health through vitamin D supporting breast health

What Probiotic Strains are in Raw Probiotics Women?

Garden of Life states that there are 32 “original” probiotics in this product, but some of them are not technically probiotics. The microbial strains are from Bulgarian yogurt concentrate and Eastern European wild kefir culture and include:

  1. Lactobacillus plantarum
  2. Lactobacillus reuteri
  3. Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  4. Bifidobacterium bifidum
  5. Bifidobacterium lactis
  6. Bifidobacterium longum
  7. Lactobacillus acidophilus
  8. Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  9. Lactobacillus casei
  10. Lactobacillus gasseri
  11. Lactobacillus helveticus
  12. Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens
  13. Lactobacillus kefirgranum
  14. Lactobacillus lactis
  15. Lactobacillus cremoris
  16. Streptococcus thermophilus
  17. Lactobacillus kefir
  18. Lactobacillus parakefir
  19. Lactobacillus brevis
  20. Lactobacillus lactis biovar diacetylactis
  21. Leuconostoc lactis
  22. Leuconostoc mesenteroides
  23. Leuconostoc cremoris
  24. Leuconostoc dextranicum
  25. Kluyveromyces marxianus, a yeast
  26. Brettanomyces anomalus, a yeast
  27. Debaryomyces hansenii, a yeast
  28. Saccharomyces unisporus, a yeast
  29. Saccharomyces turicensis, a yeast
  30. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast
  31. Saccharomyces exiguous, a yeast
  32. Torulaspora delbrueckii, a yeast

There may be other microbes since the sources are whole foods/drinks.

What are the Other Ingredients in Raw Probiotics Women

The other ingredients at the time of this writing are red bell pepper (fruit), green pea (seed), carrot (root), plum (fruit), cherry (fruit), strawberry (fruit), raspberry (fruit) and a vegetable cellulose capsule. Please verify ingredients of any supplement prior to taking it.

This supplement also provides B vitamins, vitamins C, D and E, minerals and other biological factors listed on the label.

What is the Recommended Dosage of Raw Probiotics Women?

The recommended dosages are for adults to take 3 capsules per day, best taken as divided servings. Three capsules provides 85 billion CFU at end of the Best Use Date under recommended refrigerated storage conditions.

They say you may gradually increase up to 9 capsules per day. The contents may be separated from the capsule and poured into your favorite raw juice or water.

They say it can be taken with or without food. This supplement is not intended for children.

What are My Pros, Cons and Thoughts of Raw Probiotics Women

Garden of Life has a unique perspective on the way they formulate this product. Instead of combining different probiotic microbes and different vitamins, they use raw, whole foods, kept at low temperatures. There are pros and cons to this method, especially when considering probiotics, and I’ve compiled what I know and think about this product in the following points.

The pros of this probiotic supplement as I see them are:

  • Multi-species supplement
  • Contains NO gluten, binders, fillers, carriers, artificial colors or preservatives
  • Raw with temperature-controlled cold storage and delivery so your product should indeed “Arrive Alive!™”.
  • Other ingredients are limited
  • Produced under GMP-grade facilities
  • This supplement combines two food/drink sources of microbes with some other ingredients. The one advantage to this is that the supernatant, the medium in which the microbes grow, is included and that in itself has beneficial by-products of the microbes and is responsible for contributing part of the “RAW Food-Created Nutrients™.”
  • Potency is guaranteed through expiration date if kept refrigerated
  • All raw materials are tested with Certificates of Analysis on record. Suppliers are qualified and audited, ingredients are tested and identified
  • All finished products are tested for pathogens, heavy metals and physical characteristics
  • Sold in select stores as well as online

The cons of Raw Probiotics Women as I see them are:

  • Only the species are given; you don't know which strains are in the product since the sources are food/drink.
  • Only the total CFU is given; you don't know how much of each species is present.
  • Since neither the strains nor the amounts of each strain are listed, it is not possible to predict what effects on women’s health this product will have.
  • This product contains yeasts (allergy alert!)
  • This product contains dairy, and even though dairy-digesting enzymes are in the product, they should not be relied upon if you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity. If you have lactose intolerance, the enzymes may be sufficient.
  • As with most probiotic supplements, this one requires refrigeration after it is delivered. It also must be kept cold during shipment.
  • No studies with this supplement as a whole supplement have been performed to my knowledge, although this is not unusual. Very few multi-species probiotic supplements are used in studies.
  • You have no idea what forms of the vitamins are present, but they are the results of the microbes' biological activities.

My other thoughts about Raw Probiotics Women are:

I can generally agree that the first four marketing claims may have validity in that Bulgarian yogurt and milk kefir are known to have beneficial health properties. As such, I can see how this supplement may support colon health, bowel regularity and overall digestive function, support gut-related immune system function and overall immune system health, support healthy microbial balance by promoting healthy bacteria in the gut and support healthy nutrient absorption and assimilation.

The last two marketing claims of Raw Probiotics Women are less clear to me. Perhaps it supports vaginal health by supporting digestive function (and plain, organic yogurt is used by some women as a vaginal suppository) and healthy thyroid function by supporting immune function. The claim that it supports breast health through vitamin D supporting breast health is a flimsy one, in my opinion, because there are so many factors involved in breast health.

Although the recommended dosages say that you can take up to 9 capsules daily, at that point I have to wonder if you would not be better served by eating yogurt cultured with Bulgarian yogurt cultures and drinking kefir. It is always best to get the most nutrients you can from food first, and then supplement as needed. That is why they are called supplements.  :)

Raw Probiotics Women is hard to evaluate as a probiotic supplement because it is not your typical probiotic supplement in which researched strains are mixed together. While it seems to fit the definition of probiotics which is officially defined by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as, “Live organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host,” each organism is not known to be probiotic. For example, the yeast strains in the product are not viewed as probiotics, although not considered to be pathogens in healthy people, either.

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic says, “Keep live cultures, traditionally associated with fermented foods and for which there is no evidence of a health benefit, outside the probiotic framework.”* This means that only fermented foods which show a benefit in a particular category, such as the improvement of lactose digestion, can be considered probiotic. This distinction shows that the term probiotic is usually used to differentiate between commonly-known microbes that have generally beneficial or neutral properties and probiotic strains that have been studied for their specific actions.

* C. Hill et al., “The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics Consensus Statement on the Scope and Appropriate Use of the Term Probiotic," Nature 11(2014): 506-514

Where to Find Raw Probiotics Women

Because this product is based on food/drink and MUST be refrigerated, it is best to purchase it at a local store which provides refrigeration or from a retailer who ships it with a cold pack, such as in my online dispensary. Do not purchase it right before a weekend.

I would NOT purchase this product from the different Amazons.com unless the shipper guarantees that they keep it cold and ship it in an insulated bag with an ice pack.

Is Raw Probiotics Women the Right Supplement for YOU?

Only you and your healthcare practitioner can decide if this probiotic supplement is right for you. The best thing to do in my opinion is to read all the reviews you can (like the one from Jessica below) and see what someone who has conditions similar to yours has to say about it.

If you would like any help in your decision and with your health, you might consider nutrition consultations with me.

Thanks to Jessica for suggesting a review of this product!

Here is a review that Jessica emailed to me:

"Dear Jo,

Wow, thanks so much for remembering and for such a thorough review. I really value your unbiased but well informed option, and your site is incredibly comprehensive and informative. With everyone asserting such lofty claims about their products it's difficult to know what to believe. I have been using Garden of Life's Raw probiotics Women for several months. They haven't given me super powers, but I selected them over other options because they seemed to have the same or similar cultures to other probiotic supplements, plus they have a hefty dose of  (natural rather than synthetic) essential vitamins. I think you might have already mentioned this in your review, but I also appreciate the cultures that specifically target candida and thus help to prevent yeast infections in women...

Thanks again,
(Feel free to post my response to your site)"

Thank you, Jessica, you are very kind!

One Other Note

If you decide to take this supplement, I would still combine the health benefits of it with the benefits provided by:

Other Probiotic Supplement Reviews

To read about my approach to supplement reviews, and about my reviews of other probiotic supplements, click here.

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