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The lowdown on Align, a new probiotic supplement for IBS

2012 August 26
Align probiotic

If you suffer from stomach problems, you’ve likely looked into probiotics to see if they might help your situation. I’ve written about them several times on this blog to try and better understand what they do. I’ve also gone through periods of taking a probiotic supplement and/or eating a probiotic-packed food like kefir daily.

In both cases, I can’t say I noticed a dramatic difference in my digestive health, but I do think probiotics helped stabilize some of my stomach troubles, such as bloating after meals. It’s also worth re-stating that since they need to be taken daily over time to be effective, they’re more of a gradual step to healthy digestion than a quick fix. And I admit I’m not the best at taking my vitamins every day.

All this preamble to say I was intrigued when I was sent a press release and sample of a new probiotic supplement available in Canada called Align. Align contains a specific strain of probiotic bacteria developed and patented by gastroenterologists called Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis 35624 (or Bifantis for short), which is said to help manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome like gas and bloating.

The supplement comes in four blister packs (no refrigeration necessary), with a week’s worth in each pack. The instructions encourage you to take Align at the same time every day (like the Pill!) and include a very small Daily Digestive Tracker chart to help you track your digestion. The packaging is clever, I think, because it provides a little disciplinary nudging to people like me who have trouble keeping up with their supp intake.

I just started taking Align, so I can’t speak to its effect on my digestive health yet (UPDATED: see my review and user comments). I should also note that I’ve never been tested for or diagnosed with IBS. In the meantime, here’s some more info:

Studies on Align: 

When I asked Dr. Christi A. Messer, principal scientist, personal health care research and development at Procter & Gamble about Bifantis’ effectiveness in treating IBS symptoms, she wrote the following to explain how the strain has been tested:

“Bifantis is a well-studied probiotic strain and its results in improving IBS symptoms have been published in leading gastroenterology journals. The first study published in Gastroenterology (in 2005) was an 8-week randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot study in 77 men and women diagnosed with IBS. The second study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (in 2006) was a larger randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre 4-week study in 362 women diagnosed with IBS.

These randomised placebo-controlled clinical trials demonstrated statistically significant improvement in IBS symptoms and showed that regular use of Bifantis relieves and manages symptoms IBS such as abdominal discomfort, gas, and bloating.”

Dr. Messer also said Align is the #1 gastroenterologist-recommended probiotic in the U.S., according to a Wolters Kluwer 2011 survey.

Align’s bacteria count:

According to Align’s website, each capsule contains at least 1 billion live bacteria at the time of manufacture. (The number per dose is not included.) The website also states that individuals who have allergies to milk protein should not take the supplement as it contains trace amounts.

Cost and availability of Align: 

Align is available at select retail stores nationwide. I recently saw it at Shopper’s Drug Mart for $39.99 and on well.ca for $34.99. Align can also be ordered through your pharmacist.

 

38 Responses leave one →
  1. James H permalink
    October 2, 2012

    I’ve heard a lot about Align lately so I thought I’d give it a try too. I haven’t taken it for very long but so far it’s been a lot more convenient than most probiotics anyway (no refrigeration required, you can take it with or without food, etc). Here’s hoping for some positive results.

    • Erin permalink*
      October 3, 2012

      Please let me know what you think after you take it for awhile!

    • Marie-Paule permalink
      November 7, 2012

      Hi James,
      Can you provide us with an update now that you have been taking Align for a month?
      Thanks
      Marie

  2. Denise permalink
    October 16, 2012

    I’ve just heard about Align and I’m curious to know how your experience is going so far with it?

    • Erin permalink*
      October 20, 2012

      Hi Denise,

      I only took Align for one month and I didn’t notice a huge difference my digestion. It did make me a little bloated at first, but I think that was my body getting used to the new strains of bacteria. I think it’s worth a try if you suffer from IBS, although I do find it a bit expensive.

  3. Beth permalink
    November 8, 2012

    Thanks for this post. I am very curious to watch how well align works, however, I have major problems with the following issues:

    - It is so expensive, it will be unaffordable for me, especially to take long term. I simply cannot budget for it. I would love to but my pocketbook screams no. This is something I would have to use month after month for years. And for that reason it leaves me frustrated… I only wish this could become a prescription here in Canada that you could get from the doctor, so that a small portion of the cost could at least be covered financially.

    - The two studies cited didn’t contain as big of a control study group as I would have liked. Also 4 weeks is not a long time to truly get a handle on efficacy.

    - Lastly, Proctor and Gamble’s own doctor (a biased voice off the bat) states that “These randomised placebo-controlled clinical trials demonstrated statistically significant improvement in IBS symptoms” — I am sorry but if you don’t quote an actual percentage, an actual number, that statement means nothing to me, AND, it doesn’t help that it came from a doctor employed by the company manufacturing the product!

    - Finally, is it works so well, why isn’t this garnering more buzz?? doctors and health practitioners would be yelling from the rooftops, like the vitamin d craze… this would end a lot of suffering for many people and would relieve burden on the health care system (less sick patients = less expense).

    So, my skeptical mind has me asking…. is this TRULY the king of probiotics now?? Or is this more marketing and hype? Am I just as well off if I take a cheaper probiotic?

    Things to think about (for me anyway)

    Bethany

  4. Tabitha permalink
    November 17, 2012

    I’ve been taking align for a month still have pain from IBS not as often but it’s painful keeps me up all night curious if the pain will ever go away because this stuff is expensive and have a hard time paing for it but if in long run everything gets better including pain I would love to keep taking it or if there is a c cheaper place

  5. Nancy permalink
    November 17, 2012

    I took Align daily for 6 weeks and didnt see any immediate or long-term improvement. I was disappointed because it is expensive and didnt “work”. Or at least I didnt notice a difference. I dont think you are supposed to take it daily..indefinitely. My doctor suggested 4-8 weeks but didnt say how often I had to wait to take it again.

    • Erin permalink*
      November 17, 2012

      Hi Nancy,
      That’s interesting about the four to eight weeks. I agree – took it for four weeks, but didn’t notice a big difference so went back to my regular probiotic. It does seem to be working for some, though.

  6. November 24, 2012

    I noticed if you eat less food, or portion out your meals throughout the day in order to put a lesser stress on your digestive system the inflammation from your intestines will calm down, I myself is guilty of binge eating at times this is the cause of ibs for me and when a flu comes around and I have no appetite I notice my ibs symptoms alleviates better some ? many cultures fast to gain spirituality maybe there is something to it that improves your health also as well? But hey eating less is much cheaper than paying for a expensive pooh pill, go figure?

    Keith :0)

  7. December 17, 2012

    When told you have IBS, what you are being told is that we don’t really know what the exact problem is so we will call it IBS until it becomes something more serious like an IBD.

    IBS is very much connected to stress, so look at your level of stress and figure out how to manage it. Your state of mind when eating is going to have a direct connection to your digestion.

    Chew your food thoroughly and limit your liquid intake during meal time so as to not dilute the HCI that has been excreted into your stomach. This will help with bloating that is experienced after meals. Overall, slow down, be a mindful eater it will make a difference
    Overeating creates the problem of not allowing the stomach to do it’s job. Ever overfilled the washer with clothes, they don’t get clean.
    Chewing thoroughly will allow you to eat less because you will feel when you have had enough

    Not all probiotics are created equal so what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.

    These commercial products I honestly do not waste my time with because as far as I am concerned it is all about marketing.

    Some probiotics do cost a bit but if you are having digestive issue they are required to rebalance the good and bad bacteria.

    Yogurt is not always going to help because most people purchase standard commercial brands with sugar which negates the goal.

    So to recap:
    1. slow down at meal time and chew the food thoroughly
    2. limit liquids at meal times. Allow the saliva to mix with the food and digestion to begin.
    3. find a good probiotic at an ND’s office or HEALTH FOOD store not pharmacy
    4. manage your stress, be calm during meal times.

    and most of all, be patient. Change takes time especially when handling it naturally.

  8. Bonnie permalink
    February 25, 2013

    I have noticed people who have results with the Align Probiotics.
    I must say,after 48 hours and 2 capsules later, I ended up in emergency
    Having extreme abdominal pain, knocking me of and nearly passing
    Out. This ended up in extreme pain and pounding heartbeat, I have been
    Home now for 24 hours and am still suffering. I will see my general doctor
    Tomorrow. But for now I must be one of those extreme cases.

    • Erin permalink*
      February 26, 2013

      So sorry to hear that and I hope you are recovered! Sounds like a very intense and unusual reaction.

  9. danny permalink
    March 25, 2013

    Don’t drink while taking align. Me – 2 pills two days. Last day took pill at 3. Went out that night had quite a bit to drink. Woke up in hives all over body. Went to e. R. I’m not known to have any allergies but wanted to share. Be care full while taking. Find it odd there’s no warnings about drinking while taking probiotics.

  10. Mike permalink
    April 26, 2013

    I went to my Dr. and explained my symptoms and he said I had either IBS or was lactose intolerant. I was not happy with his diagnosis (or lack of one). Regardess, I was secheduled to have a colonoscopy a week later (my 3rd). So, I’m lying on in the O.R. and telling the Dr. doing the colonoscopy my symptoms and he immediately told me I had IBS and to take Align.

    I started taking 1 daily after breakfast. ALL OF MY SYMPTOMS WERE GONE IN 72 HOURS… I have been taking it for 6 months without symptoms. I miss a day every so often without any problems.

    So, now my question is “Am I dependent upon this for the rest of my life or can I just stop taking it?” I’d just as soon not stop it to see and then have my symptoms return.

  11. Lauren permalink
    June 18, 2013

    My doctor gave me an Align sample to try a few weeks ago, she said a lot of her other IBS patients swear by it. I was already currently taking another probio I found at Whole Foods, which was working pretty well for me, but I figured.. If someone claims this is a miracle pill, then why not try it! The pamphlet says some people don’t see releif for 3-4 weeks, but after almost 2 weeks of feeling ridiculously bloated (as in looking 6 months pregnant, and my stomach rock-hard bloated) with all my IBS symptoms coming back in full force.. I had enough! I felt awful for those 2 weeks, and while I realize your gut needs time to adjust.. No other probio I’ve tried has done that to me. The day after I decided to stop taking it, the bloating went away and I felt a lot better. Ill be going back to the probio I was taking before.

    • Erin permalink*
      July 6, 2013

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

  12. Denise permalink
    June 21, 2013

    Hi,
    I’ve been using align for 6 months now. I have less stomach pain but I still have some from time to time. I wouldn’t say Align has work miracle for me but it did help! I think it works better for some people and the only way to find out is to try it for a couple of months. A friend of my brother had spectacular effects and is sold to the stuff. I agree about the high cost (I am going to try to ask my doctor for prescription for probiotic…). But more importantly what is bothering me is to have to need it for the rest of my life! I want to look at a more ‘natural’ way to deal with my stomach pain, like Lisa mentionned. But I am not very optimistic, I’ve tried before and nothing seems to make a difference as much as Align does! If nothing works on the ‘natural’ side, I will definitely try some other ‘cheaper’ probiotic before I settle on using Align for life.

  13. Penny permalink
    July 4, 2013

    I haven’t tried it yet, the other brand I tried before tasted and had the texture of dirt, I hate trying new things before hearing how they work. I have IBS and Chrons, in 2011 I had life saving surgery and part of my intestinal track was removed, I have no gall bladder and doctors said that the part they removed was the “slowing down” area so everything I eat well, you know….. not fun but please if anyone has had positive results with Align please tell us, if everyone experiences bloating thenI won’t take it.

  14. randy beckel permalink
    July 12, 2013

    My girlfriend and i have been using align to treat IBS for 5 months now, it took about one month to really take effect, but now over 5 months inn we can both say it works great! you will still get some IBS symptoms but they are far less sever and last no more than a couple of days. this stuff is life changing use it……!

    • Erin permalink*
      July 12, 2013

      Thanks for your comment – glad it’s working so well for you!

  15. Cesar permalink
    July 12, 2013

    I’ve had an issue with stomach for the past 5 years. I’m a 31 year old male, 180lbs, 5’10 and extremely active. Today I had enough after years of brushing aside from my family doctor and decided to visit my local ER.
    The kind doctor at Georgetown Ontario Canada Hospital, directed me to probiotics and gave me additional reading material. As a side note, if I wasn’t so shy, and in stomach distress I would have asked her out. Oh well!! :( lol
    I will be taking Align as of tonight, July 11, 2013, 11pm.
    I’ll keep you posted.
    - Cesar

    • Erin permalink*
      July 12, 2013

      Please do! Would love to hear about your results.

  16. Nathan permalink
    August 15, 2013

    Today I visited my Dr. and he gave me a months supply of Align. He is very much in favor of probiotics so his position encouraged me even more to try out probiotics. I almost bought Biotrust’s Pro-x10 and would like to know if anyone has taken Pro-x10 and can give a comparison between the 2 products.

  17. amanda permalink
    August 23, 2013

    i’ve been taking a variety of random probiotics for a few years now, never noticing any symptoms or particular benefits. Went to a new GI, she told me lots of folks have good results with Align so I should take it. I’ve had worsened symptoms than i usually do for IBS including bloating and queasiness and more, i even feel like i’ve gained weight and that’s just in a week and a half. So my question is, should i stop it now or hold out for a few weeks to settle in and let my gut get used to the new strain? I also bought a lot of it (non-returnable) and it is very expensive.
    any suggestions?

    • Erin permalink*
      September 2, 2013

      Hi Amanda,

      Sorry for my late response. I would talk to your GI about these symptoms. I think sometimes it takes some time for the body to adjust to taking probiotics, so they could just be temporary symptoms, but you’ll want to make sure. Good luck!

  18. Irwin Browns permalink
    September 6, 2013

    I, too heard about Align, and was willing to try it because I have been suffering from Bloat since 2005, and after 4 gastro doctors who performed every kind of test, 10 different kinds of probiotics, every health-type cure from powdered charcoal to peppermint oil to powdered acid, stuff like apple cider vinegar, and such concoctions, 3 kinds of diets like Fodmap, Gluten-Free, and other veg, I have had no relief or idea of the cause.

    I bought Align for $43.00 for 28 tablets and took one a day.

    BIG ZERO!

    Don’t waste your money.

    I sent the empty box back to P&G with the same comments- never hear from them

    Irwin Browns

    Irwin Browns

  19. Brittany permalink
    September 9, 2013

    I jut stumbled across your article so I figured I’d give my input. I have taken align for about 3 years and it is amazing! I suffer from horrible debilitating ibs and align has been my little miracle pill. I have no adverse effects from it no extra bloating or anything it has only helped. I do wish it didnt cost so much that’s the only down fall but its worth it!

  20. Quixote permalink
    September 9, 2013

    Something you don’t seem to have noticed is that Align only contains 1/10th the amount of bacteria used in the study: 1 billion as compared to 10 billion. The company itself had to admit that in another study using only 1 billion, no improvement was seen in any of the participants.

    What this means, in my view, is that Align is essentially a scam. Other probiotic manufacturers put quantities like 70 billion into their capsules. Why only 1 billion for Align?

  21. Elaine permalink
    October 21, 2013

    Hello
    I was diagnosed with IBS 6 years ago after having a colonoscopy and endoscopy . I had my gallbladder removed a year prior due to acute gallbladder disease and have read and known a lot of people that have developed IBS had their gallbladders removed . I had been suffering IBS symptoms on and off for years sometimes keeping me home from work and it got so bad I had to retire at 44 because of it . I am trying Align but I have only been taking it for a month and it has helped except the last week of taking it I became bloated and a bit constipated . I will plod along and keep taking it as it does take time for the gut flora to get healthy again after so many years of being ill with IBS ! Thanks for posting and hope all get some relieve of this debilitating IBS .

    • Erin permalink*
      November 10, 2013

      Thanks for sharing, Elaine! I hope the continued use of probiotics is helpful.

  22. Paul permalink
    November 12, 2013

    I just purchased Align at Costco, $42.99 for 49 capsules and will try it out as no other probiotic has helped with my IBS.
    I’ve just read the list of ingredients and here is the non medicinal list: Microcrystalline cellulose, hypromellose, sucrose, magnesium stearate, sodium caseinate, titanium dioxide, trisodium citrate dihydrate, propyl gallate. Any idea what any of this is? Have heard that there is some speculation that the epidemic of IBS may have a link to GMO substances in foods so am curious if any of these ingredients come from GMO corn, sugar beets or milk that was produced with growth hormones?
    Paul

    • Erin permalink*
      November 14, 2013

      Hi Paul, I’m not sure if any of those ingredients are genetically modified, but wouldn’t be surprised! And yes…I just met someone recently who couldn’t any meats that weren’t antibiotic or hormone-free because she had a reaction to them. I think that’s becoming increasingly common!

  23. Donna permalink
    January 30, 2014

    I have suffered with IBS and mild Crohn’s for more years that I’d like to admit. About 2 years ago I was going through a particularly bad bout and nothing I did was helping at all. I decided to try Align and within 3 days my gut felt totally different. I still have some symptoms of IBS but they are greatly decreased. Can’t see myself ever stopping the Align unless they come out with something better. Definitely worth a try – everyone is different but it sure works for me.

  24. Tdub permalink
    February 8, 2014

    Just was diagnosed with IBS today…. was told to get Align but I’m doing some research first for others with IBS for any tips you may have. Anything helps. Thanks

  25. Ev Courtney permalink
    February 26, 2014

    I was diagnosed with Crohn’s when I was in my early 20′s and had a foot of bowel removed. I am now almost 69 and have had IBS off and on (have had regular colonoscopies for many years). After an acute gall bladder attack last spring, I had it removed and several months later noticed the IBS was much more frequent. I saw the Align ad on tv and decided to try it. I have had great results with it and will keep on taking it indefinitely. I was disappointed in the cost as well but for my 3rd box I found it at Walmart for a much cheaper price. One of my bowling partners confided that she uses it daily as well and is happy with how it helps her.

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