The lowdown on Align, a new probiotic supplement for IBS
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.