Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1What are probiotics?

Not all bacteria are bad for you. In fact, the human body needs many bacteria to stay healthy! Helpful bacteria are called probiotics. They live in the intestinal tract and other regions of the body, including on the surface of the skin. Probiotics are best known for their role in the gut, where they promote a healthy digestive pH and support regularity.*

Science is quickly discovering countless other benefits of a healthy probiotic population including:

  • Supporting a healthy immune system*
  • Promoting hormonal balance*
  • Making some of our vitamins*
  • Supporting the body’s innate ability to detoxify itself*
  • Helping the body digest and absorb nutrients from food and other supplements*
2How do I tell if a probiotic is working?

The primary site of action for probiotics is the gastrointestinal tract. Also, GI complaints such as diarrhea and/or constipation, gas, bloating, inflammation, pain and GI discomfort are symptoms that frequently cause people to use probiotics therapeutically. Therefore, improvement in these symptoms is a way people with GI complaints can judge if their probiotic is working. Also, the speed or rate of symptomatic relief is a measure of how well a probiotic is working.

On a more general level many people notice higher energy levels due to better nutrient absorption, clearer skin, increased immunity and an overall sense of well-being.

3Why do we need probiotic supplements?

Modern lifestyles can create imbalances in the probiotic population. Stress, processed foods, chlorinated water, and even some medications can alter our “microecology.” These lifestyle factors can affect the population of sensitive healthy bacteria. Meanwhile the abundance of carbohydrates and sugars we consume each day can feed less welcome guests. This, in turn, can influence day-to-day energy levels and the immune response.

Today, no one can escape all the lifestyle factors that alter probiotic balance. Thankfully, probiotic support through supplementation can help the body maintain its beneficial bacteria balance in the digestive tract. It is also possible to maintain dermal probiotic balance by using natural probiotic-based skin care products.*

4Why are fermented foods good for my health?
The main benefit of fermented foods is that the nutrients in them are broken down by microorganisms. This makes it easier for the body to digest, absorb, and actually utilize those nutrients. Furthermore, fermented foods contain highly beneficial lactic acid bacteria (LAB), various organic acids produced by LAB, vitamins and minerals derived from the food itself, and enzymes. All these components help maintain good health. Daily consumption of the fermented foods promote the balance of your intestinal flora.* Dr. Ohhira discovered the importance of LAB a quarter century ago! He began the development of a fermented food made from wild plants and fruits and published his research in a 1987 paper titled, “The Isolation and Identification of Lactic Acid Bacteria from Naturally Fermented Wild Plants and Fruits.” His goal was to produce a natural food containing the vitamins, minerals and useful microorganisms that often run low in modern diets.* Dr. Ohhira recognized the importance of land and aquatic wild plants that had traditionally been eaten in the Chugoku region of Japan and began the fermentation of, among other plants, Chinese bayberry, wild vine, akebi, wild strawberry, mulberry, oleaster, Chinese matrimony, broad leafed plantain, mugwort, brown algae (Hijiki) and sea tangle (Konbu). Dr. Ohhira processed all ingredients in the way that maximized the function of each botanical. He used some ingredients as they were and extracted other ingredients with natural brown sugar. Then he fermented and matured the ingredients for more than two years in a natural, room-temperature environment. While developing this unique extract, Dr. Ohhira discovered new functions of LAB and human health benefits of fermented food. Thus,he began developing various dietary supplements that utilze his extract. Each supplement draws from the power of fermented foods to help promote certain aspects of human health.*
5How many beneficial bacteria do I need in my digestive tract?

There are billions of bacteria in the human digestive tract. Science has found that the ratio of good to bad bacteria needs to be at least 85:15. To maintain that balance, we need to provide both probiotic and prebiotic support for the gut.*

It’s clear that probiotic supplementation is vital to support good health. But it’s also important to note that not all probiotic supplements are the same. Some that boast "billions and billions" of bacteria may actually supply too many of one strain, causing the immune system to regard them as a threat. Another mistake many consumers make is to supplement only with probiotics, while failing to take any prebiotics. Prebiotics are substances that help nourish probiotics and encourage the supplemented probiotics to take root. Prebiotics also nourish and feed the probiotic strains that are already present in the gut. These are often completely unique to each individual—like a probiotic fingerprint.*

Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® contains both probiotics and prebiotics. Because the formula is, in itself, a fermented whole food, it also contains naturally occuring organic acids, vitamins, and enzymes. All these components help to maintain the supplemented strains and also feed the strains that are part of the individual’s probiotic fingerprint.*

When supplementing, a higher quantity of probiotic strains is not necessarily wise. The key to high efficacy is well-rounded quality. A quality probiotic will contain probiotics, plus prebiotics, plus organic acids. This adds up to long-term success.*

6Which is better, a single strain product or one with multiple strains?
Most scientific studies show greater benefits from various strains. That makes sense because each strain has a different talent for helping us. There is also a bit of concern that huge numbers of a single strain might upset the balance in the GI tract and even alarm the immune system. Note that when multi-strain freeze-dried bacteria are encapsulated, the various strains are blended only AFTER being to sleep, which means when reactivated, they will compete for resources and minimize their numbers even more. In contrast, Dr. Ohhira’s 12 strains of bacteria travel the entire journey together and have already sorted out their territorial issues, which means only the strongest are in every capsule of Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics.
7What do products mean when they say they include Prebiotics?
Usually, that means that an isolated fiber such as FOS and Inulin has been added. These fibers have been shown to increase the numbers of bacteria, but not the diversity. (They often also produce uncomfortable gas.) It takes a wide variety of foods, such as used to produce Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics, to create a rich assortment of Postbiotics.
8What are Postbiotics?
Postbiotics is a term that refers to the vast array of compounds that are produced by the metabolic activity of your probiotic bacteria. These probiotic-produced postbiotic compounds play extremely important roles in the regulation of health and in the maintenance of a healthy microbiome. Postbiotic compounds are the key regulators of gastrointestinal health. Probiotic bacteria produce numerous classes of postbiotic compounds such as:
  1. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAS): These compounds are an important part of the immune system. They optimize the acid/base balance in the GI track, promote the growth of good bacteria and suppress the growth of pathogens.
  2. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are an important part of the immune system. AMPs are natural antibiotics that suppress the growth of bad bacteria in the microbiome.
  3. Nutrients including B-vitamins, vitamin K and numerous amino acids
  4. Hydrogen peroxide, which suppresses the growth of candida and other yeasts
  5. Carbohydrate-Active Enzymes (CAZymes), which allow probiotic bacteria to digest fibers to produce postbiotic compounds. Experts estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of postbiotic compounds that have yet to be discovered.
9Why don’t other probiotic products contain Postbiotics?
Virtually all probiotic capsules sold today originate from microbes cultured quickly on either dairy or soy. The bacterial colonies are then washed and separated from their food supply, which unfortunately destroys the Postbiotics they worked so hard to produce. Then after being freeze-dried, encapsulated, bottled and shipped, any surviving probiotics must reanimate, find food and begin to multiply. Only after this perilous journey, can they start to produce the essential metabolites known as Postbiotics. Of course, with Dr. Ohhira’s, the bacteria have already been busy making these beneficial compounds for three years, and they become an intrinsic part of what makes Dr. Ohhira's probiotics so unique.
10How do I know which strains of bacteria I need?
We all need thousands of strains and sub-strains. Interestingly, each person’s blend of strains is unique—just like their fingerprint. An intestinal foundation containing a rich diversity of strains helps all of the body’s functions get accomplished. Maintaining a gut environment that supports that diversity is proving to be more important than supplementing any individual strain.
11What about specialized strains?
Hopefully, we won’t get to the extreme of treating probiotics like drugs where we match every health complaint with a different strain. Individual strains can be used to boost certain functions. For example, TH10 (described on the reverse) supports immune function. Another example is ME-3 (Lactobacillus fermentum,), which supports our antioxidant and detoxification processes. (ME3 is available in Reg’Activ products also provided by Essential Formulas.) There is no magic number of strains we should consume. However, each strain should be researched for safety and effectiveness.
12What are CFUs?
CFU refers to Colony-Forming Unit. It is an estimate of how many viable bacteria are in a sample.
13I hear so much about CFUs and that the more the better. I notice Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics does not have billions and billions of CFUs, why is this?

CFU refers to Colony-Forming Unit. It is an estimate of how many viable bacteria are in a sample. The majority of probiotic supplements on the market today advertise the number of “bacteria per dose” in their products (usually upwards of 10 billion) as a good thing. But take a step back and really think about this.

The human gastrointestinal tract is a very diverse and complex environment. For explanatory purposes, let’s compare the human GI tract to a large metropolitan city. In order to run efficiently, a city needs to have police and fire departments, garbage disposal, city maintenance, schools and teachers, grocery stores, restaurants, lawyers, and hundreds of other types of workers ranging from janitors to veterinarians. Basically, a city needs to have a wide variety of citizens with a wide range of skills, talents, goods and services in order to function properly. The same applies to the human gut - A healthy microbiome contains hundreds to thousands of strains of probiotic bacteria, all with unique and varied functions. So, when a company says, “Our probiotic contains 20 or 30 billion CFU” it is important to note that these are high doses of only one or several probiotic strains.

If we look back to the “city analogy”, supplementing with a very high does of only a few strains is similar to suddenly having your city flooded with thousands of electricians, or thousands of teachers. It creates an imbalance, overpopulation and ignores the importance and necessity of all the other types of bacteria (workers) that are required to make your city function properly.

What the human GI tract really needs is a probiotic supplement that contains numerous types of live probiotic strains, but more importantly, contains prebiotics and probiotics as well. These are effective to support the growth and increase of your existing probiotic bacteria. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® is the only probiotic that provides 12 live probiotic strains, prebiotics AND postbiotics. Again, you can’t just introduce thousands of new workers (bacteria), you need to help your existing city workers flourish as well.*

14How many billions of organisms are needed for a supplement to be effective?
There seems to be a marketing war going on with claims of ever-increasing numbers of organisms. Unfortunately, that focus on Colony Forming Units (CFU’s) has created a lot of confusion. To put the issue in perspective, consider that bacteria in the right environment can double their numbers every 30 minutes. (That is why we can make yogurt overnight.) A single bacterium can multiply into over 100 billion in just a little over 18 hours. Clearly, a wholesome gut environment and well-researched strains are more important than cell counts. Furthermore, since the main health benefit of probiotics is the biological substances they produce, Postbiotic™ content is more important than numbers of live cells due to their effect on normalizing the gut environment.
15How do probiotics help support immune response?
Currently, science has established that approximately 70% of immune system cells reside in the digestive tract. Probiotics support those immune system cells by maintaining an internal environment that is friendly only to other beneficial microorganisms. With a healthy probiotic population in place, there isn’t room for anything else. The gut is the first line of immune defense, and to stay healthy, we need a strong population of friendly bacteria.*
16Why should I choose Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics®?
There are 5 major reasons…
  1. Live Bacteria Guaranteed to Take Root: A probiotic supplement is helpful only when the beneficial bacteria actually cohere (take root) in the digestive tract. It’s even better if it supports the body’s ability to cultivate its own unique probiotic strains.* Created by award-winning microbiologist Iichiroh Ohhira, Ph.D., Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® contains viable bacteria (never freeze-dried or centrifuged) that are guaranteed to cohere in the colon.*
  2. Complete Probiotic and Prebiotic System: Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® are fermented for three years using 12 strains (12 Probiotic Strains) of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) including the proprietary TH10 strain, which is six times stronger than any other known LAB strain. The probiotic supplement is encapsulated along with its prebiotic culture medium of nutritious vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and seaweed and the naturally developed organic acids, which help alter the pH of the colon so the good bacteria can thrive. This provides nutrition and a level playing field for the good bacteria, further ensuring their success. The prebiotic nutrition also feeds the unique probiotic strains that were already present in the individual’s gut. Dr. Ohhira’s probiotic blend includes nutrition that supports each person’s unique microecology!*In addition to prebiotics and organic acids, the culture medium provides nutritious vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. Digestive support, bacteriocins, and hydrogen peroxide also help maintain the delicate micro flora garden living in the digestive tract. Being able to take one capsule that covers probiotics, prebiotics, and organic acids provides peace of mind that the supplement will successfully supply noticeable whole health support.*
  3. Convenience: The fermentation process used to craft Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® is conducted at seasonal temperatures. This results in a very stable product that does not require refrigeration. Individually blister-packed capsules preserve potency, ensure purity, and are convenient for travel.
  4. Results: All probiotic supplements should be taken regularly for at least three months to achieve the most extensive whole health benefits. That is the case with Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics®. However, Dr Ohhira’s Probiotics® also provides more immediate relief, soothing the effects of occasional heartburn and digestive discomfort. This is because the whole food culture medium has a balancing effect in the stomach.*
  5. Scientific Support: Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics® is backed by over 20 university-based scientific studies. It is highly recommended among health care providers who specialize in digestive health and immune system support.*
17I have noticed the word ‘Adaptogen’ used to describe Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics, what does this word mean?
Adaptogen is a word that originated in the natural products industry. The term is used to describe products that normalize function. Many of the postbiotic metabolites produced by probiotic bacteria could be classified as adaptogens. For example, if your intestinal tract is too alkaline, the short-chain fatty acid postbiotic metabolites will decrease the alkalinity. This makes the GI tract slightly more acidic and normalizes the acid/base level. On the other hand, if your intestinal tract is too acidic, the same postbiotic metabolites will help to make the environment slightly more alkaline. Both Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics and Dr. Ohhira’s skin care products contain the postbiotic metabolites that are produced during the multi-year fermentation production process. As explained above, many of these compounds are adaptogenic. Therefore, Dr. Ohhira’s skin care products can be thought of as adaptogenic skin care products. They help to normalize your skin by helping to maintain optimal levels of skin hydration, acid/base balance, production of the skin’s antimicrobial peptides, and support the maintenance of a healthy skin microbiome.
18How does Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics make it past stomach acids and into the GI Tract?
Dr. Ohhira’s uses a patented capsule ingredient (or matrix) that has a permeable membrane that protects the contents (the fermented paste) and prevents entry or contamination by harmful organisms, gastric acids or other degrading material from entering the capsule and affecting the biome of the fermented paste from being harmed. After a period of time your body temperature stimulates the permeable membrane and will allow the contents to pass thru to the colon and small intestine.
19I am allergic to soy and notice that it is listed on your label as one of the ingredients. Can I safely take Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics®?
During Dr. Ohhira’s three-year fermentation process any allergy-causing soy proteins are broken down into a substance that is no longer recognized by the immune system as the same protein. Soybeans used in long-term fermentation process are predigested and structurally modified to reduce or eliminate any allergic reaction to soy. However, if you are concerned about a reaction, always seek the advice of your health care provider. Click here for more information about soy.
20Are Dr. Ohhira's products freeze-dried?
None of Dr. Ohhira's products are freeze-dried or centrifuged.
21Why do most probiotic products require refrigeration?
Isolated freeze-dried bacteria are fragile due to the aggressive process used to manufacture them. Dr. Ohhira’s are live, stable and happy at room temperature.
22If I take Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics do I need to take Reg’Activ?

Dr. Ohhira Probiotics is the final amalgamation of probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other bioactive nutrients created during the fermentation process. Dr. Ohhira’s is the leading product to “remodel the digestive tract.” A properly functioning digestive tract is critical for optimal functioning of the immune system and overall good health.

ME-3 is proven to produce glutathione naturally in the human body. Working as a glutathione-activating agent via three different mechanisms, Reg´Activ® is set to impact the future of preventative and restorative health on a cellular level.

Dr. Ohhira’s and Reg´Activ® can safely be consumed separately or in combination depending on an individual’s health goals.

23Can I take Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics and Reg’Activ together?
Dr. Ohhira’s and Reg´Activ® can safely be consumed separately or in combination depending on an individual’s health goals.
24I am concerned about Carrageenan as an ingredient in Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics. Why is it used?

Essential Formulas Incorporated is of the opinion the use of food grade carrageenan is safe and acts as an effective material for "a smooth mouth feel." Please feel assured you and yours may continue to consume Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics with peace of mind.

The carrageenan used in Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics is extracted using a multi-step process to avoid any degradation either by boiling the seaweed in water and freeze-drying it, or by precipitation with alcohol and then concentrating it by evaporation. Carrageenan is used as a thickening, emulsifying and stabilizing agent in ice cream, yogurt, custards, jellies, cream cheese, cottage cheese and other dairy products, as well as chocolate products, pie fillings, salad dressings, soups, soy milk, and as a fat substitute in processed meats, and in toothpaste to mention just a few. For more information, click here.

25What other dietary supplements and products do you offer?

Dietary Supplements: Along with the award-winning Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics®, Dr. Ohhira has formulated a Brazilian green propolis product and Vegan Omega-3, 6, and 9 plant and seed oils. Together, our probiotics, propolis, and certified Vegan omegas provide strong supplementation to address modern health challenges.*

Skin and Beauty Care: Probiotics are good for your skin too! Dr. Ohhira has crafted a beauty bar and a growing selection of moisturizers that contain his probiotic support blend and botanical ingredients to help cleanse and nourish the skin naturally. These products are incredible for sensitive skin and contain no artificial chemicals, fragrances, or surfactants.

26Is Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics Enteric Coated?
Technically, Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics does not have an enteric coating to its capsule but it is acid-resistant. Dr. Ohhira’s uses a patented capsule ingredient (or matrix) that has a permeable membrane that protects the contents (the fermented paste) and prevents entry or contamination by harmful organisms, gastric acids or other degrading material from entering the capsule and affecting the biome of the fermented paste from being harmed. After a period of time your body temperature stimulates the permeable membrane and will allow the contents to pass thru to the colon and small intestine.

Troubled by a term?

Click Here for our Glossary of Probiotic Terminology