Why I stopped taking Symprove – an honest review

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Published: May 30, 2024

I took Symprove for 6-months before stopping. Find out why I stopped (but why I may start again in the future) in my honest Symprove review.

4.5 out of 5

You might be sceptical after reading the title of my Symprove review, but after 6 months of taking this probiotic supplement, I have indeed stopped – much to the relief of my credit card. And I want you to know that supplements need not be a permanent fixture in your life either!

I first started taking Symprove after being diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). My symptoms included diarrhoea, painful bloating, abdominal spasms, and gas, along with the knock-on effects of poor mental health and inflamed skin (eczema).

I committed to an initial 12-week course but continued for 6 months in total. During this time, I put Symprove through its paces, experiencing multiple IBS flare-ups and spending much of my time travelling and trying new cuisines. It coped well, and I saw some significant changes in my gut health.

However, I don’t believe we should all rely on supplements indefinitely, especially given the high cost of living. So, after six months, I decided to stop taking Symprove – for now, at least.

In what I hope will be one of the most honest Symprove reviews you’ll read, I’ll share my experience of taking Symprove and my reasons for stopping. I’ll also discuss how my gut has coped since stopping.

Disclaimer: I initially purchased Symprove on my own and was not compensated for writing this review. However, I have since been gifted products by Symprove.

Pros

  • The most effective probiotic I’ve tried
  • Helped manage my IBS
  • Positive effects on my mental health
  • Reduced skin inflammation

Cons

  • Difficult initial side effects
  • It is expensive
  • It has its limitations
A box of Symprove with a bottle next to it on top of a grey towel on a stone floor - for this Symprove review
This box contains a 1-month supply of Symprove

What is Symprove?

Symprove is a water-based food supplement that delivers live bacteria straight to your gut. You take a shot every morning, 10 minutes before eating or drinking anything (but you don’t have to eat anything 10 minutes after). Whilst they don’t call themselves a probiotic, due to European food laws, technically they contain probiotics and are used as such.

Their supplement is made up of four unique and scientifically proven strains of healthy bacteria:

  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus (l rhamnosus)
  • Enterococcus faecium (e faecium)
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (l acidophilus)
  • Lactiplantibacillus plantarum (l plantarum)

Symprove has a higher chance of reaching your gut undisturbed by the digestive process because the active bacteria are delivered inside liquid.

The Symprove probiotic supplement box and bottle - Symprove Review product photo
OfferCost
50% off first 3-months£25.00 pm
12-month subscription£39.99 pm
Flexible rolling subscription£49.99 pm

My experience with Symprove

I’ll start by breaking my Symprove journey down month-by-month, before going into more detail about how it helped my IBS, my skin, and my mental health. I’ll also cover issues surrounding the detox period, the taste, and the cost.

How quickly does Symprove work?

From reading various Symprove reviews I have learnt that the speed at which it starts working can vary from person to person. For me, I started seeing results in the first 4 weeks but truly reaped the benefits after 12 weeks. Here is how quickly Symprove worked for me, month by month:

  • Month 1: After an initial couple of weeks where I was visiting the toilet a lot more regularly and bloating frequently (the detox period), I started to bloat less and found myself feeling less sick after eating. My GERD symptoms also began to reduce, meaning I was coughing less after eating.
  • Month 2: Reductions in bloating and excess gas continued. When I did bloat, it wasn’t painful in my upper abdomen and would subside after passing gas. Minor flare-ups from trigger foods became more manageable and less debilitating.
  • Month 3: I barely had any IBS symptoms, even after eating trigger foods like bread and pasta. The key thing I noticed was how my abdominal spasms had disappeared. My stools were looking healthy and normal again. Specifically, they went from a Type 6 to a Type 4 on the Bristol Stool Form Scale. You’ll be happy to know I haven’t uploaded any photographs of my stools.
  • Month 4: My eczema-prone skin began to clear up, with less flakiness and reduced redness. IBS flare-ups were rare, although stress occasionally caused some abdominal pain and bloating. However, these episodes were brief and easy to overcome.
  • Month 5: My mental health improved significantly, with fewer anxious thoughts and a marked reduction in depressive episodes. I also noticed that my immune system seemed stronger, as I hadn’t been sick for months.
  • Month 6: Overall, my body felt like it did before IBS. My brain fog lifted, making work much easier. I could eat out at restaurants with fewer repercussions. While I was still prone to occasional flare-ups, recovery was quick.

Symprove has helped break the vicious cycle of ‘bad mental health = bad gut health = bad mental health’. It hasn’t cured my IBS, but it has rebalanced the bacteria in my microbiome, preparing it for times of high stress and anxiety.

A close up of the bottle of Symprove for this Symprove review

The side effects

In my experience, the side effects of Symprove were quite noticeable initially and actually worsened some of my existing gut issues during the first couple of weeks.

Despite my frequent trips to the toilet due to IBS-D, I found myself needing to go even more often. My stools became significantly looser, shifting from my usual IBS Type 6 (mushy consistency) to Type 7 (entirely liquid) on the Bristol Stool Form Scale.

I also experienced increased bloating after nearly every meal, whereas typically I only bloated after larger meals or consuming trigger foods.

These side effects began to normalise after a few weeks as my gut adapted to the live bacteria. I managed the symptoms well, understanding that this was a sign Symprove was working on my microbiome.

Update: After my initial 6-month course of Symprove, I stopped taking it but have resumed it a few times to manage IBS flare-ups. Each time, I only experienced side effects for the first few days, likely because my gut was in a healthier state compared to when I first started Symprove.

How it helped my IBS

I was diagnosed with IBS in 2022 after several months of back-and-forth visits with my GP. My initial symptoms included persistent abdominal spasms, painful bloating, and daily diarrhoea. Despite extensive blood tests for various gut-related issues, the results were negative. After further testing and consultations, my GP diagnosed me with IBS.

I decided to try Symprove after reading some promising scientific studies about its effects on IBS. For example, a study published in BMJ reported a significantly greater reduction in symptoms for those taking the supplement compared to those on a placebo. Similar results were found in research conducted by UCL.

To give Symprove a fair trial, I committed to taking it for six months. You can read about the month-by-month changes here, but in summary, these are the improvements I experienced:

  • No bloating first thing in the morning before eating
  • No bloating immediately after meals
  • No nausea after eating
  • No abdominal pains or spasms throughout the day
  • More solid stools and no more diarrhoea (from Type 6 to Type 4 on the Bristol Stool Form Scale)
  • Less excess gas and significantly less smelly flatulence
  • A substantial reduction in acid reflux and indigestion (from GERD)

Despite these improvements, Symprove didn’t cure my IBS. Instead, it helped manage my symptoms by introducing beneficial bacteria into my gut daily. This helped rebalance my gut microbiome, which had been negatively impacted by high stress and anxiety levels (read the science).

In addition to Symprove, what has helped me avoid future IBS flare-ups is a combination of talking therapy, diet, and probiotics. I followed a low FODMAP elimination diet to identify my trigger foods, which has been a game changer. However, since my triggers include fructans and I love bread, adhering to the diet can be challenging. Managing my mental health has also been a rollercoaster. In these instances, Symprove is always there to support me when things don’t go as planned.

How it helped my mental health

My experience of taking Symprove has been very positive, not only with my gut but also with my mental health and general mood. After a few months of taking it, my gut was experiencing some much-needed relief and I believe this gave my mental health the time and space to heal.

It was after 3 months that my anxiety decreased significantly. Since I was bloating less, experiencing fewer spasms in my abdomen, and feeling less gas bubbling away in my gut, I was no longer tensing up my body. Nor was I worrying about the location of the closest toilet whenever I left the house, or talking or coughing so that I could cover up the noises of my very loud and obnoxious gut. All of which was potentially causing my body to live in a constant state of anxiety.

I also found myself to be a lot happier in my day-to-day life. Having found out that the gut produces about 95% of the body’s total serotonin, I can’t say I’m surprised! My gut is so heavily linked to my mental health (read more about the gut-mind connection here), and the two have been negatively impacting each other for years.

This is why I believe Symprove provided my brain with the time and space to heal. Thankfully, this positive journey has led me into talking therapy and now I’m tackling this issue from both angles!

I’ve tried so many different probiotic supplements, but none of them have been able to help to this extent.

How it helped my skin health

I have struggled with a mix of skin conditions throughout my life, including eczema and psoriasis. And I figured out that whenever my gut was in a bad place, so were my skin conditions. During my worst IBS flare-ups, I would get horrible itchy scaly skin that would spread from my elbows and knees onto my hands, my ears and even my eyelids.

This is because the inflammation in your gut can have a knock-on effect on any inflammation of your skin. So unsurprisingly, after taking Symprove for over 3 months and reducing my gut inflammation, my skin became less flakey, itchy and red. Plus it stopped spreading to new areas.

Now, I won’t claim that Symprove got rid of my eczema. Because, well, it didn’t. But it has helped to keep the inflammation of these areas down by healing my gut.

A travel bag with travel bottles of Symprove falling out amongst my belongings - for this Symprove review
Their handy travel-sized bottles are perfect for taking on holiday

My reasons for stopping Symprove

At the 6-month mark, I decided to evaluate my situation carefully. I had experienced some pretty significant changes in my gut but despite the internet telling me I should continue taking probiotic supplements for life, I was hesitant. Ultimately, I decided to stop for these reasons:

  • Gut issues under control: After six months on Symprove, my gut issues had significantly improved. The bloating, gas, and irregular digestion that once dominated my life were now under control. I was enjoying meals without immediate discomfort and no longer felt my gut dictating my daily activities. With this came the ability to consume fermented foods and drinks, which are naturally high in healthy bacteria, enabling me to introduce more diverse probiotics into my gut (see below).
  • Results had plateaued: Despite the initial improvements, I noticed that my progress had plateaued. While Symprove had brought me to a much better place, I still experienced occasional bloating and gas, especially when consuming trigger foods or during stressful times. It became clear that Symprove had taken me as far as it could, and I wasn’t seeing further benefits from continued use. Instead, I believe I had reached a ‘maintenance’ stage.
  • Limited diversity: One of the key insights from my research into gut health was the importance of microbial diversity. While Symprove provided specific strains of beneficial bacteria, I realised that relying on a single supplement might limit the diversity of my gut microbiome. Instead, I decided to diversify the bacteria in my microbiome by incorporating a variety of fermented foods like kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut. Each food brought different strains of beneficial bacteria to my gut, contributing to a more balanced and robust microbiome.
  • The price: There is no denying that Symprove is expensive. But I can understand why it costs the amount it does – it is an effective probiotic supplement! If you can afford to keep taking it permanently, then I would recommend you do it alongside eating a varied whole foods diet. However, for most of us, it is an extra cost on top of our already skyrocketing living costs. So by investing in 6 months of Symprove and then letting my diet continue from where it left off, I could save some money.

Whilst I can understand why it may be beneficial to continue using Symprove permanently, particularly when it works, I did feel it was important to find out what would happen if I stopped. I wanted to see if my gut issues would return and whether I would actually save money, or if I’d just end up having to start again from scratch with Symprove. Read on to find out what happened when I stopped.

What happened when I stopped?

After deciding to stop taking Symprove, I prepared myself for a potential resurgence of my gut issues. To my surprise, not much changed. The first few weeks my gut stayed in a pretty consistent state and remained so for quite a few months, until I hit another bad patch with my mental health and my IBS flared up (see more below).

However, I made sure to maintain a diverse diet, eating at least 30 different types of plants each week and including plenty of fermented foods. This meant that I was still consuming good bacteria for my gut.

Symprove contains only four different bacteria strains, whereas your microbiome can contain hundreds to thousands. By eating a varied plant-based diet, I was now in fact introducing a wider range of bacteria into my gut.

Thankfully, I enjoy eating fermented foods. Most days I eat kimchi, fermented hot sauces, hand-brewed kombucha, and much more. If you don’t, you will have a harder time ensuring you maintain a diverse gut microbiome without taking a probiotic supplement. In fact, you may well find the positive effects you enjoyed from taking Symprove will quickly reverse. So, if you are considering stopping Symprove, keep this in mind!

Why I might take Symprove again

Even though I don’t take Symprove permanently, I can’t deny the powerful effects of a daily shot of live and friendly bacteria. It is seemingly one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve bad gut health, no matter whether you have IBS, IBD, bloating, gas, digestive issues, ulcerative colitis, or you’ve been on a course of antibiotics.

I know that whenever my gut is in a bad state I can fall back on Symprove. For example, since originally testing out Symprove for 6 months, I contracted food poisoning in Bali. It was probably the most unwell I have ever been and the side effects continued for weeks. To help get my gut back to a healthy state I knew it needed a helping hand, so I committed to another 12-week course of Symprove.

On top of this, whenever my mental health is at its worst I am prone to nasty IBS flare-ups. Unfortunately, my IBS makes it impossible to eat fermented foods and drinks, so I have to strip my diet of the very foods that provide me with the most probiotics. This is the beauty of Symprove, it can provide my gut with probiotics without worsening my IBS! There has been one instance of this since my initial 6-month testing period and I used Symprove for 12 weeks to help manage the symptoms and get through the worst periods.

A box of the travel Symprove bottles on the floor next to a grey towel for this Symprove review

My Verdict

As Professor Simon Gaisford, Head of Pharmaceutics at UCL School of Pharmacy, notes: “Symprove is different from other probiotics because it is water-based, which means it limits exposure to gastric juices and digestive enzymes.” This unique feature explains why Symprove is the only probiotic supplement that has worked for me, alleviating many of my gut issues. Within the first 12 weeks, I experienced improvements in my bowel schedule, reduced bloating and gas, no abdominal pains, and fewer colon spasms after eating.

A 2013 study found significant improvements in brain activity of participants who took probiotics for 4 weeks. Similarly, after 4 months of taking Symprove, I noticed a significant reduction in my brain fog and anxiety levels.

However, not everyone needs to take a probiotic supplement. Dr. Ruscio advises trying a healthy diet first. If you’re still not experiencing relief from your symptoms, you might consider taking Symprove. This was true for me; my gut microbiome needed additional support beyond a healthy diet.

After six months of significant improvements, I stopped taking Symprove. The positive effects have persisted, but I maintain a varied plant-based diet rich in fermented foods. Whenever I experience an IBS flare-up, I commit to a 12-week course of Symprove and then discontinue. I have followed this regimen once since originally writing this review!

The Symprove probiotic supplement box and bottle - Symprove Review product photo
OfferCost
50% off first 3-months£25.00 pm
12-month subscription£39.99 pm
Flexible rolling subscription£49.99 pm

Alternatives to Symprove

When it comes to probiotics, Symprove is easily the most effective I’ve tried, but it is also understandably one of the most expensive. Moreover, not all supplements work perfectly for every individual. Therefore, it’s good to know there are alternatives available:

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