I frequently discover new probiotic supplements that have a lot of slick marketing and hype associated with them. Often probiotic supplements that require a lot of marketing tend to be ones that I do not recommend. However, lately, I have been receiving many inquiries about Seed probiotic, and if I recommend it. Seed might be different from other heavily marketed probiotics; it seems to be a decent probiotic supplement. So what is Seed Synbiotic, will it improve your digestive health, can it worsen your digestive health, and do I recommend its use?
Seed was founded by the successful entrepreneurs Ara Katz and Raja Dhir who started selling their commercial probiotic supplement in 2018. Seed has a scientific advisory board including Dr. Gregor Reid, Dr. Jacques Ravel, and many other doctors from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Baylor College of Medicine that contribute to making this probiotic as scientifically beneficial to our digestive health as possible. Ara Katz and Raja Dhir also founded Seed laboratory which is currently researching ways to improve the health of our critically ill honeybee population, researching strains of plastic-degrading bacteria, and researching bacteria that can produce biomaterials including plastic-like substances. Seed is doing more than improving our microbiome; they are claiming they are trying to make our world a healthier place to live.
Seed’s website is very forthcoming with information about their production processes and the specific strains that are used in their probiotic supplement. Seed has branded their supplement as a Synbiotic, which is a synergistic combination of beneficial probiotic strains and targeted prebiotics. Seed claims that their Synbiotic is one of the most effective probiotics on the market currently.
So what information does Seed provide on their website about the specific strains that they use in their probiotic?
“Our strain collection includes probiotic strains banked in Italy, Denmark, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Spain, Japan, and the United States. Our collection of strains, methods of use, finished formulations, and scale-up processes are unique to Seed and not found in yogurt, fermented foods, or ‘probiotic’ beverages. All of our strains have GRAS and/or QPS (Qualified Presumption of Safety) status under the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA). They are not cultured with, and are free from the 12 Classes of Allergens defined in Annex IIIa of Directive 2007/68/EC.Directive 2007/68/EC.”
So what information does Seed provide about the purity of their probiotic supplement?
“Every microbe has its own preferred growth medium and ideal fermentation parameters for maximum viability as a probiotic. Our bacteria are biofermented in conditions optimized for pH, temperature, oxygen, water activity, and 26 other growth factors. Our mediums do not contain meat or dairy. Biofermentation of all strains are conducted under cGMP and HACCP guidelines.”
Finally what information does Seed provide about its probiotic supplement surviving in the gastrointestinal tract?
“Our mechanistic research includes human cell line testing (Caco-2), in vitro research (TEER test), short-chain fatty acid testing, gastrointestinal transit assays measuring resistance to biological substances (stomach acid, primary bile salts, secondary bile salts, digestive enzymes), and a genomic pathway model evaluating oxidative stress and anti-inflammatory effects on specific pathways (Nrf2) in the human body.”
I should give Seed a little credit they do provide a multitude of information about their probiotic supplement on their website. From the individual strains used in the probiotic, to how their probiotic is produced, and their detailed supplement label. I applaud their transparency. Hopefully, in the future, they provide us with certificates of authenticity and purity of their strains and at least one double-blind placebo-controlled non funded study, but for now, the information provided is beneficial towards me recommending the probiotic supplement.
Two different Synbiotic supplements are offered by Seed, one for males and one for females. The only difference between the two versions is that the supplement for females includes some different strains of bacteria (for skin health and production of folate in the gut for reproductive health): Bifidobacterium adolescentis BA5, Bifidobacterium lactis CECT8145, Bifidobacterium longum CECT7347, Lactobacillus casei CECT9104, Lactobacillus crispatus LCR01, Lactobacillus fermentum LF8, and Lactobacillus salivarius LS1. I actually recommend that if you are going to use Seed Synbiotic you use the male formula because it does not contain a problematic strain of Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus fermentum. Lactobacillus fermentum is known in medical literature to cause dental caries, cholecystitis, and can be very antibiotic resistant depending on the strain. I also do not recommend supplementing with Lactobacillus fermentum LF8 the strain specifically used in Seed because it is not the most studied strain of Lactobacillus fermentum which is Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3. I could not find any data on the antibiotic susceptibility for Lactobacillus fermentum LF8, if anyone comes across any literature about it, send it to me and I will change my recommendation. However, currently, I cannot recommend the female formula of Seed Synbiotic.
Seed contains strains of common bacteria that are considered to be probiotic, including different strains of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and one strain of Streptococcus thermophilus (FP4). Some of the strains that are used in the Seed Synbiotic are some of the most beneficial and researched strains in the world including Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Bifidobacterium longum BB536, and Bifidobacterium infantis M63. I wish they included Lactobacillus plantarum 299V instead of LP1 and LPLDL and Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 instead of RD830 and LRE2, if so their supplement would be one of the most clinically researched and effective probiotic supplements on the market. Finally, I am glad that Seed did not include any hemostatic soil organisms “probiotics” in their supplement because of the questions of efficacy and safety associated with their use.
Seed claims on its website that its Synbiotic is vegan, gluten-free, non-GM sourced, preservative free, allergen-free, and that no refrigeration is required for its probiotic supplement because it is shelf stable. The supplement claimed that it contains 58.1 billion active fluorescent units of bacteria per capsule of the male formula. The outer capsule contains “20 strains characterized at academic institutions and research partners in Italy, Spain, Belgium, United States, and Japan. The strains are biofermented in Europe and free of all 12 allergen classes under the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).” The inner capsule contains the prebiotics “punicalagins isolated and purified from Indian pomegranate and concentrated phenolic compounds from wild-harvested organic Scandinavian chaga and pine bark.” I am glad that they added pomegranate as a prebiotic to the supplement since it helps feed Akkermansia muciniphila a bacteria from the order Verrucomicrobiales that is generally reduced in people who have taken a multitude of antibiotics. Akkermansia muciniphila is a keystone species; it helps maintain the health of our mucosal barrier by degrading mucin which our body will secrete and replace, maintaining and thickening a healthy mucosal barrier. Many people suffering from reflux disorders tend to have lower colony forming units of Akkermansia muciniphila in stool tests. Though, Akkermansia muciniphila dysbiosis increases inflammation because it is a Gram-negative bacteria that contains endotoxins in its cell wall and may cause leaky gut from degrading too much mucin, many people lack healthy colonies of Akkermansia that are needed for proper digestion.6 7 8
The capsule contains an acid-resistant vegan outer capsule containing hypromellose, fermented gellan gum, water, and chlorophyllin to protect the probiotics from stomach acid and allow Seed to release its contents into the small and large intestine. Chlorophyllin is derived from algae and is added to the capsules to protect the probiotics from light exposure and to give the Synbiotic capsule a modern dark green sheen. Two capsules of the Synbiotic are recommended to be taken on an empty stomach before bed.
Who Should Avoid Supplementing With Seed Probiotic (Synbiotic)
People who are suffering from histamine intolerance and D-lactate metabolism issues should avoid supplementing with Seed Synbiotic. The Synbiotic contains bacterial strains that can produce both histamine and D-lactate, which can cause problems for people who do not metabolize them well. For example, Lactobacillus reuteri and Streptococcus thermophilus can metabolize L-histidine into histamine, which increases histamine burden and worsens histamine intolerance. Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus reuteri produce D-lactate and can make people suffering from D-lactate metabolism issues more symptomatic. Therefore I cannot recommend anyone suffering from histamine intolerance or D-lactate issues take Seed Synbiotic. Finally, people suffering from severe helper cell dominance (TH1/TH2/TH17) may react negatively to the probiotic supplement as well, and it may worsen symptoms.
Does Fix Your Gut Recommend Seed Probiotic (Synbiotic)
As a general probiotic supplement, yes we do cautiously recommend it. If someone is looking for a probiotic to take and does not suffer from histamine intolerance and D-lactate metabolism issues or moderate to severe dysbiosis like SIBO (where a multiple strain probiotic like Smidge might be better tolerated), then Seed might be a good probiotic supplement to try to see if it improves your health. I do like and agree that they list on their website that “probiotics don’t need to colonize (take up permanent residence) in your gut to work. Our probiotic strains are transient microbes, which journey through your colon (where the majority of your microbiome resides), to activate systemic benefits through programmed interactions with your existing bacteria and your body (their host).” There is a lot of good research about probiotics on Seed’s website, and you can tell that they put a lot of care and research in developing and producing their probiotic.
However, I do disagree with Chris Kresser’s statement on the website about the probiotic supplement:9
Sometimes I do not know about your recommendations, Chris, they seem to good to be true. Just like when you recommended Prescript Assist similarly in the past. People with histamine intolerance and D-lactate issues might not be able to tolerate Seed; you should know that.
Finally, one of my main issues with Seed Synbiotic is that it cannot be purchased from Amazon, iHerb, or any brick and mortar stores currently, it has to be bought from Seed.com as part of a monthly subscription service of $49.99. Hopefully, this will change in the future, and you will be able to purchase it through other methods.10
The Truth is Out There
For some, the final section of the blog might be a little too conspiratorial, if so skip it. However, I do want to report a few things that further caution my recommendation of Seed Synbiotic separately from the probiotic supplement itself.11
- Raja Dhir (co-founder of Seed) “has negotiated multiple joint-ventures, strategic partnerships, technology transfer and licensing agreements with publicly traded companies (NYSE, LSE) and academic institutions (Harvard Medical School, UCLA). To date, entities he has co-founded own the rights to 15+ patents and research emerging from $25MM+ of non-dilutive funding over 10+ years from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and National Institute of Health (NIH).“
- Jim Fielding is a general adviser for Seed “Jim Fielding is currently the President of Consumer Products and Innovation for 20th Century Fox Film and Fox Television Group, overseeing licensing and merchandising for a vast portfolio of creative assets, including some of the most powerful and enduring television franchises in the world. Previously, Fielding served as the Global Head of Consumer Products and Retail Development for Dreamworks Animation, and was CEO of Claire’s Stores Inc., overseeing strategic growth for the retail chain’s over 3,000 stores worldwide. An industry veteran with more than 30 years experience, Fielding’s tenure at Claire’s Stores Inc. was preceded by four years as President of Disney Stores Worldwide, where he oversaw a $1.2 billion global business operating 360 stores as well as DisneyStore.com. An 11-year veteran of Disney, Fielding also held the position of EVP, Global Retail Sales and Marketing for Disney Consumer Products.“
- Seed’s chief scientist is Dr. Gregor Reid, who is the Chair of the United Nations World Health Organization Expert Panel on Probiotics.
- Dr. George M. Church “is a world-renowned geneticist, molecular engineer, chemist, and the Co-Director of SeedLabs. He is currently the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at both Harvard and MIT. George was a founding member of Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and serves as Director of the U.S. Department of Energy Technology Center, the National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence in Genomic Science, and an IARPA BRAIN Project. He has co-founded several application-based companies spanning the field of genetic sequencing, medical diagnostics, and synthetic biology and therapeutics, with groundbreaking research in chip-DNA-synthesis, gene editing, and stem cell engineering.“
- https://seed.com/we/ ↩
- https://seed.com/seedlabs/ ↩
- https://shop.seed.com/products/female-daily-synbiotic ↩
- https://shop.seed.com/products/male-daily-synbiotic ↩
- https://seed.com/science/ ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27940244 ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5945754/ ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6064808/ ↩
- https://shop.seed.com/pages/chriskresser ↩
- https://shop.seed.com/pages/chriskresser ↩
- https://seed.com/we/ ↩