The road to health requires more than just supplements, but the right supplements can be incredibly supportive.
I’ve tried a lot of supplements over the years and many of them have ended up in my supplement graveyard (that drawer of pills you can’t bear to throw away because you paid good $ for them).
But there are a few supplements I swear by, use myself and recommend to my clients with confidence. And I am sharing those with you.
These supplements will help with leaky gut, anxiety/depression, tummy inflammation and infections, constipation and detoxification.
If you want to learn about or purchase the supplements below, just click on the blue text to be taken directly to the products on Amazon.
Probiotics are very popular and there are too many to choose from. I get asked which ones I recommend all the time. Here are my two favorites.
The first is prescript-assist, the only probiotic safe for everyone because it won’t contribute to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). If taking probiotics in the past has made you bloat or feel worse then you should get tested for SIBO and/or try this brand. It does not contain lactobacillus acidophilus which can encourage SIBO growth and is included in most brands.
SIBO is a very common infection among IBS sufferers. It is an over population of bacteria in the small intestine that can cause bloating, constipation/diarhea and pain.
I also like Prescript-assist for non SIBO folks because it bolsters the immune system with minimal reactions or die off.
My other top choice is Natren Healthy Trinity. This high quality product provides exactly what is written on the label while other probiotics may not. With multiple strain probiotics, the dominant strain can kill the other strains. Natren encapsulates each strain separately so they don’t interact, and you get what you pay for.
For Leaky Gut
Leaky gut (also called intestinal permeability) is the most common issue I see among clients, IBS sufferers and the general population.
When the tight junctions of the gut cell wall open up to let undigested food particles, yeast, toxins and other waste pass through into the blood stream, you have leaky gut.
Many things can compromise the gut lining, including stress, bad nutrition (coffee, sugar, alcohol, processed foods), inflammatory food allergies, pharmaceuticals (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) or a gut infection.
When your gut becomes permeable, your immune system becomes overwhelmed with threats. Chronic inflammation ensues and the usual immune maintenance and clean of the body is put on hold.
Aside from digestive issues, symptoms of leaky gut include joint pain, food allergies, skin reactions and rashes, headaches, brain fog and sinus issues.
As your immune system weakens from overwork, parasites, bacteria and viruses have the upper hand. If leaky gut persists and worsens for a long time it can eventually cause autoimmune disease.
But what is broken can be fixed. You can “spakle” your intestinal wall with my favorite repair supplement mucosagen.
It contains a mix of herbs that calm inflammation, soothe irritation and repair the lining. My husband, who used to have leaky gut, takes mucosagen daily as a preventative measure against the effects of job stress.
Here’s my other favorite supplement for leaky gut. Collagen and gelatin also seal the tight junctions in the gut lining, plus more.
So first of all the difference between the two. Gelatin is better for improving gut health by coating the intestines with a protective layer. It helps carry fluid through the intestines and must be mixed into warm or hot liquids. You can use it to make healing jello treats and gummies.
Collagen dissolves in cold water and is easier to absorb. It improves skin and joint health and promotes better sleep. It makes a wonderful protein powder to add to smoothies or other beverages to help stabilize blood sugar. I add this to my tea every morning. I also add one or the other to soups, stews, lemonade, sauces and muffin recipes.
Both collagen and gelatin are both high in an important amino acid called glycine, which improves digestive, joint, cardiovascular, cognitive and skin health by reducing inflammation and sealing the gut lining. It also boosts collagen production and adds strength and sheen to nails, skin and hair.
If you are too busy or lazy to make bone broth, this is the next best thing.
For anxiety, stress relief & constipation
This supplement is for calming anxiety, promoting better sleep and helping with constipation. It has a laxative effect without the side effects of stool softeners like MiraLax.
If you are on a laxative or stool softener, like MiraLax or a related brand, I suggest switching to magnesium. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration put MiraLax on it’s Adverse Event Reporting System in connection to “neuropsychiatric events.” This refers to neurological disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system such as autism, dementia, depression, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
In addition Miralax can wipe away the colon’s protective layer of beneficial bacteria, leaving it vulnerable to disease.
Natural calm magnesium is a great alternative to laxatives with none of their side effects, but shouldn’t be taken if diarrhea is an issue. Many people are deficient in magnesium, causing symptoms of anxiety/restlessness, weakness, cramps and twitchy muscles. Magnesium will relax muscles and is the perfect evening beverage to promote restful sleep.
5-HTP is an amino acid precursor to serotonin. Low serotonin production is associated with gut dysfunction. About 80 to 90 percent of serotonin is produced in the gut.
People with low serotonin may feel better when prescribed SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) but there’s often a price to pay. SSRIs may cause side effects like insomnia, dizziness, agitation, nausea, headaches, reduced sex drive, blurred vision or suicidal thoughts. They also tax the liver which adversely affects metabolism, detoxification and hormonal balance.
If you are considering SSRIs, try 5 HTP first. If you are on SSRIs to address IBS, talk to your doctor about reducing slowly. Going cold turkey is never advisable. And never take 5 HTP and SSRIs at the same time.
5-HTP supplementation can help with PMS, migraines, depression, anxiety, insomnia and addictive behaviors.
This is one of my favorite products for emotional and mood support. It works best for calming the anxiety response and builds tolerance to stress.
L-theanine is an amino acid, like 5-HTP, and can be found in green tea. GABA is a neurotransmitter that calms the central nervous system.You can’t get GABA from fresh food but fermented foods can help support the production of GABA in the body.
L theanine helps increase GABA activity and also helps produce calming alpha brain waves (the kind you experience during meditation). L-theanine supplements are also used for managing high blood pressure or lowering the risk of dementia.
My favorite, non-supplement remedies for calming the nervous system. I was introduced to eye pillows through my restorative yoga practice. I find them so relaxing that I use them to fall asleep when I’m feeling wired or restless. They work by activating the vagus nerve with gentle eye pressure.
The vagaus nerve is the main nerve that regulates digestion and relaxation and connects the mind and body. Activating this nerve switches the body from fight or flight to ‘rest and digest’ mode.
One of the best supplements for liver support and detoxification. It may not get much mainstream press but the pros know how well it works. NAC is used in hospitals to reverse liver damage from an acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose.
My friends use this supplement to prevent hangovers because it supports the liver and detoxifies it even when it’s overwhelmed by “poisons” like alcohol and sugar.
NAC, which stands for N-Acetyle Cysteine, restores normal levels of glutathione, which helps detox the liver.
It’s also protective to the lungs, so if you’re a smoker or have issues like chronic bronchitis, pneumonia or emphysema, NAC will help.
Lastly, NAC is a great biofilm buster. Biofilms are formed by bacterial, yeast and viral infections as a protective shield from immune system attack. NAC breaks through that shield, making herbal remedies more effective at clearing up infections.
Liver detoxification is important for healthy gut function, metabolism and balancing hormones. It also helps rid the body of harmful toxins like heavy metal and pesticides, which in turn boosts the immune system and tames inflammation.
NAC also helps the body break down mucus, so if you see mucus in your stool, here’s a way to deal with it naturally.
For the stomach
I used this mild and pleasant-tasting tea to heal my h pylori infection when nothing else worked. It has also worked for several of my clients.
Matula tea comes from South Africa, derived from a local tree. Among having powerful antibacterial properties, it mends ulcers and relieves stomach inflammation by repairing the mucosal lining.
I think everyone should take digestive enzymes. I take one when I eat meat. I like this particular enzyme because it has 200 mg of HCL (hydrochloric acid) to raise low stomach acid.
Low stomach acid is an issue for many people with IBS, myself included. My stomach acid production is a lot better than it used to be but not great, so I use extra support.
Strong stomach acid is our first line of defense against unwanted parasites, viruses and pathogenic bacteria invading our bodies. Strong stomach acid kills these invaders.
People with low stomach acid often have symptoms like heart burn/reflux/GERD or trouble digesting meat/protein. Doctors often prescribe acid lowering medications but it makes these problems worse. This is part of my story. I healed my reflux, GERD and heartburn with HCL when proton pump inhibitors did nothing.
Most nutrient dense multi vitamin for B12, iron, zinc
Yes, you read right. Liver pills.
A common issue I see with IBS sufferers is nutritional deficiency due to compromised digestion and absorption. These liver pills provide crucial vitamins, nutrients and minerals that the body is lacking in an easy-to-digest form. B12 and zinc are two of the most important nutrients for proper functioning of the immune system and gut.
Most multi vitamins are manufactured synthetically in the lab. These have just as much if not more nutrition, but are made from real food.
While everyone can benefit from these nutrient dense pills, I strongly recommend them to people who don’t eat much animal protein or red meat or are transitioning vegetarians.
Liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Vitamins A and B are quickly depleted during stress and liver has more vitamin A than carrots and is loaded with B vitamins like B-12 and folate. It also has CoQ10, for allergies. People who don’t like the taste of liver can get all the benefits from these capsules of powdered liver.
What about dosages?
When it come to supplement dosages, you should always work with a practitioner to dial in exactly what your body needs.
But if you want to start on your own, just follow the dosing instructions on the bottles.
I also advise starting one new supplement at a time so if there’s a reaction you’ll know what caused it.
I hope this was helpful. I am big fan of switching from harsh pharmaceuticals to natural alternatives with minimal side effects. For people with sluggish liver function and hormonal issues, this is especially important.
These are the supplements I believe give the most benefit with the least amount of harm.
Angela Privin is proof that IBS is NOT an incurable disease or a disease at all. IBS is a body out of balance. It’s an invitation for change. After solving her own IBS mystery more than a decade ago Angela trained as a health coach to help others.
Angela uses both science and intuition to help people figure out what’s out of balance in their body. She works with lab tests, dietary changes, supplementation and nervous system rebalancing. Get help rebalancing your digestive system and solving your IBS mystery here.