Floraspring is a probiotic supplement made by a brand called Revival Labs that makes a number of bold health claims. The brand claims that their product will “supercharge metabolism” as well as “reduce inflammation and cravings”, which seems to suggest that the product can be an effective weight loss aid.
In this article we’ll review the ingredients in Floraspring based on published medical research to determine if these claims are likely to be accurate or if the product is a waste of money.
Prop Blend Issue
Floraspring’s ingredients are listed in a proprietary (prop) blend, which means that only the total dosage is listed but not the dose of each individual ingredient. We find this practice to be deceptive because it allows supplement manufacturers to potentially add miniscule amounts of exotic or expensive ingredients to make their Supplement Facts label look more impressive.
To illustrate the point, a supplement company could have a prop blend totalling 500 milligrams (mg), with one ingredient at a dose of 499.99 mg and another 10 ingredients totalling 0.01 mg. Because only the total dose is listed, consumers would have no way to know that the majority of ingredients in that supplement would be totally ineffective.
We’re not suggesting that Floraspring is doing this, but we make the general point because we believe that prop blends are a red flag consumers should be aware of. We recommend avoiding supplements with prop blends generally unless the company has published clinical research proving their special hidden blend of ingredients at the dosages included is effective.
Mislabeled Probiotic Designations
Floraspring refers to the ingredients in their formulation as “strains”, which is scientifically incorrect and suggests a lack of understanding of probiotics.
Probiotics have a genus, species, subspecies, and strain in descending order as outlined in this great probiotic overview document put together by the National Institutes of Health.
What is described on Floraspring’s label are probiotic species, not strains. Lactobacillus acidophilus, for example, is a species. Lactobacillus acidophilus CIRM-BIA 442 would be an example of a probiotic strain. It’s a more specific designation, and different strains within the same species have different health effects.
The fact that a probiotic company has apparently mislabeled basic probiotic taxonomy suggests their formulators are incompetent, and we would recommend avoiding this company based on this fact alone.
Floraspring’s prop blend totals 25 billion colony-forming units (CFU), which appears to be an effective overall probiotic dose based on medical research. A medical review of probiotic dosage published in the American Family Physician Journal found that a minimum daily dose of 10 billion CFU was effective.
The probiotic species used in Floraspring appear to be safe and well-studied. The first ingredient, lactobacillus acidophilus, is one of the probiotic species with the most research behind it.
While this ingredient is associated with beneficial health outcomes overall, it’s also associated with weight gain based on a medical review of 17 individual trials on lactobacillus supplements. Researchers found that this type of probiotic increased weight on average when supplemented, likely due to an effect on nutrient absorption in the gut.
Given the potential for lactobacillus acidophilus to cause weight gain, the fact that it’s the first ingredient (meaning it’s the highest-dosage) in a weight loss supplement is a sign that the supplement formulators are not good at their job.
Lactobacillus fermentum is the second-listed ingredient, but we can’t find any medical data suggesting the species is effective for weight loss. Given that it’s a lactobacillus probiotic, and based on the above-linked review, we will conclude that it’s not.
Some early animal research does suggest that this probiotic species may be effective for mitigating cardiovascular damage, but we can’t find any data suggesting it’s effective for the health claims made by Floraspring.
One specific strain of bifidobacterium breve, called bifidobacterium breve B-3, does appear to have anti-obesity effects based on a clinical trial published in the Bioscience of Microbiota, Food and Health journal. The researchers found that overweight subjects taking 50 billion CFU/day lost a statistically significant amount of weight relative to a control group.
However, we can’t take this data to suggest that this ingredient is effective in Floraspring, because Floraspring only listed the species and not the strain. We don’t know if the bifidobacterium breve they included was B-3 or a different strain. The bifidobacterium breve dose also appears underdosed in Floraspring, because the entire Floraspring dose with all 14 ingredients is 25 billion CFU (at an average of 1.79 billion per ingredient), while the dose used for that one single strain in the medical study was 50 billion.
Overall we don’t see a need to analyze every single ingredient in Floraspring because the individual doses or the probiotic strains aren’t listed, so there’s not much relevant data to gather.
We find this to be a generally ineffective supplement for weight loss given that most of the core ingredients are of a probiotic species that appears to be associated with weight gain.
We typically recommend whole-food probiotics rather than supplemental probiotics, because they tend to be cheaper and more effective. Probiotics from fermented foods tend to have higher CFU levels, and don’t have the risk of degradation from environmental conditions like a capsule probiotic potentially sitting on a hot shelf in a warehouse.
Kimchi is a food made from fermenting cabbage that’s part of Korean food culture, and it’s been shown in medical research to cause weight loss. The linked study found that the group consuming kimchi had a significantly lower body weight, body fat percentage and blood pressure level compared to a control group.
Yogurt is another healthy whole food with natural probiotic cultures that’s been associated in medical studies with improved obesity outcomes. A research study found that yogurt consumption may benefit obese patients by regulating appetite.
Another extensive medical review published in the Advances in Nutrition journal found an inverse association with yogurt consumption and body weight, as well as with waist circumference. This means that increased yogurt consumption made it less likely on average to be obese or have a high waist circumfrence.
We recommend whole-milk yogurt sourced from grass-fed animals as this is the most nutritionally-dense form of yogurt. Check on the label to make sure it states “contains live and active cultures” as that indicates that the probiotic cultures are expected to be live at the time of purchase.