Home tests update: Florastatus and IgG4 test
Background info: In parts 1 to 5 of this nmi-Portal blog series, I took a close look at self-tests and tried them out on myself. From IgG4 tests to stool analyses. Before the first stool test, I had taken probiotics and continued to take them, ate normally and did not change my diet. I then repeated the IgG test after six and eight weeks and the Florastatus stool test after eight weeks.
Intestinal flora analysis (flora status)
In this so-called intestinal flora analysis (or flora status), certain bacterial strains in the stool are determined. Many sufferers do this because they believe that their microbiome (incorrectly referred to as the intestinal flora) is to blame for their digestive problems. The status of the microbiome is determined and then certain probiotics are taken in the hope of positively influencing the microbiome in the gut. As explained in the previous blog posts, such tests pose fundamental problems, as they are only a snapshot and cannot provide any information about the location of the bacteria in the gut. Also, the bacterial species are not determined, only the genera. Furthermore, the exact bacterial count is not known. It has to be said, however, that even science does not know which bacteria are good or bad at what bacterial count. This is simply not known. All this together means that no diagnostic statements can be made with such flora analyses at home. That is quite simply impossible. And yet many patients swear by these tests.
Why are these tests so successful?
A patient does such a test, then takes intestinal flora supplements (often recommended by laypeople in Facebook groups), does another test a few months later and lo and behold, the microbiome seems to have changed. The patient then reports this online and a myth is born. Or not? Maybe that really works? Perhaps you can roughly estimate your microbiome through such an analysis and then influence the intestinal flora with these preparations?
The unscientific attempt at a demonstration
In my first test, my stool pH was too high, the aerobic lead bacteria except for E. choli – was at the lower end of the green range, i.e. slightly low – normal, as were the anaerobic bacteria. Actually, almost everything was ok. However, the excessively high pH value, which was not explained to me, could have worried me. In the second test eight weeks later, my stool pH value was suddenly normal. Very good, I had cheated death once again. Or was it? “Enterobacter species” is now pathologically high, the red bar is at the upper end of the colorful scale. “E. choli” is now in the green normal range. The other aerobic lead germs have remained the same, whereby “the same” is difficult to define, as the germs are only specified in less than 10,000 of an unknown unit (presumably “colony-forming units per gram of stool”). It is not clear whether there were 1,000 in the first test and now 10,000.
My “putrefactive flora” – a term that I particularly “love” as a nutritional biologist because it gives the impression that my gut is rotting and modern – is now too high and the findings say that I could have a histamine intolerance. I was recommended a stool and blood test for histamine intolerance – tests that are no longer considered acceptable for the diagnosis of histamine intolerance and have already been proven to be ineffective. The two-page report also says that I might produce too little sIgA, I might have a serious infection, there is a possibility of getting meningitis, sepsis and many other serious illnesses. If you read the findings without any medical knowledge, you quickly believe that you are really extremely ill or on the best way to becoming extremely ill. But I am completely healthy!
In my case, the test went in the other direction: “normal” intestinal flora became “bad” intestinal flora. Despite unchanged conditions, in my case even despite continuing to take probiotics.
Does a flora status make sense?
However, the self-experiment shows what I wanted to make clear in the blog series: The intestinal flora (actually the microbiome) is constantly changing, even without self-medication. The “status” cannot be meaningfully measured with these tests. On the contrary, the findings, which are incomprehensible to laypeople, are confusing, frightening and encourage people to buy more self-tests and probiotics.
Are probiotics useful?
The experts argue about this. In any case, you should be careful when taking it if you have other serious illnesses. For everyone else, I think probiotics are quite useful and can help with digestive problems or while taking antibiotics. Perhaps the effect is only slight and the placebo effect may also play a role. But one thing is clear: if I have digestive problems and want to take probiotics, then there is no need for an expensive “Florastatus” beforehand.