Health & Fitness | September 15, 2022 5:40 am

Review: Ritual’s Synbiotic+ Tackles Gut Health Three Ways

This daily supplement promises more than the typical probiotic. But at what cost?

A bottle of Ritual's new probiotic supplement Synbiotic+, as well as what the daily pills look like
Can one pill improve your gut health threefold?
Ritual

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How can you tell if a supplement works?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself for years as I’ve gone through an array of vitamins, probiotics and other health-related ingestibles. I certainly know when various supplements do not work — my stomach usually lets me know very quickly. 

While working out some minor health issues — particularly related to gut health — I decided to give probiotics another chance. As a reminder of what that means, here’s the simple definition of probiotics per the Cleveland Clinic: “You have two kinds of bacteria constantly in and on your body — good bacteria and bad bacteria. Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that helps keep your body healthy and working well.” 

I’ve tried probiotics before, and never had a result I could quantify as a success. But I have noticed that eating certain foods (particularly yogurt) that naturally increase the good microbes in my body has seemed to improve my digestion. Still, I didn’t want to rely on just my diet for gut health.

Ritual, a subscription-based supplements brand that launched in 2016, recently released Synbiotic+, a 3-in-1 prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics daily pill to support a balanced gut microbiome. Essentially, prebiotics “feed” the good bacteria in your body; postbiotics are sort of an end result, or what Ritual describes as “bioactive compounds produced by food-grade microorganisms during a fermentation process” … and that includes butyrate, which supposedly is good for the colon.

While the science is interesting and admittedly confusing, I really just wanted something to help my everyday digestion and not require a complete reset of my diet. Ritual claims they’re using a “probiotic blend [created] from two of the world’s most-clinically-studied strains.” As well, they say they’re using a delayed-release capsule designed to help reach the colon, not the stomach. they list and trace all their ingredients here. And the capsules are vegan. All noble ideas (plus, Ritual recently became a Certified B Corporation).

My thoughts on Ritual Synbiotic+ after a month of use:

  • The capsules have a minty flavor, which makes them more pleasant to take (and mint is something I associate with calming my stomach)
  • While Ritual suggests that there might be an adjustment period when first taking their supplements — including issues with gas, bloating, or stomach rumbling — this is the first prebiotic where I didn’t notice any issues at all, whether I took these with food or without.
  • Most importantly, my initial reaction seems to be positive. Outside of days of what we’ll call “human error” (excessive drinking and/or bar food dinners) I found my stomach ailments are less frequent.

I can’t discount a placebo effect — even scientists aren’t 100% sure of the benefits of probiotics supplements, and they may not work the same for everyone. In my particular case, I’d say the only criticism I have is the price — $50 per month, which gets you 30 daily pills. In some ways, that’s not much to pay for peace of mind (or stomach). It is, however, twice the price of another mail-order probiotic. 

Still, I’m a convert. Even if my improvements have already peaked with Ritual Synbiotic+, I’m in a better place than I was a month ago. Next step: Actually seeing the gut health specialist I was referred to over two years ago.

(Note: I’ve also started taking Ritual’s Essential for Men multivitamins; again, it’s hard to determine the effectiveness of a multivitamin, but they have so far — unlink other vitamins – not upset my stomach, although it requires taking two pills a day instead of one.)