Probiotic Capsules, Store Yogurts & Medicinal Yogurts – How do They Compare?

Homemade Heirloom Yogurt vs. Store Bought

Heirloom yogurt (homemade) (1)Store yogurt (1)Probiotic capsules
Shelf life+++++++++
Predictability of taste+++++++N/A
Nbr of strains++++++++++
Colonizing strains?SomeNoNo
Can you know the strains?Not allYesYes
Whole food benefitsYesNoNo
Prana (lifeforce)*********
Lightness (easier to digest)**********
Reuse cultureForeverLimited Limited
Cost +++++++++
Work involvedMinimalNoNo

(1) There is a trade off between number of CFUs and number of probiotic strains – and – shelf life and predictability of taste. With homemade heirloom yogurt you get more CFUs and more probiotic strains. With store yogurt, the store needs predictability of taste and shelf life.

Yogurt Brand Comparisons

NamesCFUs (billions/cup) # strainsHeirloomCultures at room temp
Human gut ~40-100 trillion total~1000
Functional medicine prescriptions400-800 billion CFUs/day
Ed’s Caspian Sea yogurt(1)Up to 173YesYes
Ed’s Viilli yogurt (2)
Yogurt culture from IndiaYesYes
Stonyfield (3)No
White Mountain Bulgarian Yogurt NoNo
Typical store yogurt~64-6NoNo
Pure Encapsulations 50B
Living Streams
Bio Kult
Ancient Minerals


For comparison, there are ~100 trillion organisms in the gut.

CFUs decrease with refrigeration

I filled out both tables in to the best of my knowledge. I talked with people at Happy Herbalist, Progurt, Bravo, Cultures for Health and White Mountain. All of these yogurts, with the exception of White Mountain, must be homemade – e.g. you purchase the “seed” or starter. Therapeutic yogurts like Progurt and Bravo are available on the internet and are very expensive. I have seen White Mountain Bulgarian Yogurt and Cultures for Health yogurt starters at the Common Market in Frederick, MD. Most of the websites for these yogurts have impressive testimonials

(1) Multiplies best at 68 °F to 86 °F, 72°F ideal. Semi-thick, drinkable, slightly sweet, almost bland smooth pourable yogurt; Uniquely viscous, honey-like texture; Mild pleasant taste

Caspian Sea Yogurt supplies high-quality protein and calcium. This rich mineral content and lowered salt content may help reduce the chances of bone fractures, strokes and osteoporosis, which are major causes of elderly people becoming bedridden… Although a mutli-vitamin and mineral formula (like our Liquid Life Complete, which is a powerhouse of all the nutrients imaginable, can not complete with real whole foods – like our Kefir and Caspian Sea Yogurt and to a lesser extant our Kombucha Mushroom Tea.

Ed Kaspar

(2) 64 °F ideal culturing. Summer in some areas can simply be too warm for Viilli. Thick & rich; Stretchy; Delicious, subtle sweetness; Not sour

(3) Contains the 6 essential cultures to create a balanced yogurt that is able to be perpetuated forever. Reculturing produces a better flavor than the original.

Store yogurt

Features to look for

  • grass-fed
  • local
  • full fat (taste & fat soluble vitamins)
  • biodynamic (beyond organic)
  • non-homogenized milk (cream tops)
  • unsweetened (plain) – it’s best to sweeten yourself
  • no vitamins or other agents added
  • CFUs (a few will list on the label)
  • Fage (Greece, strained)
  • Siggi’s (Icelandic style skyr, strained)
  • Skyr (heirloom cultures)
  • Trimona (Bulgarian)
  • Seven Stars Farms (biodynamic)
  • White Mountain Bulgarian Yogurt (up to 90 billion CFUs, 24 hour fermentation, approved for GAPs diet)

Common additives

Thickening agents

Many people prefer a thick yogurt. The correct way to thicken is by straining or concentrating. Many commercial yogurts find it easier to thicken with additives.

Anti-breaking agents

If traditional yogurt is allowed to stand after dipping a spoon into it, it releases whey (breaks). If this is bothersome, simply stir the yogurt right before consuming. Unfortunately breaking bothered many consumers, so manufacturers added starches, gums, and/or pectin to keep the body of the yogurt intact.

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