There’s actually a cool reason why taking probiotics for acne may indeed clear your skin!
Let’s get into the why – and the how – to take probiotics for acne in this article…
Taking probiotics for acne is almost an ancient remedy. Well, not quite…
But it was over 70 years ago that scientists John Stokes and Donald Pillsbury (1930) proposed that the link between emotional issues like anxiety and depression and skin disorders such as acne, was the gut.
More specifically: emotional states like anxiety and depression may alter the gut environment, which in turn can contribute to intestinal problems and systemic inflammation (including acne). (reference)
The Brain-Gut-Skin Unifying Theory
This connection goes like this:
- Emotions (like anxiety and depression) > disturb gastrointestinal function (your gut) > leads to local (bloating, constipation, diarrhea) and systemic inflammation (acne).
From this it’s clear to see why stress can really take its toll on your body and often leads to acne. Stress is a major causes of adult acne, and this is part of the reason why!
So What Is The “Cure” For A Disturbed Gut?
Stokes and Pillsbury recommended taking Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures to help help the gut regain its normal functioning. (Weren’t these scientists well ahead of their time?!)
Why did they focus on this particular strain of culture? Because this Lactobacillus acidophilus, along with another strain Bifidibacterium, are two bacterial cultures that are affected by stress. In other words, stress lowers their levels in your gut, which contributes to the resulting imbalance and problems.
So, taking these strains as a supplement can help to replenish them in your gut. Which in turn, can help your skin (amongst other benefits of course – like a reduction in bloating, upset stomachs, constipation, and stress!)
Enough Science! Here’s How To Take Probiotics
First of all, taking probiotic supplements isn’t a necessity unless you have a severe imbalance (see your doctor).
Yoghurt or fermented milk drinks are fine.
However, a big advantage to taking a probiotic supplement in pill form is they are super convenient.
Plus they are clearer in specifying the strains they use and how many you are actually getting.
Yoghurt and probiotic drinks will usually say what strains are included in the ingredients, but rarely how much of each.
And the minimum number of live cultures is a recommended 1 billion…
So if you want to ensure you are getting a high enough dose in a convenient form, a specific supplement is a good choice.
To Ensure Maximum Benefits Do The Following:
- See you doctor before trying any new supplements!
- Ease into it taking probiotics – some people can experience an increase in bloating, abdominal cramps, gas, or other symptoms when starting to take probiotics. If this is you, try taking them every second or third day until your body gets used to them
- Read the container as some brands require their pills be refrigerated after opening to maintain the “aliveness” of the cultures
- Most studies that have shown significant effects from taking probiotics are across 12weeks. It probably won’t take that long to see benefits, however do keep it can take time and least one month is a good length of time to try before giving up!
- Monitor your mood too – after all it isn’t just clear skin we are after, but overall benefits. The stress (brain)-gut-skin connection is real, so you may find you are feeling better overall.
- Alcohol, sugars, and especially artificial sweeteners like Stevia can mess up your guts microbial balance, so try to limit these. While you can reduce the negative impact by taking probiotics, it’s band-aid-ish and not conducive to long term results.
- Chose the brand of probiotics wisely! They differ greatly in the types and numbers of strains they use, “aliveness” of said strains, dosage, etc etc. Don’t worry though, three of the best brands are below to help you make the right decision:
The Best Oral Probiotic Brands – 3 Top Choices:
A good quality probiotic will deliver live strains of bacteria that are still potent in pill form – at least 1 billion organisms per gram is the recommended starting point.
Below are three brands of probiotic supplements for acne that are trustworthy, have good quality strains of the right variety and number, and good customer reviews. And none need refrigerated!
They do differ on price and some other benefits – which are highlighted below so you can make a choice on what matters to you.
The Best Probiotics For Acne:
1. Culterelle Daily Probiotic Formula
- Reputable high quality brand
- 10 billion active cultures per tablet
- BIG BENEFIT: contains 1 strain – Lactobacillus GG (a good thing because only having only one means it contains 100% of that strand – no dilution)
2. Probiotic Pearls Once Daily
- 1 billion active cultures
- Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifido bacterium – the two we want!
- BIG BENEFIT: 1 capsule daily – small and easy to swallow. With or without food.
3. Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra
- 15 billion CFU (stands for Colony Forming Units)
- BIG BENEFIT: 13 different species. POSSIBLE NEGATIVE: Number of each specific species is unclear – so you may simply be getting less of more)
- 1 -3 capsules daily, empty stomach
Next For You: All About Cystic Acne
Reference: Bowe, W. P. and Logan, A. C. (2011). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? Gut Pathogens 3:1 (see article)