There is actually a cool reason why taking probiotics for acne may actually clear your skin. The why and the how to use them are on this page.
Taking probiotics for acne is almost an ancient remedy. Over 70 years ago 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 which includes acne. Reference (1).
The Brain-Gut-Skin Unifying Theory
The connection goes like this:
- Emotions > disturb gastrointestinal function (your gut) > leading to local inflammation (bloating, constipation, etc) and systemic inflammation (like acne).
It’s clear to see why stress can really take a toll on your body and lead 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.
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—like a reduction in bloating, upset stomachs, constipation, and stress)
Enough Science! Here’s How to Take Probiotics
First, taking a probiotic supplement isn’t a necessity unless you have a severe imbalance (see your doctor).
Yoghurt or fermented milk drinks are fine. But taking a supplement in pill form is just simply convenient.
Plus its easier to know the strains and how many you are actually getting. The recommended minimum number of live cultures is 1 billion…
So if you want to ensure you are getting enough in a convenient form a supplement is a good choice.
To Ensure Maximum Benefits do the Following:
- See you doctor before trying any new supplements
- Ease into 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 every second or third day and build up
- Read the container as some brands require their pills be refrigerated after opening to keep the cultures “alive”
- Most studies have shown significant effects from taking probiotics across 12weeks. So keep in mind it can take time—one month is a good length of time to try before giving up!
- Monitor your mood: it isn’t just clear skin we are after, but overall benefits
- Chose the brand of probiotics wisely. They differ greatly in the type and number of strains. We recommend three brands below:
The Best Oral Probiotic Brands
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 probiotics for acne that are trustworthy, have good quality strains and good customer reviews. And none need refrigerated!
Three of the Best Probiotics for Acne:
1. Culturelle 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 (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
- 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)