Probiotics are like those multipurpose cleaning products that you see advertised on TV. They have all kinds of uses and, since scientists are still researching them, the list of uses keeps on getting bigger and bigger. What probiotics actually are is pretty simple, yet a bit strange when you think in a conservative manner. They are micro-organisms or live-bacteria, but come with various beneficial properties for the body. Although it’s a bit odd for bacteria to help the body, it isn’t all that strange when you take into consideration that the human body is occupied by a large amount of bacteria (good and bad) that make up the so called intestinal flora. It is important to ensure the number of good bacteria is higher than the harmful kind, and this is exactly where probiotics come in.
The main purpose of probiotics is to restore and maintain a healthy intestinal flora to keep us healthy. They also help with digestion and aid in maintaining a strong immune system, among other things. Probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt and other dairy products and dietary supplements.
Besides the digestive benefits that probiotics have to offer, there is also the subject of skin treatment. Along the years, several researches have shown that probiotics can influence our skin condition in several ways. Dr. Whitney Bowe, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, said that the healthy bacteria that resides in the gut produce a barrier that helps reduces inflammation, which may result in certain skin conditions. Bowe also talked about applying probiotics directly to the skin and how several manufacturers are experimenting with different types of strains to see which is the most effective.
Dr. Bowe said that in order to have some results, probiotics must be taken in combination with other treatments regardless of the form you use – whether you eat them as foods (even though most foods don’t provide the needed quantity of probiotics) or take them as supplements. Bowe said she recommends probiotics to patients who have acne or rosacea and take antibiotics.
A number of small studies from different countries have shown that using probiotics in parallel with normal acne treatments can result in an increase in acne clearance and help patients tolerate the antibiotics for acne treatment better. Applying probiotics directly to the skin might also help form a barrier to prevent the bacteria responsible for acne from actually reaching the skin.
Another study involving pregnant women has shown how consumption of probiotics during pregnancy and continuing to administer them to the children after they are born for a period of time reduces the chances of eczemas to appear. The results showed that the chances of children developing eczema were reduced to half.
Some studies show that probiotics can reduce the effects of rosacea, which is a skin condition characterized by facial redness on the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead and the apparition of red bumps or pimples.
Although research is still ongoing regarding probiotics and their role in skincare, what we know so far is that some beneficial properties exist, and doctors even recommend them for acne or rosacea.