The Bottom Line
People who suffer from acne do have a higher rate of gut problems than those who have clear skin. Often, these problems are due to bacterial imbalances in their gut. This weakens the lining of the gut so toxic substances can leak through.
Although for some people probiotics may prove helpful, it’s unlikely that they are a miracle cure, and they won’t help everyone. All too often, bacterial imbalances in the gut isn’t the cause but the symptom. If the underlying causes aren’t addressing, probiotic supplements can only patch up the symptoms for a short term solution.
Probiotics and Acne
We’re all hearing a lot about probiotics at the moment. Websites and magazines are full of promises that they can help to cure acne. It’s said that probiotics can fix bacterial imbalances in the gut, helping to clear up skin problems.
But is that actually true? Let’s take a closer look at some of the facts so we can make an informed decision.
Probiotics Won’t Change Your Gut Bacteria
We’re told to take probiotics to balance the gut microbiome. Apparently, if we have excessive amounts of bad bacteria in our gut when compared with the good bacteria we can develop gut problems as well as inflammation which, in turn, causes acne.
Probiotics are supposed to resolve this imbalance. Unfortunately, there’s a problem. There’s virtually no evidence at all that probiotics can do anything to change the gut microbiome.
Danish researchers in 2016 reviewed all the studies which had been carried out into probiotic supplements and their effect on the gut microbiome. They concluded that there was no evidence to prove probiotics had an impact on microbiota composition at all. That suggests taking probiotics won’t balance the gut bacteria.
These results aren’t too surprising when we bear in mind the fact that there are thousands of bacterial types in the gut and the majority of those bacteria aren’t in probiotics.
Therefore, it’s no wonder that taking a probiotic supplement which contains only a few of the bacterial strains will have minimal effect on your gut’s bacterial composition overall.
Probiotics May Actually Worsen Acne
Those who extol the virtues of probiotics as an acne treatment often fail to point out that in some cases they can worsen the problem, or even cause it in the first place.
Some people suffering from acne have SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). This causes the good bacteria to migrate to the small intestine where it causes a host of issues, including acne.
However, the bacteria which are found growing wild in the small intestine are frequently probiotics like Lactobacillus. If you take a probiotic supplement, you’re just going to worsen the problem.
Bacterial Imbalance Isn’t The Root Cause, It’s A Symptom
Usually, bacterial imbalances aren’t the cause of your gut problems, it’s actually a symptom of another underlying problem. There are a few potential underlying causes. These include:
- Gut irritants into the diet like gluten
- Intolerance to FODMAP foods
- Low levels of stomach acid
- Using certain medications like painkillers, antacids and antibiotics
While probiotics may relieve symptoms temporarily, they almost certainly won’t resolve the problem completely. Studies on patients suffering from IBS have demonstrated this in the past. Therefore, probiotics aren’t going to resolve your acne issues in the long term.
Is There A Better Answer To Fixing My Acne And My Gut?
Unfortunately, balancing your gut bacteria and resolving the skin problems associated with it requires more than simply taking a probiotic supplement. You need to undertake a complete program which addresses the causes of bacterial imbalances and the imbalances themselves.
There are several changes which are included in this type of program. They may include:
- Making dietary changes to limit foods which are causing problems like FODMAPs, gluten and fermentable carbohydrates. This will help to balance bacterial levels in the gut.
- Taking antimicrobials to kill bad bacteria quickly. These supplements will also support your digestive system, preventing problems from recurring.
- Making appropriate dietary choices to support your gut’s core bacteria. This may including taking acacia gum and eating foods which contain resistant starch.
While probiotics may help in some cases, they won’t magically improve your skin overnight. If they do prove to be beneficial for you, it will only be as a small part of a comprehensive program of change.