You might be considering a new probiotics regimen because you’ve heard that introducing more beneficial bacteria into your body could help reduce your eczema symptoms. Even though you might already eat foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt or sauerkraut, your body needs more good bacteria than can typically be supplied through food. That’s where supplements come in, such as capsules, powders, or drinks. Here’s some information you should consider before you start taking them.
What Does the Science Say?
It’s been known for quite some time that probiotics can benefit the digestive system. These good bacteria help those already inside your body keep harmful bacteria in check. When there’s an imbalance between good and bad microbes, that can result in many different types of health issues. Probiotic supplements help level the playing field, so that your digestive system can continue to function properly.
But researchers have recently uncovered another potential benefit of probiotics – the ability to help reduce the symptoms of eczema. There are more questions than answers so far regarding the scientific link between new probiotics and eczema, but many of the preliminary results are encouraging.
One of the more common forms of eczema is a condition known as atopic dermatitis. A study conducted in 2008 examined the results of 13 previous clinical trials. According to the study, about half of the trials showed that probiotics containing the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG bacterium could help to reduce the severity of atopic dermatitis symptoms.1 However, the study also showed that the remaining trials indicated no reduction of symptoms in participants who started a new probiotics regimen.
Another study involved a group of adults with eczema who were given probiotic supplements for a period of 12 weeks, while another group of participants were given a placebo. The group given probiotics, according to the results, saw a substantial reduction in their symptoms while the group given the placebo showed no improvements.2
Using New Probiotics for Eczema in Children
Much like eczema in adults, the jury is largely still out when it comes to determining whether or not children could benefit from starting a new probiotics regimen. One study, however, suggested there could be a link between probiotics and a reduced risk for developing the condition. This study analyzed seven clinical trials that involved children between the ages of 2 and 7. It found that the children of women who took probiotics during pregnancy were less likely to develop eczema than those who didn’t take probiotic supplements.3
Buying the Right Kinds of New Probiotics
There are a lot of new probiotics products available, and the number of choices can be overwhelming for some people. Whether you purchase them online or in a local grocery store or health food store, you won’t find any shortage of options. That’s why it’s important you have an idea of what to look for before you open your wallet.
One of the first things you’ll need to look for is the type of bacteria that are contained in the products you’re considering. There are some new probiotics that only have one strain, while others contain multiple strains. You should look for products that have a variety of bacteria so you have the best chance at getting benefits. You already know that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has shown promise in regard to helping people with eczema, but you should also look for products that include beneficial strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Since probiotics have no known serious side effects in people who are generally healthy (other than minor gas or bloating in some instances), it won’t hurt to try three or four different products to see which one might help with your eczema symptoms. Everyone is different, so what might work for someone else might not work for you.
Another factor to consider when purchasing new probiotics is the number of colony forming units (CFUs) of bacteria they contain. A good rule of thumb is to look for a supplement that contains between 10-15 billion CFUs in each serving or capsule. The reason is that some of the bacteria will not make it through the harsh environment of the stomach and get to the intestines, where they need to get in order to do their jobs. Ingesting a product with a substantial number of beneficial bacteria increases the chances a good number of them will get where they need to go.
Are Capsules the Way to Go?
Again, new probiotics come in several different forms, including powders, drinks and capsules. But if the beneficial bacteria within these products don’t get to your intestines, that product really won’t do you much good. High-quality probiotic capsules are coated in a way that acts as a sort of “shield,” protecting the bacteria within them from the toxic effects of stomach acid. Look for new probiotics products that are resistant to acid as well as bile. One easy way to know is if the labeling states that that capsules have an “enteric” coating, or if the product features the controlled release of bacteria.
Another important consideration is whether the probiotics you’re considering also contain prebiotics. These are substances that can’t be digested by the body, but act as a fuel source for beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics are found in many different types of food, such as garlic, bananas and others, but they are also found in probiotic supplements. Prebiotics help ensure that beneficial bacteria will be able to thrive once they get to your intestinal tract.
When it comes to adding new probiotics to your daily regimen, make sure you speak with your doctor first to make sure they will be safe. While probiotics are typically harmless for people in good health, they can cause problems for people suffering from serious illnesses or compromised immune systems.