The Role of Probiotics in Glowing Skin

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Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a health “craze” is simply a new buzz word or if it’s something that can be very beneficial. Recent studies have shown that probiotics can help to combat the bad bacteria that cause all kinds of ailments in our bodies such as ear and throat infections. These powerful bacteria can also improve bone density and possibly limit allergies in children when taken during pregnancy. The general notion of fighting bad bacteria with good is not a new one, as it can improve bad breath, digestion and reduce the risk of suffering from other oral health issues, as well.

Probiotics and acne
Acne is an age old ailment that plagues virtually everyone at some point in their life – roughly 85 percent of individuals have (or have had) pimples.  Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Washington University in St. Louis studied the bacterial strains on people’s faces that cause acne. Using a genetic analysis of microbial DNA, the researchers found that Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes, which is the bacteria responsible for causing acne, is much more complex than was previously thought.

Blemishes pop up when the P. acnes that live inside human skin feed on oil and dirt and cause a red bump to appear. However, the researchers found a newly discovered bacteria strain on study subjects who were not suffering from whiteheads or blackheads. Is it a dream come true for high schoolers everywhere?

Instead of oral probiotics, which are commonly used for other body ailments, cream medications are likely to be developed that will deliver the good bacteria to the face. Lead author Huiying Li, an assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the next step is to determine a way to deliver the good bacteria to the skin before bad bacteria creates pimples and blemishes. But the goal is to promote growth of the good bacteria without getting rid of the bad, which is what happens with common acne medications.

“There are healthy strains that we need on our skin,” Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and member of the research team, told the Los Angeles Times. “The idea that you’d use a nuclear bomb to kill everything – what we’re currently doing with antibiotics and other treatments – just doesn’t make sense.”

The research
Published in the February 28 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the study was conducted with 101 participants, 49 individuals with acne and 52 without.  Researchers used over-the-counter medications to get a sample of the microbes that live in the pores at the top of the nose, which typically contain more bacteria than the skin.

The researchers studied the different strands of the P. acnes and found that 20 percent of the participants, predominately in those with the condition, had two unique strands. A third strain was found in a few of the participants with acne.

This non-invasive and natural solution of using cream or oral probiotics will help individuals who suffer from acne and will likely prompt fewer without any side effects. Brandon Pritzker, 19, participated in the study and told the Times he took medications in the past that caused mood swings and back pain, and prefers the probiotic medication. 

Other benefits
Probiotics are used to balance out the bad bacteria throughout the body, and have been commonly used to cure bad breath. Another issue caused by accumulation of bacteria, bad breath plagues many individuals even if they maintain a regimen of oral health practices.

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