Choosing the right probiotic supplement is highly important in helping your eczema heal. As I’ve mentioned before, having eczema is usually a sign of a compromised immune system.
So what does this have to do with your gut?
If you’ve read my previous post on why gut health and probiotics are SO crucial in helping your skin get better, you’ll know that 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract, which makes having a healthy gut a major focal point in achieving optimal health and eczema free skin.
You may be surprised to learn that we all actually carry several pounds of bacteria inside of us. In fact, the bacteria in our gut outnumbers the cells in our body by a factor of 10 to 1!
Humans have approximately 100 trillion bacteria living in your GI tract, which includes 500 different species and 7,000 different strains. The beneficial bacteria in your gut helps us properly digest food, strengthens our immune system, detoxifies harmful compounds, and even produces vitamin and nutrients – which is why they appear to be so beneficial for eczema.
According to one research, when children (who were at risk for developing eczema) supplemented with a beneficial bacterial called Lactobacillus rhapsodic GG or Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain HN001, it actually cut childrens’ risk of developing eczema in half (compared to those taking a placebo). Children that took other various mixtures of probiotics also had their risk of eczema at least halved.
Given the importance of supplementing with probiotics, what should we look for when buying a probiotic supplement to help eczema?
When looking for a probiotic supplement that will be beneficial to your gut and eczema, here are a few important things to look for:
1. Look for a high quality multi-strain probiotic
Some probiotics only have 1 strain. Your gut contains trillions of bacteria, and each strain of bacteria will have varying survival rates and health benefits. Therefore, it is important to choose a supplement with strains from different groups of good bacteria to ensure optimal results for your gut and eczema.
For example, a good probiotic will contain multiple strains of probiotic bacteria, including L. Plantarum, L. Acidophilus, L. Rhamnosus. The more good bacteria strains the better, so that it can help build different strains of good bacteria in our gut.
But be aware that if you see a brand with 10+ strains with vague probiotic numbers (especially if it is really cheap on the market); there’s a reasonable chance they’re padding out the product to try and make it look more impressive than it is. With probiotics, you get what you pay for.
You might be wondering which probiotic strain is best for your eczema. Well – everyone’s gut is different, so what works for you may not work effectively for someone else. Try and test out different ones to find what works best for you. As long as the probiotic contains a few of the most potent strains (including L. Acidophilus or B. Bifidum), and at least 5 individual strains, it should work.
2. Make sure your probiotic has at least 10-15 billion+ CFU (Colony Forming Units)
Ensuring that you buy a supplement with 10-15 billion CFU (or more) of live probiotics in each capsule is a good recommendation (some practitioners will even recommend going for 20 billion CFU and onwards!). A lot of ingested microorganisms won’t survive through the gastrointestinal tract, so the more bacteria usually means better survival rates.
Generally, the higher the probiotic number the better (it can range anywhere from 1 billion to 100 billion!), but if your gut is not severely damaged than you don’t need to go as high as 100 billion. It would also be wise to start off on a low dose of probiotics when you first start using it (as some may experience gas, bloating, or detox reactions when they first start taking it). Once you feel comfortable, you can increase the dosage.
3. Make sure you find probiotics that are enteric coated if you eat it with food
Many probiotics are dead on arrival in your intestines because your stomach acid is so powerful that it can kill off most probiotics before they reach your small and large intestines. Probiotics are also extremely delicate and they can’t survive exposure to light, air, or even oxygen.
This is why it is important to select a supplement that is acid and bile resistant to ensure it can survive. To counter this, look for probiotics that have enteric coating (or even probiotics that use controlled release technology). Enteric coated means that the probiotic has a barrier applied to it to protect it from the pH (i.e. acidity) of the stomach.
4. It’s a bonus if your probiotic contains a prebiotic
A prebiotic is basically beneficial bacteria nutrition for probiotics to eat and flourish on. If you take an enteric coated, multi-billion probiotic with a prebiotic, the beneficial bacteria have more likelihood of surviving as the prebiotics will provide foor for them to eat.
HMF Forte, which is a pharmaceutical grade probiotic supplement, contains Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which is a prebiotic.
Keep in mind that you can also get prebiotics from regular foods – so you may not necessarily need a probiotic supplement with prebiotics.
Here is a list of some top foods that contain prebiotics:
Raw Chicory root: 64.6% prebiotic fiber by weight (this food is the highest % of Prebiotic Fiber per gram)
Raw Dandelion greens: 24.3% prebiotic fiber by weight
Raw Garlic: 17.5% prebiotics by weight
Raw Leek: 11.7% prebiotic fiber by weight
Raw Onion: 8.6% prebiotics by weight Cooked Onion: 5% prebiotic fiber by weight
Raw Asparagus: 5% prebiotics by weight
Raw Banana: 1% prebiotic fiber by weight
5. Use a reputable brand of probiotics for your eczema
This is very important. Don’t cheap out on your probiotics. Buying a good quality probiotic will deliver better quality live cultures to your gut and will help your eczema much better.
Here are some reputable brands that I like:
- Jarrow Brand for Adults or for kids
- HMF Forte (pharmaceutical grade probiotics so they are pricier)
- Klaire Labs
- Bio-Kult (a good starter probiotic that’s a lower dose in case you want to avoid potential gas, bloating, or detox reactions when you first start using a probiotic)
Note: most of these brands need to be refrigerated. Some are not refrigerated during the shipping process though.
6. Choose a probiotic that is free of fillers and binders
The best probiotic for your eczema should be one that is free of fillers and flow agents, such as titanium dioxide, preservatives, colorings or artificial ingredients. These fillers are often included to help make more tablets/capsules in an hour, yield higher profits, or help make the tablet look more attractive.
7. Look for well-researched strains
Keep in mind that certain strains have also been well documented and researched through clinical trials. Each manufacturer should be able to provide proof that their probiotic supplement contains well-researched strains of bacteria. For instance, DDS-1 Acidophilus has Lactobacillus acidophilus and wild-crafted blue green algae. The minerals in this blue green algae support the friendly bacteria, which makes them multiply faster.
I’ve also heard of people’s eczema condition improving after ingesting Lactobacilus Rhamnodus, as in this study here. In addition, Bifidobacterium bifidum is also a very popular strain that you’ll find in many probiotics.
8. A good product will have numbers and letters after the names
An example is the supplement below. The probiotic below states “L. acidophilus LA-02.” LA-02 is the pedigree of this strain. This means that the strain of acidophilus has been purified, genetically characterized and then registered. The company (Jarrow) then bought the right to use that strain, took a sample and grew it to place it in this product.
You don’t necessarily need those numbers to have a good product, but the presence of those letters is the sign of a quality product, as the company spent extra money to get a pure, genetically characterized strain.
One thing to note is that if you have a lot of issues with your gut and digestive system, you should start slowly. Taking lots of probiotics or filling up on lots of fermented foods may potentially make you feel really bad. The reason for this is that the introduction of probiotics can cause the already existing colonies in your gut to react. These can lead to other issues, including diarrhea or constipation, eczema flare ups, fatigue, brain fog, body aches, flu like symptoms, rashes, and possibly a worsening of the symptoms you already have.
If using fermented foods, you can start with 1 teaspoon once a day and slowly increase it. If you are using probiotics, go with a lower potency probiotic to start with (possibly as low as 1-2 billion/dose or either take 1 capsule as opposed to 2), and gradually increase from there. (And, as always, it’s best if you can work with a certified practitioner so they can monitor your progress – or you can contact me for consultation services.)
Good luck in finding a probiotic supplement that works best for your eczema! I hope all these tips have helped you. 😉
Have a favourite probiotic for eczema? Share your experiences or recommend one in the comments below!
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Abby is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who helps clients achieve optimal health. She is passionate about seeing people use health and nutrition to transform lives. She hopes that her experiences and knowledge can help educate others on natural remedies that will help eczema. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube for more updates!
Disclaimer: All the information found on this website should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace proper medical advice. Always consult a qualified health care provider before embarking on a health or supplement plan.