Probiotics and Why They Matter to Your Skin-Michele Westendorf, NP-C

Probiotics and Skin Health
What are Probiotics?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” In order to be labeled a probiotic, scientific evidence for a health benefit would have to be documented. Probiotics can be bacteria, fungus or yeast. The use of probiotics has been proposed for a long time and there were varying quality of evidence. However, over the last few years better quality studies utilizing modern research techniques have become available. More and more evidence has been generated showing probiotics can be helpful to specific health conditions.
Of great interest to us has been the relationship between the Gut-Skin Axis and that can affect certain skin conditions. After many many months of research, we are excited to welcome 3 new products to Newport Beach Dermatology and Plastic Surgery.
This blog is dedicated to reviewing the three new probiotics. We have another blog called “How to Pick Your Supplements” which goes in depth on how and why we chose the Metagenics brand. Another upcoming blog “The Real Real” talks about authenticity in products and how we are ensuring we provide only real products to our patients.
What do Probiotics do?
Different probiotics work differently but their general functions include:
Helping your body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms or help your body’s community of microorganisms return to a healthy state after being disturbed. Common disturbances include: sickness, antibiotics and dietary intake. These benefits are considered general genus benefits.
Species-specific mechanisms can include: vitamin synthesis, gut barrier synthesis, skin barrier synthesis, bile salt metabolism, enzymatic activity, and toxin neutralization.
One of the biggest most beneficial elements of probiotics is to retrain your body’s immune system response which is especially helpful for inflammatory conditions such as acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (eczema). This is where strain specific mechanism come into play. Specific strains can affect cytokine production and the immune, endocrine and nervous systems.
How do I decipher the names of thee probiotics on my bottle? Flashbacks to high school biology ahead!
Taxonomic rank:

You might look at a label and see something like: Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM or L. Acidophilus NCFM. Wow! That’s a mouthful and what does it even mean. The Lactobacillus is the genus and Acidophilus is the species and the NCFM is the strain. The higher end, more researched probiotics even break the species down into strains. I like to think of these in terms of family. The genus is like a family name which includes aunts, uncles etc. The genus of Lactobacillus is one of the most popular and widely studied of all probiotics. While all family members of the Lactobacillus genus share some common characteristics, like colonizing in the small intestine. The species are the probiotics immediate family members (like siblings) who are closer in characteristics and traits but have different abilities and different purposes. The strain is the most precise level of identification (like an individual’s names). Strains have unique properties but remain identifiable as members of the family. The two most widely studied and supported genera are the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Lactobacillus mainly colonizes in the small intestine and Bifidobacterium mainly in the large intestine.
What are colony counts and why do they matter?
When you look at probiotic bottles you will see a number followed by CFU. This indicates the number of colony forming units which is the number of viable cells; however, higher CFU counts do not necessarily mean more health benefits. CFU number vary by the genus and species. They are merely a guideline for consumers.
Our new products are:
UlltraFlora Spectrum contains the strain L. acidophilus NCFM. This strain is especially helpful for acne and psoriasis symptoms. The UltraFlora Spectrum also helps with upper and lower GI health support along with immune support. The regime is one capsule daily for 3-4 months and then evaluation in clinic for down titration. This regime when combined with a specific vitamin A regime is especially helpful for acne.

UltraFlora Acute Care contains the strain L. Rhamnosus HN001. This strain is known for helping to improve atopic dermatitis/eczema symptoms. L. Rhamnosus is one of the most widely studies species. WHO supports the use of probiotics in pregnant and nursing women to reduce the risk of producing atopic children. A study compared children 6 months- 9 years using probiotics compared to not using probiotics. Use of probiotics significantly reduced the incidence of eczema. UltraFlora Acute Care also support immune system health, relief for acute bowel distress and relief from loose stools.

MetaKids Probiotic
Which is targeted to support gastrointestinal and immune health and for symptoms for atopic dermatitis in kids.

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