Do Probiotics Help Hair Growth?
If you’re wondering how probiotics help hair growth, then allow me to explain why you should consider taking probiotics to improve your hair. This is especially true if you have taken antibiotics in the past.
Your ‘microbiome’ is more important to your health than you might think. The human body is home to trillions of microorganisms which live symbiotically with us, helping digest our food, mediating the immune system and hormones released in our body.
Scientists are still uncovering the importance of having a healthy microbiome to our overall health.
Hair loss and other hair problems can be caused by many different things and affect both men and women. They can be caused by mineral and vitamin deficiencies, stress, hormones, or even autoimmune diseases where the immune system attacks the hair follicles and causes excessive inflammation triggering premature hair loss.
Hair loss is usually a symptom of something else going on and not a serious concern by itself. However, hair loss can have a huge emotional impact on the person who is experiencing it. The good news is that there are many natural treatments for hair loss as well as prescription medications which can halt and even reverse it.
Most people want to go for the natural route to prevent hair loss and grow their hair longer, but one natural product for hair growth has often been overlooked: Probiotics. And although the link might not seem obvious, I’ll explain why gut health could affect your hair.
Do Probiotics Help Hair Growth?
As mentioned earlier, good bacterial are very beneficial for our health. Good bacteria help keep the bad bacteria in check, and also prevent overgrowth of yeast, particularly Candida. The good bacteria in our stomach is a large part of our immune system and so it’s unfortunate that overuse of antibiotics is wiping them out and causing an imbalance which affects our health. Most people as a child have received multiple courses of antibiotics. And although one of the best discoveries of the 20th century, they also are a cause of many problems too.
In a study published back in 2013 titled ‘Probiotic Bacteria Induce a ‘Glow of Health‘ researchers discovered that when mice were given large doses of good bacteria, their skin became healthier and the fur became shinier and thicker. They discovered one of the mechanisms behind this effect was due to a cytokine called Interleukin-10 which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
The more hairs you have in the anagen growing phase, the thicker your hair will be. This is exactly what the probiotic yogurt and good bacteria did for the mice. We also have the same cytokines and similar effects have been observed in humans using multiple strains of good bacteria.
The mice in the study who were consuming the probiotic yogurt had 70% of their hairs in anagen growth phase, 14% in catagen, and just 16% in telogen phase.
In contrast, the mice eating the normal diet without the good bacteria had just 36% of hairs in the anagen growth phase, no catagen hair follicles, and 64% in telogen phase, which is the resting or inactive phase and can last for several months.
If you skimmed past that, let me repeat:
Mice given the probiotic had 70% of hairs in growth phase
Mice not taking the probiotic had 36% of hairs in growth phase
This is a massive difference! And so it goes to show how such changes in our gut health or microbiome can affect our appearance and hair growth.
What Are the Best Probiotics for Hair Growth?
When choosing a probiotic you want to consider a few things:
- The strains of bacteria in the probiotic. Do they have health promoting effects?
- You also want to know if the bacteria are protected from stomach acid so they can be effective at all
- Does it contain the specific bacteria mentioned in the study which was shown to help hair growth?
- The number of bacteria or colony forming units (CFU) in the probiotic. You need a lot to make a difference!
One of my favorite probiotic supplements that I’ve used on and off for several years is a great probiotic by Healthy Origins. It contains many different strains of bacteria which are all resistant to stomach acid. This means they can pass the stomach without being destroyed in the process, and eventually get to the bowel to do their job and start colonizing.
One caveat about the healthy origins probiotic: it doesn’t contain the bacteria L.reuteri, but it does contain other health-promoting bacteria which have powerful immune system modulating effects, which act in a similar way by up regulating anti inflammatory cytokines and reducing pro inflammatory cytokines.
The 4 probiotics below are in my opinion some of the best available today. Have a read through the pros and cons and pick a probiotic which you think would be best for you. All of them are high quality and good choices, it just depends on your budget.
Captain Biotics Probiotic
This probiotic by Captain Biotics is relatively cheap compared to many probiotic supplements. They state that it is made in the USA, and also in a FDA inspected facility. This is good to know because when buying supplements, we want to know that we are getting what we pay for. This is a huge plus in my opinion, and that’s why I recommend Captain Biotics as a good probiotic supplement.
Below is a summary of the pros and cons:
- It contains the type of bacteria L.reuteri which was shown to dramatically improve hair growth and skin health
- Captain Biotics contains acid-resistant bacteria
- Contains L.Casei, which is another strain known to induce IL-10 (anti inflammatory cytokine)
- Made in the US and in an FDA inspected facility. Assuring you a quality product
- It’s been tested for purity and potency by 3rd party testing, which should give you extra confidence in what you’re buying
- It’s quite cheap compared to many other probiotics
- You only get 25 billion bacteria per capsule. It might sound like a lot but you need a much bigger dose to have a meaningful difference
- Only 60 capsules per bottle. If you take 2 capsules per day, it will just last you 30 days
Overall this probiotic is a good option for those on a budget and want to try to improve hair growth by improving gut health.
Healthy Origins Probiotic
Healthy Origins is a great company which I trust and I’ve been using their products for a long time. I’ve had some good success in improving my own health when I’ve used this probiotic, even if I didn’t take it specifically to help my hair grow better.
Below are a list of the pros and cons for Healthy Origins probiotics.
- It contains 30 billion friendly bacteria, which is slightly higher than the captain biotics supplement
- You get 150 vegetarian capsules in the bottle. This is good because you need to be taking probiotics for longer than one month to have a significant effect on gut health
- It’s third party verified and has been tested for potency, purity and safety. So you know exactly what you’re paying for
- Contains 8 different strains of bacteria. A good variety of bacteria which have been shown in studies to promote well-being and health
- Contains L.casei. This bacteria promotes IL-10, which is why researchers believed L.Reuteri improved hair growth
- It has a lot of great reviews and most people seem happy with it
- It doesn’t contain the bacteria which was used in the study to promote hair growth and skin health
- It can be a bit expensive
If you would like to see more information about this probiotic,
L Reuteri Probiotic
This probiotic contains around 7 billion colony forming units of L. reuteri, which again is the type of bacteria that was tested in the study for improving hair growth, although it does not have the specific strain 6475.
- It contains a high dose of the bacteria which was shown to help hair growth
- This bacteria strain has shown to be helpful in promoting lower cholesterol and improved vitamin D synthesis as well as many other health benefits
- It’s more targeted and specific than the other probiotics
- You only get one month supply
- It doesn’t contain a variety of bacteria
- Not many reviews as of yet
L Reuteri Probiotic (strain ATCC PTA 6475)
This probiotic contains the exact species and strain of bacteria which was used to promote hair growth in the study I cited in this article.
The bacteria is a patented strain, so at this time, you can only find this strain of bacteria from BioGaia.
- It contains two patented bacteria strains of L.reuteri and are proven in studies to promote hair growth and stomach health
- Has many positive reviews from people who are taking it, even if the dose is relatively low compared to other probiotic supplements
- You only get 30 chewable tablets in the box
- Quite expensive per dose
- Low dose of 200 million CFU in total of L.reuteri
My thoughts: Although this bacteria is the specific strain which was used in the hair growth study, one thing to think about is the way that the probiotic was thought to work. The researchers saw that it was because of its anti inflammatory effects from elevation of anti inflammatory cytokines. This is not unique to this probiotic and has been demonstrated in other well known probiotic strains as well. L.casei (a common strain) for example has been found to increase IL-10.
However, if you’d like to experiment with the specific strain tested in the study, then this is the probiotic for you.
Who should take probiotics for hair growth?
We all have gut bacteria, they are crucial for our survival, absorption of nutrients, and for our immune system to function properly.
There are many different things aside from antibiotics which might disturb the gut flora, these include:
- High sugar
- High saturated fat
- High intake of processed foods
- Lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet
- Lack of fiber
- Autoimmune diseases
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Depression and anxiety
- Lack of sleep and use of sleeping pills
There are no shortage of things which can dramatically alter the population of bacteria in the gut. And sure, once you start improving these things, the gut bacteria can change over time, but for those people who want a bit of a boost to their good bacteria, there is the option of taking probiotics for a few months to give you a bit of a head start.
It’s really all the small steps that you make which makes all the difference. Imaging a seesaw; it’s about tipping the balance in positive direction of health.
If you think you are affected by anything in the above list, then it might be worth trying probiotics to see if it improves your hair growth. And at the same time, you’ll probably be improving your whole health as well.
How to make the probiotic more effective?
Make sure you consume foods that support the growth of bacteria. You want to eat more foods that are ‘prebiotic’.
These foods include: Raw Garlic, Raw Leeks, Raw Onions, Asparagus, Broccoli. Basically to support a healthy digestive system you want to consume as many plant foods as you can.
Are there any side effects from taking probiotics?
If you have never taken probiotics before and your diet is quite poor, you might notice some changes initially but your stomach should eventually adjust. If you have any concerns about taking a probiotic supplement, please speak to your doctor.
Supplements should never replace a healthy diet, but only supplement it. Health starts from the inside and shows on the outside. If you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.
And if you aren’t convinced enough to take probiotics, check out the new report showing that extremely healthy 100 year olds have the same gut microbiome as healthy 30 year olds!
A healthy microbioe might help more than just your skin and your hair. It might even make you live longer in good health.