If you’re wondering how probiotics help hair growth, then allow me to explain why you should consider taking probiotics to improve your hair growth. This is especially true if you have taken antibiotics in the past or are already having stomach issues.
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, as well as mediating the immune system and hormones released into 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. It 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 and slowing down of growth of hair.
Hair loss is usually a symptom of something else going on and not a serious concern by itself. However, losing hair can have a huge emotional impact on the person who is experiencing it.
The good news: There are many natural treatments such as probiotics for hair growth. And if you’re anything like me, you probably want to go the natural route, rather than having to take medications. This probiotic has been proven to significantly improve hair growth and shine.
The connection between hair growth and good bacteria is not intuitive, but I’ll explain why gut health and taking probiotics could really improve your hair growth later on in this article.
Below are 4 excellent probiotics to help improve hair growth
- Biogaia Gastrus – Contains the exact strain of L. reuteri found to improve hair growth.
- Captain Biotics – A popular and cheap probiotic for those on a budget. It has L. casei, which elevates the same cytokine that was found to improve hair growth.
- Healthy Origins – A high-strength probiotic with multiple strains of healthy probiotics. Also has L. casei for a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.
- Microbiome Plus – Contains L. reuteri but a different strain than used in studies for hair growth.
Do Probiotics Help Hair Growth?
As mentioned, good bacteria are very beneficial for our health. Good bacteria help keep the bad bacteria in check and also prevent overgrowth of yeast, particularly Candida. In fact, they have so many important functions in the body besides just preventing overgrowth of bad pathogens, they also help us absorb nutrients from our food, improve our psychological well-being, and our immune system!
Some of the most common types of bacteria used in probiotics include the following.
You may recognize a few of these:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- L. Casei
- L. Rhamousus
- L. Delbrueckii
- L. Brevis
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.
Back in 2013, there was a study published, titled ‘Probiotic Bacteria Induce a ‘Glow of Health‘ where they discovered some amazing benefits!
Researchers discovered two important things:
- Mice that were given large doses of probiotics had dramatic improvements in their skin. Their skin looked much younger!
- Mice given the probiotic had their hair grow thicker, as well as being shinier and more healthy looking than the mice who didn’t receive the probiotic.
They discovered one of the mechanisms behind this positive effect on hair growth and rejuvenation of the skin was due to a cytokine called Interleukin-10 – which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
We also have the same cytokines and similar effects have been observed in humans using multiple strains of good bacteria.
- Mice who were given the probiotic had more hairs in their growth phase in the subcutis (fat layer) of their skin. This is where nutrients and growth hormones are delivered for hairs to grow.
- Mice who received the probiotic saw an increase in their skin thickness.
- Mice given the probiotic had 70% of hairs in the growth phase.
- Mice not taking the probiotic had 36% of hairs in the growth phase.
More hair in the growth phase means you could grow much thicker and longer hair. So it really 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 should want to know if the bacteria are protected from stomach acid, so they can be effective.
- 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, and act in a similar way by up-regulating anti-inflammatory cytokines and reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines. This is what caused mice to have younger skin and better hair growth according to the research paper.
The 4 probiotics below are in my opinion some of the best probiotics 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 really just depends on your budget. 🙂
Captain Biotics Probiotic For Hair Growth
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 a bacteria called 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 (an anti-inflammatory cytokine).
- Made in the US and in an FDA inspected the 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 make 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 so 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 is a list of the pros and cons of 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.
- 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, a bacteria which promotes IL-10, and therefore may improve hair growth as this is how L. reuteri is believed to work.
- 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.
MicroBiome 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.
- Contains bacteria strains that have been shown to be helpful in lower cholesterol and improving vitamin D synthesis, which may, therefore, improve hair growth.
- 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.
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 is proven in studies to promote hair growth and stomach health.
- It 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.
- A low dose of 200 million CFU 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 an 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.
Should you 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 is 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 the 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.
The other reasons why probiotics can help
Probiotics affect the whole body, from your gut to your mind. And that’s why they can have such a profound effect on every system in our body, including the growth of our hair.
1. Improved nutrient absorption
In order for us to grow and regenerate, our body and hair need a plentiful supply of nutrients. The state of our gut is super important in helping us digest our food and absorb the nutrients from the foods we eat.
Poor gut health can have big consequences for hair growth by reducing the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body.
2. Boosts your immune system
As you get older, your immune system starts to decline and it does a poorer job at fighting opportunistic infections from fungi and bacteria. These happen to be two things which are big contributors to hair loss in men and women.
All over our skin, we have bacteria, it’s covered in them. It helps regulate how our immune system responds to the bacteria and fungi on the surface. A healthy immune system is able to quickly act to prevent any opportunistic infections from taking hold, thereby allowing the hair to grow properly. Probiotics have been proven to stimulate the immune system to fight off infections on the skin, and therefore, your scalp.
3. Fights inflammation
Inflammation can be caused by many different things, whether it be infections, sun damage, autoimmune disease, chemical burns, and so on.
When the inflammatory process is too strong or goes on for too long, this can cause hair loss. Probiotics are able to regulate the immune system by increasing levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines and reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and prevent the negative effects of inflammation.
4. Improve thyroid function
As we get older, our metabolism slows down, and this leads to slower hair growth which is brittle and breaks easily. Getting enough iodine in our diet is one way to keep our thyroid functioning well!
In a study published in the journal of obesity and weight loss therapy, researchers found that giving mice probiotics improved thyroid function and immunity. Increased thyroid function by taking probiotics will help improve your hair dramatically!
5. Improves mental well-being
Stress is one of the worst things for your skin and your hair. If you’ve ever been under stress, you know exactly what I mean. Stress from a breakup, school, childbirth, or death in the family can take a big toll on your health and cause premature hair fall. Probiotics have been shown to significantly affect our mood and help us handle stress a lot better.
How to make the probiotic more effective?
Make sure you consume foods that support the growth of bacteria. You will want to eat more foods that are ‘prebiotic’ like garlic. Other foods such as Leeks, Onions, Asparagus, Broccoli will also be beneficial. To support a healthy digestive system, you should consume as many plant foods as you can!
Are there any side effects from taking probiotics?
If you’ve never taken probiotics before and your diet is quite poor, you might notice some changes initially to your daily habits, 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 you’ll grow an amazing head of hair!