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If you’re wondering how probiotics help improve hair growth and make it healthier-looking, allow me to explain why you should consider taking them!
Like most people, I imagine that you have probably taken antibiotics at one point or another. Unfortunately, they wreak havoc on the digestive system and in some cases can cause hair loss.
Your ‘microbiome’ is more important to your health than you might think. The human body is home to literally trillions of microorganisms that live symbiotically with you, helping digest your food, as well as mediating the immune system and hormones released in your body.
Scientists are still uncovering the importance of having a healthy microbiome to our overall health. But it’s certainly more important than what was once thought.
Hair loss can be caused by many different things including mineral and vitamin deficiencies, stress, surgery, hormones, and even autoimmune conditions where the immune system attacks the hair follicles and causes excessive inflammation.
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.
While there are many foods and supplements that have been studied and suggested to improve hair growth, it’s only in the last few years that probiotics have been recognized as a natural supplement that could improve hair growth.
And if you’re anything like me, you probably want to go the natural route when possible. So in this article, I will examine the latest studies looking at probiotics and hair growth to see just how effective they can be.
Before I do that, in case you’re in a rush, I’ve listed 4 great probiotics that may be helpful for improving hair thickness, shine, and strength!
Do Probiotics Help Hair Growth?
As mentioned, some types of bacteria are very beneficial to our health, we really couldn’t live without them. They help keep the bad bacteria in check and also prevent overgrowth of yeast, particularly Candida.
They also help us absorb nutrients from our food, improve our psychological well-being, and help balance our immune system.
Good bacteria make up a significant portion of our immune system, but every time you take antibiotics, many of these helpful microbes get destroyed. This causes an imbalance — usually temporary — that can persist for weeks, months, or even years.
They were one of the best discoveries of the 20th century but they don’t come without their drawbacks.
The most common types of bacteria used in probiotics include the following:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- L. Casei
- L. Rhamousus
- L. Delbrueckii
- L. Brevis
So anyway, let’s now look at the connection between a good head of hair and probiotics!
A study looking at the effect of probiotics in mice
Back in 2013, there was a study published which was titled ‘Probiotic Bacteria Induce a ‘Glow of Health‘. In the study, they were looking at the effect of healthy bacteria on skin and hair health.
Researchers made two important discoveries:
- Mice that were given large doses of probiotics had dramatic improvements in their skin health. Their skin essentially began to look much younger.
- The probiotic that was given to the mice also caused their hair to grow in much thicker than normal. They also noticed that the hair was shinier and healthier than the control group who didn’t receive the probiotic.
They also discovered one of the main mechanisms behind this positive effect on hair growth and rejuvenation of the skin. It was due to an increase in the cytokine ‘Interleukin-10’ — which known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
A few important points from the study and the image above.
- Mice that 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 that you could grow much thicker and longer hair.
What Are the Best Probiotics for Hair Growth?
When choosing a probiotic you may want to consider a few things:
- The strains of bacteria in the probiotic: do they have health-promoting effects and are they well-studied?
- Make sure that you choose a product that has bacteria that will not be destroyed by stomach acid.
- Does it contain the specific bacteria mentioned in the study which was shown to help with 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 doesn’t contain L. reuteri — the bacteria used in the study above — but it does contain other health-promoting probiotics that can increase the level of cytokines such as IL-10 which is what improved hair quality in the study we looked at.
However, depending on your budget, choose out of one of the 4 I’ve listed here and you’ll be getting a high-quality probiotic.
#1. 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 improve 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.
Although this bacteria is the specific strain that was used in the hair growth study, one thing to think about is the way that the probiotic was thought to work.
It was thought to be effective because of an increase in IL-10. Other bacteria such as L. casei have also been shown to increase IL-10.
But if you would like to experiment with the specific strain tested in the study, this is the probiotic for you!
#2. Captain Biotics Probiotic For Hair Growth
Captain Biotics is relatively cheap compared to many probiotic supplements out there. They state that it is made in the USA and also in a building that is inspected by the FDA. So you can expect quality if you choose this supplement.
- It contains a different strain of L. reuteri, which also has anti-inflammatory and health-promoting effects.
- It contains acid-resistant bacteria.
- Includes L. casei, which is another bacteria known to induce IL-10.
- 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!
- You only get 25 billion bacteria per capsule. This might sound like a lot, but you need a much bigger dose for faster results.
- It only has 60 capsules per bottle. If you take 2 capsules per day, it will just last you 30 days.
This probiotic is a good option for those on a budget!
#3. Healthy Origins Probiotic
Healthy Origins is a great company that I trust and I’ve been using their products for a very long time. I’ve had some good success in improving my own health using this supplement. It’s a very high-quality supplement but a little on the expensive side.
- 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 great 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.
- It contains 8 different strains of bacteria. A good variety of bacteria which have been shown in studies to promote health.
- It contains L. casei, which promotes IL-10, and therefore may improve hair growth.
- It has a lot of great reviews and most people seem very 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.
#4. 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’s not the specific strain 6475.
- It contains a high dose of the bacteria which was shown to help hair growth.
- It contains bacteria strains that have been shown to be helpful in lower cholesterol and improving vitamin D synthesis, which is an important vitamin for skin and health.
- It’s more targeted and specific than the other probiotic supplements.
- You only get one month supply.
- It doesn’t contain a variety of bacteria.
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 diets.
- High saturated fat diet.
- 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.
If you start improving all of these, you may also start to improve your gut health. However, this can take some time!
Taking probiotics for a few months can speed up the process of restoring a healthy microbiome.
Many Reasons Why Probiotics May 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 needs 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.
Probiotics help regulate how our immune system responds to the bacteria and fungi on the surface of our skin.
A healthy immune system is able to quickly act to prevent any opportunistic infections from taking hold, thereby allowing the hair to grow well.
3. Fights inflammation
Inflammation can be caused by many different things like 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. This helps reduce the damaging effects of inflammation on hair follicles.
4. Improves thyroid function
As we get older our metabolism slows down, and this leads to slower hair growth which can be brittle and break easily.
In a study published in the journal of obesity and weight loss therapy, researchers found that giving mice probiotics improved thyroid function and immunity.
Improved thyroid function from taking probiotics may help improve your hair!
5. Improves mental well-being
Stress is one of the worst things for your skin and your hair. Stress from a breakup, school, childbirth, or a death in the family, can all 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 good bacteria. Eat more foods that are ‘prebiotic’ like garlic.
Other foods such as Leeks, Onions, Asparagus, Broccoli will also be beneficial.
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 hopefully you’ll grow an amazing head of hair!
Reviewed and updated: November 2019.