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Taking Probiotics – Does it really work? (Part I)

Eczema is a skin condition characterised by intense itchiness and inflammation. There are numerous interventions, including unconventional ones, but not much has proven to be the golden method for eczema management. While many still struggle to find the perfect way for their eczema management, through this article, I will shed some light on how probiotics may help.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast when taken enough can confer health benefits to the body. Ingesting probiotics could restore the imbalance and increase the diversity of intestinal microflora, which are the bacteria that has been living with us since birth. Research has shown that eczema patients have a different composition of intestinal microflora than those without eczema. Multiple research has identified that the Bifidobacteria species, one of the common bacteria hosting in our intestines, is found to be less prevalent in the faeces of infants with eczema. The low diversity of microflora is also associated with the development of eczema during the early years of life. With that being said, if we can restore our microflora to a “healthy” condition, it may help reduce the severity and relapse of eczema.

Current Evidence

Although research on microflora has been going on for the last 20 years, still there isn’t any major consensus as to how to alter microflora in order to confer health benefits. Research results are conflicting. A 2018 study showed probiotics reduced eczema symptoms to a certain extent but had a limited effect on reducing the quality of life for eczema patients. Some other studies focused on one particular strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and proved it to be of little effect in reducing risks of eczema. However, a 2015 study showed a significant improvement in infants’ eczema when probiotics are used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and infancy.

Although results are controversial, there are many reasons to explain the inconsistencies:

  1. There is not any standardization in dosage and frequency of probiotics supplementation.
  2. The probiotic strains used in the research are different.
  3. The research methods and outcomes are not standardized.

Nevertheless, researchers have not given up on the idea of using probiotics to treat eczema. It is becoming clearer now that our intestinal microflora does contribute to regulating immunity and inflammation, and it will only be a matter of time until we find the correct probiotic strain and dosage. Personally, I still encourage eczema patients to try probiotics as supplementation to their eczema diet.

Part II is out! Click this link for the benefits and suggested dosage for probiotics!


References

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