The majority of patients who come into the pharmacy asking about probiotics generally are inquiring about a probiotic for gut or digestive health. I have mentioned some other health benefits of probiotics throughout the site but there are also some hidden health benefits of probiotics that many people don’t think of when they are looking for a probiotic. These are some hidden benefits that you may not consider when thinking about a probiotic supplement.
Less known benefits of probiotics
1) Improvement of mood: It is thought that the gut and the brain communicate with each other, and a healthy gut has a positive effect on brain function and mental health. This article shows some articles that both support this hypothesis and some that say probiotics have little effect on mood. Although this kind of supplement use is not proven to improve mental health there have been some interesting studies out there that make improvement from taking them possible especially when added to other treatment plans. And, of course, if you are anything like me, digestive issues can make you not feel great holistically! So if your gut just feels more stable and happier, it seems possible that you mood would also be happier. Read my article on Can Probiotics Make You Feel Happy, where I dive into more research on the connection between gut health and mental health.
2) Improved sleep quality: In the same article that presented improved mood suggested that probiotics can also help with sleep quality. These studies showed improvement in sleep in patients with increased stress and anxiety. It is hard to say if the improvement in sleep is due to the improvement in mood or vice versa. This is another possible benefit that has conflicting data – some studies show that they can help, and others show no improvement. It is thought that the gut microbiome influences how your body metabolizes salt and this can affect blood pressure as stated in this article. So that could all, in theory, have an impact on sleep quality. But really poor sleep can have a cascade effect on your overall health, so if you are having regular troubles sleeping and it’s harming your health, talk to your doctor. It could be a sign of an underlying problem.
3) Clearer Skin: Probiotics are thought to improve acne and psoriasis, their use is thought to improve, maintain, and restore the microbiota of the skin. Just like the rest of our body, the skin contains a normal flora of good bacteria to help keep balance and fight off bad bacteria. Consumption of probiotics is thought to possibly improve the microbiome of the skin and therefore improve skin health.
These hidden benefits of probiotics are not proven – but some research has shown that they possibly can be beneficial in the issues listed above. As always, consult with a doctor or pharmacist before you start taking a supplement to make sure it is the right choice for you. If you are experiencing any of the above listed ailments you should talk with your doctor about possible treatment and if adding a probiotic to the treatment regimen would be beneficial.
Read some of my other probiotic articles!
How long do probiotics take to work? It’s longer than you might think, but varies based on the condition you are trying to treat. I also recently published a piece on the best time of day to take them – hint, it’s not with your coffee!
Lactobacillus plantarum – found in the human gut, clinical studies have suggested that it can help improve chronic diarrhea and reduce inflammation.