Probiotics For Hair Loss And Hair Growth Explained

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I always thought of probiotics as something that belongs in your mid-morning yogurt or something, but as it turns out it can play a part in good hair hygiene as well as digestion. Many of us would like to stave off hair loss, if possible, and also to have our hair develop and grow in a healthy manner. Those two are often intertwined, with one affecting the other, so this is probiotics for hair loss and hair growth explained.

Hair is something tricky. On the one hand, it is merely a collection of dead strands of protein. On the other hand, it is part of our shared culture and tradition, and part of being human in general. I think we can almost all agree that hair is a lot more than just ropes of keratin. We use it to express ourselves, we use it to attract each other, we use it in religious and spiritual practices, and some of us even use it in our line of work.

Before we explore the benefits of probiotics for hair, let’s get the straight story of probiotics. What are they?

What Are Probiotics?

Birds eye view of supplements in bowl next to leaves.

Nutrient supplements.

I wasn’t kidding about the yogurt thing, by the way, since yogurts and other fermented foods are known for containing probiotics. Probiotics are micro-organisms, tiny bacteria (aka gut flora) that are consumed by humans and occur naturally. They are viewed as being beneficial for one’s intestinal health, and even though they are found naturally in the gastrointestinal tract (without any diet or supplementation), there are times when one could use a boost.

You don’t have to be ill or deficient in order to begin taking probiotics. Usually, these tiny bacteria arrive in two forms: foods and supplements. Normally, it is best to acquire these little guys through dieting, but supplements are certainly a popular option. Supplements are not monitored or regulated by the FDA, however, so if that is a consideration of yours, be sure to do your research and choose wisely.

Can Probiotics Prevent Hair Loss?

Hands taking hair out of hair brush.

Woman brushing hair.

Another tricky thing … there are so many factors that go into preventing hair loss and/or encouraging hair growth: genes, diet, environment, hair care routine, stress, hormones, and more. Taking all that into consideration, whatever answer there is will not be applicable to 100% of the population. We are all different, for better or worse, and that means we all have separate traits and circumstances. 

Still, the question is asked: can probiotics prevent hair loss? The answer is essentially yes, but it depends. These microbacteria can affect more than just the digestive tract, yes, but it isn’t as if it is some miracle cure that works overnight. They have an effect on hair and skin, which is why you can use them (to some extent) as a hair nourisher, but it’s a treatment that needs to remain consistent in order to produce the desired effect.

Probiotics could potentially help prevent hair loss by providing nourishment to the follicles and their surrounding blood vessels. The hair follicles are the only part of the hair that is still technically alive. As such, it is there that you would want to focus your efforts. Probiotics can help drive away inflammation, provide strength to your immune system, and balance your hormones.

Top 5 Probiotics For Hair Loss

There are different strains of probiotics. Although some of them may share certain traits they are seen as separate probiotic bacteria. The two most popular genera of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are known to reside in the small and large intestine, respectively. Within those two genera, there are separate species and strains which have different properties. By the way, the human body plays host to over 500 unique strains of probiotics.

Here are our top 5 probiotics for hair loss, although these won’t be consistently the best ones throughout the population. Some will respond better to other strains. However, these are thought to be useful when taken in adequate amounts. Also, these claims have not been verified 100%, so take them with a grain of salty caramel yogurt.

1. Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 

This probiotic stimulates the immune system. You might be wondering what a healthy immune system has to do with hair loss so let allow me to explain. When your immune system is weak, you’re at a heightened risk of developing an autoimmune disease. This then has the potential to lead to issues such as alopecia or hypothyroidism which have a direct effect on hair loss. With this in mind, increasing your intake of Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 can maintain your immune health, thus reducing hair loss.

2. Lactobacillus plantarum 

The fact that this particular probiotic works to regulate the digestive enzymes in the gut has great significance for your hair growth. Probiotics help with protein break down, which allows for the proteins that build up your hair to reach the scalp efficiently. Lactobacillus plantarum also increases antioxidant activities which is a necessary component of healthy hair growth.

3. Lactobacillus brevis

Similar to Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1, this probiotic works to boost the immune system. A healthy immune system is the foundation for a range of healthy bodily functions including healthy hair growth.

4. Bifidobacterium lactis

Bifidobacterium lactis works in a similar way to Lactobacillus plantarum. Healthy, optimal digestion allows proteins to be properly digested. When proteins are appropriately digested, they’re able to reach your scalp better. Seeing as your hair is made up of proteins, increasing your intake of probiotics which encourage proper protein breakdown, can go a long way in reducing hair loss.

5. Bifidobacterium longum 

Finally, the last probiotic on this list is Bifidobacterium longum. This probiotic works to improve your immune system so that your body doesn’t have to worry about autoimmune disease. Additionally, it works to reduce the presence of cortisol which is your body’s stress hormone. Stress is also a factor in hair loss. This means that controlling your stress levels, through probiotics and other techniques, can reduce hair loss and encourage growth.

Thankfully, with so many strains and subtypes to choose from, you can experiment with different foods or supplements and see which ones pique your hair follicles’ interests! Also, there is ongoing research on the different combinations of probiotics that may benefit certain cases. By determining which probiotics are effective at different times or under specific circumstances, science has a real shot at personalizing the whole thing and making it that much more effective for the individual patient.

Soon there will come a day when you can perform a simple blood test, and then start a course of probiotics based on your specific medical history and parameters. This goes way beyond hair growth, of course, but let’s get back to the issue at hand -- your locks.

Can Probiotics Promote Hair Growth?

Woman holding her hair to the sides and laughing.

Woman with healthy hair.

This question is very much tied in with the question regarding hair loss. And the answer is the same: yes, probiotics can promote hair growth, but it also depends on other factors. And of course, there is also a scenario where probiotics could prevent loss without necessarily promoting growth. 

Those friendly neighborhood bacteria can potentially aid in the restoration and growth of hair. They do this by reducing stress and stimulating the growth phase of the hairs themselves. Hair goes through three main phases, and you can help the growth phase by supplying the body with probiotics.

Probiotics For Hair Side Effects Explained

You need to take the good with the bad, they say, and that much is true. Alongside a host of benefits that probiotics can provide, there are also the possible adverse effects of ingesting them. We’re talking about living organisms, microbacteria which line the gut, and this means that there is also the possibility of having those microorganisms act in a different way than one anticipates.

The side effects of probiotics actually have nothing to do with hair, specifically. It has more to do with the systems which sustain the hair -- along with the rest of the body. There have been patients who developed infections because of the presence of probiotics. It could be that their immune system is already weak. Then the addition of gut bacteria causes the infection to flare up. It’s a situation which is still being investigated, but there is no definite ruling one way or the other.

Either way, it is always better to check with your physician or health care professional before ingesting anything which may affect your gut’s health, be it in the short or long-term. Whether you have a history of sensitivity or not, it is always worth playing it safe. The gut is where a lot of delicate procedures are carried out, where sustenance is physically broken down and then sent throughout the body, and where a large and significant part of the immune system is housed.

Conclusion

Hair really is an odd thing, isn’t it? We are one of the only species on planet Earth which has hair primarily on the head, rather than fur or full-on thick body hair (like apes). So, it seems we’ve taken our unique hair situation and made it into a seriously significant part of our humanity. Male and female humans differ on this matter, of course. Over 80% of men losing a lot of their hair by the time they turn 50, and many females who will experience hair loss in the form of thinning.

Naturally, many of us are looking for ways to prevent loss and increase healthy growth. Probiotics are certainly not the only way to go about this, but they are one of the more natural methods. Probiotics are not marketed as a solution to hair problems or hair restoration, but they seem to have the capacity for creating positive change in the hair follicles.

The thing is, you can’t really bank on this method being any kind of major catalyst. This is because -- again -- there are many factors involved in the process of hair loss or hair growth. It’s possible that these bacteria will have a significant effect on one person, and little to no effect on another person. It’s nothing which is written in stone, and studies are still being conducted in order to unlock the mysteries of the various strains and species of probiotics that are consumed by humans.

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