Can probiotics effectively treat eczema?
Q: My mom has eczema, and I heard eating probiotics can alleviate her symptoms. Is there any truth to that? — Amy D., Duluth, Minn.
A: Yes, probiotics may help control eczema, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments, such as corticosteroid creams and ointments. Phototherapy also can be effective. Your mom should check with her dermatologist to determine her best approach.
The most common type of eczema, atopic dermatitis, affects one in seven children and one in 50 adults. It’s triggered by immune-system malfunction (there’s a compromised skin/immune barrier). Another common form of eczema, contact dermatitis, is an allergic reaction. Antihistamine meds such as Benadryl can relieve symptoms in the short term.
There’s a natural connection among bolstering your immune system, balancing your bacteria with probiotics and relieving symptoms of eczema. One study in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology found that “probiotics, especially L. rhamnosus GG, seem to be effective for the prevention of atopic dermatitis. They also were found to reduce the severity of AD in approximately half of the trials the researchers reviewed.” Culturelle and some other brands contain strains, including L. rhamnosus GG, in the lactobacillus GG lineage.
In addition to taking supplements, you can choose more probiotic-containing foods, such as fat-free yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso (miso soup), kefir, sourdough bread, naturally fermented sour pickles, tempeh and, of course, dark chocolate.
To help probiotics do their job, you want to supply those good bacteria with the foods they need to flourish: those are called prebiotics. Prebiotic treats for your probiotic residents include legumes (beans and peas), asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, whole-grain oatmeal and even a little red wine.
We bet that if your mom boosts her diet with pre- and probiotics, she’ll see improvements in her overall health and her eczema.
And she’ll derive other benefits, too: some studies show that probiotics improve glucose and blood pressure control. Mehmet oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. oz Show,” and Mike roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. oz and Dr. roizen at email@example.com.