The gut-brain axis has been all the rage in the scientific literature lately but what about the gut-skin axis?
“The recognition that the gut and skin are connected is not new; traditional forms of medicine that have been around for thousands of years, such as Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, have a gut-centric approach to health and disease,” wrote Raja Sivamani, MD, in a 2018 review published in the Natural Medicine Journal. “As research continues to expand in this area, the notion of a gut-skin axis has started to emerge in Western research.”
The fact is, both the gut and the skin are immune and neuroendocrine organs that communicate with each other in several ways:
- Nutrients absorbed in the gut have a direct effect on the skin.
- Nutrients can stimulate hormonal changes that impact the skin.
- Gut microbiota influences the immune system, which can have an effect on the skin.
- The release of metabolites in the local microbiome can have a distant effect on the skin.
“As our primary interface with the external environment, both organs are essential to the maintenance of physiologic homeostasis,” wrote the authors of a 2018 review published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. “Cumulative evidence has demonstrated an intimate, bidirectional connection between the gut and skin, and numerous studies link gastrointestinal (GI) health to skin homeostasis and allostasis.”
A key way to influence a homeostatic relationship between the gut and the skin is with probiotics. According to a 2019 literature review published in the British Journal of Dermatology, probiotic interventions “yielded positive results” in supporting skin health.*
A 2015 review published in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology confirmed that probiotics can support skin health on many levels including helping protect skin.* In addition to skin protection support, the researchers also state that studies suggest that probiotics “may slow aging of the skin by helping to restore balance between free radical scavengers and free radical production.”*
Based on the scientific literature, the American Academy of Dermatology states that dermatologists are encouraged by the research associated with the use of probiotics to support clear skin.*
Probiotics can be taken orally and used topically and can be an effective tool in clinical practice.
Chen HW, Yan D, Singh R, et al. Microbiome. 2018;6:154.
Kober MM, Bowe WP. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. 2015;1(2):85-89.
Salem I, Ramser A, Isham N, Ghannoum MA. Frontiers in Microbiology. 2018;9:1459.
Sivamani R. Natural Medicine Journal. 2018;10(81).
Vaughn AR, Notay M, Clark AK, Sivamani R. World Journal of Dermatology. 2017;6(4):52-58.
Yu Y, Dunaway S, Champer J, et al. British Journal of Dermatology. 2019;May 3.