Gut or skin, digestion, slimming, or general well-being: modern probiotics are available for numerous areas in human health and health support. Demand is increasing, not least because society has become more aware of natural remedies and biological skincare.
Technically speaking, however, many probiotic products aren’t probiotics. “Probiotic” means “fit for life, lively”. The World Health Organization’s defines probiotics as pharmaceuticals, foods, or functional foods which contain live micro-organisms. Among these are, e.g., lactic acid bacteria in yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut, but also natural yeasts and other bacteria.
However, many skincare products which claim to be “probiotic” do not contain living bacteria. Some may still be beneficial for your skin. For instance, if they contain specific natural microbiotic extracts which promote the growth of healthy skin bacteria and stimulate and stabilise a natural and healthy skin flora. More fittingly, however, these creams or lotions would have to be called “microbiotic skincare”. Nevertheless, the term “probiotic” is far more commonly used on the market.
If you ingest probiotics with your food, e.g. to maintain the best possible balance between healthy bacteria and natural pathogens in the gut flora or gut microbiota, the best approach would, at least in theory, involve being aware of the actual make-up of your gut flora first. It is only once we know which bacteria are too numerous and which too rare or not present at all that we become able to tip the balance in our favour by adding good bacteria.
The scientific community is currently exploring this option, yet it remains an option far too complex for everyday care. In this respect, the term probiotics, as well-meaning as it may be, all too often strikes a wrong note. But if you use microbiotic skincare or microbiotics to stimulate good bacteria in general, you will definitely do no harm.