Health advocates and even doctors are finding new and inventive uses for probiotics each day. What started off as a supplement to be taken daily has transcending to cleaning products, our favorite foods, pet care products, and now, possibly a treatment for skin conditions.
Doctors all over the world are conducting research to find if the use of probiotics can help to treat wounds and prevent sepsis. If our gut health is vital in living a healthy life, then the condition of our skin--which acts as a shield to the environment, bacteria, and viruses--is too.
Did you know that the bacteria of a Staph infection--Staphylococcus aureus--is found in nearly 30% of the population? In many cases, the bacteria remain dormant and does not cause any harm. Critical infection only occurs in the event the skin barrier is damaged and bacteria is able to form biofilms. When biofilms are formed, they act as a protective shield around the Staph infection bacteria, making it nearly impossible for antibiotics to penetrate and heal the infection. If the bacteria then spreads to the bloodstream, it can cause sepsis, and later death; this is a major risk factor in those are suffering from extreme burn injuries.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is another bacteria--residing in the gut--that is found in infected wounds of patients who are immunocompromised. Like the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa forms biofilms that make it impossible for antibiotics to fight through and cure. Too many patients have died of wound infections due to bacteria and biofilm resistance to the administered antibiotics. This is an issue that has stumped both doctors and scientists for years; however, scientists may have finally made a breakthrough in treating wound infections with the help of our favorite friendly bacteria.
In a recent study conducted by Catherine O’Neill, Ph.D. of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, it was discovered that the extracts of two strains of probiotics were able to protect skin cells against the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Dr. O’Neill and her team use both L. rhamnosus GG and L. reuteri bacteria, from the Lactobacillus family and found that both of these strains had two different effects on the skin. The extracts of the L. rhamnosus GG aided in boosting cell migration, which enabled the skin cells to close and heal the wound at a faster rate. On the other hand, the extracts of the L. reuteri bacteria helped to heightened cell division which, in turn, contributed to the replenishment of cells that were damaged by the wound.
Once this discovery was made, other scientists jumped at the opportunity to conduct further research on mice. Susan E. Erdman of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and her team conducted researched that looked directly at the effects that a probiotic diet has on wound healing in mice. In the study, Erdman used a strain of healthy bacteria called L. reuteri and found that there was a significant increase in oxytocin--a hormone that promotes reproduction, social behavior, childbirth, and lactation--which helped to increase the rate of wound healing.
In another study directed by Dr. Sandeep Kathju, researchers looked closely at the effect of L. plantarum--probiotic strain--on P. aeruginosa-induced sepsis on a mouse burn model. Their results showed that the sepsis was prevented in 12 out of the 13 mice tested. From these results, burn specialist Dr. Valdez, decided to put together his own study on his patients in the Plastic Surgery and Burns Unit Hospital Centro de Salud in Argentina. Dr. Valdez’s team tested the L. plantarum strain on a mix of 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree patients and found that the friendly bacteria proved to be efficient in healing their wounds.
From the multiple studies conducted, it’s evident that probiotics have effective medicinal properties that can help in the healing process of severe wounds. However, doctors and scientists need more evidence before that can begin to successfully use this as a new, innovative treatment regiment. It won’t be long until enough evidence is gained allowing for probiotics to be used as a treatment method for wounds.