Someone just asked me, “Do probiotics make you smell fishy?” Another asked, “I wash but still have body odor?”
These got me curious about doing research on the topic. Here’s what I discovered after reading studies and blogs on the subject:
How can probiotics cause body odor and what can you do to stop it from happening? Why does overwashing lead to body odor, and why can probiotics alleviate it?
Let me explain everything to you.
Can Too Many Probiotics Cause Body Odor?
Taking too many probiotics isn’t expected to cause an “overdose” or lead to a serious medical emergency or death. However, having too many of these good bacteria in your body might lead to bloating and gas.
The good news is that it won’t likely cause body odor. The gases produced by probiotics are usually odorless – and they aren’t going to react with your sweat to produce a bad smell.
So, why do some people sometimes experience body odor after taking probiotics? Let me explain that below with what I learned from research.
Why Do Probiotics Cause Body Odor?
If you ever experience body odor after taking probiotics, there’s likely nothing to worry about. Of course, it can be embarrassing, but this is usually temporary and is actually good news.
There’s this thing called the “Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction” or simply the “Herx reaction.” The symptoms can vary from one person to another, but people who experience negative side effects with probiotics might just be having a detox stage.
During this stage, the bad bacteria in your body are getting replaced by the good ones in your probiotics.
In retaliation (like the strong warriors they are), they give off toxins and other chemicals that can cause headaches, nausea, bloating, or even flu-like symptoms. It’s not the same for everybody, but you might also have body odor as a result.
So, what should you do next? Well, don’t stop taking your probiotics. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue taking the probiotics and these side effects will soon go away.
However, if they don’t, be sure to consult your doctor because you might be taking too many probiotics and need to reduce the dose in the meantime.
Can Taking Probiotics Make You Smell?
Some people have reported that after taking probiotics, they experienced unpleasant situations such as having their poop stink or becoming gassy (with a strong odor). Could that also mean that probiotics can lead to body odor?
I’ve discovered in my research that probiotics aren’t likely to cause body odor – and that happens most of the time.
Now, body odor is not caused by sweat. Instead, it’s due to the accumulation of bad bacteria that produce these bad smells in our armpits, feet, private parts, mouth, and other parts of the body,
So, can probiotics change body odor? Well, the good news is that probiotics can help restore your microbiome to help keep these bad, odor-causing bacteria in check. That means that they can help stop body odor.
In the Chapter 6 abstract of a book published in 2022, “Good Microbes in Medicine, Food Production, Biotechnology, Bioremediation, and Agriculture,” the authors explained that the degradation of odorless natural secretions (such as sweat) into volatile foul-smelling molecules is due to bacterial action.
Thankfully, probiotics can be beneficial in reducing body odor by improving the characteristics of your gut or intestinal microbiome. You don’t always have to rely on deodorants or antiperspirants.
Can Probiotics Make Your Sweat Smell?
Here’s the thing: sweat doesn’t smell – and probiotics can’t make it smell sweet! According to Cleveland Clinic, body odor happens when sweat gets mixed with bacteria on our skin or body surface.
Now, you might be curious, can probiotics cause sweating? For most people, they don’t. You might experience gassiness and some discomfort with these sudden changes in your microbiome, but there have been very few reports of people sweating from probiotics.
You might also be wondering “Can probiotics make you smell better?” Then, the answer is “yes.” However, they can’t also make your sweat smell sweet.
Like other bacteria, probiotics can also produce gas. Thankfully, this gas is odorless.
Can Probiotics Cause Yeast Infection? (That Smells!)
No. Yeast infection and its bad smell are caused by pathogenic yeast species, particularly Candida albicans.
Probiotic products, whether supplements or food and drinks, don’t contain these yeast species (unless they’re contaminated). So, they don’t cause yeast infections.
There’s even some good news! Studies and many people’s personal experiences, as I’ve detailed in this article on probiotics and discharge (BV and yeast infections), showed that probiotics can actually help you deal with these unpleasant smells.
So, you don’t have to worry about body odor from yeast infection if you’re taking probiotics.
Can You Take Probiotics For Body Odor?
Yes. It’s actually possible to take probiotics for body odor.
Digestive problems can cause body odor in some people. A. Vogel explains that the bacterial imbalance in your gut can lead your body to produce improperly processed by-products. Because your body might have a difficult time processing these properly, some can be released through your skin pores.
Taking probiotics can help restore balance in your gut. More efficient digestion can then help you prevent body odor.
On a probiotics body odor Reddit thread, some Redditors pointed out that your body smell can be affected by your gut because you reportedly sweat out what you drink or eat. When you keep your gut healthy with probiotics, then this wouldn’t be an issue.
Someone even claims “I cured my body odor with FMT (fecal microbial transplantation).” Of course, FMT and probiotics are different, yet they’re also similar.
Having an FMT or taking probiotics introduces good bacteria to your gut – and they can help deal with body odor from the inside.
Scientific Evidence: Probiotics Can Help Reduce Body Odor
In a 2021 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, researchers found that the application of a topical Lactobacillus pentosus KCA1 cream can reduce the number of odor-producing Corynebacterium species by as much as 96%, depending on the strain.
For example, in male test subjects of this study, there’s a reduction in these odor-producing bacteria by as much:
- Corynebacterium striatum – 96%
- Corynebacterium jeikeium – 73%
- Staphylococcus hominis – 20.8%
- Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum – 7%
What Is The Best Probiotic For Body Odor?
When you’re “too clean,” you can also kill the good bacteria, not just the bad ones. While many deodorant or antiperspirant products only mask body odor with scents, probiotics can restore the natural balance and remove the bad smell for real.
Now, did you know that there are also probiotics in the form of deodorants to directly address body odor directly from the source? Others are in tablet or capsule form for oral intake.
While researching this subject, I found some good choices for dealing with body odor.
If you’re trying to deal with body odor due to an imbalanced microbiome, then any kind of high-quality oral probiotic can be a good choice.
For faster and better results, however, I recommend choosing products that are applied directly on your skin or used like regular deodorant.
Here are my recommendations for the best probiotics supplement for body odor:
- Omnutra Eliderm Topical Probiotic Skin Cream – contains 13 high-potency probiotic strains (i.e., Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bacillus subtilis, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus plantarum, multiple Bifidobacterium probiotic strains, etc.) to crowd out odor-causing bacteria
- Green Theory Probiotic Deodorant – contains 10 strains and up to 50 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of odor-fighting probiotics for long-lasting underarm freshness; they have products for men and women
- Honestly pHresh Natural Prebiotic and Probiotic Deodorant Spray – contains Lactobacillus ferment and has plenty of scents to choose from, so you can smell fresh (it’s your chance to let a probiotic make you smell sweet)
- Organic Island Original Compostable Organic Deodorant – contains shelf-stable probiotics for natural odor control; it even comes in a compostable push-up container but is also available in regular plastic push-up containers and cream containers
You can also try these natural probiotics in food that can promote better gut health so that toxins aren’t released through your skin to cause body odor:
- Kefir (water and juice kefirs)