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  • Writer's pictureM Barr, DAOM, IFMCPc

The Skin, Mood and Sleep Benefits of (Home Cultured) Lactobacillus reuteri

Updated: Jan 18

It was Dr. William Davis' new book "Super Gut" that grabbed my attention most recently. I highly recommend it but will also summarize/bullet my favorite parts of it here over the next few weeks.

He first landed on my radar with his 2011 best seller "Wheat Belly" and even more so when his 2017 book "Undoctored" was released.

Here was a successful cardiologist who, after realizing that all the stents and triple by-passes, exercise regimens and low fat/low cholesterol diets he had been taught to dispense (and profit handsomely from-- both he and his institution) were doing absolutely nothing to help his patients to thrive, turned his back on the Academy and decided to do his own independent digging into causation— and to what really creates health.

Longtime probiotic takers will likely not be surprised, but just this one species alone-- Lactobaccilus reuteri-- has been reported to help with wrinkles/skin tone, sleep and mood-- even a heightened feeling of empathy/connectedness in some! Other report help with weight gain and bone loss. The mood effects attributed to its effect on oxytocin release in the brain. (Some key references below.)

Restoring L. reuteri, a microbe lost by modern societies, triggers release of oxytocin from the brain, and with it a surge in empathy and desire for the company of others.

A woman from Vancouver, Canada wrote in of her experience after following Dr. Davis' recipe (contents of 1 BioGaia capsule, or 10 tablets (he likes this particular DSM 17938 L. reuteri strain, presumably because it has the most research behind it) + 2 Tbsp of inulin powder + 1 quart of grass-fed, organic Half & Half (make a slurry first to prevent clumping of the inulin powder) x 36 hours' fermentation @ 97-100 degrees F) for making homemade yogurt— both to boost CFU counts as well as to eliminate the need to keep buying commercial probiotics:

I’ve been eating a half cup of L. reuteri yogurt daily for about a month now. Prior to this, I typically slept in one- to two-hour segments, awake for hours during those short segments of sleep during the night. For the past week I have been able to go to bed earlier and sleep through the night, getting five to seven hours of uninterrupted sleep for the time time since my husband died four years ago. I feel so rested and energized. It also seems to help in reducing inflammation, as pain in my hip and shoulder joints no longer wakes me. Amazingly too, my thoughts toward other people have seemed to shift. The best way I can describe it is that I am more accepting (empathetic?) of others’ perspectives. Anger, annoyance, and feelings of negative judgments are no longer present. This is a terrific and welcome improvement in my ability to interact with people. I would call the benefit a higher form of sociability.”.

And this woman from New Mexico:

“I’ve been eating a half cup of L. reuteri yogurt with blueberries or raspberries and walnuts (sweetened with a monk fruit sweetener) almost everyday for the past year. During the flu season, I co-ferment L. reuteri with L. casei (Shirota strain). The wrinkles around my eye area are definitely diminished. My skin has a smoother texture overall. I have incredibly sound sleep and dreams with total recall upon rising. Bowel frequency has improved as well.”

My big question is if the 2 billion or even 5-10 billion CFUs found in even the highest quallity professional probiotic/synbiotic products are sufficient to produce/realize these effects, or if one needs to either take multiple capsules daily or go the home fermentation route of Dr. Davis. More than likely it's an "individual constitution" thing.

Should you decide to try this, know that the temperature range for L. reuteri growth is quite a bit lower than that for most other strains (and many yogurt machines): 97-100 F. And apparently temps >109/100 will kill it! A machine that allows pre-set temps or even possibly a jerry-rigged Instant Pot or other slow cooker (place small towel, trivet or marbles/pebbles beneath receptacle) with a yogurt setting are likely to work best.

Animal experiments performed at MIT found that elderly mice fed L. reuteri regularly experienced thicker fur, increased dermal collagen, accelerated wound healing, lifelong slenderness, reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and preservation of mating behavior.

While Dr. Davis is keen on home fermentation, for those who can afford to purchase what would likely be 30 to 50 CFUs daily of L. reuteri or other species/strains of interest (the L. helveticus + B. longum is a popular duo for its mood lifting, anxiolytic effects), this part of the program might be skipped.

If you're a research nerd like me, here are some of the most interesting papers cited in Dr. Davis' book (I can get full text reprints of most of these; just ask)-- and a quick reference table for cooking:

Species (strain)


Ferment temp (x 36 hours)

Pref. food

Tasting notes

L. reuteri (6475 +/- 17938)

Empathy, hair & skin, wound healing, SIBO/SIFO recurrence prevention, bone density/osteoporosis


Inulin or raw potato starch

A bit tart/acidic

B. coagulans (30,6086)

Arthritis/inflammation, IBS, improved exercise recovery

(111, the default temp of my inexpensive yogurt machine, worked fine for me.)

Inulin or RPS


L. gasseri (BNR17)

Weight loss, IBS, reduction of urinary oxalates, SIBO/SIFO recurrence prevention


Sucrose or RPS

None provided

L. casei (Shirota)

Immune health (esp. against respiratory viruses)


Inulin or RPS

None provided

L. helvetica + B. longum

Anti-anxiety, mood lifting

100 but might need 40 hours

Sucrose or RPS

None provided

L. reuteri + commercial yogurt Oui brand

Tweak to make "tart" reuteri more tasty for some


Inulin or RPS

"Absolutely delicious"

Triple combo SIBO super gut 'yogurt'

SIBO/SIFO treatment/maintenance


Inulin or RPS



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