Brewer's Yeast and Acne

The same yeast used for baking or brewing beer, brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is also used medicinally for upper respiratory tract infections, premenstrual syndrome, and acne. Dietary supplements, however, mostly contain non-living yeast. Brewer’s yeast is considered a source of B vitamins and chromium.1

Brewer's Yeast Helps Lower Risk for Increased Androgens and Sebum

Research indicates that the chromium can help decrease insulin resistance, which is associated with increased androgen hormone and sebum production.1 Brewer's yeast exerts some antimicrobial and immune-boosting effects and is approved as a systemic acne treatment by Germany's regulatory authority on herbal remedies, the German Commission E.2

Results of one older, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 139 acne patients demonstrated that a different but related strain of Brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces boulardii) healed or substantially improved acne in over 80% of the treatment group. There were no serious adverse side effects reported in this 5-month study. This strain of brewer's yeast is typically administered as a live, non-disease causing probiotic.3-4

An Hydroxy-Acid Made from Yeast for Topical Use

Gluconolactone is a hydroxy acid synthesized by yet another yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii. In a placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 150 acne patients a 14% gluconolactone topical solution was comparable 5% benzoyl peroxide, with fewer side effects.2


Do not take Brewer's yeast if you take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) because it can cause increased blood pressure. Although Saccharomyces boulardii was thought to be a unique yeast species, scientists now consider it to be a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or brewer's yeast.3 For safety's sake the same precautions may apply.

How to Use

Brewer's yeast is typically taken orally in supplemental form. Saccharomyces boulardii is also taken orally and though taken live does not multiply in the body.3 Many hydroxy acids are available in over-the-counter acne treatment products.

  1. Therapeutic Research Faculty. Brewer's Yeast Full Monograph. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. [Online] 2011. [Cited: January 19, 2011.]'S+YEAST)&searchid=24711798.
  2. Reuter, Juliane, Merfort, Irmgard and Schempp, Christoph M. Am J Clin Dermatol. 11(4): Botanicals in Dermatology: An Evidence-Based Review. Medscape Today. [Online] 2010. [Cited: January 18, 2011.]
  3. Therapeutic Research Faculty. Saccharomyces Boulardii Full Monograph. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. [Online] 2011. [Cited: January 19, 2011.]
  4. Weber, G., Adamczyk, A., Freytag, S. Fortschr Med. 107(26): Treatment of acne with a yeast preparation. PubMed: U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. [Online] September 10, 1989. [Cited: January 19, 2011.] PMID: 2530145.
Also known as baker’s yeast.
Typically antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
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