Lactobacillus acidophilus , found naturally in the intestines, is one of the best-known probiotics – beneficial microorganisms that can promote health and protect against infection.
Lactobacillus acidophilus balances out potentially harmful bacteria that might otherwise thrive in the gut due to illness or antibiotics. It can also help balance the flora of the vagina, helping to prevent yeast infections .
It is usually found in yogurt and other fermented foods, but it is also available in supplement form.
Also know as
- L. acidophilus
What is Lactobacillus Acidophilus used for?
L. acidophilus belongs to the Lactobacillus family of bacteria. Lactic acid (or L ) bacteria convert sugar into lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, substances that inhibit the growth of unwanted bacteria in the intestines.
In alternative medicine, acidophilus is sometimes used to prevent or treat a number of conditions, including:
Some advocates also argue that acidophilus can help promote weight loss and strengthen the immune system .
Although acidophilus mushroom is one of the most widely studied probiotics, its results have varied widely due to differences in patient populations, acidophilus mushroom strains, and other factors.
Here are some findings from the available research on the benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Acidophilus can be recommended as a potential remedy for diarrhea. In particular, research suggests that it can help prevent C. difficile diarrhea , a severe type of diarrhea that often affects older people in healthcare settings that require treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics .
In a review of studies published in the 2017 Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews , scientists analyzed 31 previously published studies on the use of various types of probiotics to prevent C. difficile -associated diarrhea.
It concluded that short-term prophylactic use of probiotic supplements while taking broad-spectrum antibiotics is safe and effective in preventing C. diff infections in people who do not have a weakened immune system or who are not severely weakened .
Probiotics have also been found to be potentially helpful in treating diarrhea from other causes. A study that looked at the use of probiotics in children younger than 2 years with rotavirus found that acidophilus and other probiotics significantly shortened the duration of diarrhea compared to placebo .
A previous review of published studies has shown that probiotics may be effective in reducing the severity of traveler's diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and acute diarrhea for other reasons .
Additional research has shown that acidophilus and other probiotics can reduce diarrhea caused by radiation therapy, a common side effect of radiation therapy to the pelvic organs .
Irritable bowel syndrome
Probiotics, including acidophilus, are touted as a remedy for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, the research is mixed.
An eight-week study of people with IBS found that a probiotic combination of L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis markedly improved IBS symptoms at four and eight weeks compared to placebo. But a six-month clinical trial found that a probiotic combination that included acidophilus had no beneficial effect on diarrhea in people with IBS .
Another study found that probiotics appear to work best in alleviating IBS symptoms when taken in single-strain doses of less than 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day for less than eight weeks .
L. acidophilus can be helpful in the prevention and treatment of vaginal infections. According to a 2014 review, Lactobacillus supplements (including acidophilus) taken daily can help prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis, a common vaginal infection that occurs as a result of an imbalance in the types of bacteria (flora) in the vagina .
Acidophilus is generally recommended to prevent yeast infections while taking antibiotics. Laboratory studies show that the probiotic inhibits the growth of Candida albicans in cell cultures, but little research has been done in humans .
A 2015 clinical study published in the journal Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins found that L. acidophilus can help prevent recurrent yeast infections after standard treatment .
In one study, 436 women with vaginal yeast infection received the antifungal fenticonazole. After five days, approximately half of the subjects received multiple intravaginal treatments with L. acidophilus . Those who received the probiotic significantly reduced the frequency of reinfections.
Acidophilus has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can help prevent colds, viruses, and even allergies. Research shows that probiotics, including acidophilus, can reduce cold symptoms in children.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that six months of daily L. acidophilus probiotics reduced fever by 53%, cough by 41%, antibiotics by 68%, and days away from school by 32%. The combination of acidophilus with a broad spectrum of probiotics was found to be even more effective .
Research shows that probiotics can help lower cholesterol levels and that acidophilus is more effective than other types.
A review of 15 studies involving 788 subjects also found that probiotics improved factors associated with cardiovascular disease, including body mass index, waist circumference, and markers of inflammation. Compared to other strains, acidophilus was found to be more effective in lowering LDL levels.
These results were confirmed in a 2015 review published in the journal Medicine . The researchers analyzed 30 randomized controlled trials with 1624 participants and found that probiotics lowered total and LDL cholesterol by 7.8 mg / dL and 7.3 mg / dL, respectively.
However, the study authors noted that many of the studies showing the strongest link were funded by nutritional supplement companies and more independent studies are needed.
Some proponents of probiotics argue that supplementing with probiotics like L. acidophilus can promote weight loss, but the research is conflicting. While this shows promising animal trials, human trials have been inconclusive.
The most studied and apparently effective probiotic strain for weight loss is Lactobacillus gasseri. In a 2013 study published in The British Journal of Nutrition , 210 adults with belly fat were instructed to drink 7 ounces of milk fermented with 1 billion, 10 billion, or 0 CFU of L. gasseri per day for 12 weeks .
At the end of the study, abdominal fat was reduced by more than 8% in the probiotic groups compared to the control group. Additional measures such as body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and total body fat were also significantly reduced in those who drank fermented L. gasseri milk.
Various probiotics are being studied for their ability to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It is believed that beneficial bacteria can improve carbohydrate metabolism.
A 2016 review of seven published studies of people with type 2 diabetes found that those who took probiotics for at least eight weeks lowered fasting blood sugar by 16 mg / dL and A1C levels by 0.53 percentage points, compared to the placebo groups. On the probiotic spectrum, fasting glucose decreased by 35 mg / dL.
The research focused on a variety of probiotics; It is not clear if acidophilus is only beneficial for blood sugar control.
New research suggests that probiotics, including L. acidophilus , can help prevent and treat depression. Scientists have discovered a link between gut and emotional health, and taking probiotics can improve gut health.
A 2016 literature review published in the journal Nutrients found that probiotics were associated with significant reductions in depression and should be further explored as a possible preventive strategy for this condition .
Possible side effects.
Common side effects include indigestion such as gas, bloating, indigestion, or diarrhea. Although most digestive side effects decrease with use, if they do not improve or worsen, you should stop taking L. acidophilus and consult your doctor.
Also, acidophilus can weaken tooth enamel over time when it comes in contact with your teeth.
Serious side effects are rare. However, if you experience hives, rashes, itching, shortness of breath, vomiting, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, stop using L. acidophilus and seek medical attention immediately.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before taking acidophilus.
You should check with your pediatrician before giving acidophilus to children, infants, or infants. Sick babies, premature babies, and babies with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for adverse effects and complications.
There is some concern that acidophilus may increase the risk of D-lactate toxicity. People who have had gastric bypass surgery or who have any of the following problems may be at increased risk:
People with a weak or weakened immune system due to illness, immunosuppressive drugs, or medications should not take acidophilus.
Similarly, you shouldn't take acidophilus if you have an artificial heart valve, heart valve disease, or a central venous catheter because of the risk of infection.
You should also avoid acidophilus if you have a condition that damages your intestines because of the risk that bacteria can invade other parts of the body and cause serious complications such as bacteremia or sepsis . There have been reports that other Lactobacillus species are implicated in infections such as abscesses and meningitis .
Dosage and preparation
Acidophilus supplements are sold in various forms: capsules, tablets, drinks, pearls, powders, chewable wafers, liquids, and suppositories.
The typical dose for adults is 1 to 10 billion living organisms, known as colony forming units (CFUs), in four divided doses. Follow the directions on the package or talk to your doctor about the right dose for you.
If you are giving L. acidophilus to a child, ask your pediatrician for the correct dose or purchase a formulation designed for children and follow the directions on the package.
Depending on the manufacturing process, some probiotics may require refrigeration while others may need to be refrigerated. Be sure to store probiotics as directed on the label and minimize exposure to air.
What to look for
Lactobacillus acidophilus products are available in health food stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and online.
Just as there are several forms of acidophilus, there are also many formulations. You may find it helpful to read the labels and look specifically for two things:
- Strains: Some acidophilic foods contain one strain of bacteria, while others contain several different strains or species. There are many different strains of probiotics that have the same health benefits as acidophilus. Look for a broad spectrum variant that includes L. acidophilus .
- Pectin: Some acidophilic supplements contain pectin , a soluble fiber found in citrus and other fruits. Proponents argue that pectin is a prebiotic (a substance that promotes the growth of probiotic bacteria).
Some probiotic supplements may contain milk allergens or traces of lactose . If you are allergic to milk proteins or lactose intolerant, or if you are concerned about this because you are vegan, look for a formula that says 'dairy free ' .
Unlike prescription and over-the-counter drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate or test the safety of probiotics. Some foods may contain fewer living organisms than indicated. Other foods may be contaminated with other bacterial strains or ingredients.
To ensure that you are getting a quality product, look for a verified independent third party seal on your label, such as US Pharmacopeia, NSF International or ConsumerLab, etc. This can at least give you the confidence that what's on a product's label is what's on the product itself.
Lactic acid bacteria are used in the preparation of many foods, including yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk. In particular, Acidophilus can be found in yogurt made from live acidophilus mushroom cultures, as well as other fermented dairy products such as kefir.
Other sources of acidophilus include:
- Kimchi (traditional Korean sauerkraut dish)
- Kombucha (fermented tea)
- Salty cucumbers
- Sourdough bread
- Fermented soy foods like miso and tempeh
The number of living organisms varies greatly from one variant to another due to differences in processing methods. Look for foods sold in the refrigerated section of a supermarket or health food store that are more likely to contain live cultures than those kept at room temperature.
Get the word of drug information
Current acidophilus studies are inconclusive as most studies used a single combination of probiotics or different dosages, making it difficult to determine their effectiveness and standardized dosages.
While acidophilus may seem harmless because it is found naturally in the body and in many common foods, supplements are not right for everyone. If you plan to take acidophilus for a medical condition, it is recommended that you check with your doctor to confirm whether it is appropriate and safe for you.