This is a powder form of the normal, friendly bacteria that live in our intestines (called flora). Our intestinal flora helps regulate our digestion and stool patterns. Yeast also lives in our intestines. The yeast and the bacterial flora are constantly competing for space, and generally they keep each other in check. Sometimes, however, our bacterial flora can get depleted, such as when taking antibiotics.
Uses of Acidophilus
Lactobacillus acidophilus has been used to restore normal oral, gastrointestinal, and vaginal flora in those affected by antibiotics, candida, and bacterial infections. Its value in treating all these, as well as lower urinary tract infections, remains unclear. In vitro, it suppresses growth Of Campylobacter pylori, implicated in acid-peptic disease.
History: For several decades, health and nutritional benefits have been claimed for products containing Lactobacillus cultures. The topical or intravaginal application of yogurt products has been reported to control yeast and bacterial infections, and the ingestion of these preparations has been recommended to reduce the symptoms of antibiotic-induced diarrhea or sore mouth due to candida infections. Other reports have indicated that the ingestion of acidophilus-containing products can reduce serum cholesterol levels, improve lactose intolerance and slow the growth of experimental tumors.
Side Effects of Acidophilus
L. acidophilus is considered safe, being normally found in the human alimentary tract.
Dosage and Administration
- For irritable bowel syndrome: On a maintenance basis, take 2 pills a day, with at least 1 billion live organisms per pill; take with meals.
- For urinary tract infections: Take 1 pill 4 times a day during the course of your antibiotic therapy.
- For Candida overgrowth: Take capsules or powder with at least 1 billion live organisms twice a day for at least one month.
- For vaginal yeast infections: Take 1 pill or capsule (with at least 1 billion live organisms per capsule) twice a day orally until the infection has cleared. For diarrhea: Take 2 pills 3 times a day with meals.
- For flatulence: Take 1 or 2 capsules of acidophilus or an acidophilus/bifidus combination between meals. Look for a dairy-free strain if you’ve determined that your gas may be due to lactose intolerance.
- For bad breath: Take 2 pills twice a day between meals.
- For antibiotic support: Take 2 pills three times a day with meals during the entire antibiotic course and one week afterward.
Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Everyone needs acidophilus, it is an essential part of the digestive tract. But it becomes especially important to take acidophilus when one is in a state of deficiency. Supplementing with L. acidophilus during and after the use of antibiotics is of extreme importance since antibiotics will kill off the majority of good bacteria and cause symptoms of deficiency and possible overgrowth of various yeasts.
Clinical Uses: Replenishment of normal bacterial flora: Products containing live cultures have been investigated for their ability to compete with pathogens in the microenvironment, thereby permitting the reestablishment of normal bacterial flora. lactobacilli have been shown to inhibit the growth of other vaginal microorganisms including Escherichia coli, Candida albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis. Several factors may contribute to the possible activity of Lactobacillus, including their ability to generate lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide and exogenous antibacterial compounds, to influence the production of interferon by target cells and to alter the adherence of bacteria. lactacin F, an antibacterial compound produced by L. acidophilus, has been isolated and partially characterized as a heat-stable protein with at least 56 amino acid residues.
Lactobacillus has long been considered to be a component of the protective flora in the vagina. Recently, Lactobacillus species that produce hydrogen peroxide have been found in normal vaginal flora. Consequently, the therapeutic benefits of Lactobacillus products have been investigated in women with vaginal and urinary tract infections. Women who used either acetic acid jelly, an estrogen cream, a fermented lactobacillus-containing milk product or metronidazole (eg, Flagyl), were evaluated to determine the effects of intravaginal therapy on bacterial vaginosis. Clinical cures were obtained for 13 of 14 women receiving metronidazole but for only 1 of 14 using the fermented milk product. This latter intervention did not influence the predominance of lactobacilli in the vagina. An evaluation of 16 commercially available products containing Lactobacillus in the form of capsules, powders and tablets (in addition to yogurt and milk) found that all 16 products contained lactobacilli, of which 10 strains produced hydrogen peroxide. At least one contaminant was detected in 11 of the products, including Enterococcus faecium, Clostridium sporogenes and Pseudomonas species. Only 4 of the products contained L. acidophilus and therefore, the authors concluded that most commercially available products may not be appropriate for recolonization of the vagina. The weekly instillation of Lactobacillus has been shown to reduce the recurrence rate of uncomplicated lower urinary tract infections in women, and the use of a strain that is resistant to nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that kills protective vaginal flora, may have potential for use in women with recurrent cystitis using this contraceptive agent.
L. acidophilus is normally found in the human alimentary tract. Being acid-resistant, it persists in the stomach much longer than other bacteria do. Consequently, the oral administration of products containing L. acidophilus may be useful in the management of a variety of conditions associated with altered gastrointestinal flora. Their beneficial effects may be related to the ability to suppress the growth of pathogens. In vitro, L. acidophilus has been shown to suppress the growth of Campylobacter pylori, a pathogen implicated as a causative factor in acid-peptic disease, although the therapeutic implications of these findings are not clear.
No consensus has been reached regarding the effectiveness of lactobacillus-containing products in ameliorating antibiotic-induced diarrhea. When Lactinex granules. a combination of L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus, was given four times daily for 10 days to children concomitantly with amoxicillin (eg, Amoxil) therapy under doubleblind conditions, 70% of the patients receiving placebo and 66% of those taking Lactinex experienced diarrhea. Closer analysis suggested that the incidence of diarrhea diminished during the last 4 days of therapy for the Lactinex patients, while it remained constant for those given placebo. However, in a study of 40 children who received amoxicillin concomitantly with fermented lactobacillus milk products, the treated group showed a lower frequency of stool passages and more fully-formed feces compared with no treatment.
The ingestion of these products has been associated with decreases in the concentration of several fecal enzymes that have the capacity to convert procarcinogens to carcinogens in the colon. This suggests that consumption of lactobacillus-containing products may have beneficial health effects, although no data are available to support this hypothesis.
Effect on cholesterol levels: A mutant strain of L. acidophilus with unique metabolic characteristics, led to the isolation of mevalonic acid, an important intermediate of the isoprenoid compound pathwa and a precursor to cholesterol synthesis. It has been suggested that appropriately selected strains of Lactobacillus may be useful adjuncts for the control of hypercholesterolemia in humans, by virtue of the bacteria’s ability to assimilate cholesterol and to grow well in the presence of bile. The results of one study, in which 354 subjects took Lactinex tablets or placebo four times a day for 3 weeks in a crossover fashion, found no clinically significant changes in lipoprotein concentrations for either group. Additional work is required to confirm the effects of Lactobacillus preparations on serum lipid levels.
Where this Food Supplement is found
- Other milk products
Summary: Preparations containing Lactobacillus acidophilus include yogurt, milk, tablets, capsules and granules. They are used most frequently to restore normal flora to the gastrointestinal tract and vagina. However, the data supporting the efficacy of these products for these uses are conflicting.