The role of probiotics in maintaining digestive health, intestinal bacterial balance and overall health is emphasized in many food and supplement products. Probiotic enzymes can now be found in any number of supplements, yogurts and other health care products. According to MayoClinic.com, these "friendly" bacteria may be useful in controlling diarrhea, yeast infections and colds. Some products also promote the use of probiotic enzymes in weight loss. Probiotics are not considered a medical treatment.
Some animal studies have suggested that the use of lactobacillus probiotics may assist in increasing weight loss. One study, which was published in February 2008 in the journal "BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine," looked at the effects of lactobacillus acidophilus when injected into the brains of rats. In this study, which was led by Renato Sousa at the University of Georgia, rats injected with L. Acidophilus showed a decrease in weight compared to their initial weight and to a control group. These rats also demonstrated greater expression of leptin, a hormone thought to play a role in weight loss, than did the control rats. Human studies are needed to confirm these results.
Lactobacillus probiotics also seem to have some efficacy in increasing the amount of weight loss that can occur after gastric bypass surgery. Drugs.com cites a study led by John J. Morton at Stanford University, in which large daily doses of Lactobacillus acidophilus were administered to bariatric surgery patients post-operatively. At six months, the lactobacillus patients had lost more weight than the control group, and demonstrated better gastronintestinal health. These findings were reported at the Digestive Disease Week 2008, Drugs.com reports.
Drugs.com reports that the reasons for the greater weight loss in the lactobacillus group as opposed to the controls may involve the balancing of bacteria in the gastroinetestinal system. Study author Morton notes on Drugs.com that in some cases, postoperative gastric bypass patients have an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines, which may cause digestive disturbances. The higher percent of excess weight lost by the lactobacillus group, 70 percent compared to 66 percent in the control group, was unexpected. Morton noted, however, that some of the weight gain seen in obese people may be bacterial in origin.
According to Drugs.com, the findings reported by Morton and colleagues do not necessarily suggest that obese people should take probiotics to lose weight. The amount of probiotics administered, 2.4 billion colonies daily, far exceeds amount of lactobacillus acidophilus most people would typically acquire through yogurt or supplements. Probiotics are not considered a cure for any medical condition.
You should avoid taking lactobacillus probiotics such as lactobacillus acidophilus if you are pregnant. In addition, some potential adverse reactions to lactobacillus probiotics may include swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat, hives or difficulty breathing. These side effects are considered rare, according to Drugs.com.