Acidophilus -- also called Lactobacillus acidophilus or L. acidophilus -- is a probiotic. It can be found in milk containing acidophilus, yogurt and supplements. There are various strains of acidophilus, and there are also probiotics by other names beginning with Lactobacillus or Bifidus. Some supplements contain more than one strain or type of probiotic bacteria. Generally, probiotic supplements contain 5 to 6 billion active strains of one or more bacteria.
Acidophilus is a beneficial microorganism that lives in the small intestine and vagina. It is a strain of bacteria that, when ingested in high doses, helps balance the microflora of your intestines. Acidophilus and other microorganisms are considered to be fairly safe because they already exist in your body and various fermented foods.
Daily Acidophilus for Health
Taken daily, acidophilus supplements containing 1 to 2 billion organisms are considered the minimum to maintain the health of your gut microflora. The amount of acidophilus needed varies by individual based on the balance of healthy bacteria to harmful bacteria in the gut. Take note that light, oxygen, heat and moisture compromise the contents of acidophilus supplements, so keep them sealed in a cool, dark place to maintain the organisms’ lives.
Conditions Acidophilus Is Used For
Research is still needed to know the efficacy and safety of acidophilus for various conditions. According to MayoClinic.com, a small study on the efficacy of acidophilus in the treatment of allergies to Japanese cedar pollen showed positive results. MayoClinic.com also states that multiple studies have shown acidophilus is helpful in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis and diarrhea in adults, travelers and children. Acidophilus is also used to treat oral thrush fungus in healthy adults. Acidophilus doesn’t kill the fungus, but grows healthy, helpful bacteria to counteract the fungus.
When Not to Use Acidophilus
Do not take acidophilus if you have a compromised immune system, intestinal damage or bacteria overgrowth in your intestines. If you are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or are taking immunosuppressants because you have undergone an organ transplant, acidophilus may compromise your blood by adding bacteria to it or causing an infection. Acidophilus has also been reported to cause burning in the vagina and gas or discomfort. The gas or abdominal discomfort usually dissipate with continued use. Acidophilus may also cause abdominal discomfort if you are lactose intolerant.
Health Canada has performed research into acidophilus and other probiotics, concluding that Bacillus cereus or Bacillus clausii CNCM MA23/3V and CNCM MA66/4M, Lactobacillus plantarum CNCM MA40/5B-p and Bifidobacterium dentium are some probiotics that should not be used due to safety risks. Safety risks associated with these and other probiotics may potentially cause illness and antibiotic resistance.