Everyone has natural bacteria living in their bodies. In fact, according to Harvard Medical School, roughly 100 trillion bacterial microorganisms live in a healthy intestinal tract. While this may sound strange, or even distasteful, these living microorganisms actually benefit your health, fighting off unhealthy bacteria that cause illness and infection. Healthy bacteria, like Lactobacillus acidophilus, are also found in particular foods and supplement pills, and can be used to treat certain illnesses.
Health professionals refer to foods and supplements that contain the live, active bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus as "probiotics." Probiotic bacteria are abundant in naturally fermented foods, such as yogurt, sour cream, kefir, buttermilk, miso and tempeh. Many individuals consume these foods regularly to benefit from probiotics, which have been shown to effectively prevent and treat diarrhea and seem to calm numerous other digestive system complaints, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other people take probiotics supplements, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus pills or capsules.
Yeast Infections and Probiotics
Probiotics are also used to treat vaginal infections, such as yeast infections, says Harvard Medical School. Yeast infections occur when the bacteria known as candida grows excessively. Under normal conditions, candida exists in the vagina with no problems; however, if the balance of bacteria in the vagina becomes skewed--such as from illness, pregnancy, antibiotics, steroid medication, stress or certain types of birth control--candida can multiply out of control and cause a yeast infection. In these situations, ingestion of Lactobacillus acidophilus, either through food or in supplement form, can be helpful.
To treat a yeast infection, MayoClinic.com recommends 1 to 2 Lactobacillus acidophilus tablets, each containing 10 million to 1 billion colony-forming units--or CFUs--as a vaginal suppository, one or two times per day. Alternatively, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that you can take a Lactobacillus acidophilus supplement pill each day, at a dose of 1 to 2 billion CFUs per pill.
Before taking Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements or ingesting probiotic foods to self-treat a yeast infection, consult your physician. While this is a fairly common home remedy for vaginal infections and probiotics are generally considered safe, some individuals may be sensitive to probiotics or ill-advised to consume them. For example, MayoClinic.com notes that people with heart valves or suppressed immunity may suffer adverse reactions to Lactobacillus acidophilus.
- Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide; Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics; September 2005
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Lactobacillus acidophilus; Steven D. Ehrlich, N.M.D.; June 2009
- MayoClinic.com; Lactobacillus acidophilus: Dosing; July 2011
- MayoClinic.com; Lactobacillus acidophilus: Safety; July 2011