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Acidophilus Vs. Lactobacillus

author image Sharon Perkins
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.
Acidophilus Vs. Lactobacillus
Yogurt with live cultures may contain different types of lactobacilli. Photo Credit: Warren Goldswain/iStock/Getty Images

Lactobacilli are “good” bacteria that populate your intestines and keep “bad” bacteria that can make you sick at bay. Different species of Lactobacillus live in the gut; acidophilus is one species of Lactobacillus and the one most frequently taken in supplemental form. Lactobacillus can also be found in fermented food or food with active cultures, like yogurt. Acidophilus and other lactobacilli are sometimes called probiotics.

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Different Types and Benefits

There are many species of Lactobacillus including acidophilus. Lactobacillus GG, also called Culturelle, may have benefits in preventing or treating intestinal infections that cause diarrhea. Lactobacillus rhamnosus and L reuteri are also used to treat diarrhea infections such a rotavirus in children. Lactobacillus casei, L. boulardi, L. GG and L. bulgaricus may help prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics. L. gasseri and L. rhamnosus may also prevent vaginal infections while L. reuteri and L. rhamnosus may help prevent eczema in children and L. reuteri may also help reduce colic. L. sporogenes is given for up to one year in some developing countries to prevent or lessen the duration of diarrhea in newborns.

Acidophilus Benefits

Acidophilus helps treat vaginal bacterial infections and is often used to treat or prevent yeast infections when taking antibiotics, although study results are mixed as to its effectiveness, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Clear benefits for use in treating diarrhea, allergy and asthma have not been proven in clinical studies. Probiotics may also improve cholesterol levels and help prevent ulcers, according to a report from New York University Langone Medical Center.


Common side effects of Lactobacillus include abdominal discomfort or gas, which usually subside with use. However, if you have artificial heart valves, you may be more likely to develop infection in the valves when taking Lactobacillus. If you take immunosuppressive drugs or have problems with your immune system, you could be at risk for developing infections when taking these supplements. Others at risk from infection when taking Lactobacillus include people with intestinal damage or who have had recent intestinal surgery. Ask your doctor before taking Lactobacillus if you fit into any of these categories.


Acidophilus and Lactobacillus are not two different things; acidophilus is one of many types of lactobacilli known as probiotics. Taking probiotics in capsule doses between 1 and 10 billion live bacteria may prevent or treat a number of conditions. For vaginal infections, vaginal tablets containing between 10 million to 1 billion colony-forming units, or CFU for short, may be helpful. Because Lactobacillus supplements are not regulated as drugs, their manufacture and packaging may not be as carefully overseen as drugs. Some Lactobacillus products may not contain what is listed on the packaging, MedlinePlus reports.

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