Acidophilus is another name for Lactobacillus acidophilus, a bacteria that is considered beneficial to your digestive system. Alternative medicine practitioners recommend supplementing with acidophilus in order to treat a wide range of health conditions, including UTIs, or urinary tract infections. Despite its potential benefits, little reputable scientific research indicates that acidophilus is an effective UTI treatment. In addition, safe dosage ranges for acidophilus use have not been determined. Consult your doctor before attempting to use acidophilus supplements to treat a urinary tract infection.
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Acidophilus is one of the many types of lactobacillus bacteria that live within our bodies, primarily within the digestive tract, urinary system or genitals. Also known as a probiotic, or beneficial bacteria, acidophilus kills potentially harmful bacteria by producing cellular byproducts like hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid that create a toxic environment foreign bacteria cannot survive in. You can increase the amount of acidophilus in your body by supplementing with acidophilus powders, capsules, granules or liquid concoctions or by eating foods like miso, tempeh and yogurt that contain the probiotic.The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that some clinical trials have indicated that acidophilus supplementation may help treat vaginal infections and irritable bowel syndrome and may be an effective preventive measure against diarrhea. However, more research is needed.
Dosage for UTI
According to the National Institutes of Health, the results of research studies investigating the use of acidophilus for the treatment of urinary tract infections are too mixed for doctors to recommend the use of the bacteria for this condition. They also point out that the preliminary studies that indicated acidophilus may help treat UTIs used bacterial preparations directly applied to the vagina, not consumed in foods or dietary supplements. These scientific studies used a variety of acidophilus dosages, ranging from one vaginally inserted tablet containing enough Lactobacillus acidophilus to form 10 million bacterial colonies to suppositories containing one billion colony-forming bacterial units. Do not attempt to self-treat a urinary tract infection on your own with acidophilus. Health professionals still recommend oral antibiotics as the main -- and most effective -- UTI treatment.
Possible Side Effects
Supplementing with acidophilus can cause a number of side effects, including diarrhea, bloating, nausea and an upset stomach. In rare instances, acidophilus supplementation has caused allergic reactions that resulted in hives, difficulty breathing and facial swelling. Acidophilus should be avoided by people with artificial heart valves, those suffering from short-bowel syndrome, pregnant or nursing women, people recovering from surgery or intestinal trauma and anyone taking sulfasalazine or immunosuppressant drugs like cyclosporine, prednisone, corticosteroids, mycophenolate and azathioprine.
Acidophilus supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, there is no way to be certain that any commercial acidophilus product you purchase has the amount of acidophilus bacteria advertised -- or any at all -- and that the product is not contaminated with toxins or heavy metals. According to the National Institutes of Health, some acidophilus supplements have been found to contain strains of harmful bacteria. Do not use acidophilus as a replacement for prescription medications and be sure to speak to your doctor about the possible dangers of its use.