Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacteria that exists naturally in the human body. Deemed a "friendly bacteria," the presence of acidophilus bacteria is a good thing, as the probiotic protects against disease-causing bacteria. Among the many types of probiotics, acidophilus is the most commonly used. Dosages vary, however, depending on the reasons for use. Consult a trusted health care adviser to learn more.
Use of Probiotics
People consume acidophilus and similar probiotics for a host of conditions, including chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, lactose intolerance, vaginal infections and as a diarrhea preventative. Additionally, evidence suggests that acidophilus may enhance immune system functioning to benefit overall health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC.
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Forms of Probiotics
Many Americans have only recently begun to recognize probiotics as a treatment, as spending on probiotic supplements nearly tripled from 1994 to 2003, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Probiotic foods, however, date back centuries. Yogurt is one of the most commonly consumed foods containing the probiotic acidophilus, although some soy foods, such as miso and tempeh, contain small amounts of the probiotic. Acidophilus-enriched milk is also available, differing from regular milk in its texture and flavor. Dietary supplements are available in the form of capsules, powders and tablets.
Safe daily dosages of acidophilus depend upon the reason for treatment. Those attempting to prevent diarrhea can take 1 to 2 billion colony-forming units daily, or CFUs, although the UMMC notes that some health care providers may recommend up to 10 to 15 billion cells daily. As an intestinal health supplement, daily dosages include 1 to 15 billion CFUs daily. Women treating vaginal infections might insert acidophilus capsules or tablets directly into the vagina or consume at least 8 oz. of yogurt containing acidophilus cultures everyday. Consult a doctor to establish safe dosages for your individual health condition.
Potential Side Effects
Acidophilus is generally safe for most adults, although mild effects, such as gas and bloating, are possible. Allergic reactions include hives, swelling of the face or throat and trouble breathing. Seek immediate medical attention for these symptoms. Safety of acidophilus for children, elderly individuals and people with compromised immune systems is uncertain. Check with a doctor before using acidophilus.