Supplement Forms/Alternate Names
- B. bifidus
- L. acidophilus
- L. bulgaricus
- L. casei
- L. gasseri
- L. reuteri
- L. plantarum
- L. sakei
- Lactobacillus GG
- Lactobacillus LB
- S. salivarius
- S. thermophilus
- Saccharomyces boulardii
Principal Proposed Uses
Other Proposed Uses
- Allergic Rhinitis
- Behcet’s Syndrome
- Canker Sores
- Colds (Prevention)
- Colon Cancer (Prevention)
- Constipation (Chronic)
- Diverticular Disease
- High Cholesterol
- Immune Support
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease ( Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease )
- Liver Disease
- Milk Allergies
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Vaginal Infection
- Yeast Hypersensitivity Syndrome
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a "friendly" strain of bacteria used to make yogurt and cheese. Although we are born without it, acidophilus soon establishes itself in our intestines and helps prevent intestinal infections. Acidophilus also flourishes in the vagina, where it protects women against yeast infections.
Acidophilus is one of several microbes known collectively as probiotics (literally, "pro life," indicating that they are bacteria and yeasts that help rather than harm). Others include the bacteria L. bulgaricus , L. reuteri , L. plantarum , L. casei , B. bifidus , S. salivarius , and S. thermophilus and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. Your digestive tract is like a rain forest ecosystem with billions of bacteria and yeasts rather than trees, frogs, and leopards. Some of these internal inhabitants are more helpful to your body than others. Acidophilus and related probiotics not only help the digestive tract function, they also reduce the presence of less healthful organisms by competing with them for the limited space available. For this reason, use of probiotics can help prevent infectious diarrhea.
Antibiotics can disturb the balance of your "inner rain forest" by killing friendly bacteria. When this happens, harmful bacteria and yeasts can move in and flourish. This can lead to vaginal yeast infections. Conversely, it appears that the regular use of probiotics can help prevent vaginal infections and generally improve the health of the gastrointestinal system. Whenever you take antibiotics, you should probably take probiotics as well and continue them for some time after you are done with the course of treatment.
Although we believe that they are helpful and perhaps even necessary for human health, we don't have a daily requirement for probiotic bacteria. They are living creatures, not chemicals, so they can sustain themselves in your body unless something comes along to damage them, such as antibiotics.
Dosages of acidophilus are expressed not in grams or milligrams, but in billions of organisms. A typical daily dose should supply about 3 to 5 billion live organisms. Other probiotic bacteria are used similarly. The typical dose of S. boulardii yeast is 500 mg twice daily (standardized to provide 3 x 10 10 -colony-forming units per gram), to be taken while traveling or at the start of using antibiotics, and continued for a few days after antibiotics are stopped.
Because probiotics are not drugs, but rather living organisms that you are trying to transplant to your digestive tract, it is necessary to take the treatment regularly. Each time you do, you reinforce the beneficial bacterial colonies in your body, which may gradually push out harmful bacteria and yeasts growing there.
To treat or prevent vaginal infections, mix 2 tablespoons of yogurt or the contents of a couple of capsules of acidophilus with warm water and use as a douche.
Finally, in addition to increasing your intake of probiotics, you can take fructo-oligosaccharides, supplements that can promote thriving colonies of helpful bacteria in the digestive tract. (Fructo-oligosaccharides are carbohydrates found in fruit. Fructo means "fruit," and an oligosaccharide is a type of carbohydrate.) Taking this supplement is like putting manure in a garden; it is thought to foster a healthy environment for the bacteria you want to have inside you. The typical daily dose of fructo-oligosaccharides is between 2 g and 8 g.
Candida albicans Lactobacillus rhamnosus L. reuteri Lactobacillus Candida albicans
vaginal infectionsLactobacillus rhamnosus Streptococcus thermophilusGardnerella vaginalis
ulcersH. pylori H. pylori H. pylori H. pylori H. pyloriHelicobacter pylori
chronic constipationLactobacillus casei Shirota Lactobacillus rhamnosus bifidobacteria lactobacilli B. lactis B. longus B. animalis
Lactobacillus GG L. rhamnosus not
As noted above, probiotics have shown some promise in the treatment of infections with the yeast Candida albicans . Probiotics are also proposed for the treatment of a theoretically related, but markedly controversial condition, known as yeast hypersensitivity syndrome (also known as chronic candidiasis, chronic candida, systemic candidiasis, or just candida ). As described by some alternative medicine practitioners, yeast hypersensitivity syndrome is a common problem that consists of a population explosion of the normally benign candida yeast that live in the vagina and elsewhere in the body, coupled with a type of allergic sensitivity to it. Probiotic supplements are widely recommended for this proposed condition because they establish large, healthy populations of friendly bacteria that compete with the candida that is trying to take up residence. However, there is no evidence that yeast hypersensitivity is a common problem, and virtually none that it exists at all.
asthmaBifidobacterium breveL. casei L. bulgaricus S. thermophilus
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Acidophilus and Other Probiotics?
Probiotics may also help prevent or treat acute infectious diarrhea in children and adults.
Lactobacillus GG Lactobacillus GG Bifidobacteria S. thermophilus Lactobacillus rhamnosus
L. reuteri Escherichia coli E. coli L. reuteri
Lactobacillus GG Lactobacillus GG
B. bifidum S. thermophilus, L. casei Lactobacillus LB S. boulardii L. reuteri L. rhamnosus B. bifidum
Lactobacillus fermentum L. fermentum L. fermentum
C. difficile S. boulardii L. acidophilus L. casei
Keep in mind that diarrhea in young children can be serious. If it persists for more than a day, consult a physician.
S. boulardii Lactobacillus GG Lactobacillus Clostridium difficile
Lactobacilli Lactococcus Bifidobacterium L. rhamnosus L. sporogenes B. lactis S. thermophilus
Lactobacillus GG Clostridium difficile
Note: Diarrhea that occurs in the context of antibiotics may be dangerous; for this reason, physician consultation is essential.
Other Forms of Diarrhea
radiationLactobacillus rhamnosus E. coli Lactobacillus casei
L. reuteri L. reuteri L. rhamnosus
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease)
S. boulardii Lactobacillus
Lactobacilli Bifidobacteria Streptococcus salivarius Lactobacillus johnsonii
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experience crampy digestive pain as well as alternating diarrhea and constipation and other symptoms. Although the cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not known, one possibility is a disturbance in healthy intestinal bacteria. Based on this theory, probiotics have been tried as a treatment for IBS, with some success.
Bifidobacterium animalis Escherichia coli Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG B. bifidum
Bifidobacterium longum Lactobacillus rhamnosus
Lactobacillus rhamnosus Bifidobacterium animalis
Lactobacillus plantarum L. plantarum
immune functionBifidobacterium lactis B. lactis
Lactobacillus GG L. acidophilus
S. thermophilus Enterococcus faecium
Supplementation for Infant Growth and Development
A review of 25 randomized trials with 2,971 infants did not find sufficient evidence to support supplementation of infant formula with synbiotics, probiotics, or prebiotics. There were no significant effects on growth, crying, colic, regurgitation, or restlessness compared to conventional infant formula. Synbiotics and prebiotics were associated with increased stool frequency.
Probiotics may play a role in balancing bacteria in the gut, but not all probiotics may be helpful.
Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri) L. reuteri L. reuteri
L. reuteri Lactobacillus rhamnosus Propionibacterium freudenreichii
L. reuteri L. reuteri L. reuteri
Interactions You Should Know About
- If you are taking antibiotics : It may be beneficial to take probiotic supplements at the same time, and to continue them for a couple of weeks after you have finished the course of drug treatment. This will help restore the balance of natural bacteria in your digestive tract.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -