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Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Other name(s):

Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, acidophilus

General description

Lactobacilli are bacteria that produce lactic acid from the metabolic breakdown of carbohydrates, particularly the sugar lactose in milk.

Photo of a bowl of yogurt with some strawberries

Lactobacilli grow well in milk and milk products and are responsible for the "souring" of milk. Many different strains can be found in milk products, the adult intestinal tract and vagina, and in the intestinal tract of formula-fed infants.

Lactobacilli are used commercially in the production of cheese and yogurt (Lactobacillus bulgaricus).

Medically valid uses

For years, L. acidophilus has been recommended by physicians to help control certain types of diarrhea, especially diarrhea caused when oral antibiotics destroy the normal flora of the intestine. L. acidophilus replenishes the intestine with a beneficial bacterium that often stops diarrhea. It is also recommended to help keep vaginal yeast infections in check.

Recent animal research has shown that L. acidophilus may increase the immune response to certain vaccines. 

Research is ongoing to investigate ways in which a related species of Lactobacillus may regulate the growth of cancer cells. 

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

In the last few years, L. acidophilus and bifidobacterium (another group of bacteria commonly found in the intestine) have been recommended for an increasing number of illnesses. However, research is still in progress to substantiate these claims.

For instance, it has been claimed that they may help improve the immune function, be useful in the treatment of lactose intolerance, and in general restore normal intestinal flora. They also may be useful in reducing the risk of colon cancer, reducing serum cholesterol, helping with the prevention of GI ulcers, and helping with the management of HPV (human papilloma virus) vaginal infection.

Dosing format

L. acidophilus is available commercially in powder, granule, or capsule form.

Pure cultures of L. acidophilus are available in health food stores. They should be stored in light-resistant containers away from excessive heat and used before the expiration date. Live-culture yogurt may also contain L. acidophilus.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

No known symptoms of an acute overdose have been reported.

Talk with your health care provider before using L. acidophilus if you are taking corticosteroids, immune suppression drugs, chemotherapy, or if you have a weakened immune system due to HIV or other condition. 

Additional information

Click here for a list of reputable websites with general information on nutrition.