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Lactobacilli are bacteria that normally live in the human small intestine and vagina. Lactobacillus acidophilus is generally considered to be beneficial because it produces vitamin K, lactase, and anti-microbial substances such as acidolin, acidolphilin, lactocidin, and bacteriocin. Multiple human trials report benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus for bacterial vaginosis. Other medicinal uses of Lactobacillus acidophilus are not sufficiently studied to form clear conclusions.
The term "probiotic" is used to describe organisms that are used medicinally, including bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and yeast such as Saccharomyces boulardii.
Although generally believed to be safe with few side effects, Lactobacillus acidophilus taken by mouth should be avoided in people with intestinal damage, a weakened immune system, or with overgrowth of intestinal bacteria.
Multiple human studies report thatLactobacillus acidophilusvaginal suppositories are effective in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. A small number of studies suggest that eating yogurt enriched withLactobacillus acidophilusmay be similarly beneficial. Additional research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be reached. Patients with persistent vaginal discomfort are advised to seek medical attention.
Allergic disorders (Japanese cedar pollen):
A small study was conducted to evaluate the effects ofLactobacillus acidophilusstrain L-92 (L-92) on the symptoms of Japanese cedar pollen allergy. Further research is needed before a decision can be made.
There is limited research in this area with unclear results.
There is currently not enough evidence to suggest a benefit ofLactobacillus acidophilusfor this condition.
Early studies in humans have failed to show a consistent benefit ofLactobacillus acidophilusin breast cancer. Further studies are needed.
Colitis (collagenous colitis):
Early studies fail to show a benefit ofLactobacillus acidophilusin this condition. More high-quality studies are needed.
A small amount of human research suggests thatLactobacillus acidophilusmay not be effective when used to prevent diarrhea in travelers or in people taking antibiotics, but results are mixed. Several studies report that the related species,LactobacillusGG, may be helpful for the prevention of diarrhea in children and travelers. Additional study is needed in these areas before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Diarrhea treatment (children):
A small amount of research in children, using different forms of acidophilus, reports no improvement in diarrhea. Future studies should use a viableLactobacillus acidophilusculture to assess effects on diarrhea.LactobacillusGG, a different species, is suggested by multiple human studies to be a safe and effective treatment for diarrhea in otherwise healthy infants and children.
Lactobacillus acidophilusmay aid in the management of chronic or persistent diarrhea, bacterial-overgrowth related diarrhea, and acute watery diarrhea in infants. Further research is needed to determine what dose may be safe and effective.
H. pylori infection:
Early studies in humans suggest a potential benefit ofLactobacillus acidophilusin this condition. More large, high-quality studies are needed to understand this relationship.
Hepatic encephalopathy (confused thinking due to liver disorders):
There is limited study in this area with mixed results.
There is conflicting information from several human studies regarding the effects ofLactobacillus acidophilus-enriched dairy products on lowering blood levels of total cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein ("bad cholesterol").
Early studies fail to show consistent evidence of benefit ofLactobacillus acidophilusin immunomodulation. Additional studies are needed.
Intestinal blockage (partial adhesive small-bowel obstruction):
Early studies suggest potential benefit of adjunct therapy withLactobacillus acidophilusin this condition. Additional high-quality studies are needed.
Intestinal inflammation (pouchitis):
Early studies in humans have failed to show a benefit ofLactobacillus acidophilusin this condition. More studies are needed.
Irritable bowel syndrome:
Human studies report mixed results in the improvement of bowel symptoms after takingLactobacillus acidophilusby mouth.
There is conflicting information from several human studies as to whether usingLactobacillus acidophilusby mouth improves digestion of lactose. More research is needed in this area a before a conclusion can be drawn.
Leaky gut syndrome (gut barrier function):
Early human studies suggest potential benefit ofLactobacillus acidophilusin the improvement of gut barrier function. More high-quality studies are needed to understand this relationship.
Necrotizing enterocolitis prevention in infants:
One human study usingLactobacillus acidophilusin combination with another bacterium (Bifidobacterium infantis) in infants reported fewer cases of necrotizing enterocolitis (severe inflammation of the gut), and no complications related to treatment. Additional research is necessary in this area before a conclusion can be drawn.
Premature birth prevention:
Early studies suggest a potential benefit ofLactobacillus acidophilusfor prevention of premature birth. More studies are needed to clarify this relationship.
Vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection):
Lactobacillus acidophilustaken by mouth or as a vaginal suppository has not been adequately assessed for the prevention or treatment of vaginal yeast infections. More research is needed in this area a before a strong conclusion can be drawn.