Friendly bacteria, also known lactobacillus acidophilus, that reside in our intestine, help to prevent infections and maintain optimal intestinal health. The supplements when taken regularly, help to derive benefits of this beneficial bacteria.
The term ‘bacteria’ and the thoughts that cross our mind are the damaging effects associated with exposure to these pathogens. However, you would be glad to know that there are certain species of bacteria that can help to keep our health in good shape. These are known as lactobacillus acidophilus (good bacteria), that promote digestion and help to combat invasion of ‘bad’ bacteria.
Also referred to as probiotics, these beneficial bacteria usually prefer to stay in the vagina and the small intestine. They play a major role in manufacturing vitamin K and anti-bacterial microbes. Although there are natural sources of these ‘friendly’ bacteria, they can be synthesized and taken as a lactobacillus acidophilus supplement.
Antibiotic dosage is commonly prescribed to get rid of bad bacteria, but unfortunately these medications also kill the good bacteria. Thus, after completing the antibiotic course, the person is likely to have low levels of good bacteria, thereby making him susceptible to yeast infections of the mouth and genital areas. Significant decrease in the population of good bacteria can also cause extreme fatigue, urinary tract infections and gum problems like gingivitis. In order to overcome the symptoms of probiotic deficiency, doctors may prescribe these supplements.
Due to limited clinical studies, there have been no confirmed benefits of these supplements. Research has not yet revealed any conclusive evidence about the advantages of taking these supplements. Also available as suppositories, they may provide relief to patients suffering from bacterial vaginosis, as found out through small studies.
In yet another study involving a small group of people diagnosed with cedar pollen allergy, these supplements helped to improve the condition. A small number of irritable bowel syndrome patients have also experienced substantial relief after taking this supplemental dosage. On the other hand, diarrhea patients, both children and adults, did not respond quite well to these supplements. Further investigation is warranted before coming to any conclusion.
Freeze dried cultures of this good bacteria are available in capsule, tablet and powder form. Liquid preparations as well as anal or vaginal suppositories of this supplement are also available in different strengths. The dosage is dependent on the age and so when giving to children and adults, the capsule strength will differ. Few cases of skin yeast infections have been treated with liquid preparation of lactobacillus acidophilus.
Extensive research has not been done on this supplement to verify its adverse side effects. Based on small studies, these supplements did not show any worrisome side effects. Mild to moderate abdominal pain has been linked to intake of these supplements. Taking these capsules or pills can also contribute to buildup of intestinal gas, which may lead to bloating and flatulence.
Although these supplements may help to treat yeast infections, they can also be problematic in people with severe intestinal disorders, especially those that cause development of ulcers in the intestine. An impaired intestinal tract may not be able to tolerate intake of these supplements. Also, people with a suppressed immune system may experience discomfort by taking these supplements.
How to Select an Acidophilus Supplement
There are different strains of acidophilus bacteria. Some species are highly unstable and therefore their supplements may spoil easily. So when it comes to buying these supplements, one must seek the assistance of a qualified doctor. Also, when it comes to storage, they need to be stored in refrigerators. Though the supplements kept at room temperature are fit for consumption, their effectiveness drastically reduces when exposed to high temperatures for a considerable amount of time. So, if a medical store owner gives you the supplements that are not kept in refrigerators, do not buy them.
In case you are getting your daily dose of good bacteria through homemade yogurt, taking it in supplemental form is not required. Yogurt prepared at home (not the ones available in the market) is the best source of good bacteria and so taking it regularly is usually sufficient to maintain a good balance of friendly bacteria. These supplements are generally recommended to combat yeast infections such as vaginosis and oral thrush. However, those who have no access to homemade yogurt may be advised to take these supplements (before meals) to ensure stable population of friendly bacteria.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.