Lactobacillus acidophilus is a species in the genus Lactobacillus. It is a homo-fermentative species, fermenting sugars into lactic acid, which grows readily at rather low pH values and has an optimum growth temperature of 37 Â°C. It occurs naturally in the human and animal gastrointestinal tract, mouth, and vagina. Some strains have probiotic characteristics. Strains are commercially used in many dairy products.
It is part of the normal vaginal flora and the acid it produces can help control fungus growth thus preventing yeast infections. It provides the same benefits for oral or gastrointestinal candidiasis infections.
Some strains have received extensive research for health effects. With adequate daily feeding levels, L. acidophilus may facilitate lactose digestion in lactose intolerant subjects. Failure to digest lactose can result in discomfort, cramps, and diarrhea.
Oral antibiotics can kill beneficial bacteria including L. acidophilus. Often, after an antibiotic treatment, a patient is instructed to take an L. acidophilus treatment in order to re-colonize the gastrointestinal tract. It is often sold in pill or powder form as a nutritional supplement.
It also provides production of vitamin K and lactase while some strains may produce bacteriocins such as acidolin, acidophilin, and lactocidin. Some strains can help control constipation and diarrhea.
In general, the ingestion of L. acidophilus is safe. However, people with the following conditions are discouraged from taking L. acidophilus: intestinal damage, a weakened immune system, or with overgrowth of intestinal bacteria.