Acidophilus and yeast infections


Why probiotics could be the key to a healthier vagina

They’re not just good for your gut, they can also help put a stop to repeat episodes of thrush and bacterial vaginosis too. Here’s why these ‘friendly’ bacteria play a valuable role in keeping your vaginal flora happy and healthy

Probiotics have long been hailed for their benefits for brain and bowel. However, there’s another part of the body that can also take advantage of top-ups of these ‘friendly’ strains of bacteria too – following in the footsteps of ‘down there’ skincare, vagina-focused supplements are now a thing and, if you were surprised to hear that, yes, we have to say that we were too.

The category centres around the vagina’s delicate balance of flora which, when out of whack (thanks to anything from antibiotics to perfumed soaps), can make things extremely uncomfortable down south. This flora plays a pivotal role in preserving the acidic environment needed for it to operate at optimal functionality. “The composition of the vaginal flora is very important when it comes to maintaining the pH of the vagina,” explains consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology, Mrs Pradnya Pisal. “When the pH changes, the wrong kind of bacteria proliferate, and this usually leads to infection and troublesome symptoms.”

These imbalances can result in conditions such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis (BV). In the first instance, creams and antibiotics are the best forms of treatment. However afterwards, these conditions have a propensity to reoccur – this is where vaginal probiotics come in. “Following treatment, probiotics can help, in either vaginal or oral tablet forms, to support a good balance of bacteria,” says Harley Street gynaecologist, Tania Adib. “Women who have recurrent vaginal infections, and those on antibiotics, especially if taking long-term antibiotics for stubborn infections, would benefit from taking them the most.”

How they work

They’re usually characterised by their inclusion of strains that naturally occur in the vagina and are hardy enough to survive the trip through the digestive system to get from gut to genitals in one piece. They most commonly include members from the lactobacillus family (the most dominant type of bacteria in the vagina).

One such example is Optibac’s For Women probiotic, (14 capsules for £9.99), which contains lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and lactobacillus reuteri RC-14. It can be used as a booster to antibiotics for treating BV. “These strains are unique in that they have been proven to reach the intimate flora and they colonise primarily in the vaginal tract,” says registered nutritionist Naomi Osun. Once at their end destination, they help restore its acidic environment by producing hydrogen peroxide as well as other substances that reduce the population of pathogenic microorganisms.

“The strains are proven to colonise in the vagina after a week of treatment, so we’d recommend taking this product for at least seven days or until symptom-free, taking two capsules a day during an active infection,” recommends Naomi. “It’s safe to take on a long-term basis when symptom-free (one capsule a day is often fine for this) and it can also be taken during a course of antibiotics, but we’d recommend taking it 1-2 hours away from antibiotic medication.”

For those on antibiotics (which can cause flora imbalances), Optibac’s For Those on Antibiotics, (10 capsules for £5.99), has been created with your needs in mind. “It contains two strains – lactobacillus rhamnosus rosell-11 and lactobacillus acidophilus rosell-52,” Naomi tells us. “These strains have been shown to help preserve the vaginal microbiome during antibiotic treatment, reducing the risk of dysbiosis that could lead to thrush commonly experienced by those taking antibiotic medication.”

One study showed that individuals who were given probiotics containing these strains alongside a course of antibiotics had 90 per cent of their vaginal flora preserved and no incidence of diarrhoea either (another fun antibiotic side-effect). “We recommend taking them all through the course of antibiotics, and there is no need to take this probiotic at a different time of the day from the antibiotic,” advises Naomi.

Not all vaginal probiotics are designed to be taken orally though. Some, such as Canesten’s Canesflor Probiotics for Vaginal Use, (£15.99 for 10 capsules), require a more, ahem, direct approach (we just winced too). Tania has some valuable tips though: “The best way to take the probiotics is at night when you are lying in bed just before you go to sleep. If you have trouble inserting the capsule then you can moisten it slightly. Make sure you insert it as deeply as you can so it works best.”

It contains the strain, lactobacillus plantarum P 17630, chosen for its ability to adhere to vaginal mucosa and create a protective barrier over the vaginal walls to prevent recurrences of thrush and BV. It’s designed to be taken once a day for six days followed by one capsule per week for four weeks.

Who shouldn’t take them

A wide array of people can take these types of supplements, but those with pre-existing medical conditions should exercise caution and consult their GP first. “There is some evidence that women with underlying health problems can be more susceptible to develop an infection as a result of taking probiotics,” says Tania. “These may need to be treated with antibiotics, so it’s best to avoid them in these circumstances.”

Mrs Pisal also advises that those who are immunocompromised (due to infection or when receiving organ transplants or prosthetic valves), have had heart valve surgery and those receiving cancer treatments steer clear too.

The other things you can do to keep your vaginal flora in check

Diet and lifestyle play pivotal roles in preventing the occurrence and recurrence of infections. “Avoid harsh cleansers or soaps, tight fitting and synthetic clothing and consume a wide variety of fresh vegetables while avoiding sugar and processed foods,” advises Laura Southern, nutritional therapist at London Gynaecology. Upping your water intake will also help keep things well hydrated down there while prebiotic foods such as garlic, onions, oats, lentils and leeks and probiotic-rich foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kombucha and kimchi can help too.

Also take steps to keep stress levels down and eat immune system-boosting foods to help further support your more intimately positioned microbiome. “One of the key factors that affects your vaginal health is your immunity,” says Tania. “Our immune system supports our bodies to maintain a good balance of bacteria and prevents bad bacteria from taking hold. However, if your immune system is run down, which may commonly be down to stress, or a virus, you are more likely to get a vaginal infection.”

Read more: What your vaginal discharge is trying to tell you

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Can Probiotics Really Help a Yeast Infection?

Yeast infections occur when there’s an overgrowth of yeast (a fungus) in the vagina and the balance of bacteria gets thrown off. So it might seem that consuming probiotics, which are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, could help restore the balance and clear up symptoms or prevent the infections.

Some studies have looked at whether eating probiotic-enriched yogurt or taking an oral supplement daily could protect against yeast infections, but so far there’s not enough proof that either one works. One small study suggests that using a probiotic suppository that is inserted into the vagina, in combination with antifungal medication, might help prevent yeast infections, but this still isn’t widely recommended.

Until more conclusive research is available, go the conventional route for preventing these infections. While it can be tough to pinpoint the cause, wearing breathable underwear, not using scented soaps in the genital area, and changing out of sweaty clothes right away can help keep the vagina infection-free.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

Is Lactobacillus acidophilus good for health?

L. acidophilus is present in a variety of foods and is also widely available as a dietary supplement. Supporters of this probiotic claim it provides a wide range of health benefits, from preventing yeast infections to curing cancer.

As with any health food or supplement, it is important to be a critical consumer. Research does indicate some health benefits from consuming L. acidophilus, but studies do not support every suggested benefit.

Some evidence suggests that L. acidophilus might be beneficial for a range of disorders and conditions, including:


Emerging research suggests that the health of the gut might also have an impact on the brain.

A 2013 study, for instance, found that gut bacteria can influence brain chemistry, suggesting a possible link between gut health and depression. Also, a 2016 systematic review indicates that taking probiotics, such as L. acidophilus, may lower the risk of getting depression or even help treat symptoms in people with depression.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

Share on PinterestCFS can cause extreme tiredness and make a person feel generally unwell.

CFS is a long-term condition that can cause a variety of different symptoms, such as:

  • extreme tiredness and lethargy
  • concentration and memory difficulties
  • muscle or joint pain
  • feeling generally unwell
  • sleep problems

Doctors do not fully understand CFS or what causes it. However, some researchers believe that gut health, and specifically gut bacteria, may play a role in its development.

In a 2012 study, researchers induced CFS-like symptoms in rats. The study found that giving the rats L. acidophilus significantly reduced these symptoms.

Lactose intolerance

L. acidophilus helps the body metabolize and break down lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, around 65 percent of adults worldwide find it difficult to digest lactose following infancy. Lactose intolerance can cause intestinal pain, diarrhea, gas, and bloating.

L. acidophilus supplements may help relieve the effects of lactose intolerance by helping the body metabolize lactose. A 2016 study compared taking L. acidophilus supplements with a placebo in people with lactose intolerance. Following 4 weeks of supplementation, people who took L. acidophilus had statistically significant reductions in symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as cramping and vomiting.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a long-term digestive disorder that can cause diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and other symptoms. Doctors do not fully understand what causes it, and there is currently no cure.

The gut microbiota is the community of bacteria and other microbes that live in the stomach and intestines. Research is beginning to suggest that problems with the natural balance of the gut microbiota may play a role in the development of IBS.

Several studies reveal that consuming L. acidophilus and other probiotics may improve symptoms of IBS. However, the studies have been small, and researchers do not fully understand the role of gut microbes in IBS.

Yeast infections

Overgrowth of Candida, a type of yeast that occurs naturally on the human body, can cause itching and painful skin. Vaginal yeast infections are common, and it can take several days for over-the-counter or prescription remedies to work.

Some people notice that they get yeast infections following treatment with antibiotics. This may be because the drugs kill both good and bad bacteria.

Several studies suggest that probiotics may help prevent vaginal yeast infections and possibly other vaginal infections. For instance, a 2015 study suggests that taking Lactobacillus-containing probiotic supplements in combination with antibiotic and antifungal treatments may improve cure rates in women with yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are types of IBD. They are long-term conditions that cause inflammation in parts of the digestive tract. Symptoms can vary considerably, but typically include diarrhea, cramping, and weight loss.

Some studies suggest that probiotic treatment may help manage these conditions. For instance, a 2013 meta-analysis, which examined the results of 23 randomized controlled trials, found higher rates of symptom-free periods among people with active ulcerative colitis who used probiotics.


Animal studies suggest that consuming probiotics may boost the immune system. A 2015 study, for example, found that adding L. acidophilus to the diet of black swordtail fish supported their immune system in several ways.

The swordtails were less affected by stress, and their gut microbiota was stronger. The probiotic also improved the health of their skin mucus, which provides an important barrier to infections.


Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacteria that’s also a widely used probiotic.

Probiotics are defined by the National Institutes of Health Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) as “friendly” microorganisms, usually bacteria, that grow naturally in the human intestine and protect us against “bad” bacteria that can cause disease.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is sold under the brand names Acidophilus, Bacid, Flora-Q, and Novaflor.

It works by creating a hostile environment for the “bad” bacteria, and is often recommended as a supplement to antibiotics, which kill both good and bad bacteria equally, upsetting the intestinal balance.

It’s believed that probiotics such as lactobacillus acidophilus help promote gastrointestinal health by restoring equilibrium.

Acidophilus Warnings

Although acidophilus has been used to treat or prevent a wide range of ailments, including yeast infections, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, intestinal problems, and urinary tract infections, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any of these health claims.

While acidophilus produces few side effects, data on safety, especially long-term safety, are limited, according to NCCAM.

Since the FDA does not regulate probiotics, concerns about quality control have been raised. Some probiotic products have been found to contain either fewer live organisms than claimed, or different bacterial strains than those listed on the label, according to NCCAM. Some have been found to be tainted with toxic chemicals or other drugs.

Before taking acidophilus, tell your doctor if you have any other medical conditions, especially a compromised immune system or allergies. If you are receiving chemotherapy or other treatment that might impair your immune system, you need to discuss taking probiotics with your doctor.

If you are sensitive to lactose, you may experience stomach pain from products that contain lactobacillus acidophilus.

Avoid lactobacillus acidophilus if you have intestinal damage or an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestine, because of the higher risk that bacteria could leave the gastrointestinal tract and potentially cause sepsis (when infection spreads throughout the body).

Lactobacillus acidophilus should not be taken by people with artificial heart valves because there’s a small risk of bacterial infection.

Pregnancy and Acidophilus

If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, or considering breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before taking acidophilus.

Lactobacillus acidophilus vaginal tablets and a lactobacillus acidophilus-containing culture have been studied in pregnant women, and were found to produce no harmful side effects.

L. acidophilus is a common and popular probiotic bacterium. People use it to lower cholesterol, improve gut health, and suppress allergies, but does it work? And what other benefits might it have? Read on to find out.

What is Lactobacillus acidophilus?

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a gram-positive lactic acid bacterium, that has been traditionally and widely used in the dairy industry, and more recently as a probiotic .

L. acidophilus is added to commercial yogurts and dairy formulations both for its flavor and for probiotic effect and is one of the most commonly selected Lactobacillus species for dietary use .

Potential Benefits of L. acidophilus

L. acidophilus probiotic supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use. Supplements generally lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.

Possibly Effective For

1) Iron Status

Iron deficiency was associated with low levels of Lactobacilli in a small study of young women in south India .

190 preschool children supplemented with L. acidophilus exhibited higher red blood cell status and a significant reduction in the prevalence of anemia .

L. acidophilus increases iron bioavailability in rats .

2) Cholesterol

In multiple clinical studies, daily consumption of L. acidophilus or a fermented product containing L. acidophilus after each dinner contributed to a significant reduction in cholesterol . However, in another study, L. acidophilus did not lower blood cholesterol in men and women with normal to borderline high cholesterol levels .

L. acidophilus reduces cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in mice fed a high-fat diet .

L. acidophilus lowers total blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and TAG, and total liver cholesterol and liver TAG in rats .

3) Cardiovascular Disease

L. acidophilus consumption led to a 2.4% to 3.2% reduction in blood cholesterol in clinical studies. Since every 1% reduction in serum cholesterol concentration is associated with an estimated 2% to 3% reduction in risk for coronary heart disease, the authors argued, regular intake of L. acidophilus has the potential to reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease by 6 to 10% .

L. acidophilus protected against atherosclerosis through the inhibition of intestinal cholesterol absorption in mice fed a Western diet .

L. acidophilus reduced cholesterol and inhibited the accumulation of lipoprotein in atherosclerotic plaques in mice .

L. acidophilus attenuated the development of atherosclerotic lesions in mice, possibly by reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory response .

4) Gut Health

Intestinal Microbiota

Healthy volunteers receiving L. acidophilus and cellobiose showed increased levels of Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, Collinsella, and Eubacterium, while Dialister was decreased .

L. acidophilus increased the population of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in rats .

L. acidophilus administered in yogurt positively shifted gut microbiota and increased intestinal Bifidobacteria in obese mice .

L. acidophilus increased Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria populations, increased levels of acetic, butyric, and propionic acids, and lowered ammonium in a human microbiota simulator .

Antibiotic Therapy

L. acidophilus administered with amoxicillin/clavulanate was associated with a significant decrease in patient complaints of GI side effects and yeast superinfection .


Some trials found no beneficial effect on the prevention of travelers’ diarrhea or acute diarrhea in children .

Other studies show that heat-killed L. acidophilus markedly improved symptoms in patients with chronic diarrhea , L. acidophilus reduced the duration of diarrhea in hospitalized, but not outpatient, children , and ameliorated both rotavirus-positive diarrhea and nonrotavirus diarrhea in children .

L. acidophilus attenuates diarrhea in mice .


L. acidophilus reduced abdominal pain and discomfort in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) .

H. pylori

L. acidophilus improves intestinal inflammation caused by H. pylori and decreases the viability of H. pylori and increases the eradication rate in infected patients .

5) Atopic Dermatitis

L. acidophilus suppressed Th2-dominant inflammation by activating regulatory T cells and Th1 helper T cells in atopic dermatitis .

Long-term oral administration of L. acidophilus significantly restored Th1/Th2 balance and ameliorated the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in children .

Prolonged ingestion of L. acidophilus significantly decreased eczema area and severity index in patients with adult atopic dermatitis . The probiotic also suppressed scratching .

L. acidophilus suppresses ear swelling, scratching behavior and other dermatitis-like symptoms in mice .

6) Allergy

L. acidophilus alleviated allergic symptoms in patients with Japanese cedar pollinosis .

L. acidophilus alleviated the symptoms in patients with perennial allergic rhinitis .

L. acidophilus may also improve lactose digestion and tolerance, though the evidence is conflicting .

L. acidophilus suppressed hypersensitivity, attenuates the numbers of inflammatory cells and inhibited Th17 and IgE production in mice with allergy .

L. acidophilus increased the number of Treg cells to suppress the progression of allergic contact dermatitis in mice and suppressed nasal symptoms and IgE in allergic mice .

7) Vaginal Infections

Treatment of patients with bacterial vaginosis with L. acidophilus contributed to the restoration of a normal vaginal environment .

L. acidophilus maintained low pH and increased human vaginal epithelial cell viability .

Daily ingestion of yogurt enriched with L. acidophilus appeared to reduce the incidence of bacterial vaginosis .

Insufficient Evidence For

Researchers are currently investigating whether L. acidophilus has other health benefits. The potential benefits in this section have produced positive results in at least one clinical trial, but these studies are small, contradictory, or otherwise limited. Talk to your doctor before supplementing with L. acidophilus for any reason.

8) Folate and B12 Status

Daily consumption of L. acidophilus significantly improved vitamin B12 and folate levels in children .

9) Diabetes

L. acidophilus preserved insulin sensitivity in men with type 2 diabetes mellitus .

10) Minimal Hepatic Encephalopathy

L. acidophilus improved blood ammonia and cognitive function in patients with minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE). Furthermore, patients who received the probiotic were less likely to develop overt encephalopathy .

11) Aging

L. acidophilus increased Bifidobacteria levels and beneficially changes microbiota in elderly subjects .

Dahi containing L. acidophilus reversed age-related immune function decline in mice .

Dahi containing L. acidophilus reduced oxidative stress and prevented molecular alterations associated with aging in mice .

12) Fatigue

L. acidophilus reversed immune defects in fatigued athletes . It also decreased chronic fatigue following exercise and attenuated stress in rats .

Animal Research (Insufficient Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of L. acidophilus for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

13) Infections

L. acidophilus enhanced natural and acquired immunity in healthy mice .

Viral Infection

Both live and non-live L. acidophilus protected against influenza virus (H1N1) infection in mice .

Bacterial infection

L. acidophilus can effectively prevent bacteria-induced colitis by limiting infection and promoting mucosal protective regulatory immune responses in mice .

L. acidophilus suppressed all of the 74 gram-negative and 16 of the gram-positive bacteria found in burn wounds, which can cause burn wound infections .

L. acidophilus may reduce mutant Streptococcus in dental plaque, and may decrease the cariogenic potential of oral streptococci .

14) Inflammation

L. acidophilus alleviated inflammation in human intestinal epithelial cells , decreased the transcriptional activity of NF-κB, and inhibited proinflammatory cytokines .

15) Arthritis

L. acidophilus decreased arthritis symptoms and maintained normal histology of reproductive organs in rats .

L. acidophilus showed effects comparable to the drug indomethacin in decreasing organ damage associated with arthritis in rats. This probiotic down-regulated pro-inflammatory and up-regulated anti-inflammatory cytokines .

16) Pain Perception

Oral administration of L. acidophilus induced the expression of mu-opioid and cannabinoid receptors in intestinal epithelial cells and mediated analgesic function in the gut, similar to the effects of morphine .

17) Ulcers

L. acidophilus promoted gastric ulcer healing in rats .

18) GI Infections

L. acidophilus alleviated E. coli infection in mice .

L. acidophilus inhibited the growth of C. difficile, a pathogenic bacterium that causes antibiotic-associated diarrhea and inhibited the growth of Salmonella enterica in mice, especially when administered after the infection .

19) GI Inflammation

L. acidophilus counteracted inflammation in intestinal epithelial cells .

Treatment with L. acidophilus significantly increased butyrate uptake in intestinal epithelial cells. Butyrate plays beneficial roles serving as a primary fuel, ameliorating mucosal inflammation, and stimulating salt absorption .

L. acidophilus had a protective effect on the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in rats .

L. acidophilus improved inflammatory and functional aspects of intestinal mucositis caused by chemotherapy in mice .

L. acidophilus protected against colitis-induced weight loss and increases beneficial Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in the distal colon in mice .

L. acidophilus reduced intestinal inflammation following infection in newborn mice .

Cancer Research

Researchers are currently investigating whether L. acidophilus, as part of the gut flora or taken as a probiotic, could play a role in supporting certain cancer therapies or even in preventing the development of cancer. However, all of this research has been in animals or cells thus far, and there is no clinical evidence to recommend L. acidophilus for this purpose.

Daily oral administration of L. acidophilus suppressed colon tumor incidence, tumor multiplicity, and reduced tumor size in mice .

Oral administration of L. acidophilus increased survival , decreased tumor growth and increased lymphocyte proliferation in mice with breast tumors .

L. acidophilus reduced tumor volume growth by 50.3 %, reduced the severity of colonic carcinogenesis, and enhanced cancer cell death in mice .

L. acidophilus decreased carcinogenic changes in the colon in rats .

L. acidophilus alters the cytokine production in tumor-bearing mice into a Th1 protective pattern, favorable to anti-tumor immunity .

L. acidophilus is also being investigated directly against gastric carcinoma, colon carcinoma, and breast cancer cells .

Mechanism of Effect

Researchers have conducted a number of cell and animal studies to investigate the effect of L. acidophilus on a biochemical level. Here are some of their findings:

In Infection

In Fatigue

  • Increased the secretion of IFNγ from T-cells in fatigued athletes .

In Inflammation

In Allergies

In Aging

In Cancer


L. acidophilus is generally well tolerated. However, the use of probiotics should be avoided in patients with organ failure, immunocompromised status, and dysfunctional gut barrier mechanisms, where it can lead to infections .

To ensure that probiotics are safe for you, and to avoid any adverse effects, talk to your doctor before starting any new probiotic supplements.

Acidophilus Facts & Benefits

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  • Wildt et al. Probiotic treatment of collagenous colitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebocontrolled trial with Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2006 May;12(5):395-401.
  • Witsell et al. Effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus on antibiotic-associated gastrointestinal morbidity: a prospective randomized trial. J Otolaryngol. 1995 Aug;24(4):230-3.
  • Xiao et al. Multicenter, randomized, controlled trial of heat-killed Lactobacillus acidophilus LB in patients with chronic diarrhea. Adv Ther. 2003 Sep-Oct;20(5):253-60.
  • Yadav et al. Antidiabetic effect of probiotic dahl containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei in high fructose fed rats. Nutrition. 2007 Jan;23(1):62-8.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Also listed as:

Table of Contents > Supplements > Lactobacillus acidophilus

Overview Uses Dietary Sources Available Forms How to Take It Precautions Possible Interactions Supporting Research

Lactobacillusacidophilus (L. acidophilus) is the most commonly used probiotic, or “good” bacteria. Many healthy bacteria live in the intestines and vagina where they protect against the “bad” bacteria that cause disease. They do this in a couple of ways. For example, when L. acidophilus breaks down food in the intestine, several substances are formed (such as lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide) that create an unfriendly environment for “bad” bacteria. Health practitioners often recommend probiotics as a supplement while taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but don’t discriminate between “friendly” and “unfriendly” organisms. So the balance between good and bad bacteria in the intestines can be upset. Some researchers think that taking probiotics helps restore the healthy balance of bacteria.

Other probiotics include several Lactobacillus species such as L. bulgaricus, L. casei, L. reuteri, Lactobacillus GG, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophiles, and Saccharaomyces boulardii (a kind of yeast).

In addition to probiotics, some health care providers suggest taking prebiotics. Prebiotics are soluble fiber found in some foods or supplements that help probiotics thrive in the intestine. Examples include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a carbohydrate found in some fruits and vegetables.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved L. acidophilus for any medical use. However, health practitioners may recommend the supplement for a variety of uses, including the following.

Vaginal infections

Several studies suggest that using L. acidophilus vaginal suppositories can help treat bacterial vaginosis. A small number of clinical studies suggests that eating yogurt with L. acidophilus cultures may also help. Some people also use L. acidophilus to treat or prevent vaginal yeast infections. More research is needed.

Diarrhea prevention

The evidence for using Lactobacillus to prevent diarrhea is mixed. Some research suggests L. acidophilus may be effective when used to prevent traveler’s diarrhea (caused by eating contaminated food). Other studies show that Lactobacillus GG was effective. A mix of probiotics (Saccharomyces boulardii and a mixture of L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum) helped treat traveler’s diarrhea in preliminary studies.

Probiotics, especially Lactobacillus GG, may help prevent or treat infectious diarrhea in children and adults, although the evidence is mixed. Studies seem to show probiotics are most effective in treating rotavirus in children and campylobacter infections in adults. Diarrhea in children can be serious. You should call your doctor if it lasts more than a day or your child seems dehydrated.

Other studies show that taking probiotics regularly may help prevent gastrointestinal infections in adults. In fact, research shows that taking L. acidophilus along with other probiotic strains may enhance immune function and improve overall health. One study found that a 2-strain probiotic, including L. acidophilus, twice a day for 3 months reduced symptoms of the common cold and school absenteeism in school children.

Several studies suggest that probiotics, especially Lactobacillus GG and S. boulardii, may help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Antibiotic-related diarrhea can be serious, so you should tell your doctor about it.

Other uses

Although evidence in most cases is preliminary or mixed, Lactobacillus and other probiotics have been suggested for a number of remedies and conditions, including:

  • Replacing the “friendly” intestinal bacteria destroyed by antibiotics.
  • Helping digestion and suppressing disease-causing bacteria.
  • Treating chronic constipation.
  • Treating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis).
  • Improving lactose tolerance.
  • Enhancing the immune system. Studies suggest that consuming yogurt or milk that contains specific strains of Lactobacillus, or taking supplements with Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, may improve the body’s natural immune response. One study found that supplementation for 6 months was a safe and effective way to reduce fever, cough, and duration of antibiotic treatment, as well as lessen the number of missed school days for children 3 to 5 years of age.
  • Lowering the risk of pollen allergies.
  • Reducing the risk of childhood eczema.
  • Helping to treat high cholesterol.

Dietary Sources

The primary dietary sources of L. acidophilus include milk enriched with acidophilus, yogurt containing live L. acidophilus cultures, miso, and tempeh.

Prebiotics are found in breast milk, onions, tomatoes, bananas, honey, barley, garlic, and wheat.

Available Forms

L. acidophilus preparations consist of dried or liquid cultures of living bacteria. These cultures are usually grown in milk, but can sometimes be grown in milk-free cultures. L. acidophilus is available in the following forms:

  • Freeze-dried granules
  • Freeze-dried powders
  • Freeze-dried capsules
  • Liquid preparations
  • Yogurt enhanced with probiotics
  • Vaginal suppositories
  • Tablets

Refrigerate L. acidophilus supplements for best quality. Some preparations are in a form that does not break down under normal temperatures and may be convenient for travelers who cannot refrigerate their supplements. Check the package label for storage instructions.

Marketed probiotics are highly variable, with some products containing single microbes, while others comprise multiple distinct microbes. Studies to verify the composition of probiotic formulations have found that discrepancies are common between the stated and actual number of viable organisms in any given product.

Prebiotics occur naturally in foods, however, supplements provide a more concentrated source. Prebiotics are oligosaccharides, chains of sugar units linked together, and include inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). FOS are the most commonly used.

How to Take It


Newborns and infants (0 to 1 year): Always check with your pediatrician before giving dietary supplements to an infant or child. Topical forms are available that may be used for diaper rash. If your infant is taking antibiotics, ask your doctor if a probiotic supplement might be appropriate as well.


Recommended doses of L. acidophilus vary depending on the health condition being treated. Check the specific dosage recommendations on the product label. The following are guidelines for the most common uses.

  • For prevention or treatment of diarrhea: Take 1 to 2 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per day. Some doctors may recommend up to 10 to 15 billion CFUs per day.
  • For vaginal infections: Some supplement manufacturers offer a probiotic suppository for vaginal use. Many people recommend inserting regular probiotic capsules vaginally, as well. Oral medications should only be taken orally. Those seeking a vaginal application should look for formulas specifically designed for vaginal use. Many practitioners rely on the oral use of probiotics to treat and prevent vaginal infections without using any sort of vaginal application of probiotics. You should never insert prebiotics vaginally. Speak with your physician.
  • For maintaining intestinal health: For healthy adults, take 1 to 15 billion CFUs daily. For the prevention of antibiotic-related diarrhea, some doctors recommend taking L. acidophilus 2 to 3 hours after the antibiotic.

If diarrhea or bloating occurs, reduce the dosage, or stop taking the product, and talk with your doctor.


Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is generally considered safe for most people. Gas, upset stomach, and diarrhea are potential side effects in some people (not on antibiotic therapy) who take more than 1 to 2 billion L. acidophilus CFUs daily.

There has been one report of anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction accompanied by shortness of breath and loss of consciousness) in a person taking inulin, a type of prebiotic.

People with weakened immune systems (such as those receiving chemotherapy or drugs that suppress their immune systems) should ask their doctors before taking probiotics.

People with artificial heart valves should not take L. acidophilus because of the rare chance of bacterial infection.

Possible Interactions

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use Lactobacillus or other probiotics without talking to your health care provider first.

Sulfasalazine: A laboratory study suggests that L. acidophilus speeds up metabolism of sulfasalazine, a medication used to treat ulcerative colitis.

Antibiotics: Antibiotics may kill acidophilus bacteria. Take antibiotics at least 2 hours before or after you take this remedy.

Supporting Research

Alvarez-Olmos MI. Probiotic agents and infectious diseases: a modern perspective on a traditional therapy. Clin Infect Dis. 2001;32(11):1567-1576.

Ataie-Jafari A, Larijani B, Alavi Majd H, Tahbaz F. Cholesterol-lowering effect of probiotic yogurt in comparison with ordinary yogurt in mildly to moderately hypercholesterolemic subjects. Ann Nutr Metab. 2009;54(1):22-7.

Begtrup LM de Muckadell OB, Kjeldsen J, Christensen RD, Jarbol DE. Long-term treatment with probiotics in primary care patients with irritable bowel syndrom–a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Scan J Gastroenterol. 2013; 48(10):1127-35.

Campana R, Federici S, Ciandrini E, Baffone W.Antagonistic activity of Lactobacillus acidophilus ATCC 4356 on the growth and adhesion/invasion characteristics of human Campylobacter jejuni. Curr Microbiol. 2012;64(4):371-8.

Chitapanarux I, Chitapanarus T, Traisathit P, et al. Randomized controlled trial of live lactobacillus acidophilu plus bifidobacterium bifidum in prophylaxis of diarrhea during radiotherapy in cervical cancer patients. Radiat Oncol. 2010;5:31.

Cunningham-Rundles S, Ahrne S, Bengmark S, et al. Probiotics and immune response. Am J Gastroenterol. 2000;95(1 Suppl):S22-25.

de Roos NM, Katan MB. Effects of probiotic bacteria on diarrhea, lipid metabolism, and carcinogenesis: a review of papers published between 1988 and 1998. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(2):405-411.

de Vrese M, Marteau PR. Probiotics and prebiotics: effects on diarrhea. J Nutr. 2007;137(3 Suppl 2):803S-11S.

Ejtahed H, Mohtadi-Nia J, Homayouni-Rad A, et al. Effect of probiotic yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophillus and Bifidobacterium lactis on lipid profile in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Dairy Sci. 2011;94(7):3288-94.

Ewaschuk JB, Dieleman LA. Probiotics and prebiotics in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. World J Gastroenterol. 2006;12(37):5941-50.

Fedorak RN, Madsen KL. Probiotics and the management of inflammatory bowel disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2004;10(3):286-299.

Friedrich MJ. A bit of culture for children: probiotics may improve health and fight disease. JAMA. 2000;284(11):1365-1366.

Gao XW, Mubasher M, Fang CY, Reifer C, Miller LE. Dose-response efficacy of a proprietary probiotic formula of Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285 and Lactobacillus casei LBC80R for antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea prophylaxis in adult patients. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010;105(7):1636-41.

Gill HS, Rutherford KJ, Cross ML. Dietary probiotic supplementation enhances natural killer cell activity in the elderly: an investigation of age-related immunological changes. J Clin Immunol. 2001;21(4):264-271.

Gill HS, Rutherford KJ, Cross ML, Gopal PK. Enhancement of immunity in the elderly by dietary supplementation with the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis HN019. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;74(6):833-839.

Gionchetti P, Rizzello F, Venturi A, Campieri M. Probiotics in infective diarrhea and inflammatory bowel diseases . J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2000;15:489-493.

Gorbach SL. Probiotics in the third millennium. Dig Liver Dis. 2002;34 Suppl 2:S2-S7.

Hatakka K, Savilahti, Ponka A, et al. Effect of long term consumption of probiotic milk on infections in children attending day care centers: double-blind, randomized trial. BMJ. 2001;322(7298):1327.

Ishida Y, Nakamura F, Kanzato H, et al. Effect of milk fermented with Lactobacillus acidophilus strain L-92 on symptoms of Japanese cedar pollen allergy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2005;69(9):1652-60.

Kalliomaki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi H, Kero P, Koskinen P, Isolauri E. Probiotics in primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomized placebo controlled trial. Lancet. 2001;357(9262):1076-1079.

Kontiokari T, Sundqvist K, Nuutinen M, Pokka T, Koskela M, Uhari M. Randomised trial of cranberry-lingonberry juice and Lactobacillus GG drink for the prevention of urinary tract infections in women. BMJ. 2001;322:1571-1573.

Lin PP, Hsieh YM, Tsai CC. Antagonistic activity of Lactobacillus acidophilus RY2 isolated from healthy infancy feces on the growth and adhesion characteristics of enteroaggregative Escherichia coli. Angerobe. 2009;15(4):122-6.

McFarland LV. Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveler’s diarrhea. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2007;5(2):97-105.

Marteau PR, de Vrese M, Cellier CJ, Schrezenmeir J. Protection from gastrointestinal diseases with the use of probiotics. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73(2 Suppl):430S-436S.

Martinez RC, Franceschini SA, Patta MC, Quintana SM, Candido RC, Ferreira JC, De Martinis EC, Reid G. Improved treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis with fluconazole plus probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2009 Mar;48(3):269-74.

Meydani SN, Ha WK. Immunologic effects of yogurt. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(4):861-872.

Mukerji SS, Pynnonen MA, Kim HM, Singer A, Tabor M, Terrell JE. Probiotics as adjunctive treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis: a randomized controlled trial. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 Feb;140(2):202-8.

Ouwehand AC, ten Bruggencate SJ, Schonewille AJ, Alhoniemi E, Forssten SD, Bovee-Oudenhoven IM. Lactobacillus acidophilus supplementation in human subjects and their resistance to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection. Br J Nutr. 2014;111(3):465-73.

Rabizadeh S, Miller M, Sears C. Mandell: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009.

Rakel. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.

Reid G. Probiotic agents to protect the urogenital tract against infection. . Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73(2 Suppl):437S-443S.

Rerksuppaphol S, Rersuppaphol L. Randomized controlled trial of probiotics to reduce common cold in schoolchildren. Pediatr Int. 2012;54(5):682-7.

Ringel-Kulka T, Goldsmith JR, Carroll IM, et al. Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM affects colonic mucosal opioid receptor expression in patients wit hfunctional abdominal pain – a randomised clinical study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014;40(2):200-7.

Rohde CL, Bartolini V, Jones N. The use of probiotics in the prevention and treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhea with special interest in Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. Nutr Clin Pract. 2009 Feb-Mar;24(1):33-40. Review.

Rolfe RD. The role of probiotic cultures in the control of gastrointestinal health. J Nutr. 2000;130(2S Suppl):396S-402S.

Shanahan F. Probiotics and inflammatory bowel disease: is there a scientific rationale? Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2000;6(2):107-115.

Sheih YH. Systemic immunity-enhancing effects in health subjects following dietary consumption of the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001;20(2):149-156.

Szajewska H, Kotowska M, Mrukowicz JZ, Armanska M, Mikolajczyk W. Efficacy of Lactobacillus GG in prevention of nosocomial diarrhea in infants. J Pediatr. 2001;138(3):361-365.

Szajewska H, Mrukowicz JZ. Probiotics in the treatment and prevention of acute infectious diarrhea in infants and children: a systematic review of published randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001;33 Suppl 2;S17-S25.

Todorov S, Furtado D, Saad S, Gombossy de Melo Franco B. Bacteriocin production and resistance to drugs are advantageous features for lactobacillus acidophilus La-14, a potential probiotic strain. New Microbiol. 2011;34(4):357-70.

Vicariotto F, Del Piano M, Mogna L, Mogna G. Effectiveness of the association of 2 probiotic strains formulated in a slow release vaginal product, in women affected by vulvovaginal candidiasis: a pilot study. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012;46 Suppl:S73-80.

Review Date: 8/6/2015
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Lactobacillus acidophilus is a lactic acid producing bacteria thought to have beneficial effects on digestion and overall health.


Many factors decrease the number of lactic acid producing bacteria that live and work in the gastrointestinal tract and protect us from harmful disease-causing bacteria, aging, alcohol, antibiotics, diet deficiencies, drugs, medications, narcotics, nicotine, and stressful living.

Food is digested in the alimentary canal, mouth and stomach, and finally in the intestines. In the intestines, partially-digested food is metabolized by millions and millions of microorganisms, working simultaneously and synergistically.

If there is too small a colony of L. acidophilus and other friendly bacteria, such as L. bulgaricus and L. bifidus, digestion can be impaired, short-changing us of the full nutritional value from foods. Fewer key vitamins will be synthesized and the immune system may be rendered less effective.


How do you determine whether or not I have enough lactic acid?

What tests are done to determine this?

Are there any side effects to taking acidophilus?

Should acidophilus be taken only when a decreased amount of lactic acid is suspected?

What form of acidophilus will help?

Some health professionals claim that acidophilus aids the digestive process, helps correct constipation, diarrhea, mucous colitis and diverticulitis, reduces blood cholesterol, enhances the absorption of nutrients, sweetens bad breath, treats acne and other skin disorders, conquers harmful bacteria and certain viruses, helps alleviate candidiasis and other vaginal infections, and may even prevent cancer. However, it should be pointed out that solid scientific evidence for these claims is lacking.

Lactic acid-producing microorganisms, such as L. acidophilus, have been called a “second immune system” because they put the brakes on growth of disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella and shigella-caused dysentery, various types of diarrhea, and even virus-caused flu. Yogurt with acidophilus culture and acidophilus on its own has been shown to clear up yeast infections and vaginitis in children and adults. However, L. acidophilus is not present in all brands of yogurt (check the labels).

Acidophilus supplements usually work quickly and effectively because they contain as many as one billion individual friendly bacteria per gram. For those who cannot use milk products, acidophilus is available from carrots, soybeans, rice starch, garbanzo beans and other sources.

Health food stores carry a variety of acidophilus supplements in capsule, liquid and powder form. Some of the formulas contain bifidobacteria, another helpful bacteria, as well as vitamin C and other nutrients. Using the powder, you can make your own yogurt-type drink. For best results, acidophilus supplements should be taken on an empty stomach before breakfast and an hour before other meals.

Many who have difficulty digesting ordinary dairy products often have success with cultured milk products, such as yogurt or acidophilus milk. Acidophilus milk, cultured with the bacterium Lactobacillus acidophilus, may be a digestible alternative to fresh milk.

UltraFlora Immune Health

Uses of UltraFlora Immune Health:

  • It is used to keep the normal balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take UltraFlora Immune Health?

  • If you have an allergy to UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules) or any part of UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules).
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.

This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules) with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take UltraFlora Immune Health?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • If you are on a lactose-free diet, talk with your doctor. Some products have lactose.
  • If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), check labels closely. Some products have sugar.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules) while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

How is this medicine (UltraFlora Immune Health) best taken?

Use UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules) as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • Take with or without food. Take with food if it causes an upset stomach.
  • Swallow whole. Do not chew or crush.
  • Some products may be opened and sprinkled on a spoonful of applesauce. Some products must be swallowed whole. Check with your pharmacist to see if you can open this product.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Dizziness.
  • More thirst.
  • Change in how much urine is passed.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Bone pain.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Weight loss.

What are some other side effects of UltraFlora Immune Health?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Gas.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Not hungry.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Headache.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out UltraFlora Immune Health?

  • Some brands of UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules) need to be stored in a refrigerator. Some brands of UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules) need to be stored at room temperature. If you have questions about how to store UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules), talk with your pharmacist.
  • Be sure you know how long you can store UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules) before you need to throw it away.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

Consumer information use

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about UltraFlora Immune Health (probiotic capsules), please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

Can probiotics cause side effects?

Though taking probiotics may provide various benefits, it can also cause side effects, including:

Digestive symptoms

Share on PinterestA person may experience gas and bloating when first using probiotics.

When first using probiotics, some people experience gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Changes in the gut microbiota can result in bacteria producing more gas than usual, which can lead to bloating.

However, these side effects usually clear up within a few days or weeks of taking the probiotics. If the symptoms persist, speak with a doctor, who can explore the possible causes. In some cases, the doctor may recommend switching to a different probiotic.

Skin problems

In rare cases, probiotics may cause skin rashes or itchiness.

Authors of a 2018 review found that two study participants who took probiotics to treat IBS reported an itchy rash as a side effect. This led one participant to drop out of the trial.

If a rash or severe itching occurs, stop using the probiotic. Check the product’s labeling for any possible allergens, and see a doctor if the rash is severe, persistent, or it accompanies other concerning symptoms.

Once the rash has cleared, a person can try a different product or strain of probiotic.

Allergy risk

Anyone with an allergy or intolerance for gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, or lactose may need to exercise caution when choosing probiotics.

As with any supplement, always check ingredients lists to ensure that there is no risk of an allergic reaction. Some manufacturers offer allergen-free probiotics.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction should stop using the probiotic immediately. Seek medical care if the reaction is severe.

Increased risk of infection

Although probiotics are generally safe to use, findings of a review from 2017 suggest that children and adults with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems should avoid using probiotics. Some people with these conditions have experienced bacterial or fungal infections as a result of probiotic use.

If a person has a condition that affects their immune system, they should speak with their doctor before taking probiotics.

Also, anyone using antifungal medication should wait until the infection has cleared up before taking probiotics.

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

The small and large intestines usually contain different types of bacteria. SIBO occurs when bacteria from the large intestine start growing in the small intestine.

The large intestine predominantly contains anaerobic bacteria, which do not require oxygen and live by fermenting indigestible carbohydrates from plant-based foods as they pass through the gut.

Symptoms of SIBO are similar to those of IBS, including gas, bloating, and diarrhea. SIBO can also cause brain fogginess and short-term memory problems.

Not everyone with IBS has SIBO, but the overgrowth is more common in people with IBS. SIBO also frequently develops in older females.

Experts do not fully understand what causes the overgrowth, but it may result from reduced gut motility, which slows the passage of food through the gut. This can cause fermentable carbohydrates to remain in the small intestine for longer.

Results of a 2018 study indicate a possible link between SIBO and probiotic supplementation in people with brain fogginess. The researchers found that symptoms improved when participants stopped taking probiotics and started taking antibiotics.

Anyone with SIBO symptoms should consult a doctor.

Antibiotic resistance

Rarely, probiotic bacteria can contain antibiotic-resistant genes. They can pass these genes on to other strains of bacteria, including the harmful strains that cause infections.

However, manufacturers systematically test commercial probiotics stains for the presence of antibiotic resistance. To reduce the risk of consuming antibiotic-resistant bacteria, always source probiotics from trusted, reputable manufacturers.

Taking the Irritation Out of IBS
It’s not uncommon to experience occasional gastrointestinal upset, like gas, bloating, or loose stools. It happens to everyone. However, when it occurs on a regular basis with severity, it is cause for great concern. If a physician runs multiple tests and can’t pinpoint the problem, the diagnosis is likely Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Since there is no specific IBS lab test, it is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions such as bacterial infection, lactose intolerance, diverticulitis, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)—an unrelated condition which includes Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. Symptoms used to clinically diagnose IBS may include diarrhea or constipation (or both alternately), gas, bloating, fatigue, and a feeling of incomplete emptying after bowel movements. IBD, which causes extensive damage to the intestines, can easily be confused with IBS, which is considered simply a malfunction of the intestines rather than a disease.
Stress can trigger IBS symptoms, causing excessive intestinal motility (the movement of stool through the intestines), spasms, and cramps. Stress reduction is an important component to managing this condition. Some techniques for accomplishing this include biofeedback, hypnosis, meditation, yoga, and counseling. Regular exercise can also help control stress and promote regularity. Other triggers include hormonal changes, as well as consumption of allergenic foods and caffeine. The latter can be identified by paying attention to what is ingested when an attack occurs.
The wide array of medications prescribed to treat IBS is minimally effective, with each carrying a generally high risk for an equally varied range of side effects. Fortunately, there are some natural options that have proven extremely beneficial.
A multitude of clinical trials demonstrate that probiotics are helpful and effective for reducing IBS episodes, supporting one of the theories that the cause of IBS may be due to an imbalance in the intestinal flora.
Steven Faber, M.D., a gastroenterologist from North Carolina, argues that microecology of the intestines plays a significant causative factor of IBS. He was so convinced that he tested his theory in a clinical trial, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. Dr. Faber gave Metagenics Ultra Flora probiotics, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, to 26 volunteers with IBS, some of whom were also following a drug protocol. The patients filled out an “IBS Quality of Life” questionnaire and a “Symptom Frequency Index,” (which included bloating, abdominal pain/cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and a sensation of incomplete evacuation) before and after the treatment. After four weeks, patients reported a significant improvement in quality of life as well as a decrease in symptom frequency. Some volunteers experienced improvements in as little as two weeks, and others were even able to discontinue their prescription medications.
As a result of this study, Metagenics developed Ultra Flora IB, an ultra potent probiotic designed to relieve symptoms of IBS. It contains specific strain-identified probiotics that are scientifically tested. The beneficial bacteria include a Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM (North Carolina Dairy Foundation) strain and a Bifidobacterium lactis BI-07 strain. These “identity-certified” strains are acid stable, clinically proven, derived from human origin, and help balance the intestinal flora while minimizing the growth of bacteria and Candida. As with any probiotic, there can be an increase of gas and bloating for the first few days as the intestines adjust, until the flora becomes more balanced.
Also found to reduce IBS is peppermint oil. Many studies have evaluated its effects—to relax intestinal muscles and decrease spasms and motility—and have found it to be quite effective. It also helps reduce abdominal pain, distension, and stool frequency. It works best when enteric-coated, meaning the capsule passes through the gastric acidity and doesn’t dissolve until it reaches the more basic intestinal environment of the intestinal tract for optimal activity. Intesol, also from Metagenics, contains peppermint oil, along with chamomile flower extract, lavender, and chlorophyll, in an enteric-coated capsule—a combination that soothes the intestinal tract, decreases spasms, and promotes relaxation.
Lastly, it’s important to increase soluble fiber intake to regulate intestines. Research proves that high-fiber intake, through food and supplements, is extremely important. Soluble fiber (dissolves in water), such as apple pectin, psyllium, flax seed, oats, rice, beans, and peas, should be the more prominent fiber source. Insoluble fiber (does not dissolve in water), such as whole wheat and wheat bran, is less effective.
With these natural approaches, it may be possible to do more than address IBS symptoms. In conjunction with some stress management and the avoidance of triggers, the use of these supplements may help make IBS a thing of the past.

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