Acidophilus is a probiotic, meaning it is a type of bacteria that can be used as a medicine. You can use acidophilus for diarrhea because it secretes chemicals that kill the harmful bacteria that cause it. Acidophilus can be ingested through supplements in the form of capsules or tablets and is also found in yogurt. Anal suppositories may be used to deliver acidophilus for diarrhea.
The scientific name for acidophilus is Lactobacillus acidophilus. It gets its name because one of the products of the bacteria is lactate, which is a product of fermentation. Acidophilus also secretes vitamin K. Lactobacillus acidophilus is naturally found in the vagina and intestinal tract in humans.
Perhaps the most beneficial product of acidophilus is bacteriocin, which is made during the fermentation process. This is the antibiotic that researchers believe relieves the symptoms of diarrhea. Although clinical trials of acidophilus for diarrhea have been inconclusive, symptoms were lessened when acidophilus supplements were used.
Acidophilus, when it creates lactic acid, can make its surroundings more acidic. This keeps overgrowth of harmful bacteria down. When you take antibiotics, however, this can kill off the naturally occurring acidophilus in the intestines allowing harmful kinds of bacteria to grow again until the acidophilus levels are restored. Taking an acidophilus supplement while on antibiotics can remedy this situation and prevent illnesses, such as diarrhea.
Acidophilus should produce no side effects when used by otherwise healthy individuals. Most supplements contain somewhere between 10 million and 1 billion colonies of acidophilus per 1.5 gram dose. These supplements should be used by adults only. Seek professional guidance from a doctor for correct dosages for children.
A different strain of Lactobacillus has been shown to be more effective than acidophilus for diarrhea prevention. Lactobacillus GG, a strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, is another naturally occurring probiotic, which is similar to acidophilus, and can be found in supplement form. The only reported side effects in the study of Lactobacillus GG were stomach discomfort and gas.
For long term digestive health, supplements should be taken regularly. Alternatively, acidophilus can be eaten in fortified milks or yogurts. Check the ingredient label to ensure there are active acidophilus cultures in them. If you are lactose intolerant, look for soy products with added acidophilus, or take supplements.
As with any supplement or medicinal treatment, guidance from a health care professional is advised. Speak with your doctor about correct dosages, possible side effects, and unintended results if you are taking any other types of medications.