What is acidophilus?
Acidophilus is a bacteria naturally found in your body. Your mouth, stomach, intestines, lungs, vagina and urinary tract all contain acidophilus. Your body uses acidophilus to break down food and absorb nutrients.
Acidophilus is considered a “good” bacteria. Your body needs good bacteria to support your immune system and digestive system. Acidophilus helps maintain an acidic environment in your body. Your body needs this type of environment to help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. You need good bacteria to help balance out the bad bacteria.
Certain health conditions can cause problems with your ability to balance bacteria in your body. Using acidophilus as a probiotic may help restore this balance. Acidophilus is a type of probiotic found in many foods. You can also take it as a dietary supplement called lactobacillus acidophilus.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are a type of good bacteria. They match or are very similar to the bacteria naturally found in your body. Probiotics are a combination of live bacteria and yeast. They help keep your body healthy and functioning properly. These good bacteria work to fight off bad bacteria in your body. It helps restore the balance within your body.
What are the benefits of acidophilus?
Researchers are still studying the benefits of acidophilus probiotics. They aren’t exactly sure how effective acidophilus may be. But there are many potential benefits of acidophilus. Acidophilus may be used to promote the growth of good bacteria in your body. Acidophilus may also help treat various health conditions. It may also help manage the side effects of certain medications.
What is acidophilus used for?
Acidophilus may be used to alleviate symptoms of different health conditions. Acidophilus may help treat:
- Diarrhea: You may be able to take acidophilus to help reduce the risk of diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics. It may also help with diarrhea caused by an infection.
- Vaginal inflammation: You may be able to take acidophilus to treat the symptoms of vaginal inflammation (bacterial vaginosis).
- Yeast infections: You may be able to take acidophilus to treat and prevent vaginal yeast infections. It may also be used to treat yeast infections in your mouth (oral yeast infections).
Other potential uses of acidophilus include relieving the symptoms of:
- Urinary tract infections.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Gum disease.
- Lactose intolerance.
How should I take acidophilus?
Before taking acidophilus, you should speak with your healthcare provider. They can tell you about the benefits and potential side effects. If you decide to take acidophilus, don’t take more than the recommended amount. Use it as directed by your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Many foods and drinks contain acidophilus probiotics. The labels of certain foods may be marked with the phrase “live active cultures.” Some labels will include the full name of the bacteria. Foods and drinks that may contain acidophilus include:
- Cottage cheese.
- Miso soup.
- Tempeh (fermented soybeans).
- Kefir (fermented milk drink).
- Fermented sauerkraut.
Acidophilus is also available as a dietary supplement. You can take acidophilus pills, capsules and tablets. It’s also available in powders, wafers and liquid form.
Only use one type of acidophilus at a time. You may get too much if you use more than one form at a time. You should store acidophilus in a sealed container away from moisture, light and heat.
How much acidophilus should I take?
You should work with your healthcare provider to determine the correct amount of acidophilus to take. If you’re taking acidophilus as a supplement, you can take between 50 million and 100 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day. A CFU is a measurement used in microbiology. It approximates the number of bacteria or fungal cells in a pill. You can take this dosage for up to six months.
Your child can take between 100 million and 50 billion CFUs per day for up to three months.
Is acidophilus safe?
Research on acidophilus used as a probiotic shows that it’s generally considered safe. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved acidophilus to treat any health conditions. The FDA hasn’t studied acidophilus to determine its safety or effectiveness. You shouldn’t use acidophilus in place of any prescription medications. If your provider recommended the use of acidophilus, they have determined the benefits outweigh any risks.
What are the potential side effects of acidophilus?
Acidophilus is generally considered safe to use. But it does have some potential minor side effects. These side effects include:
- Mild upset stomach.
- Gas and bloating.
If you develop signs of an infection such as fever or chills, stop taking acidophilus right away. Contact your healthcare provider immediately for further guidance.
If you develop signs of a serious allergic reaction, call 911 or go to your nearest ER. Signs of an allergic reaction may include:
- Hives and swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat.
- Difficulty breathing.
While rare, serious infections can occur. If you have any of the following conditions, you should speak with your healthcare provider before taking acidophilus.
- Central lines: Acidophilus has caused blood infections in people who have central lines. Central lines are long catheters (thin, flexible tubes) that are placed in a large vein in your body.
- Liver scarring: Acidophilus has caused infections in people with cirrhosis.
- Digestive system diseases: Acidophilus has caused infections in people with gastrointestinal diseases. These diseases include short bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Weakened immune system: Acidophilus has caused blood infections in people with critical illnesses. This includes people with HIV/AIDS and people going through chemotherapy for cancer. This also includes people who are taking medications to prevent rejection of an organ transplant.
- Damaged heart valves: Acidophilus has caused infections in the lining of the heart chambers and heart valves.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Acidophilus can be used as a probiotic to restore the natural balance of this good bacteria in your body. If you’re interested in adding acidophilus to your diet, talk with your healthcare provider. Your provider can help you determine if taking acidophilus is the right move for you. They may suggest giving it a try to see if it helps with your health. Your healthcare provider can help you figure out how much to take and when to take it. Make sure you have a conversation with your provider before starting any supplements.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy