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Lactobacillus Acidophilus

There are an estimated several trillion friendly bacteria comprising over 400 species in the average human gastrointestinal tract. By body weight, each of us carries around nearly four pounds of intestinal microflora.

While Lactobacillus Acidophilus is probably the most well known of these, others you should know about include Bifidobacterium bifidum and B. longum. When the intestines are healthy, there are more friendly bacteria than nfriendly, or pathogenic ones; you might think of this arrangement as a kind of microbial ecology in which species have their allotted role and population density in the intestinal environment.

Lactobacillus Acidophilus is the predominant friendly bacteria in the upper intestinal tract. Lactobacillus is the general (genus) name of the bacteria, Acidophilus is the particular strain. It helps reduce the levels of harmful bacteria and yeasts in the small intestine and also produces lactase, an enzyme which is important in the digestion of milk. L. Acidophilus is also involved in the production of B vitamins (niacin, folic acid, and pyridoxine) during the digestive process.

Not only can Acidophilus and other probiotics tune up your intestinal function, counteract antibiotic damage, and stimulate the immune system to function better when you’re relatively well, but when you’re ill, they can also contribute significantly to relief of health problems ranging from indigestion and diarrhea to colon and liver cancer.

Acidophilus, used in milk in grocery stores and also sold in concentrated form as a health-food product, consists of billions of live, beneficial bacteria, taken to change the flora of the digestive system and help crowd out harmful organisms. Most physicians do not take acidophilus very seriously, but regard it as a health food and do not mention it to their patients; you will probably not hear about it from your doctor. But some physicians do recommend it for their AIDS patients, and recently we have been hearing of a number of persons who are convinced that it has helped them in controlling diarrhea and/or candida (thrush) in the digestive tract.

We (AIDS.ORG) don't know of any scientific studies which would prove or disprove these uses; but acidophilus is readily available, inexpensive, easy to use, and evidently helpful to some. It appears to be entirely harmless, but patients should check with their physicians to make sure there are no reasons to avoid trying it.

The characteristics required of lactobacilli as probioties are the following:

  • Beneficial function
  • Easy cultivation
  • Nonpathogenicity
  • Adhesion and
  • Population stability.

Several studies have assessed the potential of lactobacilli in the prevention or treatment of certain genitourinary tract infections such as bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis, or urinary tract infections. The main goal of therapy with biotherapeutic agents should be to prevent overgrowth of a pathogen until such a time that the normal microbiota can be reestablished. The possibility of using lactobacilli is promising, especially in pregnant women and in the case of patients with recurrent genitourinary tract infections produced by strains with resistance to several antibiotics. In addition, probiotic therapy is considered as "natural" and without side effects in contrast with conventional pharmaceutical treatments, but there is a limited array of tested biotherapeutic agents and a lack of pharmacokinetic data.

The authors have tested the therapeutic efficacy of a multibacterial combination consisting of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum in elderly patients with bowel disorders. Bacteriological and histopathologic investigation showed this combination to yield excellent biologic results with restoration of duodenal bacterial flora and subsidence of clinical symptoms. The function of the muciparous glands was restored and the duodenal mucosa was normalized.

- AIDS.ORG Article: Acidophilus: for Diarrhea or Thrush
- Barbes C, Boris S. Aids Patient Care STDS 1999 Dec;13(12):747-51. Potential role of lactobacilli as prophylactic agents against genital pathogens.
- Pecorella G, Vasquez E, Et al. The effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum on the intestinal ecosystem of the elderly patient.

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