What is Acidophilus?

A healthy inner ecosystem is made up of the friendly micro flora (good bacteria) that reside in our intestines and keep us healthy and strong.

Acidophilus is a microorganism often referred to as a 'probiotic' from the Lactobacillus family of natural bacteria. Its full name is Lactobacillus acidophilus, or L. acidophilus for short.

Acidophilus is a bacteria that exists naturally in the body and can be found in the mouth, intestines and the vagina. Acidophilus helps maintain an acidic environment in the body, which can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. L. acidophilus is mostly found in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract where there are higher amounts of the nutrients Vitamin K and lactase. . People who are lactose intolerant don't produce L. acidophilus

Health Benefits of Acidophilus

  • Produces lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk.
  • Helps produce vitamin K
  • Helps treat vaginal infections.
  • Reduces overgrowth of pathogens in your digestive tract
  • Competes against or "antagonizes" several bacterial infections including Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella
  • Fights against yeast infections and syndromes such as Candida albicans
  • Fights against Shigella, Clostridium, Listeria, and Helicobacter species
  • Prevents and treats diarrhea
  • Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn's disease, and gut dysbiosis
  • Decreases frequency of vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
  • Increases your immune response
  • May treat respiratory infections like sinusitis and bronchitis
  • Counteracts the side effects of antibiotic use


Food Sources of Acidophilus

Fermented foods and drinks

Acidophilus is commonly used in food, such as yogurt, other dairy products, and fermented soy products, such as miso and tempeh.

Fermented foods and drinks containing lactobacillus acidophilus and other probiotics are ideal for incorporating beneficial bacteria into your diet. It is also beneficial to try and make your own fermented foods and drinks so the probiotics are not destroyed through pasteurization.

Kefir and kefir drinks are also excellent for replenishing gut flora.

Raw Cultured Vegetables which are fermented vegetables are also beneficial for the diet. Eat with every meal to help food digest more efficiently.


Yoghurt is a good source of L. acidophilus although commercial yogurt products contain very little friendly bacteria by the time you purchase them. Many also contain sugar that feeds not only good bacteria but also any bad ones in your gut. It is better to make your own yoghurt to control what goes inside it and avoid sugar from most commercial produced yoghurts. Fermented food kefir coconut yoghurt are also a good source of L. acidophilus.

Acidophilus Supplementation

L acidophilus is available as a supplement in liquid, powder, capsule, tablet forms and also vaginal suppositories. It is best to combine L. acidophilus with other live cultures to get the full benefits of probiotics.

Acidophilus general recommended daily dosage level for internal supplementation can be around 1 – 10 billion of live L. acidophilus bacteria with the dose separated throughout the day.

For those suffering from vaginal infection should use a vaginal pill containing the bacteria every day till the dosage period is complete.

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.

Deficiency Symptoms of Acidophilus

Parasite and bacterial infections especially of the gut and digestive system may be due to a deficiency of L. acidophilus and other probiotics. A diet also deficient in fiber in sufficient quantity in may also increase the chances of getting more bad bacteria causing an imbalance of healthy gut bacteria and also cause a deficiency of L. acidophilus. Deficiency symptoms can also be found in those who suffer from frequent viral infections.

Precautions and Warnings

Although it is thought to be safe with few side effects, L. acidophilus by mouth should be avoided in people who have intestinal damage, immune problems, or an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines. These people may have a higher risk of having the bacteria leave the GI tract and possibly cause multiple organ failure. There have been reports that some Lactobacillus species, such as L. rhamnosus and L. casei, may be involved in infections, such as abscesses, meningitis, and septic arthritis. There are currently no clear evidence for other medicinal uses of L. acidophilus, such as in irritable bowel syndrome, brain disorders, asthma, high cholesterol, lactose digestion, or diarrhea.

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.

Although acidophilus has been used to treat or prevent a wide range of ailments 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 currently limited.

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. Some have been found to be tainted with toxic chemicals or other drugs which makes it even more important to consider getting probiotics from food sources.

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.

Acidophilus (Lactobacillus Acidophilus) Side Effects

The following are common side effects of acidophilus:

  • Intestinal gas or bloating
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea


Serious side effects:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat

If you experience any of these serious side effects seek immediate medical help. These could be signs of an allergic reaction to acidophilus.