Lactobacillus Acidophilus Probiotic Research

Lactobacillus Acidophillus Probiotics

Lactobacillus Acidophillus Probiotics Courtesy of

Lactobacillus acidophilus, commonly called acidophilus, is one of several stains of friendly probiotic bacteria normally found in the intestines and vagina. These beneficial or friendly bacteria help protect the body from hostile organisms that can cause yeast infections, intestinal toxemia, and other health problems.

The name ‘lactobacillus acidophilus’ comes from lacto meaning milk, bacillus meaning rod-like in shape, and acidophilus meaning acid loving. This particular bacterium functions better in acidic environments than most other microorganisms.

The term probiotic breaks down as follows: “pro” means for and “biotic” means life. So a probiotic bacteria is for life or pro-life.

Intestinal flora, like acidophilus, play an important role in keeping the immune system healthy, the digestion system in balance, and in producing vitamins. Unfortunately, this army of friendly bacteria is under constant attack by a diverse group of enemies. Antibiotics, medications, chlorinated water, yeasts, chronic diarrhea, stress, infections, and poor diet can destroy these friendly bacteria. If the population of the probiotic bacteria is not replaced regularly with additional organisms, harmful bacteria can take over and cause serious health problems.

  • As acidophilus breaks down foods, it produces lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other beneficial byproducts. This creates an environment where unfriendly organisms find it difficult to survive.
  • Also, acidophilus consumes many of the same nutrients these unfriendly organisms depend on, thus limiting their food source and ability to proliferate.
  • Acidophilus produces another important enzyme, lactase. Lactase breaks down milk sugar (lactose) into simple sugar. This is particularly beneficial for individuals that are lactose intolerant and can’t produce this enzyme.

Acidophilus also resides in the vagina.

  • It helps control the growth of yeast infections.
  • Common symptoms of yeast infections are burning, itching, inflammation, and discharge.
  • Some spermicides and contraceptive creams kill acidophilus and other beneficial bacteria.
  • This allows yeast infections to grow.
Health Benefits

Acidophilus typically residents in the small intestines of adults and older children and appears to provide these important benefits:

  1. Helps curtail yeast overgrowth,
  2. Improves digestion of dairy products,
  3. Prompts colon regularity,
  4. Neutralizes toxin growth,
  5. Helps maintain cholesterol levels,
  6. Helps with digestion of complex proteins and carbohydrates,
  7. Supports immune system functions.

Acidophilus supplement included in your daily diet appears to help keep your digestive system in balance and offset some of the negative effects caused by ingested toxins and viruses. If you currently are not taking a probiotic supplement on a regular basis, we strongly suggest you reconsider.

    • In a study reported in the February 1998 issue of Health & Nutrition Breakthroughs researchers tested the effect of using L. acidophilus and B. bifidum to destroy unfriendly micro-organisms. Twenty-eight adult subjects were divided into three groups.

      The first group received L. acidophilus.
      The second group received B. bifidum and
      The third group received a placebo.

      After three weeks, researchers took blood samples to determine the phagocytic activity (ability to destroy foreign bacteria) of each person’s white blood cells. They measured the cells’ ability to attack and ingest E. coli bacteria (known for its high potential to cause disease).

      • In subjects receiving either L. acidophilus or B. bifidum, the percentage of white blood cells able to destroy E. coli jumped from forty percent to eighty percent.
      • In the placebo group, there was no change in phagocytic activity.

      Blood samples were examined again six weeks after stopping probiotic supplementation and the phagocytic activity was still much greater than at the beginning of the study.

    • As early as the 1920’s, Dr R. Schroder conducted research to determine the importance of pH in the vagina and the role beneficial bacteria played in reducing vaginitis.

      In one study, Dr Schroder found that women suffering from a high incidence of vaginitis generally had high-alkaline pH and low levels of L. acidophilus present in the vagina. And, that women without vaginitis had acidic pH readings and L. acidophilus present.

  • Another study reported in a 1960 issue of American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology concluded that use of L. acidophilus capsules as vaginal inserts destroyed pathogenic germs such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, and diplococcus. It also caused the pH of the vagina to shift from alkaline to acidic. Vaginitis symptoms promptly disappeared and didn’t return as long as L. acidophilus supplementation continued.


‘Friendly’ Bacteria Research from ACN

Scientific experts in the fields of pediatrics, aging, and nutrition discussed the potential uses for probiotics in children as well as the elderly, and for health conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). friendly-bacteria

Probiotics are used worldwide and in the US they are one of the most rapidly growing categories of functional food. Probiotics are living “friendly” bacteria, like those in certain active-culture dairy drinks that can provide health benefits. Probiotics, the healthy bacteria, are found among the intestinal microbiota, the living microorganisms in the intestinal tract necessary for proper digestive health. They are responsible for protective effects including:

  • healthy turnover of cells in the intestinal tract,
  • production of essential nutrients such as short-chain fatty acids and amino acids,
  • stimulation of intestinal immunity and
  • prevention of overgrowth of harmful organisms.

Probiotics can also be found in fermented food products such as yogurt and in supplements.

Evidence is showing that specific strains of probiotics can improve digestive health and enhance immune function when consumed regularly.

Dr Allan Walker MD, Professor of Nutrition and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, led a world class panel of speakers. He summarized the role of probiotics in pediatrics. “Infants don’t have all of their gut bacteria at birth as they acquire it up until about 2 years of age. Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria, which can promote healthy colonization of bacteria in the gut during this time, leading to enhanced immunity,” said Dr Walker.

Dr Mary Ellen Sanders, a consultant specializing in probiotics, provided an overview of the studies showing the benefits of probiotics and health. Dr Sanders said, “compelling new studies are showing how probiotics can help keep healthy people healthy. One study showed a decreased incidence of common infectious diseases among kids in day care.” She stressed the fact that each individual strain of probiotic can act differently, so a probiotic that helps with digestion may be different from one that supports the immune system.

Dr Stefano Guandalini MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center shared the newest research on probiotics and inflammatory bowel disease. “Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a condition that affects approximately 1 million adults and 150,000 children in the US. Emerging studies are showing promise in children and will continue to help determine how we can be using probiotics practically for such serious conditions.”

Dr Simin Meydani MD, Associate Director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University presented cutting-edge data, which helps in answering the question, could probiotics help the elderly? About 70 percent of our body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract and as we age, our immune function weakens. “The idea is that taking in certain probiotics on a regular basis might positively change the bacterial populations in the gut in older people,” she said. She also suggests that probiotics consumption may positively enhance the immune response and allow for improved resistance to infectious diseases.

Researchers are still unclear on the method of action behind probiotics’ benefits. Robert Clancy, PhD, of The University of New Castle, Australia, suggested that there will be “Immunobiotic Evolution,” stemming from the growing body of research demonstrating that probiotics have immune system benefits. In reviewing the research on the method of action, he said, “Research on probiotics is moving rapidly to identify the mechanism by which probiotics can stimulate the intestinal lining, how that function can lend benefit for protective immunity, diminish allergic hypersensitivity in the digestive trace and reduce cancer risk.”

Dr Eamonn Quigley MD, MD, of University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, shared his analysis that there may be a strong indication for use of probiotics in the treatment of many gastrointestinal diseases, given the offset balance of microbiota in individuals with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Quigley offered several proposed methods of action including probiotics’ anti-inflammatory properties, as well as displacing harmful bacteria and replenish the balance of healthy flora along the digestive tract.

Under normal circumstances in our gastro-intestinal systems, there are many more “friendly” bacteria than “bad” bacteria. If this balance shifts, however, the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract may be affected. Research suggests that adding probiotics to the diet can help optimize the functioning of the intestinal lining, as well as, the immune system. The role of probiotics in health may be greater than what we once thought.

New research on the Benefits of Probiotics has been presented at The American College of Nutrition (ACN) Annual Meetings.