The threat of E. coli contamination is enough to bring even the strongest industries to a complete halt. Infection can result in respiratory illness, urinary tract infections and pneumonia, as well as other illnesses, and all without anyone suspecting anything. Yet, one supplement has been found to have an inhibitory effect on E. coli without the harmful effects of antibiotics: Acidophilus.1
Falling under the category of a probiotic, acidophilus, or Lactobacillus acidophilus, is beneficial bacteria that lives in the gastrointestinal tract, which is implied by its name, meaning acid loving. While most connotations with bacteria are negative at best, acidophilus is far from it, as it in fact protects the body against foreign invaders by producing natural antibiotics. It has also been shown to produce enzymes to aid the body’s digestion of proteins and fats.
The body requires a large percentage of beneficial bacteria, as it is estimated that a healthy gut needs at least 85 percent good versus 15 percent bad to maintain good health. And with the number of roles beneficial bacteria play, it’s not hard to see why every percent is needed. In addition to digestion, beneficial bacteria aid in the absorption of nutrients, stimulate immune system function, help regulate both bowel activity and liver function, and help produce vitamins K and B.
Along with its everyday bodily functions, acidophilus has proven especially promising in treating bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition in women where the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is replaced by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, with symptoms including odor, discharge, itching and burning.
In one study, administering acidophilus by way of a vaginal douche to 40 women with BV contributed to the restoration of a normal vaginal environment.2 In conjunction with .03mg estriol, one of the three main estrogens produced by the human body, Acidophilus was shown to increase the cure rate of non-menopausal women with BV three times more than a placebo after two weeks, and four times more after four weeks.3
Other research has shown acidophilus’ efficacy in treating irritable bowel syndrome4, and additionally suggest a potential benefit with leaky gut syndrome and premature birth prevention, though more studies need to be conducted in order to understand its exact relationship with these conditions.
Administering acidophilus should be done before breakfast or between meals.
Although generally resulting in little to no side effects, acidophilus should be avoided in anyone with a severely weakened immune system, intestinal damage or overgrowth of intestinal bacteria.
• Taylor, JR, et al. The Wonder of Probiotics. SI. Martin’s Press. 2007.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: WWN.cdc.gov
• Medline Plus:
1 McGroarty, JA, et al. Detection of a Lactobacillus substance that Inhibits Escherichia coli. Can J Mlcroblol. 1 988 Aug;34(8):974-8.
2 Drago, L, et al. Activity of a Lactobacillus acidophilus-based douche for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. J Altern Complement Med. 2007 May; 13(4):435-8.
3 Parent, D. Therapy of bacterial vaginosis using exogenously applied Lactobacilli acidophilus and a low dose of estriol: a placebo controlled multicentric clinical trial. Arzneimittelforschung. 1996 Jan;46(1 ):68-73.
4 Williams, E, et al. Clinical trial: a multi-strain probiotic preparation significantly reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Ailment Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Sep 10.
This material is reprinted with permission from Vitamin Retailer magazine and is provided for educational purposes only by The Herbs Place. No part of this article is intended as medical advice. Always consult your health care provider for any medical problems.