The human digestive tract plays host to some five hundred or more species of bacteria. Two strains of the Lactobacilli bacteria, called acidophilus and bifidus are considered to be the most beneficial strains among all these bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract. These two strains of bacteria are probiotics; this simply means that the bacteria provide a proper balance to the health promoting bacterial population in the intestinal tract. These pro-biotic bacteria also manufacture many natural antibiotics that inhibit the growth of other dangerous microbes and pathogenic organisms.
Acidophilus strains have been traditionally sourced from yogurt – the most common probiotic food. This dairy product has been traditionally used as an elixir in the folk medicine of many cultures for centuries. The exact content of acidophilus bacteria in a batch of yogurt can be difficult to ascertain. Individuals who intend to use probiotic supplements must read the product labels with extreme care. The therapeutic form of most probiotics must contain at least a billion organisms in each pill or dose, the absolute content of bacteria is an important factor in determining the beneficial effects of a probiotic food as smaller amounts of bacteria might not have the same potency. Prepared dietary probiotic acidophilus can sometimes be sold in combination with the bifidus strain or with another bio-organic ingredient that helps promotes the growth and multiplication of friendly bacteria known as FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides).
The normal balance of healthy bacterial populations in the intestinal tract and vaginal cavity is restored by the acidophilus, the acidophilus also helps in fighting off all sorts of digestive disorders and helps control persistent vaginal yeast infections affecting many women. The strains of beneficial bacteria may contain many useful cancer fighting agents, and can possibly help lower serum cholesterol levels in the body. The supplements of probiotics such as acidophilus may also promote the retention and increase absorption of many vitamins including the vitamins B12, the vitamin K, B1 or thiamin, and folic acid from foods.
A number of bacterial strains that are helpful to human digestion are included in the broad term acidophilus, thus we can speak of an acidophilus strain or family. Bacteria such as the L. acidophilus, the L. casei, the L. bulgaricus, and many other are all included in the term acidophilus. The gut bacteria are found in a mixture and the lactobacilus acidophilus strain is one of the bacteria in these mixtures of friendly germs, however, the term acidophilus is commonly used when referring to a combination of the L. acidophilus strain with other types of beneficial bacteria inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract of humans.
The many health benefits and positive effects of the acidophilus bacteria on human health have been touted by dieticians, some of these beneficial effects have been known for thousands of years in different cultures. These strains of acidophilus bacteria are found naturally throughout the human body mostly in the gut. The beneficial relationship between humans and these beneficial bacteria probably began when these bacteria made their way into food early in human evolution, probably beginning a cycle of natural fermentation that humans eventually learned to duplicate artificially for its beneficial effects.
A sugar rich environment is ideal for the acidophilus bacteria, as when the bacteria are placed in environments; they immediately begin to consume the sugars. The bacteria over a period of time will chemically convert these sugars into various end products, including the lactic acid. In food preserves, the action of these bacteria and their product of lactic acid will endow a distinctive taste to the food, the acidophilus bacteria lowers the pH of the food or the liquid in such a way that other flora will not enjoy the environment, this helps in preserving the food as it prevents the growth of pathogenic organisms in the food. Acidophilus bacteria are found abundantly in dairy preserves like yogurt, which is probably the best known of foods with rich acidophilus content. The presence of lactic acid due to bacterial action can easily be detected by the sour taste when eating yogurt. Fermented food products with a sour taste that contain acidophilus include the German sauerkraut, the kombucha, the Korean kinchi, kefir, and many other fermented food products in different cuisines.
The supplements of acidophilus bacteria are helpful for the body and protect it from invasion by harmful bacteria, different parasites, as well as other pathogenic organisms found in the external environment. The chemical breakdown products of the acidophilus bacteria results in the releases of chemicals like the hydrogen peroxide that are responsible for the creation of a toxic internal environment for pathogenic germs inside the body – this effectively results in the elimination of germs and bacteria from the body of the affected person. Acidophilus also has an important role in the process of digestion of foods, thus helping in the synthesis of a number of chemicals that can aid in the digestion process in side the human gastrointestinal tract.
The wide range of beneficial effects that are induced by the acidophilus bacteria in the human body is made use of in many alternative modalities of healing that differ from conventional medicine. The supplements of acidophilus are believed to boost the performance of the human immune system as a whole, in addition, to their main basic role as supporters of the digestion. Acidophilus bacteria are also believed to have some beneficial effects that can provide some relief from intestinal problems, including long term diarrhea and related stomach problems.
Candida albicans is the common fungal agent responsible for candidiasis, a fungal infection. This infection is more commonly known as a yeast infection when it affects the genital area of the person. The growth of Candida is believed to be affected by the acidophilus bacteria. Some people have suggested topical treatments using the acidophilus bacteria as acidophilus occurs naturally in the genital region, they suggest this method of treatment as the bacteria plays a role in warding off such infections. Yeast infections are believed to be relieved by the topical application of yogurt that is rich in acidophilus, many people believe this will help relieve and ultimately result in curing the yeast infection. Yeast infections can also be treated by oral ingestion either of the yogurt, or an acidophilus supplement on a regular basis.
The probiotics in the body such as acidophilus are killed off by most antibiotics, along with the harmful bacteria that they target. This is the reason that many people believe that prolonged antibiotic treatment can lead to serious outbreaks of numerous disorders, including yeast infections in the body. The best practice following a regimen of antibiotics is to take in a lot of acidophilus supplements and consuming a lot of acidophilus rich foods for a period of time immediately after the treatment with antibiotics – this will ensure that beneficial bacteria in the gut are replenished.
Acidophilus use has also been supported by some studies for the treatment of yeast infections. These studies suggest that when the bacteria is taken orally or inserted into the vaginal cavity in the form of a suppository or as a douche, it may effectively prevent or control vaginal yeast infections that are brought on by Candida albicans. Such a treatment with acidophilus is especially helpful when a person has taken certain types of antibiotics that suppressed acidophilus and permitted the yeast to grow on the body.
Supplements of the acidophilus are indeed of particular benefit for all people on a regimen of antibiotics especially when it is taken to treat a prolonged case of infection in the body. The normal person with a healthy colon usually has a colonic bacterial population of about eighty five per cent Lactobacilli – both the acidophilus and bifidus strains along with fourteen per cent of the coli-form bacteria – this consists of the healthy types of E. coli and other bacterial strains normally seen in the human body. Many sufferers especially individuals already on regimens of antibiotics face a lot of problem as these bacterial counts are disrupted, this leads to flatulence, chronic diarrhea, as well as constipation, the death of intestinal bacterial populations also leads to an impaired or poor absorption of essential nutrients in the gut of the person. The natural populations of the acidophilus bacteria and other strains create a very inhospitable environment for most harmful and pathogenic types of E. coli and other bacteria such as the salmonella and the streptococcus strains. Friendly gut bacteria inhibit the growth of many other strains of pathogenic bacteria, whose uncontrolled growth can not only be dangerous but may even result in life threatening complications for the affected person.
Supplements of the acidophilus bacteria can also help reduce the physical symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease; this disorder is a form of chronic inflammation affecting the intestines of a person. When used in combination with a high-fiber diet, the supplements of acidophilus can contribute to general colon health, this is required to help avert a condition known as diverticulosis, which is a disorder in which the mucous lining along the colon bulges into the wall of the colon and creates small sacs called “diverticula” leading to infection and sepsis. The supplements of the acidophilus bacteria may also help in bringing relief from diarrhea triggered by irritable bowel syndrome and is useful in replenishing the populations of beneficial intestinal microorganisms which are flushed out and eliminated from the body during diarrhea.
Test conducted on animals in the laboratory using supplemental acidophilus suggests that the bacterial strain could be of great value in combating some types of cancers and tumors. Supplements of acidophilus also seemed to prevent the recurrence of single tumors when they were given to patients surgically treated for bladder cancer. One of the reasons for the beneficial effects of the acidophilus in these studies may be due to the fact that the acidophilus strain of bacteria prevents harmful bacteria from creating cancer-causing substances in the body when they react with certain foods in the digestive tract. One other important property of the acidophilus strain seems to be its capacity to lower blood cholesterol levels in most individuals. The capability of certain strains of these beneficial bacteria to absorb cholesterol in the intestine before the cholesterol reaches the arteries and damages or clogs the spaces is another positive effect.
Acidophilus can be prepared into many different remedies, a vaginal douche can be made by mixing two teaspoons of the acidophilus or bifidus powder in a quart of warm water. This douche can be used two times daily for up to ten days to help restore the normal bacterial growth in the vaginal cavity. The acidophilus strain can also be used to promote intestinal health in affected individuals, this can be done by mixing the acidophilus or bifidus powder in water and drinking the solution on a daily basis. The label on the product must be read to find the exact dose for the remedy. The acidophilus bacteria can also be consumed in the form of capsules, the dose is to take one or two capsules, each containing at least one billion live organisms, this dosage can be repeated once to thrice daily for a period of time. The dosage regimen for other forms of bacteria can be found by following the directions given in the product label.
Vaginal yeast infections are best treated by douching or for those times when antibiotics are being taken. The best time to consume oral supplements of the acidophilus strain is to take them 1/2 hour to 1 hour before meal times. When using acidophilus supplements along with antibiotics, it is necessary to take them at a different time of day; the supplements of acidophilus must be continued for a period of time after the course of antibiotics is finished to ensure the replenishment of friendly bacterial populations in the gut.
Side effects and cautions
When supplements of acidophilus are taken in large quantities, it may bring on diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders. At the same time, a very long period of douching can lead to the irritation of the vaginal lining.