Lactobacillus Acidophilus
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Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Jun 28, 2022

The Health Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Probiotic products have become ubiquitous in some wellness and healthy living markets, yet not everyone necessarily understands just what exactly the label means. Essentially, a product is labeled as a probiotic if it contains living microorganisms – such as bacteria or yeast – intended to promote a healthy microbiome (that is, the greater community of microorganisms in a given space) within your body. [1]

Probiotics usually target the gut, whose microbiome has long been known to affect the body and our broader well-being in a wide variety of ways. Since the gut is usually the target, food is a common delivery method for probiotics, usually in the form of yogurt, kefir, or kombucha tea. They can also take the form of medicinal supplements that contain more aggressive microorganisms and emphasize treating specific medical issues rather than passively cultivating a healthy gut.

Though some pseudoscientific companies and communities have latched on to the growing trend of these products and made claims that exceed the truth of their impact, the science behind probiotics and their therapeutic uses is well-established and should not be dismissed. Research has shown that mindful use of probiotics can provide relief from symptoms of various health issues, alleviate the traumatic impact of past illnesses, and even serve in a preventative capacity. [2]

What Is Lactobacillus Acidophilus?

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a lactic acid-producing bacteria that occurs naturally in the human gastrointestinal tract, oral cavity, and vagina, and works to promote digestive health and immune function. Present at birth, it is actually one of the first microbes to colonize our bodies, and normally aids in the digestive breakdown of food and the maintenance of a healthy balance of intestinal flora.

As a probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus Acidophilus is frequently used in the preparation of many fermented foods (such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, and kombucha), and sees extensive use in medicinal supplements in both capsule and powder packet form thanks to its ability to affect a diverse range of functions within the body, including cholesterol moderation, digestion, urinary health, and immune regulation.

A large part of its probiotic potential stems from the fact that Lactobacillus acidophilus plays a critical role in keeping harmful microorganisms from thriving inside our GI tracts by producing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). [3] This key compound helps regulate pH levels in the intestines as well as prevent malignant microbes like E. coli from adhering to cell walls within the gut.

History of Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus was first isolated in the late 1800s by an Austrian scientist and physician named Ernst Moro, whose claims to fame include being the namesake of the infantile Moro reflex, coining the term “first trimester”, and devising a number of natural remedies to alleviate digestive health issues at a time when germ theory was still in its relative infancy.

He was able to isolate the bacteria from infant feces while looking for ways to decrease infant mortality at a children’s hospital. Though he initially called it “Bacterium acidophilum”, its name was changed to Lactobacillus acidophilus following a number of changes to our understanding of its metabolic, taxonomic, and functional properties. Its current name can be broken down into “lactobacillus”, indicating that it ferments carbohydrates to produce lactic acid, and “acidophilus”, indicating that it survives well in acidic environments – a characteristic that proves useful given its presence in our gut.

Health Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of several strains of probiotic bacteria that have received substantial attention from the research community, and several studies have found that it supports gut, immune, and urinary health. [4]

Its most impactful benefits come in the form of symptom relief for a variety of disorders affecting the digestive tract, most notably in the case of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but also in some other instances as well – studies have also found that use of the probiotic can prevent some irritable bowel diseases from either arising or becoming symptomatic in the first place.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is also known to alleviate diarrhea caused by a disturbed gut environment, such as cases caused by lactose intolerance, antibiotics and other medications. Though less definitive, there have also been some findings that suggest that it may reduce the risk of certain cancers. [5]

All of this said, it is crucial to note that as with any medicinal remedy, it is best to consult a healthcare professional prior to administering Lactobacillus acidophilus in a medicinal capacity.

How is Lactobacillus Acidophilus Used?

Though it is sold in supplement form, Lactobacillus acidophilus is most commonly ingested as food in yogurt and other probiotic products, sometimes as a home remedy for diarrhea or to alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance.

The probiotic also sees medicinal use in capsule and powder packet form. It is used in a therapeutic capacity to treat and prevent certain irritable bowel diseases and to bolster gut immunity but has also been used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) and fight intestinal infections, as well as limited use in the prevention of vaginal yeast infections.

Conclusion

Few probiotics have undergone as much rigorous study and taxonomic reclassification as lactobacillus acidophilus has throughout its long and varied history, but few are as common and beneficial, too. As one of the most prominent bacteria found in probiotic supplements, it is likely that many people have consumed it and enjoyed some of its benefits without even realizing it.

Ultimately, whether your doctor recommended it as a supplement to aid your IBS, or whether you simply like to take it to combat your lactose intolerance and relieve diarrhea caused by your new medication, lactobacillus acidophilus serves many uses and a comprehensive understanding of it and other probiotics can come in handy far more often than one might think.

Resources: 

  1. “Lactobacillus Acidophilus: Health Benefits and Sources.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324194. 
  2. Lactobacillus acidophilus LB: a useful pharmabiotic for the treatment of digestive disorders. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7692339/
  3. Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. plantarum improve health status, modulate gut microbiota and innate immune response of marron (Cherax cainii) - Scientific Reports. (n.d.). Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-62655-y
  4. Matthew, B., Sue, P., Julian, M., & Eshwar, M. (2013, December 1). life history of Lactobacillus acidophilus as a probiotic: a tale of revisionary taxonomy, misidentification and commercial success. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/femsle/article/349/2/77/533643
  5. Lysates of Lactobacillus acidophilus combined with CTLA-4-blocking antibodies enhance antitumor immunity in a mouse colon cancer model - Scientific Reports. (n.d.). Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-56661-y

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Clear products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website does not offer medical advice.

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