Lactobacillus is a type of bacteria that normally live in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems without causing disease. Lactobacillus is the most commonly used probiotic, or "good" bacteria. Many healthy bacteria live in the intestines and vagina where they protect against the "bad" bacteria that cause disease. They do this in a couple of ways. For example, when lactobacillus breaks down food in the intestine, several substances are formed (such as lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide) that create an unfriendly environment for "bad" bacteria. Lactobacilli colonize the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts of humans, making them an integral part of the microbial flora.
Also known as: Acidophilus, Acidophilus Bifidus, Acidophilus Lactobacillus, L. Acidophilus, L. Amylovorus, L. Brevis, L. Bulgaricus, L. Casei, L. Casei Immunitas, L. Crispatus, L. Delbrueckii, L. Fermentum, L. Gallinarum, L. Helveticus, L. Johnsonii, L. Johnsonii LC-1, L. Lactis, L. Plantarum, L. Reuteri, L. Rhamnosus, L. Salivarius, Lacto Bacillus, Lactobacille, Lactobacilli, Lactobacilli Acidophilus, Lactobacilli Bulgaricus, Lactobacilli Plantarum, Lactobacilli Rhamnosus, Lactobacilli Salivarium, Lactobacillus Gasseri, Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus Helveticus, Lactobacillus Lactis, Lactobacillus Paracasei, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus Salivarium, Lactobacilo, Lactospores, LC-1, Probiotic
Diseases and Conditions
Diarrhea: Lactobacillus is taken by mouth to treat and prevent diarrhea, including infectious types such as rotaviral diarrhea in children and traveler's diarrhea. It is also taken by mouth to prevent and treat diarrhea associated with using antibiotics.
Digestion Problems: Some people take lactobacillus by mouth for general digestion problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colic in babies, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), inflammation of the colon, too much bacterial growth in the intestines, constipation, to improve outcomes after bowel surgery, and to prevent a serious gut problem called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in babies born prematurely.
Infections: Lactobacillus is also taken by mouth for infection with Helicobacter pylori, the type of bacteria that causes ulcers, and also for other types of infections including urinary tract infections (UTIs), vaginal yeast infections, to prevent the common cold and flu, to prevent ear infections in children, and to prevent respiratory infections in children attending daycare centers and in children with cystic fibrosis.
Skin Disorders: Lactobacillus is taken by mouth for skin disorders such as fever blisters, canker sores, and acne. It is also used to treat or prevent eczema (allergic dermatitis), sensitivity to sun exposure (polymorphous light eruption), sensitivity to environmental allergens, and hay fever in infants and children.
Other: It is also taken by mouth for weight loss, rheumatoid arthritis, dental cavities, dental plaque, gum disease, and mouth sores. It is also being tested to prevent serious infections in people on ventilators. It is also taken by mouth for high cholesterol, swine flu, HIV/AIDS, lactose intolerance, Lyme disease, hives, to prevent cancer, and to boost the immune system.
Suppository: Women sometimes use lactobacillus suppositories to treat vaginal infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Lactobacillus is likely safe when taken by mouth appropriately. Side effects are usually mild and most often include intestinal gas or bloating.
Lactobacillus is also likely safe for women to use inside the vagina.
Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to reduce harmful bacteria in the body. Antibiotics can also reduce friendly bacteria in the body. Lactobacillus is a type of friendly bacteria. Taking antibiotics along with Lactobacillus can reduce the effectiveness of Lactobacillus. To avoid this interaction, take Lactobacillus products at least 2 hours before or after antibiotics.
Immunosuppressants: Lactobacillus contains live bacteria and yeast. The immune system usually controls bacteria and yeast in the body to prevent infections. Medications that decrease the immune system can increase your chances of getting sick from bacteria and yeast. Taking Lactobacillus along with medications that decrease the immune system might increase the chances of getting sick.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include:
- Azathioprine (Imuran)
- Basiliximab (Simulect)
- Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
- Daclizumab (Zenapax)
- Muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3)
- Mycophenolate (CellCept)
- Tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf)
- Sirolimus (Rapamune)
- Prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone)
- Corticosteroids (glucocorticoids)
Supplement and Food Interactions
No known supplement or food interactions have been reported.
The strength of Lactobacillus products is usually indicated by the number of living organisms per capsule. Typical doses range from 1 to 10 billion living organisms taken daily in 3-4 divided doses.
Lactobacillus is found in some fermented foods such as yogurt.