- Has numerous human health benefits
- Produces the enzyme lactase, which helps in lactose digestion and eases the symptoms of lactose intolerance
- Secretes vitamin K, which is an essential vitamin
- Controls the growth of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract
- Eradicates bacteria from the vagina and prevents vaginal infections
- Improves the digestive system
- Beneficial for people suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome
- Prevents H. pylori infections and decreases the risk of peptic ulcers
- Secretes pain-relieving compounds
It is the most widely common specie of Lactobacillus to be used in probiotics. Probiotics is the use of live yeast or bacteria that are beneficial for digestive system health. Worldwide, many people consume L. acidophilus and notice health improvements. The common conditions that are treated with the use of probiotics include infectious diarrhea caused by bacteria, virus, or parasite; irritable bowel syndrome; antibiotic-related diarrhea; and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS). There are certain other health-related problems that have been treated with the help of probiotics, such as oral diseases, urinary infections, skin conditions, colds, and allergies.
L. acidophilus is a microaerophilic bacterium (grows at low oxygen concentration) and grows at a pH lower than 5 and in an optimum temperature of 37C. L. acidophilus provides immunity against infectious bacteria, as it can produce antimicrobial compounds, including bacteriocin, acidophilin, and acidolin (Paturi et al., 2007). It can survive the environment of the human gastrointestinal tract and can crowd out harmful bacteria from this area, such as E. coli and Helicobacter pylori (Marteau et al., 2001). In experiments with rats, probiotics with L. acidophilus have been reported to decrease the chances of colon cancer.
In a study carried out by Sinn et al. (2008), they found that the use of probiotics with L. acidophilus, specifically strain SDC, showed significant benefits in patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In another study carried out by Rousseaux et al. (2006), they found that the oral use of Lactobacillus acidophilus induced pain-relieving effects in cases of abdominal discomfort caused by irritable bowel syndrome. They further reported that L. acidophilus induces -opioid and cannabinoid receptors expression in epithelial cells of the intestine, and mediates an analgesic (painkiller) function, similar to morphine. Lactobacillus spp. has the ability to survive the transit through the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum under acidic conditions of pH 3. It suppresses growth of Helicobacter pylori in the gut, which is the causative agent of peptic ulcers.
There are several other researched benefits of L. acidophilus. According to Ouwehand et al. (2002), the use of L. acidophilus-based probiotics has shown to improve blood pressure and cholesterol. The regular use of this probiotic has shown to decrease bad LDL cholesterol, and lower the number of triglycerides. L. acidophilus from the human intestine has the ability to assimilate cholesterol and actively deconjugate bile salts. The assimilation of cholesterol occurs by the coprecipitation of cholesterol with bile acids at a low pH. According to Solga et al. (2013), L. acidophilus has therapeutic effects against the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a life-threatening disease of the liver. According to De Santis et al. (2000), dietary supplementation of L. acidophilus can suppress cancer cells of the colon, and thus, showed anticancer activity. The use of L. acidophilus supplement in infants has proven beneficial for the prevention of diarrhea and helps immature infants gain weight.
According to Kailasapathy and Chin (2000), L. acidophilus has a wide range of health benefits. It can stabilize the mucosal barrier of the gut, enhancing immunity against intestinal infections of pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, and Clostridium perfringens. It can prevent diarrheal disease and aids in the digestion of lactose in lactose-intolerant individuals. L. acidophilus produces β-D-galactosidase, which digests lactose and improves lactose tolerance. L. acidophilus is also useful in fighting against various viral and fungal infections. Regular use of L. acidophilus is linked with the improvement in appetite and causes an increase in calcium absorption. The use of L. acidophilus has also shown beneficial effects on chronic diseases, including cirrhosis and kidney stones.
De Santis, A., Famularo, G. and De Simone, C. (2000). Probiotics for the hemodynamic alterations of patients with liver cirrhosis. Am J Gastroenterol 95, 323–324.
Kailasapathy, K. and Chin, J. (2000). Survival and therapeutic potential of probiotic organisms with reference to Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium spp. Immunol Cell Biol 78, 80–88.
Ouwehand, A.C., Salminen, S. and Isolauri, E. (2002.) Probiotics: an overview of beneficial effects. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 82, 279–289
Paturi G, Phillips M, Jones M, Kailasapathy K. (2007). Immune enhancing effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus LAFTI L10 and Lactobacillus paracasei LAFTI L26 in mice. International Journal of Food Microbiology,115 (1), 115-118
Sinn, D.H., Song, J.H., Kim, H.J. (2008). Therapeutic Effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus-SDC 2012, 2013 in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Dig Dis Sci, 53: 2714. doi:10.1007/s10620-007-0196-4
Solga, S.F. (2003) Probiotics can treat hepatic encephalopathy. Med Hypotheses 61, 307–313.