Probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus are being widely used, but are there any acidophilus side effects?
What Is Acidophilus?
Acidophilus, also known as Lactobacillus acidophilus or L. acidophilus, is a natural bacteria that lives in the stomach and intestines. It is widely used as a probiotic to stop diarrhea, nausea, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections. It has also been known to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. Acidophilus comes in powder, pill, and capsule form and can be found today at not only health stores but mainstream grocery stores.
Some people wonder why they should take acidophilus. The natural benefits of this probiotic is often better for us that an antibiotic, according to some experts. As we are prescribed antibiotics more and more, our bodies build up immunity to those drugs as well as offering up negative side effects our bodies don't want or need. Beneficial bacteria boost immune system health. But are there any acidophilus side effects?
Common Acidophilus Side Effects
The biggest side effect people notice when taking acidophilus is gas. The gas effect does seem to disappear once you are on a regular regiment of this probiotic.
Just as with any supplement, herb, or drug, some people may experience an allergic reaction to acidophilus. Symptoms of an allergic reaction are swelling, dizziness, a rash, itching or difficulty in breathing. Although these side effects are rare, if you feel you are experiencing any of these, it's best to call your doctor immediately.
Because the Federal Drug Administration or FDA has not tested acidophilus nor does it endorse it to treat or prevent any disease, keep these precautions in mind before you take it:
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, you should ask the advice of your doctor or midwife before ingesting acidophilus in any form. Additionally, if you are lactose intolerant, it may be best to speak to your physician before acidophilus as some supplements contain lactose.
While acidophilus is widely used to treat upset stomachs and intestinal disturbances like diarrhea, if your diarrhea continues in excess of two days, contact your doctor. If you are using acidophilus for a yeast infection or urinary tract infection and they seem to reoccur frequently, speak to your physician.
Some people who suffer from cancer or symptoms of chemotherapy use acidophilus to help settle their stomachs. The FDA warns that there is no medical evidence that acidophilus is a cancer cure. That doesn't mean it won't help settle the stomach, however, and since side effects are so minimal, it may be worth trying.
What the Experts Say
The National Institutes of Health or NIH offer this advice on interactions when taking acidophilus:
- Taking with antibiotics - The NIH has found that you should wait at least two to three hours if you are taking an antibiotic before taking acidophilus. The needed antibiotic may lose some of its healing power if the two are taken at the same time.
- Taking with antacids - To reap the benefit of both acidophilus and an antacid, the NIH suggests taking these at least thirty to sixty minutes apart.
- Interactions with other medications - The NIH warns you should speak with your doctor if you are on birth control pills before consuming acidophilus as it may decrease their effectiveness. Other drugs that lose their benefits while taking acidophilus include benzodiazepines like Valium or other tranquilizing medications. It may also reduce the effectiveness of sulfasalazine, a common medicine used for inflamed bowels.
Before you begin taking an acidophilus supplement, ask your physician or pharmacist if this probiotic will cause interactions with your current medications. While acidophilus side effects are rare, if you experience anything out of the ordinary while taking acidophilus, call your doctor immediately.