What is lactobacillus used for?
Lactobacillus is a type of bacteria. There are lots of different species of lactobacillus. These are “friendly” bacteria that normally live in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems without causing disease. Lactobacillus is also in some fermented foods like yogurt and in dietary supplements.
Lactobacillus is used for treating and preventing diarrhea, including:
- Infectious diarrhea such as rotaviral diarrhea in children and traveler’s diarrhea
- Diarrhea associated with using antibiotics
Some people use lactobacillus for:
- General digestion problems
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Colic in babies
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammation of the colon
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in babies born prematurely
Lactobacillus is also used 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 in adults, and to prevent respiratory infections in children attending daycare centers. It is also being tested to prevent serious infections in people on ventilators.
Lactobacillus is used for skin disorders such as fever blisters, canker sores, eczema (allergic dermatitis); and acne.
It is also used for high cholesterol, lactose intolerance, Lyme disease, hives, and to boost the immune system.
Women sometimes use lactobacillus suppositories to treat vaginal infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
How does it work?
There are not enough studies about how lactobacillus works. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for more information. However, it is known that “friendly” bacteria such as lactobacillus can help us break down food, absorb nutrients, and fight off “unfriendly” organisms that might cause diseases such as diarrhea.
Precautions & warnings
What should I know before using lactobacillus?
Consult with your doctor or pharmacist if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
- You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription.
- You have allergy with any substances of lactobacillus or other medications or other herbs.
- You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
- You have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.
The regulations for a supplement are less strict than the regulations for a drug. More studies are needed to determine its safety. The benefits of taking this supplement must outweigh the risks before use. Consult with your doctor for more information.
How safe is lactobacillus?
Lactobacillus is likely safe for most people, including babies and children.
Lactobacillus is also likely safe for women to use inside the vagina.
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Using lactobacillus during pregnancy and breast-feeding is possibly safe. Lactobacillus GG has been used safely in pregnant and breast-feeding women. But other types of lactobacillus have not been studied during pregnancy and breast-feeding, so their safety is unknown.
Weakened immune system: There is some concern that lactobacillus from supplements that contain live bacteria might grow too well in people whose immune systems are weakened. This includes people with HIV/AIDS or people who have taken medicines to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ. Lactobacillus has caused disease (rarely) in people with weakened immune systems. To be on the safe side, if you have a weakened immune system, talk with your healthcare provider before taking lactobacillus.
Short bowel syndrome: People with short bowel syndrome might be more likely than other people to develop lactobacillus infections. If you have this condition, talk with your healthcare provider before taking lactobacillus.
What kind of side effects may I have from lactobacillus?
Side effects are usually mild and most often include intestinal gas or bloating.
Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about side effects, please consult your doctor.
What interactions may I have with lactobacillus?
Lactobacillus may interact with your current medications or medical conditions. Consult with your doctor before using.
Products that may interact with lactobacillus include:
- Antibiotic drugs
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.
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), and others.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor before using this medication.
What is the usual dose for lactobacillus?
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.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For children with rotaviral diarrhea: 5 to 10 billion live Lactobacillus GG in a solution that replaces lost water.
- For treating babies and children with diarrhea:
10 to 100 billion live Lactobacillus reuteri daily for up to 5 days. Lower doses may not be effective.
Also, combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri, 10 billion live cells of each strain, twice daily for 5 days.
- For preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children: A specific strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus GG (Culturelle) containing 20 billion live organisms daily has been used during treatment with antibiotics. A specific beverage containing Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus (Actimel, Danone) 97 mL twice daily also has been used.
- For preventing diarrhea in infants and children ages 1 to 36 months:
6 billion live Lactobacillus GG twice daily.
A fermented milk product containing a specific Lactobacillus casei strain DN-114 001 (DanActive, Dannon) in doses of 100 grams, 125 grams, or 250 grams daily has also been used.
- For preventing and shortening the duration of diarrhea in newborns within the first year of life in rural areas of developing countries: 100 million live Lactobacillus sporogenes have been given daily for one year.
- For preventing respiratory infections in children attending day-care centers: 260 mL milk with 500,000 to 1 million colony-forming units of Lactobacillus GG per mL. A milk product containing 5 billion colony forming units each of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium (HOWARU Protect, Danisco) in 120 mL of milk twice a day has also been used. A milk product containing Lactobacillus 5 billion colony forming units in 120 mL of milk twice a day has also been used.
- For treating recurrent diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile: 1.25 billion live Lactobacillus GG in two divided doses for 2 weeks.
- For ulcerative colitis: a combination product containing living freeze-dried bacteria species including lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, and streptococcus (VSL#3) 3 grams twice daily has been used for maintenance therapy.
- For patients with active mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis: VSL#3 three grams once or twice daily in combination with conventional treatment.
- For children with moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis: VSL#3 450-1800 billion bacteria once a day in combination with mesalamine.
- For preventing traveler’s diarrhea: Lactobacillus GG, 2 billion organisms daily.
- For diarrhea due to chemotherapy: a specific strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus GG (Culturelle) containing 10-20 billion live organisms daily.
- For atopic dermatitis: a specific strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus GG (Culturelle). Lactobacillus reuteri 100 million live bacteria daily, or Lactobacillus sakei 5 billion live bacteria twice daily have also been used.
- For irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): 10 billion heat-killed Lactobacillus acidophilus (Lacteol Fort) twice daily for 6 weeks. A specific lactobacillus combination probiotic containing viable lyophilized bacteria species including lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, and streptococcus (VSL#3) containing 450 billion viable lyophilized bacteria twice daily. A specific beverage containing Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (ProViva, Skanemejerier, Sweden) taken twice daily.
- For preventing the common cold in adults: a mixture of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei, 1 billion live bacteria daily.
- For colic in babies: A specific Lactobacillus reuteri product (Probiotic Drops, BioGaia AB) 100 million CFUs once daily 30 minutes after a feeding.
- For preventing the serious gut condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in babies born prematurely: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG 6 billion live bacteria daily.
- For preventing serious lung infections in adults on ventilators: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (Amerifit Brands Nutrition), 2 billion live bacteria twice daily.
Applied inside the vagina:
- For treating vaginal infections caused by bacteria:
1-2 vaginal tablets (Gynoflor, Medinova, Switzerland) daily containing living Lactobacillus acidophilus (10 million colon-forming units/tablet) and 0.3 mg estriol for 6 days.
Intravaginal suppositories containing 100 million to 1 billion colony forming units of Lactobacillus acidophilus (Vivag, Pharma Vinci A/S, Denmark) given twice daily for 6 days has also been used.
Vaginal capsules containing Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, 100 million to 1 billion colony-forming units of each strain per capsule (EcoVag Vaginal Capsules, Bifodan A/S, Denmark), following usual treatment, for 10 days in three menstrual cycles following the infection has also been used.
The dose for lactobacillus may be different for every patient. The dose that you take depends on your age, health, and several other conditions. Supplements are not always safe. Please discuss with your doctor for your appropriate dosage.
What form does lactobacillus come in?
Lactobacillus may be available in the following dosage forms:
- Liquid probiotic with lactobacillus acidophilus
- Encapsulated lactobacillus
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.