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 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Women sometimes use lactobacillus suppositories to treat vaginal infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
How it works
Many bacteria and other organisms live in our bodies normally. "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.
Likely EffectiveDiarrhea in children caused by a certain virus (rotavirus)
Children with rotaviral diarrhea who are being treated with Lactobacillus seem to get over their diarrhea about a half day earlier than they would without this treatment. Larger doses of lactobacillus are more effective than smaller ones. At least 10 billion colony-forming units during the first 48 hours should be used.
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.
Children: Lactobacillus isLIKELY SAFEwhen taken by mouth appropriately in children. Lactobacillus GG, a specific strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, has been used safely from five days to 15 months.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Lactobacillus is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately while pregnant and breastfeeding. Lactobacillus GG has been used safely in pregnant and breast-feeding women. The combinations of Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Lactobacillus paracasei with Bifidobacterium longum from 2 months before delivery until the breastfed infant was 2 months has been used safely. But other types of lactobacillus have not been studied during pregnancy and breast-feeding, so their safety is unknown.
Digestive surgery: There is some concern that eating a yogurt containing Lactobacillus might cause a bacterial infection following a colonoscopy. Stop taking probiotics before a digestive surgery or colonoscopy.
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.
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.