Benefits of Acidophilus Supplements During Antibiotic Therapy

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Acidophilus supplements refer to over the counter products that are classified as probiotics that replenish the natural flora of the body. Acidophilus supplements contain live microorganisms such as bacteria or yeasts that when taken will provide benefici

Acidophilus supplements refer to over the counter products that are classified as probiotics that replenish the natural flora of the body after an exhausting antibiotic regimen. Acidophilus capsules and supplements can also be taken on a regular basis to help with good gastrointestinal (GI) health and to avoid GI tract irritation or problems. So the question many people have is why doctors prescribe acidophilus tablets, capsules or supplements for patients after taking antibiotics.

Acidophilus supplements contain live microorganisms such as bacteria or yeasts that when taken will provide beneficial health effects to the patients consuming the product. Generally, these bacteria are the normal natural flora found in the human gut. The most common strain of bacteria found in most probiotic products like yogurt and in supplements is the Lactobacillus acidophilus. This bacterial strain if found largely in the human GI tract (intestines, gut etc.), mouth and the vagina.

An acidophilus capsule or tablet is highly recommended when a doctor prescribes the patient with an antibiotic regimen. The main reasoning is that, when antibiotics are consumed by the patient, it eliminates both the “good” and the “bad” bacteria in the body. Antibiotics have large spectrums and do not distinguish between the natural flora of the human body and a invading pathogen. Thus antibiotics kill all the bacteria in the intestines, which may also include the beneficial bacteria.

When beneficial bacteria in the intestines or vagina are eliminated, there is an increased chance that a more virulent, pathogenic or invasive species of bacteria can grow and spread within the human body. Certain antibiotics have higher potential of causing this reaction than other classes of antibiotics. The most famous antibiotic known for this is Cleocin (clindamycin). Fluoroquinolone antibiotic class medications like Cipro (ciprofloxacin) has a higher chance of causing this type of as well. That does not necessarily mean that the other antibiotics cannot cause this phenomenon to occur but it is a rare occurrence that may happen with any antibiotic with repeated use or with longer duration of use.

The most famous pathogen and the most dangerous is the Clostridium difficile bacteria. This bacteria normally infects hospitalized patients in high risk categories (old age, HIV/AIDS etc.) who are taking antibiotic regiments. When these antibiotics kill the normal intestinal flora (bacteria), the C. Difficile bacteria can infect the gut leading to antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD) and can lead to pseudomembranous colitis. Unless treated with Vancomycin or Metronidazole antibiotics (ironically), this condition can worsen significantly leading to toxic megacolon and even death.

Thus it is extremely important to speak to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when taking an antibiotic. An acidophilus supplement may be recommended to help prevent occurrence of pathogenic bacterial infection and to replenish the normal gut and vaginal flora that are destroyed by the antibiotic regimen. The acidophilus tablet or capsule should be taken 2 hours after taking your antibiotic so that the acidophilus can have the maximum effect instead of being destroyed by the antibiotic. Most acidophilus supplements are once daily dosing and you should always ask your pharmacist for the best product for your needs.

There are many acidophilus products on the market. You can find plenty of natural yogurt products like Activia that are probiotic and contain Lactobacillus acidophilus bacterial strain. You can also take capsules like Florajen, Culturelle, Align and many others. The Florastor is a slightly different probiotic since it is yeast based but people allergic to yeast must avoid this product. There are also plenty of generic products from various stores that are marked Acidophilus like the Live Better Acidophilus capsules that you can buy over the counter. Florajen is unique probiotic formulation as it is a live culture instead of the freeze dried acidophilus formulation found in most products in the market.

When the doctor prescribes you an antibiotic, it is generally a great idea to buy an acidophilus capsule to take with your normal antibiotic regimen. If you are unsure of what product to choose or what product is right for you, you can always approach your pharmacist at your local retail pharmacy. Pharmacists offer great advice and counsel from their experience and education that may prove indispensable and assist you in choosing the products that are right for you. And the best thing is, the counsel is free of charge and you do not have to pay a copay or office visit fees! So stop by your local pharmacy and pick up a acidophilus supplement and ask your pharmacist if it is right for you.


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Posted on Jul 3, 2011
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