Thursday, March 17, 2016

Acidophilus 4-1-1

What is acidophilus? Acidophilus, or technically lactobacillus acidophilus, is the friendly bacteria found in your intestines. These health providers are always present in varying numbers, helping to defend their territory against pathogens and invaders.

There is a balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria in the colon. This balance is so vital to the health and vitality of your colon that making sure you have enough friendly bacteria is of great importance. This is especially true if you are or have been taking antibiotics. As you will read, antibiotics take a toll on friendly bacteria. In essence, taking acidophilus helps to balance. It helps restore a healthy intestinal environment so jobs like digestion and elimination go smoothly day in, day out.

Acidophilus and antibiotics. Antibiotics, as we all know, are important tools for our health. And just like many things in life, they can also have adverse effects, especially if overused or abused. In some cases colitis, which is essentially inflammation of the bowel, has been linked with taking antibiotics.

For anyone currently taking antibiotics or even if you have just recently been on a round of antibiotics, I highly recommend taking acidophilus. Why? To reinstate and ensure a healthy balance of good bacteria in your colon, which was probably destroyed or in some way altered by the use of antibiotics.

The following is reproduced with permission of The Mc Graw-Hill Companies (1999). It comes from a wonderful little booklet called The Friendly Bacteria: How Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria Can Transform Your Health, by William H. Lee, R.Ph., Ph.D.

Antibiotics: The Destructive Lifesavers

Antibiotic drugs have a valued and necessary place in therapy, and have been focally instrumental in saving immense numbers of lives. They are an effective emergency measure, destroying disease-producing bacteria in a manner which seemed miraculous to those who first experienced and observed their action. Many diseases, such as pneumonia, which had been at best life-threatening, became routinely curable.

But antibiotic means, literally, “against life.” When the “life” that is destroyed is that of harmful micro-organisms, all well and good. Antibiotics are not selective, though, and, like aerial bombing, are not geared to spare the friendly organisms which inhabit the same space as the hostile ones. After a course of antibiotic treatment, the intestinal flora are severely diminished, the good along with the bad.

At the least, this is likely to cause some digestive upset, anything from diarrhea and flatulence [gas] to severe constipation. As a routine precaution, many people have now learned to add yogurt [plain, not flavored with sugar added] to their diets—making sure that it has live cultures and is not pasteurized—after such treatment, or to take a guaranteed high-potency supplement of acidophilus or bifidobacteria.

An upset stomach* is not the worst result of the destruction of your population of friendly bacteria. In their absence, other organisms normally present and innocuous can seize the opportunity offered and expand their numbers explosively and dangerously.

One of the most prevalent and troublesome—and sometimes deadly—of these organisms is the yeast Candida albicans.
*As I tell my clients, usually when they are talking about their stomach, as in a stomach ache or upset stomach, they usually mean their small intestine or transverse colon. Why do I say this? Because when I ask them to point to the place they are talking about, they point to the area around the belly button, which is where these organs are located. The stomach is much further up and to the left.

Although antibiotics are taken to restore our body’s health, they also create a threat to the bacterium in the intestines that are designed to support health. Antibiotics have a place in the world of medicine and treatment, but their overuse is common and can cause real problems.

Treating problem skin with antibiotics is a good example of this. I have come across hundreds of people who have been on antibiotics for their skin for years! This cannot be a good thing! After reading the previous excerpt from the acidophilus booklet, I hope you begin to understand that long-term use of antibiotics—for whatever reason—can be a real threat to your body’s balanced state of health.

What and when to take acidophilus. There are approximately 11 trillion bacteria in residence in your intestines. Eleven trillion! That’s about 3 1/2 pounds of bacteria—the good kind. I mention this not only because it is an amazing fact, but also because some clients have expressed concern over taking acidophilus, which can (and should) contain up to a billion live bacteria in a single dose. When you compare these numbers, a billion vs. 11 trillion, it doesn’t seem so daunting.

After talking with several health care professionals, they all agree you want to take acidophilus that requires refrigeration. These supplements usually come in capsule form, although powdered acidophilus is also available. There are several brand names, so I recommend talking to a qualified person who works in the herb and supplement section of your health food store. They will (or should) be well-versed in what the store offers and what the best source of acidophilus is for you. Directions vary on when to take acidophilus, but generally it is recommended to take one to three capsules 20 to 60 minutes after eating.

I started taking acidophilus after I was on antibiotics. Now that I’ve stopped the antibiotics, should I keep taking acidophilus?

I would continue taking acidophilus because it is just so important for colon health. Perhaps after a few months off antibiotics and taking acidophilus you could stop, but I would give your colon plenty of time to regroup and regain a healthy balance after antibiotic use. There isn’t any reason that I know of to stop taking acidophilus. It will do you no harm to continue using it, whether or not you are currently taking antibiotics.

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