What is Acidophilus?

Kathy Wheddon Nutritional Therapist DipION

In short

Acidophilus is a microorganism (often called a 'probiotic') from the Lactobacillus family of natural bacteria. Its full name is Lactobacillus acidophilus, or L. acidophilus for short. Acidophilus has been well-researched in areas such as digestive health and immunity. It is naturally found in the gut, and is probably the microorganism most commonly found in natural bacteria (or 'live cultures') supplements on the market today. To learn the basics about probiotics, read the article: What are probiotics?

In depth

It is worth bearing in mind that acidophilus can come in varying strains (types) and strengths, and that different strains of acidophilus have different qualities. For example the strain Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52 is registered in the prestigious 'Collection National de Culture de Microorganisms (CNCM)' at the Institut Pasteur in France, and has been shown to help break down lactose. On the other hand the strain Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® is registered at the North Carolina State University and has been clinically trialled in a huge amount of studies, in areas including IBS, health in the elderly, and pollen allergies.

microscope with zoomed image acidophilus

L. acidophilus Rosell-52 under the microscope.

Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®

With more than 35 published human clinical trials, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® is probably the world's most researched strain of acidophilus. (Healthcare practitioners can read more about some of the trials on the Probiotic Professionals website.)

In addition to demonstrating health support in human clinical trials, this has been shown in-vitro (test tubes) to have excellent survival through the stomach acidity, as well as excellent ability to bind to the gut wall lining. These are two very important factors for a natural bacteria or live culture. The large amount of high quality and varied research really sets this strain apart from other types of acidophilus. After all, when buying acidophilus it is essential to look at the quality of the strain, and not simply buy a 'generic' acidophilus supplement!

Healthcare professionals can learn more about different species and strains in our Probiotics Database.