The probiotic acidophilus is available in tablet, capsule, liquid and powdered forms, explains Cathy Wong, ND for About.com. It is also found in cultured dairy products, such as kefir or yogurt, and in fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and pickles.
Probiotics such as acidophilus are generally considered safe, whether they are taken as supplements or found in foods and beverages, notes both Healthline and Cleveland Clinic. When side effects occur, they are usually mild and confined to the gastrointestinal tract in the form of flatulence, bloating, diarrhea and stomach upset. Probiotics can also cause allergic reactions and should be used with caution in people who are immunocompromised.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a bacterium that exists naturally in the mouth and intestines, notes Healthline. It is also normally found in the female genitals. The organism is considered beneficial because it doesn't cause disease. Rather, it produces vitamin K and lactase, the enzyme that metabolizes the sugars found in milk and other dairy products. It also helps protect women from yeast infections.
Acidophilus is perhaps best known for its ability to keep the digestive system healthy, especially during and after treatment with antibiotics, according to Cleveland Clinic. It can help prevent traveler's diarrhea and reduce the severity of other infectious forms of diarrhea. Acidophilus has also been studied in the treatment of childhood eczema, allergies and asthma, lactose intolerance and immune system support.