Get a healthy gut
By Mary Shackelton, MPH, ND
Photo: jeff padrick


Q. What is the best way to take acidophilus?

A. Acidophilus, one type of probiotic, provides “good” intestinal bacteria and is an especially important supplement for those who are taking antibiotics, which can destroy beneficial bacteria. But acidophilus has other important benefits: direct protection against intestinal infection (for example, E. coli, Klebsiella, Clostridium, and Candida albicans); intestinal immune system support; nutrient manufacturing; and possible colon-cancer risk reduction. Most people say they take acidophilus when they eat yogurt, but this form may not provide a therapeutic dose. Instead, take an acidophilus supplement (in capsule or powder form) two to three times a day with a meal. The supplement should contain bifidobacteria and lactobacilli organisms in excess of 4 billion organisms per dose—the strength required to successfully treat imbalances in the gut. (Check the label for this information.) If you’ve had significant lifetime antibiotic use (more than five times) or have chronic problems with yeast infections, gas, belching, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or immune dysfunction, take acidophilus daily for one month. If you’re currently on antibiotic therapy, take acidophilus with antibiotics to prevent destruction of beneficial bacteria and for three to four weeks after the course of treatment to restore all “good” bacteria levels.

This Ask the Expert is written by Mary Shackelton, MPH, ND, a naturopathic doctor who has a private practice in Boulder, Colorado, where she specializes in natural medicine for women.