Cordyceps has long been a traditional treatment in Chinese medicine. It comes from a bizarre source: a fungus that grows on caterpillars. Some people use it to try to boost energy and improve well-being.
People also take lactobacillus to try to treat other problems related to the digestive system. Studies show some promise for:
Colic in babies
Irritable bowel syndrome
Helicobacter pylori infection, which causes ulcers
There isn't enough research to know if lactobacillus helps with Crohn's disease or necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies.
Infections. Many studies show that lactobacillus may help prevent infections. For example, it may help prevent lung infections in children in daycare centers. It also may help treat or prevent vaginal infections caused by bacteria.
But there isn't enough known about using lactobacillus for colds or urinary tract infections. And it isn't clear if it can boost the immune system or prevent infections in people on ventilators.
Skin problems. People take lactobacillus to try to treat:
Eczema may benefit from the use of lactobacillus, but there isn't enough evidence to know if it helps with these other skin problems.
Researchers have used many different doses of lactobacillus. The optimal dose is not known. But a typical daily dose ranges from 1 to 10 billion living organisms. You take this divided into three to four doses each day. It may work better if the product is kept in the refrigerator.
Lactobacillus is called a probiotic when you take it in adequate amounts to help with health. However, supplement ingredients and quality may vary widely from maker to maker. This makes it hard to set a standard dose.
Can you get lactobacillus naturally from foods?
Lactobacillus is present in some fermented foods such as:
Lactobacillus is likely safe for adults, children, and babies. Pregnant and breastfeeding women have also used one type of lactobacillus safely. But other types of lactobacillus need more study to be sure of its safety.
Side effects. Lactobacillus may cause mild gas or bloating.
Risks. Do you have a weakened immune system or short bowel syndrome? If so, talk to your doctor before taking lactobacillus. It may raise your risk of infections.
Interactions. Be cautious if you combine lactobacillus with medications that depress the immune system. You may be at higher risk of infection from the lactobacillus. Some examples of these medications are:
Take lactobacillus at least two hours before or after you take any antibiotics.
The FDA does not regulate supplements. Tell your doctor about any you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications or foods. He or she can let you know if the supplement might raise your risks.