Overview

Fermented milk products are created when milk ferments with specific kinds of bacteria called Lactobacilli or Bifidobacteria. Fermentation means the milk is partially digested by the bacteria. This makes the milk product easier to digest, especially for people who have milk allergies or are lactose-intolerant. Also, fermentation increases how long the milk product will last on the shelf. Fermented milk is very popular in countries like Japan.

People take fermented milk by mouth for diarrhea caused by a virus or antibiotics, stomach flu, hay feverarthritis, or asthma. It is also used for gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

How does it work ?

The special bacteria added to regular milk to make fermented milk breaks down milk proteins and the sugar called lactose. This helps people digest milk better, especially people with allergies to milk protein or people who are lactose intolerant.

Fermented milk also seems to have some antioxidant and immune-stimulating effects.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Hay fever. Some research shows that drinking fermented milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus reduces runny nose, but not runny or red eyes, in adults with hay fever. Drinking fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei doesn't reduce runny nose in people allergic to Japanese cedar pollen. Other research shows that drinking fermented milk might decrease the occurrence of hay fever in both children and adolescents. But not all research agrees.
  • Diarrhea in people taking antibiotics (antibiotic-associated diarrhea). Some research shows that taking fermented milk containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria reduces the risk of developing diarrhea while taking antibiotics. Other research suggests that taking fermented milk containing Lactobacillus reduces the risk of developing diarrhea while taking antibiotics in the hospital.
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis). Research suggests that drinking fermented milk containing multiple types of bacteria during pregnancy and just after giving birth reduces the chance of a young child developing eczema.
  • Common cold. Some research shows that taking fermented milk made with Lactobacillus casei can help to prevent colds in preschool children. Another type of fermented milk might help to prevent colds in middle-aged males working in an office.
  • Diarrhea. Early research suggests that drinking milk fermented with Lactobacillus casei reduces the severity of diarrhea in infants and children. Other early research shows that using a specific fermented milk product (Actimel) containing multiple types of bacteria reduces the length of time needed to stop diarrhea in children 6 months to 5 years old.
  • A digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori). Research shows that drinking a fermented milk beverage containing multiple types of bacteria daily for 12-16 weeks improves stomach symptoms caused by H. pylori infection. Other research shows that taking a specific fermented milk product (Actimel) while using antibiotics for H. pylori infections helps the treatment to work faster.
  • High blood pressure. Some research shows that fermented milk lowers systolic (the first number) but not diastolic (the second number) blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
  • A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). Some early research shows that drinking fermented milk twice daily for 4 weeks decreases IBS symptoms, including pain and gas.
  • Inability to properly digest the sugar lactose (lactose intolerance). Some research shows that taking fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus acidophilus reduces bloating, diarrhea, and pain in people with lactose intolerance.
  • Diarrhea caused by radiation therapy. Research suggests that drinking fermented milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus starting 5 days before treatment with radiation reduces diarrhea and other stomach side effects caused by radiation. Drinking fermented milk might also improve stomach discomfort after radiation.
  • Diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Some evidence suggests that drinking a fermented milk product containing Lactobacillus GG for about 5 days reduces how long diarrhea lasts in children with diarrhea caused by rotavirus.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Asthma. Research shows that taking fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophiles every day does not reduce asthma attacks in preschool children. Also, drinking fermented milk during and just after pregnancy does not prevent asthma in the young child.
There is interest in using fermented milk for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Fermented milk is LIKELY SAFE when taken in amounts commonly found in foods. Fermented milk is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in amounts used for medicine for up to one year. Some side effects of fermented milk include stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if fermented milk is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions and Warnings

When taken by mouth: Fermented milk is LIKELY SAFE when taken in amounts commonly found in foods. Fermented milk is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in amounts used for medicine for up to one year. Some side effects of fermented milk include stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if fermented milk is safe or what the side effects might be. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if it is safe to use fermented milk when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using in amounts greater than those commonly found in food.

Children: Fermented milk is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. Fermented milk is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts for up to 5 days.

Low blood pressure: Fermented milk might reduce blood pressure. In theory, taking fermented milk might cause blood pressure to become too low when used by people who already have low blood pressure.

Weakened immune system: Some fermented milk products contain live bacteria. There is some concern that the bacteria in fermented milk might grow too well in people whose immune systems are weakened. This includes people with HIV/AIDS or people who have taken medicines to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ. Lactobacillus, one type of bacteria found in fermented milk products, has caused disease (rarely) in people with weakened immune systems. To be on the safe side, if you have a weakened immune system, talk with your healthcare provider before taking fermented milk products.

Interactions ?

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Antibiotic drugs interacts with FERMENTED MILK

    Antibiotics eradicate many different types of bacteria. Fermented milk products contain some types of bacteria. Taking antibiotics with fermented milk might eradicate the bacteria in fermented milk. This might decrease how well the fermented milk product works. To avoid this, antibiotics and fermented milk should be taken at least 2 hours apart.

  • Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with FERMENTED MILK

    Drinking fermented milk might reduce blood pressure in some people. In theory, taking fermented milk with medications for high blood pressure might increase the risk of blood pressure dropping too low.

    Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

  • Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with FERMENTED MILK

    Fermented milk can stimulate the immune system. In theory, taking fermented milk might decrease the effects of medications that decrease the immune system.

    Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), and other corticosteroids (glucocorticoids).

Dosing

ADULT

BY MOUTH:
  • For hay fever: 100 mL of heat-treated fermented milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus daily for 8 weeks has been used.
  • For diarrhea in people taking antibiotics (antibiotic-associated diarrhea): 250 mL of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium daily for 14 days has been used. 49 grams of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei (Bio-K+ CL1285, Bio-K+ International Inc) daily for 2 days followed by 98 grams daily until the end of antibiotic treatment has been used.
  • For eczema (atopic dermatitis): 250 mL of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG 5 x 1010 colony forming units (CFU), Lactobacillus acidophilus La-5 5 x 109 CFU, and Bifidobacterium Bb-12 5 x 1010 CFU during pregnancy from 36 weeks until 3 months after giving birth has been used.
  • For a digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori): 100 mL of a fermented milk beverage containing Bifidobacterium bifidum and Streptococcus thermophiles daily for 12 weeks has been used. Fermented milk containing Staphylococcus thermophiles and Lactobacillus johnsonii daily for 16 weeks has been used.
  • For high blood pressure: Six tablets containing powdered fermented milk with Lactobacillus helveticus daily for 4 weeks have been used. 100-150 mL fermented milk prepared with Lactococcus lactis or Lactobacillus casei has been used daily for 5-12 weeks.
  • For a long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS): 200 grams of a specific probiotic fermented milk (AB100 Jianneng, Bright Dairy) containing Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium longum, twice daily for 4 weeks has been used. Also, 125 grams of a specific fermented milk product (Activia, Danone) containing Bifidobacterium animalis and yogurt strains twice daily for 6 weeks has been used.
  • For inability to properly digest the sugar lactose (lactose intolerance): A single dose of 480 mL of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus acidophilus has been used. A single dose of specific fermented milk products (Ofilus or Bulgofilus) has been used.
  • For serious illness caused by radiation exposure: 150 milliliters of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus daily for 5 days before radiotherapy and continuing for 10 days after has been used.
CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:
  • For diarrhea caused by rotavirus: 125 grams of a fermented milk product containing Lactobacillus GG twice daily for 5 days has been used.
  • For hay fever: 100 mL of a fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophiles once daily for 12 months has been used. Also, 200-400 mL of fermented milk containing Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus paracasei daily for 30 days has been used.
  • For diarrhea: 125 or 250 grams of milk fermented by yogurt cultures and Lactobacillus casei daily for one month has been used in infants and children. 100 grams of milk fermented with Lactobacillus casei has been use in children 6 to 24 months old.
  • For a digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori): A specific fermented milk product (Actimel) containing Lactobacillus casei, along with standard antibiotic therapy, daily for 14 days has been used.
  • For the common cold: 200 grams daily of a fermented milk product (Actimel, Danone) containing Lactobacillus casei for 3 months has been used.
View References

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.