Lactobacillus – Infection, Transmission & Diseases


They are invisible to the human eye and yet we could hardly live without them. Lactobacillus , lactic acid bacteria, are an important part of our intestinal flora . They ensure balance there, balance our immune system and thus protect us from infections and diseases.

What are lactobacilli?

Lactobacillus refers to a genus of rod-shaped bacteria that can be assigned to the Lactobacillaceae family. Lactobacillus, along with some other strains of bacteria, belongs to the genus Lactic Acid Bacteria, whose main function is to produce lactic acid through fermentation . Most Lactobacillus species are therefore also of considerable importance for the food industry; here they are used to produce a wide variety of dairy products and beer beverages.

Lactobacilli are generally harmless to humans, but some species are known to be pests in beverage production. Here, the formation of lactic acid can lead to unwanted acidification and a change in taste; this applies in particular to drinks such as wine, fruit juices or beer.

Lactobacilli cannot be summarized in a uniform group, instead the individual species are usually assigned to subgroups, which are constantly being expanded as new species are constantly being added.

Occurrence, Distribution & Properties

In terms of its physiological appearance, Lactobacillus is regarded as a characteristic prototype of a lactic acid bacterium. Most species of Lactobacillus are generally rod-shaped, with cells either occurring singly or arranged in chains. On the other hand, some variants of Lactobacillus also have a helical or curved appearance.

In addition to milk and other dairy products, some types of Lactobacillus are also found on plants, while others colonize the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals and are responsible for the formation of the natural intestinal flora. In particular, Lactobacillus ruminis and Lactobacillus salivarius are among the fixed components of the human autochthonous intestinal flora. Autochthonous bacteria are understood to be those which can be permanently detected in the respective milieu, ruminis and salivarius are therefore among the permanent inhabitants of the intestinal flora.

Some types of Lactobacillus are also responsible for the formation of the so-called Döderlein bacteria. These are part of the woman’s natural vaginal environment and provide the necessary acidic environment. The low pH value protects the female vagina from pathogens and prevents, for example, an outbreak of vaginal thrush or similar bacterial infections .

Some other Lactobacillus species are also native to plant surfaces. They thrive on solid and carbohydrate-rich culture media and can condense here to form colonies.

Meaning & Function

In addition to their positive effect on the female vaginal environment, certain Lactobacillus species are also said to be of great importance for the prevention or treatment of a wide variety of intestinal diseases and some autoimmune diseases. Lactobacillus helveticus in particular and some other subspecies are said to play a major role in intestinal health and protect against dangerous pathogens such as EHEC etc.

The lactic acid bacterium is usually ingested via so-called probiotics, milk products such as yoghurt, which have been specially enriched with the lactobacillus. But probiotics are also used in other medical fields. For example, they help to rebuild and rebalance an intestinal flora that has been damaged by illness or medication.

An intact intestinal flora is not only responsible for regular digestion ; in fact, the gut is the heart of the human immune system and an imbalance can cause widespread health problems. This can lead to diseases such as diabetes , obesity , high blood pressure , but also depression .

In addition, treatment with lactic acid bacteria is often useful in the gynecological area. Various vaginal infections can often be treated with a lactic acid cure in the early stages; this is particularly the case with bacterial vaginosis . Here, an imbalance in the vaginal environment is responsible for the bacterial infestation, which can often be compensated for by using high-dose Lactobacillus cultures.

Of course, lactic acid bacteria can also be used preventively against vaginal infections; This is particularly recommended after antibiotic therapy, as this can easily disturb the vaginal flora. Even after treating a vaginal thrush infection, a lactic acid regimen can help rebuild the environment weakened by the infection.

Diseases & Ailments

Although Lactobacillus species are primarily harmless to humans and represent an important link within the digestive chain, some people can have slight intolerance to severe allergies even in the case of lactic acid bacteria . An allergic reaction to Lactobacillus can manifest itself in the form of mild nausea , digestive problems or headaches . In this case, a doctor should be consulted first. If a Lactobacillus intolerance is confirmed, it is particularly important to avoid probiotic products that are additionally enriched with lactic acid bacteria cultures.

People who suffer from histamine intolerance are also usually sensitive to Lactobacillus . Since some types of lactic acid bacteria produce high levels of histamine , these should also be avoided if there is a known intolerance. These include above all Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus fermentii and Lactococcus lactis.

Even with a tyramine intolerance, certain Lactobacillus species, which are also mainly found in probiotic products or other concentrates, should be avoided. These include above all Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus helveticus. In general, the following always applies: Anyone who notices abnormalities or unusual symptoms when eating food that contains lactobacilli should initially avoid those products and consult a doctor.

Symptoms of histamine intolerance usually appear a few minutes after consuming histamine-containing foods and can affect different parts of the body. Typical symptoms include dizziness , tachycardia , tiredness , headaches , nausea , flatulence , diarrhea and constipation . In addition, however, skin reactions such as rashes , itching , wheals or tingling can also occur.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.