Perhaps the Yakult web site says it best:
Yakult is a fermented milk drink that contains a very high concentration of a unique, beneficial bacterium called Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain. This bacteria was named after Dr Shirota and is exclusive to Yakult
Now of course this is all well and good, but what does it all mean?

Yakult works on the basis that a healthy balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria is required in the digestive system to keep things in tip top shape, and indeed their logo and TV advertisements highlight this.

The idea is that as a result of stress, an unhealthy diet or diet changes, the natural aging process, or the consumption of antibiotics can produce an imbalance in the digestive system (mainly the small intestines), where potentially harmful bacteria begin to outgrow the good bacteria present.

Lactobacillus casei occurs naturally in the small intestine, but "Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain" is a patented strain of the bacteria, the difference apparently being that it is exceptionally resistent to acid, and can therefore survive the journey through the stomach and into the small intestines.

I have little experience with this product, but I can tell you it didn't make me vomit as it did other people I know. Perhaps they had lots of potentially harmful bacteria in their system, or perhaps I had more, and this was balanced by adding hundreds of millions of Shirota strain to my system.. which brings me to a discrepancy I have noticed. If a balance of the harmful and good bacteria is required, unless people are hundreds of millions of good-bacteria short, then how can this be a helpful measure? Indeed, it is recommended for healthy and unhealthy people alike, and can be consumed more than once in a day.

Yakult appears to be quite similar to sweet acidophilus (and Yoplait or other brand yoghurt drinks) and is often consumed for the same purpose.

Perhaps importantly, I forgot to mention the taste when w'ing/u this w/u. Having just consumed this product no more than 2 minutes ago, I can safely say that to me, Yakult doesn't taste at all like a product based on milk, just like other fermented milk beverages, such as the Calpis range. Yakult is in fact flavoured naturally, and as the website says "mostly from citrus fruits". It does indeed have a citrusish flavour.

For more anecdotal evidence: Txikwa says re Yakult: Ooh I had this once and I vomited.
And since mentioning this drink to a few others, it appears he wasn't alone at all.

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