Recently, someone very close to me was prescribed antibiotics for an infection. The doctors were not exactly sure what the swelling was from, but they said it would be a safe bet to assume it was an infection. There were no signs of trauma, but there wasn’t a fever either. The doctors on this case then came to the conclusion to prescribe an antibiotic.
The idea was simple. We don’t know what it is, so take an antibiotic just in case to rule out an infection and we’ll schedule a follow up. Unfortunately, antibiotics (unless in extreme cases) seem to do more long term damage to overall health than good.
Antibiotics and Gut Health
There are millions of good bacteria in our gut that help is in many ways from keeping our immunity up, protecting us from infections and even helping regulate our hormones. Sometimes bad bacteria does invade the body and infect us. Antibiotics effectively kill these bad bacteria, but they kill the good bacteria.
Since the discovery of antibiotics, the average human lifespan has lengthened, that is true. In some cases, antibiotics are necessary, especially when an infection is life threatening and getting out of control. Unfortunately our excessive and inappropriate use of these drugs may be causing serious long-term consequences we are only now becoming fully aware of.
Some of these consequences not only affect our individual health, but may even be causing permanent changes to the microflora of all people from generation to generation down the line. Crazy, huh?
An article published in Nature highlights the potentially dangerous long-term consequences that arise from the careless use of antibiotics. (1) This study argues that changes in our microbiota may even be encouraging the transmission of deadly organisms. One of the major roles of a healthy microflora is to protect against colonization from pathogenic organisms, so this leaves me kind of concerned………..
What if you Need to Take Antibiotics?
If you need to take antibiotics, it’s widely recommended to first, make sure you really need them and it’s an actual infection. Sometimes doctors mistake a fungal issue or basic inflammation as an infection and prescribe antibiotics just in case.
If they were safe, you’d have nothing to lose because if you get better, you win, if you don’t, it rules out an infection. We now know it isn’t safe so it’s very important to really make sure you have an infection before starting them.
Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics
There are a lot of natural herbs and supplements that may aid the body in ridding itself from infection. I will admit however that none of these have been proven to be as effective as antibiotics. A lot of the natural alternatives may help the body fight some infections, but serious infections shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The gut can always be protected and repaired after responsible antibiotic use. Compared to death, gut trauma is the lesser of two evils. A good recommendation would be to just strengthen the immune system with supplements like vitamin D, vitamin C and some probiotics.
For an in depth list of great alternatives, check out Mark Sisson’s detailed alternatives to antibiotics. For more information and details on the subject, Chris Kresser has some amazing articles on antibiotics and what to do if you have to take them.
Be safe and infection free folks!