Viewpoint: Taking Antibiotics Seriously
This last March I went in to have my two lower wisdom teeth removed. While some of you might cringe and shake your heads in sympathy, the experience was not bad at all. I opted for conscious sedation. The doctor categorically refused to perform the surgery with only local anesthesia — even though I tried to explain to him that, in Europe, it is a common practice. The whole experience was short and efficient.
Afterwards, I was sent home with prescriptions for 15 Hydrocodone and 30 Keflex antibiotics. Before the surgery the nurse talked to me about the medicine I was to receive afterwards.
Nurse: You will take the antibiotic after the surgery in case you get any infections in your mouth.
Me: What if I don’t get any infections in my mouth after the surgery?
Nurse: We advise our patients to take it just in case. After mouth surgeries most people develop infections.
Me: Huh, really?
So I decided not to take any antibiotics just for prophylactic reasons and see what happens. I always thought one took antibiotics only when fighting an infection already in your system — not when you might develop one.
Instead, while I was stuck in bed sipping coconut milk and homemade chicken broth, I did some research. A friend of mine, knowing of my curious nature, sent me an article from Time magazine relating this exact issue. The facts I found are absolutely fascinating.
Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the modern world. Most of us have ingested a fair share of penicillin, aminoglycoside, macrolide or anifugal antibiotics. Sadly, not only through doctor’s prescriptions but also via meat and fish products that, like us, are treated with antibiotics.
According to Natasha Campbell, MD, antibiotics wipe out the good flora not only in our digestive tract but in other organs and tissues as well. This means that our bodies become more susceptible to invasive benign bacteria and pathogens. Our digestive system allows more and more toxins to go in our blood stream because it doesn’t have enough good flora to fight against it. The results are a weakened immune system and severe gut inflammation.
Just like Candida Albicans, the Clostridia family was given a special opportunity by the era of antibiotics, because Clostridia are also resistant to them. So, every course of broad spectrum antibiotics removes good bacteria, which leaves Clostridia uncontrolled and allows it to grow. Different species of Clostridia cause severe inflammation of the digestive system, for example Clostridum Dificile causes a potentially fatal pseudo – membranous colitis. Some species of Clostridia have been linked to such debilitating digestive disorders as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
~Natasha Campbell’s “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Page 42.
Frequent use of antibiotics also makes opportunistic bacteria in the gut immune to subsequent doses. Scientists constantly have to come up with new antibiotics to keep up with the strains of bacteria that become more and more powerful every season. A good example is tuberculosis, or Mycoacterium Tuberculosis, which is resistant to all existing antibiotics, says Natasha Campbell.
A New York Times reporter quoted Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, a medical epidemiologist, stating that half of the antibiotics prescribed in the U.S. are unnecessary.
It seems like the doctors are approaching a very defensive method of practicing medicine. Something along the lines of covering all their basis. Thus we get prescribed prophylactic antibiotics.
Unfortunately it doesn’t solve the problem that every day there are millions of new strains of powerful bacteria that we humans are completely defenselessness against. While antibiotics get rid of one bacteria, we remain susceptible to ten more. It is a vicious cycle.
Maybe another approach to this problem would be to strengthen the human body enough to fight many of these infections. The only way we can do that is by having a better immune system. But boosting our immune systems doesn’t happen at the doctor’s office or through a prescription, and it’s not something you do in a hospital bed with an IV in your vein. In fact, it’s much easier and more pleasant than that. It is sharing a nutritious meal with your friends and family on a daily basis. Once you begin to listen to you body’s needs you will be amazed at the huge amount of information it is constantly trying to tell you. There are many ways to make sure your immune system gets stronger, and most of them involve paying attention to the nutrition your body needs.
I’m not claiming that we should refuse to take antibiotics under any circumstance; they have been put to life-saving use many times throughout history. I took them two years ago for a severe staph infection. I am simply arguing that they should never be used lightly — for example, for prophylactic measures. They are powerful drugs that, when abused, can lead to serious chronic and auto-immune diseases as well as severe food allergies.
People who do take antibiotics should definitely take a good probiotic, eat lots of unsweetened, raw yogurt, and lacto-fermented vegetables. These food items will help re-establish good bacteria in your gut.
When an antibiotic is prescribed in a high dose, it leaves the gut with a lot of empty niches to be populated by whatever bacteria, viruses or fungi would be there first. This is a crucial time to administer a good probiotic to make sure that these niches get populated with friendly bacteria instead of pathogenic ones. Even when the course of antibiotic is short and the dose is low, it takes different beneficial bacteria in the gut a long time to recover: physiological E.coli takes two weeks, Bifidobacteria and Veillonelli take two or three weeks, Bacteroids, Peptostreptococci take a month. In in this period if the gut flora is subjected to another damaging factor(s), then gut dysbiosis may well start in earnest.
Natasha Campbell,”The Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Page 33
I decided not to take the antibiotics but I kept the prescription close. At the first sign of high fever I was ready to run to the store to fill it. However, I didn’t get an oral infection. I gave my body a chance to fight it before I ran for the pills and I am so thankful I did.