My husband has Crohn’s Disease, a chronic autoimmune disorder, and he just finished a round of antibiotics for a sinus infection.
Yes, we fought it naturally as long as he could stand it, but after five days knocked flat, he had to cry “uncle” and take the big guns.
We actually think he may have had walking pneumonia instead, the treatment for which would be the same – IF it was a bacterial pneumonia and not viral. I have my doubts, sadly.
Poor Gut Flora
I know that at this point, dear husband’s intestinal flora – the healthy bacteria that give him the best chance of digesting well – are all tossed about like a city after “shock and awe” attacks.
What do we do to make sure that we counteract the long-term effects of antibiotics?
It was very timely that a reader on Twitter sent me a link to this article, which captured my attention from the first paragraph, and I sat, riveted, jaw on the keyboard, reading and taking notes (instead of writing Better Than a Box like I was supposed to).
Here’s a little synopsis for you. Among other fascinating points, it shows that:
- Antibiotics were hailed as wonderful because they killed infections without harming the person.
- What doctors didn’t understand at the time was the symbiosis between the human person and our unique microbiome, the community of beneficial bacteria that lives in and on our bodies.
- The antibiotics cannot differentiate between harmful and helpful bacteria.
- Scientists are just barely beginning to study the effect of antibiotics on the human microbiome, but early results are showing that the effect is intense – and lasting.
- It’s possible that a round of antibiotics can permanently change the makeup of one’s personal beneficial bacteria.
- After taking antibiotics, it is likely much easier for new pathogens (harmful bacteria and others) to take root – which is probably why in our family, we experienced a nasty ear infection as soon as antibiotics stopped for strep in my son.
- “Children who took antibiotics were at greater risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease later in life. The more antibiotics they took, the greater the risk.” (Similar for asthma)
- “It’s even possible that long-term antibiotic use may influence how people put on fat.”
- But what to do? This author doesn’t advocate giving up on antibiotics entirely, but he has a few key recommendations:
- Try to avoid prescribing (for doctors) or using (for patients) antibiotics when it’s possible that the infection is viral.
- Fight bacteria with bacteria (it’s more specific to the disease instead of like swallowing a grenade, the catchy title of the piece). This was a new idea for me – you’ll have to just read the article for more info.
Make Them Useful
Treating antibiotics with the utmost respect and figuring out how to use them less often will also allow us to retain the usefulness of the antibiotics themselves. The author points out that penicillin, the first “miraculous” antibiotic weapon, has been rendered practically useless because bacteria have evolved to resist it. (This, might I add, is why we do not use antibacterial soap in our home, as detailed in this informative guest post by a biologist, and also why we strive to choose meat from animals that have not been treated with antibiotics – and not just in the “finishing period,” but the whole time.)
Should my husband have eaten less (zero) sugar and no alcohol for the duration of the antibiotics and at least two weeks (or more) afterward? Probably.
Notice the timing though – Christmas doesn’t make that easy.
Our plan of attack at this point is to take a heavy-duty probiotic, one that has had incredible success on two different issues for the adults in our family, consistently, daily, for at least two months.
When I discuss a “natural health” theme in March, you’ll hear a lot more about this probiotic and how it helped me tackle some candida (which I still probably need to finish off once and for all, either with an anti-parasite regimen or GAPS diet for a few months or something).
Hubs will be taking the gluten-free liquid version, which my kids think is really cool and tastes like pop (more like water kefir, honestly, but they don’t have much experience with soda pop!), and I’ve been using the green powder, which is a bit more complicated to take (unless you make a green smoothie every day), but it’s less expensive. It’s shown above in yogurt, NOT how I’d recommend to do it now that I have more experience!
What do you do after a round of antibiotics – or how do you try to avoid them in the first place?
Some Quality Probiotics
Some of these I’ve used, some I’m planning to use, and some have been recommended by friends and professionals alike. It’s good to remember a few things about probiotics: 1. People should get different colonies of probiotics, so switching brands/strains every so often (6 weeks?) is good practice. 2. What works great for one person’s needs doesn’t always work for another. These can be very different! A one-day trial to Probiotic Advisor might help you get up on current research quickly if you’re really digging in; otherwise, here are some to narrow down the thousands of brands out there:
- Just Thrive Probiotics – this one can be taken during antibiotics and not be rendered ineffective, which almost all other probiotics are! It’s the top recommended probiotic overall by Paleo Mom Sarah Ballantyne. 😮
- RightBioticsRX – the top recommended probiotic of all soil-based options by an expert I’ve been working with. Read more here. Use Subscribe and Save to save more!
- Note: If you’re struggling with digestion, especially constipation, or you feel like you really need to populate your gut with healthy probiotics, I would recommend Saccharomyces Boulardii in addition to any other you choose (except the 2 above which include this strain). Saccharomyces Boulardii is research-proven to get through the digestive tract without being killed, which is rare.
- Biokult – highly recommended by many, including the GAPS diet
- Klaire Labs Pro-biotic complex V-caps or Ther-Biotic Complete (25 billion CFU)
- Balance One probiotics with a unique time-release formula (watch for discounts on the site; there’s almost always one there!)
- Miessence Liquid Probiotic – notes: this is the easiest for kids to take because it’s liquid on a spoon, no powder to hide in smoothies and no capsules to swallow. If you’re on a no-sweetener diet of any kind, it does have agave so could be a no-no. Gluten-free.
- Miessence Powder Probiotic – notes: must be hidden in a smoothie but is less expensive than the above. Not gluten-free. Helped me beat a candida rash when nothing else could.
- Probiophage DF (7 dairy-free strains)
- Transformation Enzymes (5 billion CFUs by may get through digestive tract…)
- Primal Blueprint (6 strains, 10 billion CFUs)
- Pharmax high potency (4 strains + FOS) or long-term HLC maintenance (2 strains)
- Pro-Bio from Enzymedica (8 strains)
- Syntol from Arthur Andrew Medical (13.6 billion CFUs with prebiotic, spore germinating blend, yeast cleanse)
- ProBio 5 from Plexus has been recommended many times, but it’s also, I think, an MLM so it’s possible the recs weren’t so authentic…?
- Dr. Mercola’s probiotics
- Nature’s Way Primadophilus Bifidus (the one I happened upon that I took for a while)
For Little Ones:
- Mary Ruth’s liquid probiotic is a soil-based, liquid probiotic that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and tastes like…nothing! It’s my new favorite for administering to kids!
- WellBelly by WellFuture (9 strains of probiotics in apple and banana carrier – it’s a powder)
- Buddies in my Belly probiotic powder (2 strains of probiotics + potato starch carrier and prebiotics) or chewable tablets
Disclosure: I am a brand new referring rep for Miessence, which I signed up for just this morning because I wanted to talk about the probiotics. I’ll get some sort of benefits if any of you sign up for regular membership, but you can talk to Lacey at KV Organics with all your questions. See my full disclosure statement here.