How Antibiotics Came About
Antibiotics have been around for quite some time, in fact, they were discovered in the 1900's with the emergence of penicillin.
It was in the 1920's that a British Scientist names Alexander Fleming, accidentally discovered the way bacteria could be attacked by naturally-growing substances.
Alexander was at work in his London laboratory when he made this discovery. One of his experiments saw him observing colonies of staph (staphylococcus aureus bacteria) obliterated by mould (within the very same petri dish!
His observations made the conclusion that mould produces some kind of bacteria-dissolving substance.
You may have heard of this bacteria-dissolving substance and if you guess penicillin, well you guessed right!
His experiments were recreated worldwide many times over and Fleming even won a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.
Alexander's antibiotic discovery would change the "course" (pardon the pun) of medicine forever.
Drug companies caught onto this and of course, it wasn't long before they began to create penicillin drugs for the masses.
After penicillin's success, many other antibiotics were developed.
It was hailed a "miracle drug" and in some ways it sort of is as it has no doubt saved many lives, but there is also a very dark side to antibiotic use and that is that regular/chronic or unnecessary use has been shown to destroy the gut microbiome (gut flora) leading to catastrophic health issues and even death in some cases.
The Meaning of Antibiotic
If you break down the word "antibiotic" you get the words "anti" = against and "biotic" = life (in other words, "against life")!
When something goes into your body that has an intention to kill, that is never a good thing, though in some instances, I am sure it has it's place (when in a life-threatening situation) but it's important to be aware of their negative health consequences.
Antibiotic is not a health-enhancing drug, but are there any drugs that truly enhance health? Probably not. A drug is designed to treat a symptom but not get to the root cause of the issue and in the case of most diseases and illness, it is often the health of the gut.
Like Hippocrates once said: "All disease begins in the gut"
He was ahead of his time that's for sure as he was very right, all disease truly does begin in the gut.
Antibiotics Affects on Health
It's important to understand that with each and every use of this drug (any drug really), you may be weakening your system and health by disrupting and even destroying important gut flora (the gut microbiome).
Our gut microbiome is really the cornerstone of our health and by unsettling and killing good bacteria (good gut flora), this can really jeopardise your health, potentially setting yourself up for a lifetime of ill health.
My Own Personal Experience with Antibiotics and Gut Dysbiosis
As a child and teen, I was given antibiotics way too many times to remember! Mostly I was given these drugs for chronic tonsillitis and sometimes pharyngitis and over the years, the damage was well and truly done. As a result of this antibiotic abuse I developed chronic health issues (I would later realise that tonsillitis was better and I should have let it run its course and find natural ways to heal but ho hum)...
The issues I developed (which I could just about write a book about and maybe one day I will), were severe gut dysbiosis (diagnosed much later in life), severe anxiety, panic attacks, social phobia, OCD, depression, suicidal ideation, IBS and much much more!
Gut dysbiosis (in other words "severely imbalanced gut flora" where the bad guys rule the playground), is the foundation for poor health (in my well-researched and well-lived opinion). It's not just my opinion but that of many doctors too - especially Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride (doctor and creator of the GAPS healing diet).
Gut dysbiosis can lead to all kinds of health issues, such as:
- Anxiety and social problems
- Autoimmune disease
- Bipolar disorder
- Hormonal imbalance
- Joint disease (like RA)
- Learning difficulties
- Neuropsychological problems
- Schizophrenia and other psychiatric problems
- Panic attacks
- Pyrrole disorder
- Reproductive issues
- Suicidal ideation
I know (without a shadow of a doubt) that most of my current and past health issues are because of the gut dysbiosis I still experience.
Another thing about GD (gut dysbiosis) is that malabsorption of nutrients which often means GD people (GAPS people) are deficient in many vital nutrients and this adds another layer to the problems one already faces.
I'm currently working on healing my gut and health with the GAPS protocol but it is not easy, in fact, it is downright torture at times and I have to make a lot of sacrifices to heal (no more going out to restaurants and cafes as everything is cooked in vegetable oil and vegetable oil is a big NO NO on the GAPS diet or for anyone who wants good gut health really).
After listening to all the stories of people who have healed the "incurable", I honestly believe in this diet and way of life. It isn't a quick fix that is for sure! This diet usually takes at least 2 years of commitment and that includes rigorous detoxification to dump toxins out as GAPS people (like me) have terrible detox systems as well as poor nutrient-absorption but I am DETERMINED to heal myself and experience a level of health that I never have!
We digress... (it's all relevant though).
Antibiotics Destroyed My Health & Happiness
Antibiotics completely destroyed my life in so many ways! They destroyed my gut and my health and my happiness. I honestly sometimes wish we knew back then what I know now but if that were so, maybe I wouldn't have the passion for health that I now do and I couldn't help people in this way?
The harsh imbalance that these drugs created in my gut flora (microbiome), is what led to plenty more infections, tonsil removal/operation, severe anxiety, panic attacks, depression, OCD, social phobia and even suicidal ideation (even though there was nothing externally wrong - it was all internal (literally).
An internal mess of bad gut microbes taking over the good gut microbes that took over and highjacked my happiness and wellbeing.
Your Gut Bugs are Controlling You!
You see, the gut flora has a much bigger role in mental health than some people actually realise. Did you know that your gut flora (gut microbiome) actually has a big role in your behaviour, your personality, your moods, your cravings, likes and dislikes. Yup!
So when you have dysbiosis (a severe imbalance of bad over good), you are literally being controlled by bad bacteria! Not even joking about this.
Other Issues I Struggled/Still Struggle With
That stuff above was just the mental stuff, I also have suffered with PMDD, PMS, Endometriosis, Adrenal fatigue, leaky gut syndrome, candida overgrowth, pyrrole disorder, allergies (hives), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Gilbert's, Raynaud's, migraines and so much more!
I think before we knew about GAPS, my husband probably thought I was a hypochondriac! Thank goodness for discovering Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride - she is an absolute god-send and I highly recommend her two (actually 3) books about the GAPS diet:
- Gut & Psychology Syndrome
- Gut & Physiology Syndrome
- GAPS stories
I am honestly so grateful to have found such an understanding husband and life partner in Jason. He has been so kind throughout my health & healing journey.
We all need at least 1 person who is in our corner hey? 🧸
I don't want this blog to be all about me, there was a lot to say but I want to highlight the importance of gut health and that means mindfulness of how often we use them and if at all.
Antibiotic-abuse is far too common and it will be one of the main reasons for the destruction of our health as a society. They are over-prescribed and often handed out too casually without real regards for the negative consequences.
For me personally (this is not health advice), I will avoid antibiotics if I possibly can and find natural ways to heal. Boosting my gut health is taking priority over just about everything these days! I mean, EVERYTHING!
Our bodies are truly amazing and even miraculous when they are given what they need to thrive and heal. Environment, nourishing foods, supplements where necessary, pure water free from chemicals and other impurities and detoxification.
If you have severe or even mild gut issues or any of the issues I've mentioned, you might like to look into the GAPS protocol for yourself?
Back to Antibiotics
It's now coming to our attention, that antibiotics can create problems for our health after using and have been shown to create food intolerances, colitis, behavioural issues (as mentioned) and even joint issues such as AS (Ankylosing Spondylitis) and RA (Rheumatoid arthritis) - both of these being autoimmune conditions.
That is just to name a few...
In the rest of the blog article, I will run through the different types if antibiotics and their potential side-effects.
Two Main Groups of Antibiotics
Bactericidal & Bacteriostatic
Bactericidal tend to be more toxic and have been shown to induce mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage in mammalian cells.
Suggestions have been made that bactericidal antibiotics bring on the formation of toxic ROS in bacteria (reactive oxygen species).
It's been demonstrated that bactericidal antibiotics may lead to oxidative damage to DNA, proteins and membrane lipids.
Bactericidal antibiotics include daptomycin, fluoroquinolones, metronidazole, nitrofurantoin.
Daptomycin: is used for treating bacterial infections of the skin and underlying tissues, and infections that have entered the blood stream (supposedly).
If a person was suffering a complicated infection such as MRSA, Daptomycin may be prescribed and even administered.
Daptomycin Side Effects (most common):
- Rapid weight gain/unusual weight changes
- Swelling (face, arms, hands, legs, feet)
Fluoroquinolones: (also known as 'quinolones') are used to kill or inhabit bacterial growth and are a broad-spectrum antibiotic. They have been shown to have serious side-effects and are not suitable for common issues such as sinusitis, bronchitis or non-serious UTI's (urinary tract infections).
This type of antibiotic should only be considered when less toxic antibiotics haven't worked.
Note: Remember, the more antibiotics you take, the more you weaken (potentially) the gut microbiome, immune system and overall health.
Many brands of fluoroquinolones/quinolones have been discontinued because they've caused such harm.
You may have heard of brands such as Cipro, Baxdela, Factiv, Levaquin, Avelox, and Floxin? These brands are still being sold to the consumer.
Fluoroquinolones Potential Side-Effects:
- Altered taste buds
- Aortic aneurysm
- Dry Mouth
- Ear ringing
- Heart Burn
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Memory loss
- Muscle wasting
- Oral sores
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Stomach ache/pain
- Tendon pain
- Tendon rupture
- Vaginal itchiness
- White patches in mouth
Metronidazole: this particular antibiotic is used to treat many different issues (meanwhile the patient is usually none-the-wiser that there may be other ways)?
It is prescribed for Amebiasis, Aspiration Pneumonia, Bactermia, Bacterial infection, Bacterial vaginosis, Balantidium Coli, Bone infection, Clostridiodes difficile infection, Crohn's Disease (acute), Crohn's Disease (maintenance), Deep neck infection, Dental Abscess, Dientamoeba fragilis, Diverticulitis, Dracunculiasis, Endocarditis, Gastrointestinal Perforatipon, Giardiasis, Helicobacter Pylori Infection (H.Pylori), Intraabdominal ingection, Joint infection, Lemierre's Syndrome, Menigitis, Nongonoccal Urethritis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Peritonitis, Pneumonia, Pouchitis, Pseudomembranous Colitis, Skin or Soft Tissue Infection, STD Prophylaxis and Trichomoniasis.
The brand names for the topical are MetroGel, MetroGel-Vaginal, MetroCream and Noritate.
The other brand names (oral, eyes and ears) are Pylera, Helidac and Aveidaoxia.
Metronidazole Potential Side-Effects:
- Back pain
- Blurred Vision
- Changes in speech patterns
- Decreased vision
- Eye pain
- Lack of coordination
- Pain in hands and feet
- Seeing things that aren't there
- Slurred speech
- Stiff neck or back
- Tiredness (unusual)
- Trembling or muscle control issues
- Trouble with coordination
- Trouble speaking
- Unsteady walk or on one's feet
- Weakness in arms/hands/legs/feet
That's a whole lot of potential side effects for one to consider!
Nitrofurantoin: this type of antibiotic is used for UTIs (urinary tract infections) and should not be taken by anyone who has kidney disease, urination or liver problems or a history of jaundice.
Pregnant women also may wish to avoid this type of antibiotic.
Brand names for Nitrofurantoin include Macrobid, Macrodantic and Nitro Macro.
Side Effects (most common):
- Changes in skin colour (face)
- Chest pain
- General feeling of discomfort or illness
- Hoarse voice
- Joint or muscular pain
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rash
- Sudden difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Swelling of the face, mouth, hands or fee
Warning: if you do take an antibiotic and experience any of the side effects we have mentioned, please see your doctor immediately.
Bacteriostatic Antibiotics are a different type if antibiotic and we won't go into this today or this article will turn into a book!
We can tell you though, that bacteriostatic antibiotics don't kill bacteria but they do stop it from growing.
Like Bactericidal antibiotics, these can also have their own side-effects and contraindications.
I think we may need to do a separate blog soon about this topic, so please stay tuned to our blogs and email newsletter*.
*If you're not on our newsletter, simply sign up for weekly email updates on the home page (very bottom near footer).
The Problem with Antibiotics
As discussed, antibiotics can negatively impact our gut health as they destroy the good guys too and we need those good bacteria. They also can allow the bad ones to proliferate as they don't destroy all the pathogenic gut flora and when this happens it is game on! (and not in a good way).
Antibiotics destroy the gut terrain, it's kind of like what's happening in the amazon rainforest, the beautiful greenery, trees and fauna are getting killed off to make way for agriculture but this creates a worse scenario for earth (as the forests and the soil are earth's microbiome) so now you have depletion and species dying.
It's the same in the gut!
When certain species are gone, you can not naturally grow them back, it's just not possible.
You can take a probiotic and this can help but you won't ever grow them naturally.
Antibiotics are also Found in Food
If you're eating farmed fish or much of conventionally-raised meat and poultry, you are most likely consuming antibiotics as these animals are given antibiotics as they often get sick in the conditions they live in.
I'm not sure about the stats in Australia, but I know in the USA, 81% of antibiotics are sold to farmers to give to their livestock!
So when you consume these farmed animals and fish also, you are consuming the antibiotics that were given to them.
Another reason to eat organic and wild-caught fish where possible.
The big problem with bombardment of antibiotics, is the more that come into our bodies, other (more virulent) organisms can flourish and this is often in the form of yeasts...
Enter Candida Albicans overgrowth (also known as yeast infection or fungal overgrowth).
To Be Clear
We are not saying that you should avoid antibiotics at all costs, absolutely not! We would never give health advice or want to influence someone's health decision - especially if it is serious and life-threatening but we do want to point out the risks and shed light on the harm they can cause to help people make informed choices.
It's important to educate yourself on all the pro's and con's but also other paths for healing and health.
If You Do Choose Antibiotics
If you do go down the road of antibiotics, be sure to consider taking a good probiotic such as this one/the one pictured above, and you may also wish to eat a tablespoon of organic sauerkraut each day?
How to Feed the Gut Flora?
You might think that it's only just about probiotics and repopulating the gut with healthy bacteria but it's not!
It's also important to feed and nourish the gut flora with a good prebiotic fibre such as this one. Baobab is a very easy, tasty and convenient way to get your daily prebiotics! I love it in water, coconut water or my daily smoothie.
Prebiotic fibre can also be found in asparagus, apples, artichokes, bananas, barley, chicory, dandelion greens, flax seeds, garlic, onions and leeks.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is to be taken as health advice as there are instances where the use of antibiotics are necessary and even life-saving. We are simply offering information that goes against the status quo. Please do your own research and talk to your trusted healthcare provider when making decisions regarding your health.