This blog post is about the use of antibiotics.
When is it appropriate, and when is it not?
A fun fact to get us started is that 4 out of 5 Americans will take some kind of antibiotic this year. That to me is unreal, and you can already see where I’m going to go with this Note.
Antibiotics are great for disease, and they’re one reason why mortality rates have been getting better over the years.
Antibiotics can save lives and wipe out infections, but in my opinion we’ve gotten to the point where we are overusing them.
Dr. Joseph Fleming, the founder of penicillin, predicted back in the forties that someday you’ll be able to get an antibiotic over the counter, and that this would be a bad thing. I agree with that.
I agree because what it leads to is resistant bacteria for one thing, and you’ll also notice that the antibiotic won’t work as well the next time. Then we have to develop newer antibiotics that are more potent, and attack every bug known to man.
Antibiotics and the gut
What I’m concerned about most with the overuse of antibiotics is what it does to your gut.
Your gut (gut microbiome) is a mix of good bacteria and bad bacteria that really directs your health. They tell your brain what to do. They digest your food. They determine almost everything that is going to happen to you.
As I’ve said before, you have more DNA in your body that’s not your own, and it’s your gut bacteria DNA by about 100 times.
So you better keep them happy.
When you take an antibiotic it gets rid of the bad bacteria in your gut, but it also gets rid of the good bacteria that you have in your gut that helps you digest your food. The bacteria that also directs the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine (gut brain connection).
Have you ever noticed that when you take an antibiotic your stomach doesn’t quite feel right?
The appropriate times to take an antibiotic
There are times where you do need an antibiotic:
- You have a sinus infection
- You’re coughing up yellow stuff (could possibly have bronchitis)
- Bladder infection
- Strep throat
- Infection on your skin and a topical isn’t working
- Tenderness, pain, or fever that goes on for over a week
When you’re on an antibiotic, you need to make sure that you take care of your gut. This means taking a probiotic AND a prebiotic (food for the probiotic).
You also need to be discriminatory about the type of antibiotic you take. Don’t take the heavy hitters (Levaquin and Cipro for example) if you can avoid them.
If you have a simple cold or an allergy, I would suggest not taking an antibiotic if you can.
Doctors and the use of antibiotics
One role of the doctors out there is to actually keep down the use of antibiotics. The reason for this is to lessen what is called “Herd Immunity”, which is when people who didn’t even take the antibiotic become resistant to it.
Ask any pediatrician out there and you’ll know that they’re very strict with antibiotic use. This is one reason why, and the same goes for doctors who see adults.
To end this Note, I can’t emphasize enough that this is mostly about your gut. You don’t want to mess up your gut. It’s the same reason I encourage everyone to take a probiotic and clean up your diet by staying away from sugars, dairy and gluten. Staying away from inflammatory foods.
Taking care of your gut is taking care of your health. And antibiotics can really mess your gut up if you aren’t discriminatory about which ones you use, and if you rely on them too much.