I think today that most people are aware that antibiotics damage their gut flora. I mean if I asked almost anyone if they knew that, I think the answer would be yes.
But I don’t think that most people actually understand that it means that those antibiotics are damaging them!
I still constantly hear people talking about going to the doctor to get antibiotics because they’ve got a cold or flu, or for any number of other minor illnesses that antibiotics aren’t needed for. The really disappointing part is that doctors are still prescribing them for minor ailments. They should know better – but sadly they obviously don’t.
So what do the different classes of antibiotics do to your gut? Well according to Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia, the various types of antibiotics have quite different effects on the gut, the body and on the gut flora.
This group of antibiotics have names that all end with ‘cillin’ and include Amoxicillin, Flucloxacillin and others. These drugs damage two major groups of beneficial bacteria in our gut: Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.
At the same time that they are damaging these beneficial resident bacteria, they are also promoting the growth of damaging bacteria in the Proteus family: Streptococci and Staphylococci.
Apparently this class of antibiotic also allow bacteria normally only found in the bowel, to move into the small intestine which can eventually contribute to IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well as other digestive disorders.
This group of antibiotic drugs include Tetracycline, Doxycycline and others with names ending in ‘cycline‘. They are often prescribed over long terms of three months up to two years to teenagers with acne.
These antibiotics apparently have an extremely toxic effect on the gut wall. They alter the protein structures in the mucous membranes which causes two things to happen.
The first thing is that it makes the gut wall vulnerable to invasion by harmful microbes and the second thing is that it signals the immune system to attack the proteins that have been changed. This causes an auto-immune reaction in the body, whereby the immune system of the body is attacking it’s own gut.
These drugs also cause the growth of the very common, disease causing Candida fungus as well as Staphylococci and Clostridia.
This group of antibiotic drugs include Gentamycin, Erythromycin and other drugs with names ending in ‘mycin‘. These apparently have a devastating effect on beneficial bacteria in the gut such as physiological E.coli and Enterococci. Long courses of treatment with these drugs can totally wipe out these beneficial bacteria from the gut which leaves it open to invasion by pathogenic varieties of E.coli and other bacteria.
Other drugs that can damage gut flora
Other drugs that damage gut flora include…. well pretty much all drugs really! If they’re taken over long periods of time then they’re damaging your gut flora and your body.
Those that have the most impact are antifungal drugs such as Nystatin or Amphotericin. They can stimulate the growth of undesirable species of bacteria such as the Proteus family and lactose-negative E.coli that are capable of causing serious health issues.
Other drugs that commonly cause gut flora damage because they are taken often over long periods are pain killers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, steroids such as Prednisone and the contraceptive pill.
Pretty much all drugs can and will have this effect on your gut flora. Drugs are toxic to you and to most of the bacteria that live inside you and this is something that must be taken seriously.
Those bacteria are a part of you and influence your health massively.
You may not realise that 90% of you is bacteria. That’s right – 90%!
Your body is made up of around 10 trillion cells and around 90 trillion bacteria! This massive number of different types of bacteria live on and in you. If all those bacteria on and in you were to suddenly die, you would too – very quickly. They are essential to your wellbeing and serve many roles including creating vitamins and influencing your immune system so you really want to look after them.
The roles that our gut flora play are still being studied and learned about and this isn’t an area that most doctors know much about, so don’t leave it up to your doctor to decide what’s best for your bacteria – learn to take care of them yourself and they will serve you well.