Maintain your health during long-term antibiotic use

This article contains suggestions for reducing the side effects of long-term antibiotic use. It is not a recommendation for alternative treatment of dangerous infections.

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Before 2005, my only patients on long-term antibiotics were HIV patients. Recently, I have noticed more common use of long-term antibiotics. We have increasing numbers of infectious diseases that are resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment. Lyme disease, Cat-scratch disease and other infectious diseases are on the rise. The precautions I recommend here are for my Lyme disease patients who are on long-term antibiotics. If you have been prescribed long-term use of antibiotics for any reason, it is my hope that this article will inspire you to consider taking additional precautions to maintain your health.

Bacterial flora

Humans have over 500 species of beneficial bacteria, essential for our digestion and for a healthy immune system. In fact, we have more bacterial cells in our bodies than ‘human’ cells. Sadly, the science behind antibiotics is still in a primitive state. When we take antibiotics, not only are the infectious bacteria killed, but most of our essential ‘friendly’ bacteria are destroyed as well.

Someday, (I have been telling my patients for 20 years now) your doctor will routinely prescribe potent probiotics to follow all courses of antibiotics. It seems like a no-brainer, yes? In the meantime, go to a supplement store or health food store for probiotics. Yogurt is NOT the answer. Remember there are over 500 species of helpful bacteria being killed. I would suggest choosing a probiotic with a high number of species of bacteria (20+), and at least 20 billion viable organisms. Be sure to check the expiration date. High quality probiotics will usually be refrigerated.

If you are taking antibiotics twice daily, it does seem like a losing battle, but naturopaths recommend taking probiotics concurrently if you are taking the antibiotics long-term. N.D.s I’ve spoken torecommend a daily dose of 100 billion organisms, and waiting 2+ hours after taking antibiotics.

Yeast

When your natural flora is disturbed, unhealthy imbalances occur, such as overgrowth of candida yeast. Antibiotic use not followed by probiotic use is a common cause of yeast infections. Check the coating on your tongue. Thick and greenish? This can be an indication of candida yeast overgrowth. Women often have a more unpleasant symptom—vaginal itching and burning. Sacchromyces boulardii yeast can be purchased on-line. Taking this yeast will help keep the candida down, and the antibiotics won’t kill this yeast.

You can google “candida natural health” for many other recommendations and special diets for controlling yeast.

Nausea

Some antibiotics, notoriously Flagyl (metronidazole), can cause nausea and/or loss of appetite. I have found that a common Chinese patent herb is excellent for keeping tummies happy. “Pill Curing” is available in most shops that sell medicinal herbs, in many natural food stores, as well as on-line. Take this along with your antibiotics or a few minutes before. And be sure not to take Flagyl on an empty stomach.

Protect your liver

Alcohol is not the only cause of liver disease. Our total toxic load may include smog, pesticides, smoke, alcohol, outgassing from new construction materials and carpets, plastics, chemicals in shampoo, cosmetics, nail polish, hair dye and lotions, household cleaners, and pharmaceuticals. These toxics go into our liver, which works full-time to break them down into harmless substances.

When we are taking in more toxins than our liver can process, this is a situation of ‘toxic overload.’ If this continues, it can lead to liver disease. If you are on long-term antibiotics, no matter how healthy a diet you have, your liver will feel the stress. Regular, simple blood tests will show whether your liver enzymes are increasing, which indicates an over-stressed liver.

There are several herbs I have used to keep the liver healthy, including dandelion and milk thistle. The most effective supplement I have found for lowering liver enzymes is Livaplex from Standard Process. Standard Process products are only available through qualified health care professionals. You can call and obtain what you need through me, or visit their website to find a practitioner near you.