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In this article, we will discuss the potential implications of antibiotic overuse, including the harmful effects on beneficial gut bacteria and some natural alternatives to antibiotics.
Antibiotics are powerful anti-bacterial medications used to treat a range of diseases caused by bacteria. The downside, they are so commonly prescribed that people are starting to overuse antibiotics and become resistant to the medication, with the addition of a complete decimation of their overall balance of gut microbiota.
How do Antibiotics work?
To keep it simple, there are two forms of antibiotics, bactericidal antibiotics, and bacteriostatics. Bactericidal antibiotics kill bacteria, whereas bacteriostatic antibiotics inhibit them from multiplying. The downside to these mechanisms of action is they’re not selective, and they kill off the bad and good bacteria just to keep the infection and inflammation at bay .
It’s best to note, antibiotics do not target viral infections, although I commonly see people taking antibiotics for various upper respiratory tract infections or the flu, antibiotics will not work for these. Unfortunately, due to an over-prescription of antibiotics for every pre-determined “bacterial infection”, people are overusing antibiotics, and creating a resistance to these medications.
The two primary reasons for this are overuse, and inappropriate prescribing (and possibly lack of regulation, but let’s not go there)
In Australia, there is a high prescription rate for antibiotics, and these are commonly prescribed for acute respiratory infections, providing little to no benefits . In addition to this, antibiotics are being over-prescribed for every bacterial infection under the sun, instead of supporting the bodies immune system, bacteria are constantly being exposed to antibiotic medication, allowing them to adapt and reproduce as resistant bacteria .
Now don’t get me wrong, Antibiotics serve as a great tool in treating short-term, severe cases of bacterial infections, it can be life-saving, but in most instances chronic over-use just leads to continued destruction of your healthy gut bacteria, creating a range of long-term side-effects.
Some of these side effects include:
- Acid Reflux
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Anxiety and Depression
- Candida (Yeast) Overgrowth
And a whole ton more.
The good bacteria found in your digestive tract help with your digestion, are involved in the absorption of food and regulate your immune system, keeping you from getting sick , so it’s a no brainer that you should support this bacteria at all costs.
5 Alternative Methods To Antibiotics
Probiotics. – A great one to take even if you’re taking a course of antibiotics . Make sure you take these away from your antibiotic doses of a minimum of 2 hours for best results. Having a good probiotic on hand at home is always good when you need that extra gut support. If you can’t afford one, fermented foods, kombucha, and water kefir are great alternatives.
Garlic – Well known for its anti-bacterial activity, which is widely attributed to a constituent known as allicin. It has also been used to prevent drug-resistant microbial diseases, great for this antibiotic resistance issue .
Ginger – Commonly known as a natural antibiotic, with studies showing significant inhibition against growth of oral pathogens .
Clove – Commonly used as an antiseptic and analgesic, making it great for infectious, oral diseases . Although it doesn’t taste nice, I have used this one time and time again to kill off oral infections, it never fails.
Oregano – When consumed in its volatile oil form, more commonly known as an essential oil, this can be one of the most effective, natural form of antibiotics . it has also been shown, like garlic, as an effective method in preventing drug resistance bacteria .
Now, of course, there’s a whole range of other natural alternatives, including echinacea, goldenseal, and cranberry. Additionally, there can be different mechanisms of action too, for instance, cranberry is a powerful alternative for urinary tract infections .
So I encourage you, next time you’re prescribed that next batch of antibiotics, consider the implications, know your alternatives and look after your gut.
The Key Takeaway?
- Antibiotics are not selective, they don’t only kill off bad bacteria, but the good ones that help you thrive.
- Chronic use of antibiotics causes a decimation of good, beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to a cascade of undesirable symptoms including Digestive Complaints, Anxiety, Depression and more.
- There is a mountain of research these days that highlight a number of fantastic, natural alternatives to antibiotics, including ginger, clove, and oregano.
- Have a probiotic on hand at home – whether in the form of a supplement, fermentable foods or kombucha.
All the best in health,
Former drinker, Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and better understand the nature of addiction. His goal is to help people take control of their addiction, reset their cravings, unscramble their broken brain circuitry and use actionable strategies that work ten times better than anything else.