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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 17, 2011

The Problems with Antibiotics: They Kill the Good Guys and Make You Fat

By Mark Sisson
148 Comments

Whenever I think about antibiotics, I stymie my inner Star Wars fan and admit that it’s a good thing the Force isn’t real and Art Ayers is not actually a wizened microbiologist version of Ben Kenobi. Otherwise, he’d be internally wincing every few seconds as another round of antibiotics commences somewhere in the world and a few billion flora cry out in terror and are suddenly silenced, never to be heard from again.

I jest, sort of, but this much is true: every time you take antibiotics, billions of domesticated gut flora die. As I mentioned last week, antibiotics are designed not to target human cells, but the same cannot be said for the commensal bacteria living in our guts. See, most antibiotics don’t discriminate between “good” and “bad” bacteria. They target bacteria. They aren’t us, they are foreign entities, but we wouldn’t be us without them. We need them to function properly. It’s a bit like bringing in an exterminator to kill the bugs infesting your house, and the guy ends up killing your dog and making your cat act funny, along with killing the insects. The job is done, and he technically did what you requested, but now you have to tell your kid that Buddy moved to a farm upstate to go be a sheepdog and figure out how to deal with your cat peeing on the sofa and scratching up your stomach (leaky gut, get it?). Not very fun, and not what you bargained for.

The results of a 2010 study on the lasting effects of antibiotics on one’s gut flora are rather scary. Over a 10 month period, three individuals – humans – each went on two courses of ciprofloxacin, an extremely commonly prescribed antibiotic often used to treat bone and joint infections, respiratory tract infections, gastroenteritis, endocarditis, urinary tract infections, cellulitis, infectious diarrhea, anthrax infection, typhoid fever, and skin infections to name more than a few. In other words, it’s regarded as a trusty all-purpose antibiotic, effective across all species (vets often prescribe cipro). So, what happened to the patients’ gut flora populations after taking cipro?

Three to four days into the treatment schedule, gut diversity was lost and composition was altered. What flora remained became more homogenized, and the various ratios of the more than 400 species of bacteria that live in the gut became lopsided. One week after the conclusion of each treatment, gut flora had recovered, but only slightly. It was a shade of its former self. Diversity improved, but not to original levels. Composition began to normalize, but it was incomplete. Things were stable and the diversity/composition protected from further change, but the state of flora being protected was not the same pre-cipro state.

The authors admit that these are uncharted waters. They don’t know, nor do they pretend to know, the lasting effects of hosting an altered microbiome. They don’t use the words “good” or “bad” to describe bacteria. They just know that it’s altered, and – as much as a ten month trial can tell us – perhaps for good.

I dunno – I have an inkling of an idea that maybe, just maybe, forever altering our gut flora isn’t such a hot idea. I think the researchers would agree, but they can’t say anything without knowing for sure, of course. But my inkling isn’t exactly unfounded. We do have some evidence that altered gut flora are associated with weight gain. We even have evidence that antibiotics cause weight gain. Let’s take a closer look.

Foremost, of course, is the widespread usage of antibiotics to “increase the growth” of livestock. I use quotes because what they’re really doing is making the livestock fat by disrupting the microbiome of their guts. One study even determined that eliminating routine administration of antibiotics to livestock for the purposes of increasing weight gain wouldn’t affect dietary protein availability in developing nations. My guess as to why? Antibiotics are increasing body fat accumulation on these animals, rather than purely inducing sheer hypertrophy of muscle meat – unless you know of any bodybuilders who cycle penicillin and cipro – and the resulting weight gain is coming more from fat than protein.

Other animals offer more avenues of understanding the obesity-promoting effects of altered gut flora. Like, say, mice:

A team of researchers transplanted gut bacteria from obese mice into lean mice. The lean mice enjoyed a 60% increase in body fat and a rapid, 14-day descent into insulin resistance following the gut flora alteration.

In a later study, members of that same team induced obesity in mice through diet. As they fattened, a specific type of Firmicutes bacteria bloomed – it began to overgrow in the gut. Transplanting this Firmicute into lean mice made the lean mice fat. Lean mice who received transplants from lean donors did not get fat.

Oh, and there’s also some cool evidence in humans. Those same researchers who showed that lean mice have different gut flora than fat mice and that transferring fat mice flora to lean mice made the lean mice fat studied whether this was true in humans. It is. Just like the mice, lean human guts contain more flora from the bacterial phylum of Bacteroidetes and less from the Firmicutes phylum, whereas obese human guts contain flora more heavily weighted toward Firmicutes. Furthermore, both mice and humans with “obese” gut flora (high in Firmicutes) derive more energy from food and have an increased ability to “harvest energy.”

Okay. So it seems pretty clear that gut bacteria plays a role in obesity, and there’s strong evidence that it’s a causal role. But the studies up until now have only shown that altering gut bacteria by adding flora from obese animals to the guts of lean animals makes them gain weight. The question, then, becomes whether altering gut flora via antibiotic usage can have similar effects on weight.

One Martin Blaser, an NYU microbiome researcher, believes he has the answer. Citing the 2010 study mentioned earlier and another that he authored himself, he speculates that not only does antibiotic usage permanently change our gut flora, it also promotes obesity. Blaser examined the effect of antibiotics on Helicobacter pylori, a common member of the human gut biome. While there’s evidence that H. pylori increases the risk for ulcers and gastric cancer, making it a popular target for physicians (even in asymptomatic patients) wielding a hammer made of antibiotics, it’s also been living in human guts for at least 58,000 years. You might imagine that casually flouting such an extended co-history together could have some unintended consequences. You’d be right.

Blaser used US veterans who were scheduled for upper GI endoscopies (close examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract). Of the 92 vets, 38 had no H. pylori, 44 tested positive for H. pylori, and 10 were indeterminate. 23 of the H. pylori positive were given antibiotics, and all but two had total eradication of H. pylori. So, what happened to the 21 subjects who were initially replete in H. pylori but who eradicated them through antibiotics?

They gained the most weight. Their BMIs increased by 5%, give or take 2%. The other vets had no weight change.

Leptin levels increased by 20%.

Postprandial ghrelin increased sixfold.

The ghrelin increase is the most interesting effect to me. It does a number of things, the foremost of which is to increase hunger. High levels also increase abdominal fat. So, after taking antibiotics and losing all their H. pylori, patients weren’t as satisfied after meals, they gained more weight, and the weight they gained was likely concentrated in the abdomen. Bad stuff all around. I’ve written about the dangers of belly fat before; it’s not just a matter of LGN.

Man, antibiotics as growth promoters in livestock really make sense when you put it all together. They give you all sorts of awesome stuff:

More efficient conversion of feed into energy. Lower food costs.

Higher ghrelin levels that promote greater accumulation of visceral fat. More marbling.

Now I’m kinda wishing that Art Ayers actually was a Jedi master and he could use Force Debugging to remove specific strains of bacteria from the gut (Force Choke wouldn’t work because most gut flora are anaerobes and thus don’t require oxygen; also, they have no necks).

More problems next week, plus some solutions. Thanks for reading.

TAGS:  prevention

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148 Comments on "The Problems with Antibiotics: They Kill the Good Guys and Make You Fat"

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Graham
4 years 10 months ago

Antibiotics clearly have a dark side (more star wars there…). To be honest though, I don’t know what I would have done last winter when I got strep throat without them. I was almost completely immobilized and hallucinogenic, and it just got worse for 3 days until I started the antibiotics. Within 2 days I was fine. Finished the 10 day treatment, took a bunch of probiotics (and ate yogurt), and I’ve been fine ever since. Hmmm…..

Ingvildr
Ingvildr
4 years 10 months ago

Sometimes antibiotics are the only tool for the job. They still do save lives. Over use is the problem. I personally think that a course of probiotics should be prescribed with a course of antibiotics.

Uncephalized
Uncephalized
4 years 10 months ago

And the probiotic course should probably be much longer (ending a week or more after the antibiotics do) to elbow out the uglies that tend to crowd in in the absence of the good commensals.

Abel James
4 years 10 months ago

Absolutely – the amount of antibiotics prescribed to patients with viral infections (against which antibiotics are useless) is appalling. Instead of unnecessarily sacrificing healthy gut flora, what if they prescribed probiotics to heal the gut to increase health instead?

Lisa
Lisa
4 years 10 months ago
Someone else mentioned it down thread, but I can’t reply there. I can’t believe how prescription happy dermatologists are! I’ve seen two in the last 10 years, and both were very quick to give me pills. I took one for a few years… yes… years… with no results. Tried another from another derm, along with medicated soap, that dried my skin out. I got off of that one much quicker. NONE of them asked about my diet. I had expected them to test me for allergies, ask about what I ate. They only spent five seconds looking at my skin… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
4 years 10 months ago

I think that’d probably be a waste of money. Every time you took the antibiotic you’d kill the probiotic you took that day. Wait till the abt course if complete then take the probiotices for a good six weeks on an empty stomach every morning and night. Drink real kefir (not the grocery store syrup with same name). Eat kimchi and sauerkraut,yogurt, etc…

kassy s
4 years 2 months ago

I totally agree. I hate when people go about bashing antibiotics and complain but if needed to save their lives, they will happily grab millions and shove them down their throats. It’s a simple matter of using probiotics after using antibiotics. Just encourage persons to do that instead of making antibiotics out to be monsters when they very often save lives on the contrary.

CL
CL
3 years 2 months ago

In Europe they do that — prescribe probiotics w/ antibiotics I mean.

Primal Toad
4 years 10 months ago

In your case, and in millions of others, antibiotics have there place.

But, MOST of the time, maybe 80% or more, they have absolutely not place.

Accutane, minocycline and tetracycline are all used to try and “cure” acne. It’s all bullsh!#. I know because I had severe acne for 6 years. Going primal gave me clear skin.

Reiko
Reiko
4 years 10 months ago

Seriously, derms need to stop prescribing antibiotics to treat acne. Acne is ugly, but it’s not dangerous – no one needs to go as far as taking antibiotics for it.

Acne was especially uncomfortable for me because of my dermatitis, so it would itch like hell too. Yes, I used to take antibiotics for it – not only did it do diddly squat, but I actually felt my health deteriorating. Nothing helped more than switching to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle 🙂

P.M.Lawrence
4 years 10 months ago
In extreme cases, acne can be dangerous. When I was about 20 I had severe acne, which I ignored until it got painful from the pressure it transmitted to inflamed regions whenever I opened and closed my mouth, or even moved it a little. I then sought treatment; that involved antibiotics, mostly to head off any secondary opportunistic infections that were aggravating the underlying condition and diverting my body’s natural defences from healing the acne proper. I gather that, if I had not sought treatment, there was a chance that some of the acne could have opened up into facial… Read more »
Frederick
Frederick
3 years 11 months ago
You have never had 17 painful and bleeding welts from the infection an adult gets called rosacea. This is NOT ACNE. Calling everything acne in relation to antibiotic use just betrays complete cluelessness on this issue. I have a ZERO inflammation lifestyle, and still get dozens of enormous welts an scars without doxycycline. Topicals and diet do not work. The sores bleed and are painful and deep. They are NOT clogged oil glands, they are infections. Preaching that it is something you are doing, just increases the stigma for people who suffer from rosacea…. Thank god we have antibiotics for… Read more »
kassy s
4 years 2 months ago

Going primal certainly is not going to save you from sepsis or severe pneumonia. In many instances they have their place. In fact more than 20 % of the time they have their place.

Kasi
Kasi
4 years 10 months ago

I agree. I got a UTI a month ago and holy cow, so glad the cipro made that pain go away! Living with it was not an option. I only had a 2.5 day course of antibiotics and followed with lots of yogurt, etc when I was done. While I understand the point of articles like this, I worry that the more extreme among us will use it as reason to shun antibiotics completely. Sometimes they are life-saving, literally. They just need to be used judiciously in humans and animals both, for real bacteria-related illnesses.

Steve Putney
Steve Putney
4 years 10 months ago

For treating strep throat take a look at the benefits of 2.5pH Kangen water. To learn more go to http://www.kangendemo.com. 2.5pH Kangen water will kill strep without altering the bacterial balance in your gut.

Lila
Lila
3 years 6 months ago
In case anyone else comes across this like I did: this post is out of date and its actually been determined that antibiotics can help people LOSE weight too. I have NEVER gained weight on antibiotics and I was on them for years for my acne. When I finally quit taking them my heinous acne came back but I got put on accutane. i decided to take probiotics as a precaution. What do you know? Soon as I started those stupid probiotics (under the direction of stupid internet gurus like this) I gained like 10lbs in a month and continued… Read more »
Tim Huntley
4 years 10 months ago

Mark,

This was my exact takeaway message from the Weston A. Price conference this past weekend in Dallas (Specifically the all day talk about the GAPS diet).

The main idea was to use something like GAPS or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or maybe even a restrictive version of primal or paleo for a short period of time to let the gut and gut flora heal from all the damage that has been done via antibiotics.

Dave, RN
4 years 10 months ago

The US FDA released an estimate on the amount of antibiotics given to farm animals in the United States. The grand total is over 29 MILLION pounds in 2009!

That means FAR more antibiotics are used for farm animals (mostly cattle) than for humans.

And they wonder why we have antibiotic resistant bacteria…

I went grassfed about three years ago. I’ll never go back to store bought CAFO.

Rick
4 years 10 months ago

Cipro and the family of quinolones is particularly problematic. A single dose taken by a friend resulted in an inability to walk for several months. Another friend had ruptured achilles tendons. And a friend’s mother had severe crippling effects. I’m thankful for antibiotics in the past when nothing else seemed to kick an illness, but I’m definitely wary of medications in general.

HillsideGina
4 years 10 months ago

Cipro has a “black box warning” from the FDA –
http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/news/20080708/fda-warning-cipro-may-rupture-tendons

A friend who is a part-time tennis instructor tore a tendon after taking a course of CIPRO. Apparently it affects fit folks more than couch potatoes. I am trying to stay away from antibiotics but if I need to take some I am going to ask for Amoxicillin – an old-school antibiotic.

Rick
4 years 10 months ago

Interesting side note: I haven’t needed meds since I changed my eating habits to a paleo/primal style. I even eliminated a former daily medication.

Mike
Mike
4 years 10 months ago

If you transplant gut bacteria from lean mice to obese mice do they lose weight?

Uncephalized
Uncephalized
4 years 10 months ago

That’s what I wanted to know too. Why the hell wouldn’t they do both? They already had the experiment set up!

Lauren
4 years 10 months ago

Yes, I think that’s in the same study. I’ve definitely read a review of that article somewhere – Hyperlipid, maybe? Check the link, it might be in the abstract.

Brea
Brea
4 years 10 months ago
Great post Mark! I want to preface all of this by saying I’m a PhD level microbiologist and have read all of these papers rather recently just because I’m a true super microbiology nerd. I just have a few comments. Commensals are a really hot topic now in microbiology which is good. As microbiologists we’re just starting to spend more time studying bacteria in a more “natural environment”, i.e. not suspended in a mega nutrient rich broth in a totally homogeneous mixture. While studying them that way can be important, I think there’s much more to be gained as it… Read more »
oxide
oxide
4 years 10 months ago
The way this is written, it sounds as if people with ulcers should just live with the pain and stomach upset, because they might — god forbid — gain a few pounds. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t your intent. If I were the scientist, I would have extended that H. Pylori study. For example: Let’s take those 21 vets who took antibiotics and gained weight. Now put half on primal diet and keep the other half on SAD. Measure them every week or so. Do the gut flora recover? Does the leptin re-adjust? Do they lose the pounds?
Arnþór G.
Arnþór G.
4 years 10 months ago

Good post Mark. So what can we do to restore the diversity? Is a bacteria transplant done by a doctor the only option?

Milla
4 years 10 months ago

Does taking pro & prebiotics during and after an antibiotics course preserve/restore gut flora?

Karen
Karen
4 years 10 months ago
It’s supposed to help. From my experience, though, it’s not a cure-all. A couple of years ago, I was in a car accident, and ended up taking prophylactic antibiotics that were prescribed to prevent infections of my accident wounds. Terrible mistake! I have a degenerative neuromuscular condition (muscular dystrophy), and after 1 week of taking the antibiotics, I had lost about half of my strength. It was a very traumatic debilitation. Since then, I have tried to flood my system with pre- and probiotics, as well as drinking bone broth, but none of it has helped — my weakness resulting… Read more »
Milla
4 years 10 months ago

Thank you for your answer, Karen, and I hope you get better! The Primal diet should help, plenty of protein & fat for muscular regeneration! So many people with stories of how it helped them overcome debilating illnesses. Don’t give up the bone broth, and eat marrow! You might also look into creatine/protein supplementation, as well as Co-Q 10 and hyaluronic acid, maybe collagen also? Good luck!

Karen
Karen
4 years 10 months ago

Thanks, Milla! I do supplement with creatine & other amino acids, sometimes hydrolyzed protein, and take ubiquinol (potent version of Q10) on a daily basis. Thanks for your suggestions.

Will Gant
Will Gant
4 years 10 months ago

So…. Let’s say that you were ill for a bit and had to be on antibiotics. What’s the best way to normalize your gut flora again?

I’ve noted after having antibiotics that it takes me between a week and a month and a half to get back to the point where hot curry doesn’t tear up my stomach. I presumed this was due to bacterial death in my gut. However, since it does eventually seem to recover, is it possible that our regular gut flora can do so as well (or can be coerced into doing so)?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
4 years 10 months ago
When I was 18 (and before I became health-conscious), I began to get moderate acne and was put on low-dose antibiotics for over a year (which is horrifying to me now)! Not only did they not help AT ALL, but I soon developed really bad allergies for the first time in my life, with allergy tests showing that I had miraculously become allergic to almost every tree, shrub, and weed on the list, as well as multiple foods (corn, soy, peanuts, and lima beans… yeah, shocker). The allergist actually asked me if I’d ever tried living somewhere where it was… Read more »
Becca
4 years 10 months ago

Elizabeth, I also was on low-dose antibiotics for over a year as a method to treat my acne.

To be honest, it completely cleared up my skin… but it also really messed up my digestive system… which makes a lot of sense after reading this article.

Since going off the meds (about 8 months ago) my acne has returned and I can tell all my non-Primal friends think I’m crazy. But a little acne is a lot less scary to me than all the internal damage this medicine is doing to us!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
4 years 10 months ago

Have you noticed a difference in your skin since going primal? I’ve been on birth control now for awhile that has seemed to clear it up… but I went on it before going primal. I’d like to get off of it because, as you said, it’s scary knowing that it’s having all of these other effects on my body. I’m hoping that eating clean and primal will be enough to help keep it off for the most part.

Alex
Alex
4 years 10 months ago
I have been on antibiotics for my skin on several occasions, including just recently. And I also recently really committed to the Paleo/Primal diet (before I was half a$$ing it) and went off the antibiotics. 1. The antibiotics didn’t really help my skin. 2. I found the regimen at acne.org and it seems to be working WONDERS, following it very carefully. All topical, sounds crazy if you’ve ever tried benz. peroxide before but … try it. Don’t skimp on moisturizer! 3. I feel so much better since stopping the meds and smoothing out my diet. Less hungry, less cravings, more… Read more »
Lauren
4 years 10 months ago

OCPs have effects on gut flora VERY similar to antibiotics (I think it was the Primal Parent who wrote about this not too long ago). I’m not sure why.

Galina L
Galina L
4 years 10 months ago

My cream for the Rosacia has helped my son’s girlfriend with her acne a lot. It is a prescription medicine Metrogel 1%. She is better when eats gluten-free, but unfortunately can’t do it consistently.

Oly
Oly
4 years 1 month ago

Potato and my skin do not get along.

Vivian
Vivian
4 years 10 months ago

This just means we need to get research out there on the effects of the PB/Paleo diet on gut flora as well as general health, risk of heart disease etc.

We just need to figure out a way to get the research funded.

Nick
Nick
4 years 10 months ago

Sounds like the in diseased guts the anaerobic food chain is breaking down. Same thing happens happens when they feed cows Monensin (a Na+ decoupling agend), which preferentially inhibits metahnogens.
Firmicutes (like Clostridia) are typically acetogenic and get a big boost in population when there are fewer methanogens eating up all their H2 & CO2 produced from secondary fermenters. Acetate is a short fat that we can absorb and digest – hence the higher energy yield from fermentable foods.
Interestingly, Scanlan et al. already published a paper showing something similar in people with IBS, Crohn’s, etc. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2180/8/79

ladycopper5
ladycopper5
4 years 10 months ago

Hmm, I just remembered the time I had strep throat when I was a kid. I wonder if I actually have gotten oral antibiotics – I always thought I have never had any internal antibiotics and was lucky that way, but now that I think about it – hmm. Thanks for the unspleasant discovery! None of the rest of my siblings have had oral antibiotics and they are all thin, dammit. Well, I am having really good results eating this way, so here’s hoping I can change my gut flora quite thoroughly!

Trisha
4 years 10 months ago
I’ve has asthma/allergies since I was 5. I would bet money that I was on who knows what antibiotics early on knowing my mother. And now, over 40 years later, still suffer the consequences although I have improved immensely after dropping 60 pounds and eating basically primal for 4 years (high fat/high protein/no/very low carbs/nothing processed). A month ago I was hospitalized for dehydration following a half marathon (we still don’t know why, it’s a long story) and they found a UTI that they even said was probably brought on by the dehydration and made me take anti-biotics even after… Read more »
Anon
1 year 3 months ago
Just an FYI… Grapefruit juice, coffee and other acidic foods and drinks will actually make a UTI worse. Unsweetened cranberry juice can help but you’d have to drink large quantities. An active ingredient in cranberry is d-mannose, a type of sugar that is not absorbed by the body to any significant extent. You can buy d-mannose as a supplement. It will prevent UTIs caused by e-coli but not staph. It works by preventing bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder. Drink lots of water and avoid acidic foods. BTW, forgive my ignorance but it sounds like the Paleo/Primal… Read more »
Grokitmus Primal
4 years 10 months ago

When I was a kid they were handed out like candy. Better safe than sorry, here swallow some more antibiotics!

Larry
Larry
4 years 10 months ago

Just a question for someone who would know better than I would: doesn’t coconut oil kill heliobacter? I just find it curious because coconut seems to help keep people or animals that eat it trim. Thanks for any help.

Dan
Dan
4 years 10 months ago

So…. is taking a probiotic altering our gut flora and bacteria for perhaps the worse? Perhaps just eating a healthy diet getting lean and letting our guts/ digestive system work it’s own magic or gene expression?

I started taking a Probiotic that has 13 Billion Organisms….. perhaps not a good idea. my stomach seems to rumble more often not, not sure if related.

Chris Hynes
4 years 10 months ago

Looking forward to the solutions! Do you take some probiotic blend, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut… All of the above? What’s the best way to a) test if you can improve the gut environment, and b) improve it.

Also, is frequent burping and farting caused by bad gut environment, possibly by antibotics? Can you reduce it by fixing the environment?

I’ve seen a bunch of random observations on the topic, but not a good set of steps for diagnosis and fixing the problem.

Keoni Galt
Keoni Galt
4 years 10 months ago
Please remember that the reason why antibiotics are used in CAFO’s is not because the antibiotics make them fatter faster. Cows stuck in feedlots are fattened on corn and soy feed. But Cows are designed to thrive on grass, not grains and legumes. Once the cows begin eating corn and soy feed, they start to get fat…and their immune systems no longer work properly. Combine that with crowded conditions and literally wallowing in their own shit, and you get Cows who start to get sick and die before they reach their prime, fattened slaughter weight. But mix antibiotics into their… Read more »
Kristi
Kristi
4 years 10 months ago

Wow. You just described what’s happening to most people almost perfectly. Except we’re designed to eat meats and veggies. Great ananlogy!

Dave, RN
4 years 10 months ago

Cows on feedlots need antibiotics becuase when fed grains thier e-coli count shoots up VERY dramatically. I used to have the numbers but I just recall it being staggering.
Grass fed cows don’t need antibiotics because of their natural diet. Grains make the gut e-coli friendly.

raney
raney
4 years 10 months ago

Looking forward to the upcoming solutions. I’m currently in the midst of a six week course of 24/7 IV Ampicillin, for a deep infection in a broken tibia. I think I’ll take a bit of imbalance over losing my leg – but I’ve never really felt comfortable taking antibiotics in minor cases.

rob
rob
4 years 10 months ago

Last took them for a burn wound that appeared infected … good news is I still have that leg.

Nossar
Nossar
4 years 10 months ago
antibiotics are wonderful drugs when used in an appropriate way but I’ve been fed between 8 and 15 of these treatments a year for the last 5 years and it does huge damages to your health used that way… Now I take charge of my health and I know that it was wrong to prescribe me these more than half of the time, it was just in case… who cared then that I would feel like shit and get sick so often… because of another drug that had been prescribed… drugs, drugs, drugs… living primal gets you out of this… Read more »
Spiney
Spiney
4 years 10 months ago
After struggling to lose 100 pounds, I quickly regained it after three courses of antibiotics in one year. Worse, the final antibiotic was one to which I had no previously been exposed and I had a very rare reaction resulting in permanent heart damage. What would I have done differently? In each case I was not in pain or immediate danger of death, but I was given a new-fangled antibiotic for the condition. This is done as a matter of course if more than 5% of bacteria causing that illness have been found to be resistant to the old stuff.… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
4 years 10 months ago
I had a sneaking suspicion this was true when I was put on antibiotics my entire jr yr of high school (recurrent ear/tonsil infections and lazy drs who didn’t want to do surgery), and promptly started gaining weight despite a continued healthy diet and exercise plan once I was off of them… Not only did it screw up my digestive tract, but I’d bet money that it’s what triggered my endormetriosis, endometriomas and all the issues I’ve had since… since that year, my health has been nothing short of just f**ked. I’m now basically antibiotic resistant, continue to eat probiotics… Read more »
cTo
4 years 10 months ago

An interesting note on how antibiotic use–while certainly not paleolithic–might have roots further back in the neolithic than we thought: http://news.discovery.com/history/antibiotic-beer-nubia.html

David L
David L
4 years 10 months ago

Makes me feel good about the long term Tobramycin I’m starting in a few weeks.

Tara
4 years 10 months ago

Very interesting. I just finished a round of antibiotics (for cellulitis) and I noticed that my stomach was extra wonky. I was never hungry but when I did ate, I had no ‘full’ cues. I ended up gaining 5 pounds.

Tom
4 years 10 months ago
I’m thinking about the possibility of a “poop bank.” Like a blood bank, it would store a resource for administration to humans in need, but instead of blood, the Poop bank would have fecal matter to transplant into people who have had their gut biomes trashed by the antibiotics. Fecal transplants are becoming more accepted for treatment of things like C.diff, so perhaps it’s just a matter of time. I bet a person could auto-transfuse, just like with blood, by collecting and storing a sample before antibiotic intervention, and then having it administered after the antibiotics were done. Gives a… Read more »
Larry
Larry
4 years 10 months ago
Two years ago I had foot surgery. A few days later I had a MRSA/Staph infection. I then recieved two weeks of daily Cubicin antbiotic IV’s, followed by two months of antibiotic tablets. Last winter I started to get strange symptoms. UTI’s Prostatitis, some weight loss. I went to a Urologist who prescribed—antibiotics. It all got better then worse. A friend tipped me off that I probably had a Yeast Infection from all the antibiotics….she was right. I went natural this time and still take a half dozen herbal treatments along with various probiotics daily. That along with the anti-yeast… Read more »
SophieE
4 years 10 months ago
When I was younger I took antibiotics for my acne but they made my face so red that I stopped. I’m glad for that now. I used to get recurrent tonsillitis for which I was always getting prescribed antibiotics but I’ve worked out that strangely enough ibuprofen makes the tonsillitis remediate just as fast as the antibiotics (and is fabulous for symptomatic relief) if I take it early. I theorize that getting rid of the inflammation is reducing the indentations on my tonsils where the bacteria like to hang out because within 2-3 days I’m usually off the ibuprofen and… Read more »
nuno h luz
nuno h luz
4 years 10 months ago

Hi Mark,

So if you had H. pylori what would you do? You wouldn’t take antibiotics?

Thanks for the reply,

Nuno

Susan Alexander
4 years 10 months ago

Mark: I really don’t know what the world would do without you around to do all this awesome research and lay all this stuff out for us so we all can know about it. Never before have I given so much thought to things like gut flora, and life’s just better this way. Susan 🙂

Alykhan - Fitness Breakout
4 years 10 months ago

Mark,

Interesting information. I generally try to avoid taking antibiotics when I am sick and just let my body heal itself naturally. It seems like this may not be a terrible approach.

Alykhan

Mari
Mari
4 years 10 months ago

I’ve heard it said that raw garlic/raw onions given to the same obese mice will return their gut flora to that of lean mice, and they lose weight. Is that the case, or just wishful thinking?

Paul Alexander
4 years 10 months ago

All meds have secondary effects on the body.
It depends on the person how they will manifest.
You might need here and there some pills in case of emergency, but over the long haul, you can enjoy a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition and great fitness,

trackback
4 years 10 months ago

[…] How antibiotics make you fat […]

Erik
4 years 10 months ago

Wow! I find the ghrelin increase the most interesting as well. It all makes sense. People with bad nutrition tend to get sick more often, resulting in antibiotic use. Through the combo of poor nutrition and antibiotics, no wonder why we Americans have huge guts. Or should I say…marbling.

Milla
4 years 10 months ago

People are even more obsessed with antibiotics here in the UK. I have a friend who takes them for every single little ouch. He also gets sick if someone sneezes within a mile radius…
And the ‘marbling’ thing made me LOL – thats genius 😀

trackback
4 years 10 months ago

[…] the problems with antibiotics […]

Alana
Alana
4 years 10 months ago

Mark,

I’ll be curious to hear your solutions post because I’ve been off/on antibiotics for literally years — on it for as long as 10 months at a time (skin issues).

I hate it, yes. I realize it’s bad. Now I’m on a low-dose antibiotics that supposedly is only anti-inflammatory, NOT anti-microbial in nature. Your thoughts on this? (I know it’s not ideal, but do I at least have a shot at restoring my flora if there’s no antimicrobial activity?)

Thanks for your research and blog,
Alana

Kathryn
Kathryn
4 years 10 months ago
My husband had spontaneous rupture of a bicep while on Levaquin. And Cipro (and other fluoride meds) are being heavily implicated in the development of fibromyalgia. I just had a cold (virus) go bacterial (green and yellow mucus) and cleared up the bacteria in less than 24 hours using chopped raw garlic on the bottom of my feet (no garlic breath 🙂 – cover with plastic wrap, socks, another layer of plastic wrap, and another pair of socks to keep the garlic from breaking through and stinking up everything – and be sure to put out the trash after you… Read more »
Milla
4 years 10 months ago

wow. I’m with you on the garlic, its helped me through plenty, but I just stick to concentrated garlic capsules from the health store 🙂

PaleoDentist
4 years 10 months ago

As a dentist I deal with infections all the time. 300 people a year die of tooth infections in the USA. I agree that many doctors overprescribe antibiotics. Personally I have to see systemic signs of infection before prescribing antibiotics. I always recommend probiotics along with any antibiotic prescription. Looking forward to Mark’d solutions post. Hopefully I can improve my recommendations!

Rebecca
Rebecca
4 years 10 months ago

Ok..am now concerned! I have been on long term, low-dose Doxycycline for Rosacea/acne for about 2 years.
The antibiotics cleared up my skin a treat, but I have also radically altered my diet since starting them. And co-incidently I have been thinking about giving them up.
I now am ‘almost’ primal (NO wheat/grains but still eat dairy) and before I changed my diet I was wheat/grains biggest fan!
And the only thing holding me back from stopping them is my skin flaring up again.
Oh, what to do??

Jessica
Jessica
4 years 10 months ago

Dairy can be a huge contributing factor to skin issues. If I have a drink of milk I’m sure to have a few new zits pop up the next day. No dairy = flawless skin for me 🙂 Might be worth a try cutting it out and cutting out the antibiotics if acne is the only reason you take them!

Milla
4 years 10 months ago

Switching from commercial to local-market dairy helped me. I tolerate dairy quite well, grew up on a farm with goats and cows, but commercial dairy – except well-aged cheese – isn’t very good. I buy local, unpasteurised, and it doesn’t give me a single problem.

Milla
4 years 10 months ago
You could try eliminating dairy for a while to see, but it is easier said than done…try switching, at least, to fermented dairy, heavy cream & butter and cheese, preferably raw/unpasteurised. As for the antibiotics, rather than going cold-turkey, try missing a dose, and see how you do. Then miss another one. Get off slowly, and up your anti-inflammatory food intake (oily fish, berries, etc). And try calendula. Its a very potent anti inflammatory. I don’t have rosacea, but my skin used to be very problematic and sensitive and calendula compresses worked very well. Also try burdock/nettle/dandelion teas, a few… Read more »
PaleoDentist
4 years 10 months ago

if it is 20 mg doxicylcine 2/day it is the same as Periostat (20mg bid) used in dentistry to treat periodontal (gum) disease. it is a submicrobial dose and will not kill bacteria and therefore will not cause bacterial resistance. it is used for its side effect as an anticollagenase to turn of MMP’s.

Rebecca
Rebecca
4 years 10 months ago

Thanks Pale0 Dentist,
It is in fact 50mg/day. Is that still ok?

David
David
4 years 10 months ago

I had to take Cipro when I was away trekking in Africa due to very bad diarrhoea a few weeks ago. I was extremely weak in a very remote area and I took what the doctor gave me. I knew the damage I was doing to my gut so I stopped after 3 days and I’ve been knocking back raw milk kefir every day since to try and boost my gut back up again but I’m very interested in any other solutions.

Greg
Greg
4 years 10 months ago
I was always the tough guy and gut most anything out. Including walking pneumonia. Funny thing now is I am not so tough. It devastated my lungs, I can’t run 100 yards now. When you need antibiotics take them. Having said that I think in the future they will find interesting interactions between bacteria and auto-immune disease. Could certain chronic disease be cured with certain bacteria? This is not a new idea. Phage Therapy has been around since the 1920’s and is gaining renewed interest in the light of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. You may wet your appetite for… Read more »
rabbit_trail
rabbit_trail
4 years 10 months ago

This is depressing. I was given round after round of antibiotics as a small child until they decided what I actually had was asthma. I’m looking forward to the solutions.

Moonlightmyth
Moonlightmyth
4 years 10 months ago

This scares me.
I unfortunatly have a skin condition and I have to take antibiotics daily to keep it in check. There are some problems that going primal won’t fix. Sigh.

Rebecca
Rebecca
4 years 10 months ago

With you on this one…..to take or not to take..that is the question!

Gracey
Gracey
4 years 10 months ago
I have been doing ‘all the right stuff’ for a few years….but this past year I was hit with sudden joint pain/fatigue (while continuing with exercise & avoiding grains), next comes anti-inflammatory meds…then stronger pain meds- while waiting for a slew of Doctors to rule out Lupus, arthritis….finally an Infectous Disease Doc has given me my second course of doxycycline- wow- start dropping pain meds and feeling like my old self! So as I am being treated for the bacteria left by a TICK 3 years ago….and praying that this will put an end to it….what I’m reading here is… Read more »
Medbh
Medbh
4 years 10 months ago
I took Cipro for 3 days for a UTI and woke up screaming at night with massive shooting-pain headaches. I talked to a researcher who said one of the side effects of Cipro can be permanent brain damage. In fact his daughter is in her 30’s and had that side effect. She will never be able to live on her own. Thank God for the warning pain–Cipro’s on my allergy list. About the acne cures–I’m an esthetician who deals with it everyday. Many of my customers are on antibiotics from dermatologists and they don’t work consistently. But if you read… Read more »
serrorserror
serrorserror
4 years 10 months ago

I was recently amazed to hear a doctor tell my friend after surgery, that because she was taking antibiotics that she would need to be conscious of rebuilding the beneficial bacteria in her gut. He suggested not only yogurt, but probiotic supplements and true fermented items like kombucha and real sauerkraut. Go doc!

Moshen
Moshen
4 years 10 months ago

I had two rounds of Cipro, two winters ago (long story, but it was preventative usage). Didn’t notice a thing. No eating or digestion or weight changes at all. Maybe the way you eat determines the flora population that re-grows?

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