Antibiotic Dangers for Lyme Disease Patients
Not all germs are bad. 70 percent of you is made of germs. Medical professor at NYU Dr. Martin Blaser has accumulated research on the long term effects of antibiotics on us and has come to the conclusion that antibiotics are risky business. Please consider the general risks. For more Lyme specific risks click here.
Some antibiotic dangers to consider:
1. In emergencies, antibiotics save lives.
Antibiotics have saved lives since the 1940’s. Plagues that killed before can now be wiped out with these miracle drugs. People hospitalized with pneumonias, puerperal sepsis, meningitis, typhoid fever, and other sever infectious diseases can vouch for the benefits of antibiotics. They work miracles with Lyme Disease, as well.
But there is a time to stop using them and start building immunity. And we need to acknowledge that Chronic Lyme Syndrome is not just an infection, but an autoimmune response, and that antibiotics may not kill all the Lyme no matter how strong they are. They may even terminate entire species of microbiota that you’ve spent your entire life accumulating.
2. Some cultures have overdone it with antibiotics.
Doctors in North America hand out antibiotics like candy. Respiratory tract infections usually clear up on their own, but antibiotic-candy is used liberally for them. Respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses like rhinovirus, astrovirus, metapneumovirus and parainfluenza 80 percent of the time, but we take antibiotic just in case and because we think it won’t hurt. Viruses don’t have cell walls like bacteria do, so antibiotics do nothing to them. Viruses use your cells as hosts, so to kill them we would have to kill their hosts (us). Some drugs stop them from reproducing or entering our cells, but there are few cures.
Antibiotics, Blaser writes, can cure almost all bacterial infections. But it’s not so simple. Bacteria live on you and in you as permanent residents. Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A strep), Staphylococcus aureus (the bacterium found in Staph infections), and Haemophilus influenza (which causes ear infections and childhood meningitis) frequently test positive even when they are not causing infection. “You have not been infected,” Blaser says, “but instead colonized, a general harmless event.” So we may test positive and think antibiotics are necessary, but we also have a group of good bacteria called viridans streptococci that seem to keep our strep, staph and residents of the like under control.One in 300 children with a strep infection would develop rheumatic fever before antibiotics. This is when the strep lingers for more than two weeks and your antibodies against the strep cross-react with and attack your body. The odds are vast (I repeat, 1 in 300) but doctors claim that they prescribe antibiotics to prevent rheumatic fever.
Sixty-four people were treated with penicillin in 1945. By 2010, 258 million antibiotics were prescribed in the US. This translates to 833 prescriptions per 1000 people. In Sweden the rate is 388 per 1000 people (they also put less antibiotics in their livestock) and they are no sicker, if not much less sick than Americans. Their culture is less paranoid about germs, and so they practice differently. American children receive antibiotics seventeen times before the age of twenty, on average. In their twenties and thirties, they take another thirteen rounds. What are the long-term repercussions? I think we are already facing them.
3. There are billions of casualties when you take antibiotics.
It’s well known that we are building resistance to antibiotics, and that there is a desperate need for stronger drugs. But what people don’t talk about is the collateral damage being done to the good bacteria living in us that, for millions of years, have served vital functions and contributed to our survival. A round of antibiotics, especially broad spectrum antibiotics, can wipe out billions of these guys like a fire spreading through a tropical rainforest. Many species of good bacteria are killed, allowing populations of resistant bacterial invaders to flourish. Blaser emphasizes the significance of resistant bacteria; “In a population of a million pneumococci, there might be one with a small genetic variation – an outlier – that arose by chance and that is resistant to amoxicillin.” It’s true the other 999,999 are killed, but the single anomaly that multiplies will have a very empty home to decorate, with no defenders to stop it! It’s ironic and tragic that in our attempts to kill one bug, we eliminate our defense squad and let other bugs grow out of control. In extreme cases, people die from antibiotic associated colitis, C. difficile.
4. Being germ free may cause asthma, allergies, diabetes, and other health issues.
Blaser believes that our obsessive need to be ‘germ free’ has altered our microbiome in ways that our constitutions were not prepared for. Asthma, allergies, diabetes, obesity and autism have gone up dramatically since antibiotics have been on the market. Experiments performed on mice have shown that mice on high fat diets get fat; mice on antibiotics get fat; and mice on antibiotics and high fat diets get obese. Bacteria in your gut help you eat your food, as a primary function. A Swedish study by Drs. Karl Marlid and Jonas Ludvigsson on people with celiac disease witnessed that people with recently developed celiac were 40 percent more likely than others to have been on antibiotics within the last few months before their diagnoses.
5. Immunity goes down with antibiotics.
We are more ‘allergic’ or sensitive to our environment than ever in history. Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to anything that makes contact in or on your body that is not you. Blaser calls our microbiome our ‘coast guard’ bacteria, which when depleted, turn your city of coastal guards into a much smaller village. The smaller your ecosystem, the more prone you are to endemics wiping it out. Studies with mice, and stats on humans indicate that we are far more likely to get sick following a round of antibiotics. In labs, ‘germ free’ mice cannot fight off bacterial invaders that experimenters introduce to them, which ‘normal’ mice have no problem defending.
Germs live all over us. On your skin, in your mouth and in your gut, they do more than defend us against bacterial invaders. They make our immune systems stronger against our environments. They help us digest vitamins. They are also good for our brains, because serotonin is made in the gut by neuroendocrine cells that communicate with your microbiota.
6. Antibiotics don’t get filtered out of our bodies.
CYP3A4 enzymes are hematic and intestinal phase I enzymes that metabolize drugs. Antibiotics are CYP3A4 inhibitors, so they are toxic because they inhibit your detox enzymes thus allowing the meds to build up in the body. If antibiotics, already unnecessary for your infection, are killing your good bacteria and weakening your immunity, the last thing you need is more toxins in an already toxic body. Toxic side effects may result in nerve damage or organ failure. Histamines are also produced in the body to get rid of the drug, which often cause inflammation and allergic reactions.
These are some reasons why we need to do so much more than take antibiotics.
We need to detox toxins and medications, feed the right bugs, starve the wrong ones and keep our immune systems strong. Don’t rely on antibiotics – especially since new strains haven’t been created in decades and our bacteria are highly resistant to them. Use antibiotics more prudently and not for marginal benefits. And when you do use them, use narrow spectrum antibiotics made for specific strains of bacteria so they don’t wipe out your microbiome.