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The Side Effects of Antibiotics

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in infections and inflammation, originally published in issue 28 - May 1998

Discovering antibiotics in the 1930s was a major breakthrough for modern medicine as it allowed many people to be saved from life threatening diseases such as typhoid and meningitis. However, caution should be taken when considering the use of antibiotics, as there are known side effects. They should only be used for bacterial infections, and the antibiotic should be specific to the bacterium identified, and given for as short a time as possible.

The purpose of antibiotics is to kill bacteria, but as well as destroying the pathogenic bacteria they also kill off the beneficial strains of bacteria within the body. The body has about 400 different types of these beneficial strains, which are found mainly in the digestive tract.

These friendly bacteria act as the first line of defence against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other disease producing microbes.

They can synthesise B vitamins and aid in the digestion of insoluble fibre to supply us with extra nutrients. Without these friendly bacteria we find a predominance of unfriendly bacteria in the digestive tract.

With this unnatural imbalance of bacteria, the body can suffer many symptoms. These include fatigue, gastrointestinal upsets, Candida, severe skin rashes, kidney and renal infections, diarrhoea, colitis, hearing loss and many more.

My client, Peter, suffered major problems after taking two courses of antibiotics, metronidazole and amoxcycillin, in close succession.

Prior to his first consultation, he wrote the following, in his completed questionnaire:

"The colitis and Irritable Bowel symptoms started during a course of antibiotics to deal with suspect stomach ulcers, which it later appeared I did not have. The side effects were severe. As a result I was referred to a consultant physician at the Hospital. After having a colonoscopy 3 times, 1 sigmoidoscopy, a barium enema, a barium meal small bowel X-Ray, an ultrasound scan and a C.T. scan the consultant declared himself mystified and referred me for surgery. The consultant surgeon refused surgery and wanted to refer me back to the physician who had previously said that he could do no more. My symptoms still persist and I am rarely able to leave the house on any day before mid-day because of multiple bowel motions. Walking, bending and stretching produce severe pain in the transverse colon area. The bowel motions are unformed and often show mucus and/or infused blood."

Peter, aged 70, had been suffering from these symptoms for a year before he came to see me. Other presenting symptoms included slight arthritis in his hands, and that he was a little overweight. The irritable bowel symptoms also included a bloating and gassy stomach, and frequent feelings of tiredness.

He ate a high fat, meat and dairy diet, which were all adding to his problems. These foods are very mucus forming in the body and also contain antibiotics that are used in the food industry. His vegetable intake was also very low, and he ate large amounts of unprocessed wheat bran on his cereal in the mornings.

Assessing the situation carefully, and using kinesiology as a diagnostic technique, it became clear that Peter had developed food sensitivities to wheat, corn and citrus fruits. He was lactose intolerant and sensitive to all vitamins and minerals, but not to some herbs, and natural food supplements.

Peter was advised to follow a carefully balanced, wholefood diet emphasising the foods containing B vitamins. He abstained from the foods that he was sensitive to, as well as tea, coffee, meat and all foods containing sugar. The wheatbran was also avoided for three reasons. Firstly, Peter was sensitive to wheat and wheat products.

Secondly, wheat can be very scouring to the walls of the digestive tract. Thirdly, if it is not soaked thoroughly in water beforehand, it can actually block the passage of food through the system. We added some oatbran in its place, which was soaked overnight in water and added to his cereal in the mornings. Peter followed a vegetarian plus fish diet, to increase his intake of soluble and insoluble fibre foods found in fruits, vegetables and legumes. He also took oily fish, linseeds, cold pressed safflower and blackcurrant oils, to increase his intake of the essential fatty acids. Baked potatoes, brown rice, quinoa and millet were eaten for energy. Garlic, ginger and onions were also emphasised for their antioxidant effects. Lots of water was drunk throughout the day, along with herb teas; chamomile and peppermint, and juices; carrot, apple and cabbage.

Peter took some herbs to cleanse the digestive tract and some psyllium husks, a gelling agent, to help the toxic debris pass through the system. Aloe vera juice was also taken twice daily to aid the digestive processes and to promote the beneficial bacteria.

During the first weeks of the program Peter used skin brushing techniques and lots of walking to increase his circulation and aid his lymphatic system. He also used eucalyptus, neroli, chamomile and peppermint essential oils to massage the colon area.These oils have a beneficial effect on the digestive system. After three weeks Peter took a lactose free, hypoallergenic probiotic containing bifidobacteria and lactobacillus acidophilus.

Five weeks later Peter felt fit and healthy and was confident to leave the house at any time of the day. The irritable bowel and colitis symptoms had cleared, his weight had reduced and he had no signs of arthritis. His doctor was amazed to see him so well when he attended his regular appointment.

After 10 weeks Peter added wheat, meat, corn and citrus foods to the diet on a rotational basis. Milk was avoided due to the lactose intolerance. He felt happy with these recommendations as it meant that he could have his traditional English breakfast every Sunday morning.

On completion of his program I discussed the natural alternatives to antibiotics with Peter, some of which include Grapefruit Seed Extract, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Cat's Claw, Echinacea augustifolia and Berberis vulgaris. Peter was delighted to discover that there were some natural alternatives that he could consider, if the need arose, in the future.


Antibiotics. WDDTY April 1997 Volume 8 No 1
The Lactic Acid Bacteria -- Their Role in Human Health. Dr Nigel Plummer Bsc PhD Biomed Publications 1992 ISBN 0-9520440-0-5


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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;

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