Side effects of using antibiotics and how to boost the immune system naturally
If you've ever gone to the doctor with a cold or flu, it's safe to say that you were most likely prescribed antibiotics. It's no secret that doctors love dishing out antibiotic prescriptions! But how did the doctor even know that your illness was caused by a bacterial infection? Fast forward a week or 2 and boom! You're ill again! You go back to the doctor and surprise, surprise - he writes you another antibiotic prescription. There are so many things wrong with this familiar scenario.
Recent studies have shown that multiple courses of antibiotics may have a significant impact on peoples' health and children's development! While there is a time and place for antibiotic therapy, it's shocking that antibiotics are the leading prescribed class of drugs, with about 90% of antibiotic prescription not even being warranted! The growing evidence which suggests that antibiotics often do more harm than good has motivated us to explain how antibiotics work and why everyone should think twice before following doctors' orders.
We encourage everybody to break the antibiotic cycle! There are many other ways to improve your health, boost your immune system and keep illness at bay, without the terrible side effects that often come from antibiotic use - especially repeat antibiotic use.
What are antibiotics
Antibiotics are a type of antimicrobial designed to target bacterial infections within or on the body. There are 17 different classes of antibiotics, and every antibiotic is either a general (“broad-spectrum”) or specific (“focused”) antibiotic. A broad-spectrum antibiotic is designed to eliminate a variety of similar bacteria, while a focused antibiotic targets only specific bacteria (one or two).
Why you need to break the antibiotic cycle
There are various negative side effects associated with antibiotic use, which are magnified with repeated used of antibiotics.
Imbalance of natural and vital microbes in the body
Unfortunately, general antibiotics do not know the difference between good bacteria and those causing an infection. Our bodies contain bacteria that are highly necessary for important bodily functions such as food digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, and mucous membrane nourishing. One of the downsides of antibiotics is that they will eliminate these good bacteria and create an imbalance, which results in poor bodily functioning or a secondary illness or infection!
Antibiotics shut down the immune system
When an antibiotic is taken, it shuts down the immune system so that the immune system will not attack the antibiotics (as it's a foreign substance). This prevents the immune system from naturally fighting off the infection, which over time, weakens the immune system. Think of the immune system as a 'muscle'. The less it's used, the weaker it becomes!
Unwarranted prescription side effects
The unfortunate thing is that doctors are extremely quick to prescribe antibiotics without confirming what the cause of illness is. As antibiotics only work on bacteria, they will not work on viruses, fungal infections or parasites. If you take an antibiotic for an infection that is caused by a virus, parasite or fungus, the infection will not get better, and the antibiotics will throw your body off even further! Too often, doctors prescribe antibiotics for infections which are not bacterial.
The symptoms of infection such as a snotty nose, coughing and fevers, are actually the immune system trying to heal the infection. When an antibiotic is taken, it shuts down the immune system. Even if the infection is being caused by a virus, the symptoms of that infection will diminish or disappear after taking antibiotics because the immune system is inactive. This leads many people to think that the antibiotics worked because their symptoms disappeared. In reality, the antibiotics simply switched off the immune system, which switched off the symptoms while the infection remains. With the immune system unable to fight off a viral, fungal or parasitic infection, the body is left defenseless and vulnerable against the infection.
If a person has a virus or fungal infection, the virus or fungus will continue to make more of itself, unhindered by an immune system. Once the antibiotic is stopped, the virus will show itself again, but it will be stronger because it has had the opportunity to take a stronger hold.
Antibiotics completely disrupt the intestinal tract
In the intestines, there are good bacteria and yeast that help with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. When the good bacteria are killed by the antibiotic, digestion is disrupted and the other microbes that exists in the intestines have more space to grow. Overgrowth of yeast in the body is a common side effects of antibiotic use, as well as diarrhea and nutrient deficiency!
Antibiotics may cause autoimmune disease
Studies suggest that certain classes of antibiotics actually cause autoimmune disease like Crohn's disease, eczema, or lupus! Autoimmune diseases happen when the immune system attacks normal tissue just as it would attack tissue infected by a bacteria or virus. It's said that the immune system becomes confused with the use of antibiotics, especially repeat antibiotic therapy, leading to it attacking itself!
Repeat antibiotic use develops superbugs
Chronic antibiotic use plays a huge part in the development of superbugs. Superbugs are defined as a strain of bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics! Antibiotic resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon where, over time, bacteria adapt to the drugs that are designed to kill them. This makes standard treatments for bacterial infections less effective and sometimes, completely ineffective.
How to break the antibiotic cycle
Having said all that, it's important to mention that the introduction of antibiotics revolutionised the medical field and the way many infections and procedures were treated. Antibiotics should be recognised and respected in a number of aspects. If antibiotics did not exist, many surgeries would become life-threatening, and many illnesses would become fatal. However, people should never be given antibiotics unless they really do need it. It should never be the first option, but rather the last resort in treating infections.
The immune system is an amazingly intricate and complex system that keeps us healthy and protects us against all sorts of invaders including viruses, bacteria, microbes, parasites and toxins. The immune system also helps with recovery from infection and illness. One of the best ways to break the antibiotic cycle is to support the body by boosting the immune system. Having a strong immune system will increase the likelihood of fighting off infections and speeding up recovery time!
There are many herbal and homeopathic supplements available that are immune strengthening. Some of the most common herbal immune supporting herbs are echinacea and elderberry. The most common immune-boosting vitamin is Vitamin C! NB. If you are taking an antibiotic, please do not take any herbal immune-boosting supplement! Remember, antibiotics suppress the immune system and taking an immune-boosting supplement will confuse the immune system and could lead to an auto-immune response. On the other hand, homeopathic medicines can be used safely with antibiotics, as homeopathic remedies don’t work directly with the immune system, but rather work to make the immune system more effective when it is ready to be more active!
It's also a good idea to supplement your diet with probiotics, such as acidophilus. With antibiotics destroying the good bacteria in the body, these good bacteria need to be replaced. There are many acidophilus or probiotic formulas on the market!
Natural remedies for immunity and healing have been used for thousands of years to assist with recovery and strengthen the immune system. There are many herbs in traditional healing cultures known for their protective and restorative effect, acting as immune system tonics, to protect against infection and hasten healing.
A strong, balanced and healthy immune system is essential to protect the body against a host of viral, fungal and bacterial infections and also to maintain cell integrity and guard against illnesses like cancer, allergies, auto-immune disorders and other systemic illnesses. Natural immune system tonics may be used preventatively or to assist and speed up healing and recovery!
Another way to beat the antibiotic cycle is to take a look at your personal environment. Sometime the root cause of illness is not the actual infection, but a stress that is weakening the immune system, leaving you vulnerable to developing an infection or illness. Consider your relationships, diet, mental health and finances. Do you get enough exercise, or do you smoke a lot? These are factors that could largely be impacting your health status. Correcting these factors can make a huge improvement to your immune system, transforming you into a strong and healthy individual who does not require the assistance of antibiotics at all!
If you have any health questions, please contact our team or leave a comment below. We always love hearing from you!