My Antibiotics Perspective

(Disclosure: this post is my opinion, and I am not a doctor.  I am simply trying to make sense of all the information I have and make the best decisions possible for my body and the bodies of my family members.)

If you can manage, try not to take antibiotics.  It is better for your immune system to fight off infection by itself.  I have heard it explained like this: when we take antibiotics for every sickness, we are trading the long term benefit of a healthy immune system for the short term benefit of feeling better today.  You should be able to manage avoiding antibiotics generally if you eat well, sleep well, and make your health a priority.  I do this by adhering to eating real food in general, but also from a steady intake of superfoods in my diet and supplementing with vitamins I am deficient in.

For example, generally I have in my diet daily: fermented cod liver oil with butter oil (a blend), raw whole food vitamin B complex, raw whole food vitamin C, True Calm (GABA amino acid blend), local and pastured eggs, raw and whole milk yogurt, grass-fed butter, fresh produce, lacto-fermented veggies (pickles, carrots, sauerkraut), raw cheese, water kefir, beet kvass, elderberry syrup, and some kind of pastured or grass-fed meat.

But sometimes you can’t keep your immune system up, no matter your attention to diet, exercise, stress and sleep.  And sometimes it does not matter how many probiotics you take or eat, it is not enough to fight off an infection.  I eat very well, and I make sleep and health a priority.  But I still get extremely sick once in a while.  As in, sick enough for antibiotics.

I try to always remind myself that there are many variables at play when it comes to optimum health.  Environmental toxins around me that can take their toll, from plastics to pollution.  (Just take a look at what is in your shampoo or hand soap or perfume here.  Yikes!)  Generations of family before me ate margarine, Crisco, lots of vegetable oils (canola, safflower, soybean), battery chickens, white flour, white sugar, CAFO beef and pork, and believed that saturated fat was “bad”.  The last two or three generations have been fed these kinds of lies for years now.

The last time I got sick enough for antibiotics, I had been taking care of my sick son for 5 days.  Coupled that with my hormone, adrenal, and thyroid issues at the time, and being a little more stressed than usual by making pies and such for Thanksgiving, and I came down with a sore throat.

That sore throat was brutal, but I fought it off after three days.  I felt better for several hours, but that night I came down with a very painful ear infection, with a bit of hearing loss, and tender mastoid bones (behind the ear).  I fought that off after a day or so, but then I relapsed again with renewed throat pain, and now two sore ears with hearing loss and a lot of pressure and pain in the mastoid area.  Here I was on day five when I should have been improving, but I was backsliding and in as much pain as when I was in labor with my second son.

Full disclosure, I was mad that I could not fight this off.  I had done everything I could think of to combat my sickness.  I went to bed early, I took care of my stress levels, I used my neti pot three times a day, I drank mullein tea, I drank fenugreek tea, I put coconut oil in my ears, I gargled with salt water three times a day, I took Emergen-C, I took extra cod liver oil, vitamin C, B complex, zinc, I drank extra kefir and water, I washed my hands and took warm showers.  But it wasn’t enough.  I almost fought it off twice, but it was still not quite enough.

I admit that I cried quite a few times as I waited for my pain relievers to kick in that Sunday, and hoped I would make it to Monday and feel a miraculous change.  Instead, I was up all night in pain waiting to go to the doctor at the crack of dawn to break down and beg for antibiotics and narcotics.  Yes, it was that bad.

So I did.  By the time I got my hands on antibiotics, pseudoephedrine (yes, it was that bad), and acetaminophen with codeine (again, yes, it was THAT bad), I was still unable to move for about 8 hours after taking my first dose.  Every time I moved my head would throb and I would tear up from how painful it was.

Antibiotics are truly amazing.  I needed them, and I am so glad that I had access.  I am a different person today than I would have been without them.  I could have been hospitalized if I did not get this infection under control.  In fact, mastoiditis is one of the most common causes of death in underdeveloped nations.  And it’s a real shame, because it is so treatable with antibiotics.

Keep that in mind when you try to avoid antibiotics, and do not take it too far.  Sometimes your body loses the battle, and you need a little help.  Just make sure to have lots of probiotic food during and after your round of antibiotics.  After my round of antibiotics, I ate a lot of naturally fermented pickles, and drank the brine to boot!

Finally, if you are finding that you are on antibiotics all the time, consider taking charge of your immune system.  Proactively embracing a healing diet protocol like Diet Recovery and Eat For Heat feels much better than waiting around in fear that my immune system is not strong enough to fight off what the world brings.  My body should be equipped with the right tools to stay alive.

If I can be leveled by strep throat to the point of almost being hospitalized, then isn’t a healing protocol worth it at that point?  I am worth the time and effort that reading up on metabolism takes.  It’s worth it to understand the root of my immune system woes.  And I will be so grateful to have a healthier immune system as I put those things into practice.

I feel so much better, and I’m happy to have the wisdom of both modern medicine and the traditional, whole foods of my ancestors.  What do you think?

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.
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Comments

  1. Hi Kendahl! Thanks for sharing with us on Fresh Bites over at Real Food Whole Health!

    I agree with you…there is a time and a place for antibiotics.
    Other remedies should generally be tried first and for many (most!) conditions, antibiotics are not necessary. It’s our over-reliance on them (for us, for industrially farmed animals) that has destroyed our immune systems (by way of gut damage) so severely.

    Nourishing our bodies with real, traditional foods is the number one thing we can do to keep up our defenses, and healing the gut is paramount to a healthy immune system. Before I healed my gut, I caught every little thing going around, and that was on top of my dozens of chronic conditions, ailments and illnesses. Now, I rarely get sick, and when I do, a well chosen natural remedy is generally more than enough to have me feeling better in no time.

    When natural remedies have been exhausted and the body still can not overcome without great difficulty, it is good that we have appropriately used antibiotics in our tool kit. Supplementing with probiotic foods is crucial before, during and after this time, and even supplementation can be necessary, but it is better to get back to a state of health with one intervention (the antibiotics) rather than multiple, long term interventions (hospitalization, multiple medications, surgery, etc).

    • Hi Amy, thanks for commenting here. I love what you are all about on your blog (whole health).

      I have been living just the way you outlined above. I finally feel like I am proactively improving my health now that I am on GAPS and doing so many things for my immune system and gut health. I remember that I used to feel overwhelmed and even fearful when it came to sicknesses or body deterioration. I used to feel like I was constantly just putting fires out. But now I am standing on firm ground and gaining true health.

  2. I just started the GAPS diet and then I went to the dentist. 36 hours later I was so sick. The sickness lasted 8 weeks before I knew what it was time for…antibiotics. I had been seeing doctors and they were not quick to prescribe until they knew what was going on with me. Symptoms were similar to fibromyalgia and rheumatism along with a rash and fevers despite taking ibuprofen on BAD days. Finally, a blood test revealed I had endocarditis and it came from a bacteria in the mouth. Previously I had to take antibiotics with every dentist appt. due to my heart murmur but then 4 years ago “they” changed that recommendation and took me off the list. All that to say I was hospitalized the moment the results were in with Endocarditis, for one week. I am presently on IV antibiotics for the remainder of what will have been 4 weeks.

    I did not think I would be the type of person to do this especially because I blame the overuse of antibiotics for my possible celiac condition or lack of being able to digest gluten without emotional problems and migraines. But here I am. I don’t know what rebuilding I will have to do after the medicine is done. I do feel I have more knowledge than ever about restoring a damaged gut. And, I am sure glad it was available for a situation like this. If left untreated, this condition can do serious damage including risks for stroke. I am 37 and want to live to be at least 100.

    Thank you for your post.

    • Sara, I’m so glad that you are okay and modern medicine was your safety net in that situation. Scary! I would just encourage your to keep doing GAPS in any way you can, and that will be your best bet for regaining gut health after these long rounds of antibiotics. Let me know how you are doing, and if I can offer support. I know you will get better with real food :)

  3. You bring up a very good point. A century ago, the most common cause of death in all age groups was infectious disease. Antibiotics are used far too much in our culture, but they are necessary and do have a place in maintaining our health.

    • Exactly. I tire of the real food haters that say that we are anti-science or anti-medicine. It’s just not true. We don’t have to pick one or the other. I choose both. The real food is my main focus for truly vibrant health, and then if I need it I have the mainstream medicine available when I need it.

  4. thanks for this, kendahl. i appreciated your real life story so much. in one sense, i am thankful i had to take an antibiotic shortly after my baby was born because it resulted in me finding out how badly my gut needed healing and probiotics. and eventually led me to GAPS! what an eye opening experience! i admit, i am terrified of the word antibiotic now:) but am still glad they are available for those crucial times.

  5. I feel the same way, do everything in your power first, then only if unable to heal turn to something more. My husband and I struggle over when is the right time to turn to modern medicine. It can be hard to just trust your gut with all of the information available. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you Rachel. I totally agree. Even though I am committed to this perspective, it can be difficult to know when to make that turn. I personally like being able to call a trusted physician to ask questions of. That has helped me discern when to give over to modern medicine and when to keep trying natural remedies. I have been able to hone my ability more and more as I ask more questions and get comfortable with managing the health of my family.

Trackbacks

  1. […] wouldn’t drain for about 3 months.  In fact, that sickness was what prompted my writing of my antibiotics post and ultimately the reason I started the GAPS diet to heal my gut. […]

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