(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?