Arguments against antibiotic use. A few amongst very many

You have “an overgrowth” of a “bad” bacteria, so I am prescribing antibiotics to kill it”.

Is this something your doctor has told you that you have?

Have they offered antibiotics as the solution?

Did they run any tests to prove their assertion? If so compared to what is your bacterial population unhealthy? How do they know it is an unhealthy population?

If an unhealthy balance in the relative sizes of the populations of different species of bacteria is the problem in your intestines how could this state have arisen?

If an unhealthy balance in the relative sizes of the populations of different species of bacteria is the problem in your intestines how could this state have arisen?

Did one of them suddenly mutate, becoming SuperBacteria, and outcompeting all others for space in your intestinal tract, or stomach or wherever?

I doubt it.

The only ways I can think of, with my admittedly limited intellect and education, for this to happen are the following two*:

Experiencing a dysenteric illness. One in which you violently emit vomit and diarrhoea for days, denuding your entire intestinal tract of much of its microbial variety.

It is, for this reason, that it is hypothesised the appendix evolved, to act as a reservoir, the structure like that of an antechamber attached to the colon. It acts like a life raft, as an ark in Biblical terms, for enough of each species to survive to allow recolonisation of the colon once the illness has passed.

That is how important bacterial “balance” is. It also illustrates how destructive antibiotics can be, if we developed an organ to preserve microbial variety then anything that harms that variety clearly has the potential to do enormous harm.

We evolved an organ to preserve microbes and microbial variety!

Bear that in mind anytime you are told to take antibiotics and ask if you have to take them. If I am told I will get better eventually, but it will take longer than if I take antibiotics, I do not take them. I fill the prescription in case I get ill, but I do not use them unless it is clear I really need them.

The appendix cannot protect microbes from antibiotics (ABx). Nor are ABx discriminating, each type kills astonishing numbers of bacteria in terms of variety. When you take them it isn’t just that the variety you host is reduced. It is that some of those that remain will proliferate beyond all “normal” bounds, and not just bacteria exist to fill that void of course. There are various yeasts and viruses. Not just in number but likely in terms of the areas of the intestinal tract they colonise. These changes represent a profound change in the signals that the host immune system receives.

A neat segue to the only other reason I can think of is the use of antibiotics. It was long assumed that things got “back to normal” quite quickly after taking ABx, but when someone bothered to look, this is from memory and I am not going to find the citation, they stopped looking after three years, when there were changes still apparent in the microbial makeup in the subjects’ intestinal tracts.

So, to fix an issue of an “overgrowth” of this or that bacteria by killing that species and for argument’s sake probably half of the species in your intestines at the same time to restore “balance” seems to me to be absurd.

While it may produce the desired result, temporarily probably, it is also likely to further impoverish the variety of species present in your intestinal tract.

It may well fix the issue in your stomach or your colon, perhaps even in the long term. Perhaps.

But has your doctor considered or discussed with you the potential consequences in other areas of your intestinal tract?

If you are being told to use ABx in circumstances like this please consider with your doctor every other approach you can. For instance, have you tried probiotics and fermented foods?

Have you read this blog post of mine?

https://jasper-lawrence.com/2014/09/11/things-i-would-do-if-i-was-still-sick/

There is a reason small children are constantly putting foul things in their mouths. If that were deleterious to their survival odds back in the day when ABx did not exist, humans, it seems to my uneducated mind would have evolved to manifest the opposite behaviours when young.

Perhaps small children cramming disgusting things in their mouths is an evolved behaviour? Like the appendix in a way, but to ensure we acquire sufficient microbial variety, rather than to preserve it? To prime our immune system by populating our intestinal tracts with the variety of microbes required for health?

Just some things for you to consider and to discuss with your doctor/s.

*As with everything and anything I say, or write, nothing written here or elsewhere on this site should be interpreted, construed and most of all acted on as though it were medical advice. I never went to college, never mind not being an MD. Anything you read here is for your consideration and if you believe may have merit for discussion with your doctor. I am not a doctor, nothing I write here should be considered as medical advice.

*There are clearly others, a change in diet so that the food availble in various parts of your intestinal tract are changed substantially resulting in a change in microbial population.

**NOTHING I write is meant to diagnose, treat or prognosticate on any disease or illness.