Prescribed Antibiotics and You

If you read Disease Proof Your Child you'll notice Dr. Fuhrman spends a significant amount of time discussing antibiotics, and the American medical community's habitual prescribing of them. Dr. Fuhrman contends, "Too often doctors dispense the drugs without a legitimate clinical rationale for their use." Stern words, but Dr. Fuhrman is making a serious point.

Consider this excerpt from his book:

Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria; they do not kill viruses. Unfortunately, that is not how they are typically used. Approximately 90 percent of antibiotics are given for viral illnesses, against which they have no value. Antibiotics are routinely and repeatedly administered by physicians for illnesses such as colds and bronchitis, which are viral, not bacterial.1 This use of antibiotics is inappropriate and dangerous. In one study, more than half of the patients who visited a physician in the United States with cold symptoms left with a prescription for an antibiotic.2

Now Dr. Fuhrman isn't anti-antibiotics. According to him antibiotics have their legitimate uses, but these instances only encompass less than 10 percent of all antibiotics utilized in this country today. Here he explains the best way to treat a typical viral syndrome:

When ill with a typical viral syndrome, it is best to rest, drink water, avoid cooked food, and only consume high-water-content fruits and vegetables if hungry. Avoid physicians, medications, and remedies. See a doctor only if the illness is unusual or unusually severe or prolonged.

Antibiotics aren't necessarily the perfect treament for some bacterial illnesses either. According to Dr. Fuhrman proper nutrition (a vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet) can help you fight fire with fire:

Nearly one-third of the dry weight of our stool is bacteria. Hundreds of different species of good bacteria play a very important role in your health by producing certain vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin K; they break down various fibers, and they produce other nutritive substances. For instance, these friendly flora make short-chain fatty acids (such as lipoic acid) and other nutrients that have antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties. In addition to these health-enhancing activities that enable your body to function more efficiently, these good bacteria secrete antibacterial substances that prevent the disease-causing bacteria from taking hold in your body.

Therefore, the presence of health-promoting bacteria crowds out and prevents the development of bacterial illnesses. When you eat a healthful, nutrient-rich, plant-based diet, you promote the growth of the right species of bacteria. For example, having a proliferation of the health-promoting species of bacteria is though to offer protection against colon cancer. When you eat an unhealthful diet, it promotes the growth of microbes that can damage your health and body.

Unnecessary antibiotics can compromise and even kill helpful bacteria:

Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, digestive disturbances, yeast overgrowth, bone marrow suppression, seizures, kidney damage, colitis, and life-threatening allergic reactions. The unnecessary over prescription of antibiotics during past decades has been blamed for the recent emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of deadly bacteria. Besides these potential risks, in every single person who takes an antibiotic, the drug kills a broad assortment of helpful bacteria that live in the digestive tract and aid digestion. It kills the "bad" bacteria, such as those that can complicate and infection, but it also kills these helpful "good" bacteria lining your digestive tract that have properties that protect from future illness.

If you take antibiotics repeatedly when you are young, you further diminish the population of good bacteria that protects you against harmful bacteria. In addition, the harmful bacteria become more resistant (harder to kill with antibiotics the next time). Over 100 different helpful intestinal bacteria are lost with the use of antibiotics, which then give pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes and yeast the chance to proliferate and fill the ecological vacuum created by the repeated administration of antibiotics.

1. Linder JA, Singer DE. Desire for antibiotics and antibiotic prescribing for adults with upper respiratory tract infections. J Gen Intern Med 2003;18(10):795-801. Nash DR, Harman J, Wald ER, Kelleher KJ. Antibiotic prescribing by primary care physicians for children with upper respiratory tract infections. Arch Pediatr Adolesc mEd 2002;156(11):1114-1119.

2. Stone S, Gonzales R, Maselli J, Lowenstein SR. Antibiotic prescribing for patients with colds, upper respiratory tract infections, and bronchitis: A national study of hospital-based emergency departments. Ann Emerg Med 2000;36(4):320-327.

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Linda - June 2, 2006 1:14 PM

Thank you for this! Great information.

Vika - February 10, 2009 11:00 AM

Amazing idea, grazie!

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