My comments about preventive antibiotics, part 2 of 3

The problem I have with this issue Dr. L brought up is that many docs would currently rather nuke everybody with AB because they are so fearful of liability and a very rare complication. They’d rather blanket us all in drugs as a preventative, rather than trust the immune system and deal with that rare complication. (Of course, this isn’t because the doctors are bad–it’s because of the current climate of fear and risk management they must live in because of several trends on a macro level, not least of which is litigation.)

(By this logic, I shouldn’t ski. There’s a very small outside possibility that I’ll break a limb. More likely, though, I’ll enjoy fresh air and beautiful scenery and endorphins—and my bones will be stronger for the mild-impact exercise and sunshine.)

The consequence of the “preventative AB” trend is MRSA infections and many other “superbugs” that are antibiotic-resistant. Plus a host of yeast problems and gut issues related to all the natural flora being destroyed in the gut from even one dose of antibiotic.

(This is a reality, and in my mind, a bigger collective risk than a very rare joint infection. I would want to know real statistics on how many have serious or fatal joint infections who don’t take AB. I’d ask hard questions about what happens if there IS a joint infection. What is the fatality risk? 1 in 10? 1 in 1 million? If the doctor cannot answer my questions, or if the risk is remote, I would not likely take the AB.   Make educated decisions, rather than head-in-the-sand, knee-jerk reactions.)

Healthy flora–our best defense against viruses and bacteria–are much more susceptible to death by AB, than the bad bacteria is. That said, you can build up your body’s “friendly bacteria and yeast” with dedicated daily use of fermented foods such as   kefir, raw sauerkraut, and kombucha.

This antibiotic thing isn’t a hill I want to die on. But in general, I’ve gotten increasingly mistrustful of the horribilizing and scare tactics of practitioners who want us to take antibiotics for just EVERYTHING. Increasing, systematic codification of medical practice, IMO, isn’t always a positive thing. That’s where all doctors are told “in the book” what to do in every instance. A few thousand codes billable to insurance companies dictate the entirety of acceptable medical practice.

Those protocols Dr. L refers to shift constantly, depending on what’s popular, the opinion of who’s in charge of the committee, or the latest study (which may not be reliable relative to other past or future studies).

I agree with Dr. L’s suggestion that there are times an antibiotic may be appropriate. I think it’s a once-or-twice in-a-lifetime thing, though, not before and after virtually every  procedure. We now have antibiotics prescribed or recommended so often, for increasingly minor reasons, that we HAVE to take a stand and say no, some or most of the time. Otherwise we will default into contributing to the current AB crisis.

Tomorrow, why I don’t value “standards of care” all that much, and then some great points made by readers on this topic.

13 thoughts on “My comments about preventive antibiotics, part 2 of 3

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  1. I have a problem with the strong language of “nuking everybody with AB” (one single dose). Dentists have been put in this position by the Orthopedic Surgeons when they came up with the recommendations that the dentists have to follow for anyone who has had a joint replacement, or the Cardiologist who have deliberated and came up with the recommendations for certain procedures. I have worked in dental offices for over 35 years and have seen many changes to this protocol over the years. We don’t do “informed consent” in these cases because they have not held up in court in some cases if there is a serious consequence. Would you take that risk when you are trying to provide a service to your patients who you genuinely care about, while paying off hundreds of thousands in student loans and raising a family of your own. You would be risking not just a lawsuit, but the possible loss of your license.

    If you don’t want to take the single dose antibiotic recommended (by medical doctors) take responsibility for that on your own and just lie about it. ( I am not an advocate of lying, but don’t drag the dentist down with you, or try to make him or her into some sort of evil monster).

    p.s. I just work for a dentist, and many or most of them would agree that this protocol is probably recommended for a wider group of people than will actually benefit from it but their hands are tied.

  2. Oops, make that The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods is also extremely helpful.

  3. Wanted to mention that I strongly believe in the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Both have done wonders for my allergies, PMS symptoms, sleep problems, and headaches. Chinese herbal medicine is also the only methodology that helped my best friend resolve complications of a jelly fish sting.

    Oh, and every household should have a copy of The Encyclopedia of Natural Cures. It was my Mother’s stand-by.

  4. Robyn: Preventive prescribing probably happens more often than necessary. I have a dentist who wanted to put me on a high dose antibiotic every time I came in to see him because I have some pins and screws in my ankles (flat foot correction that works amazingly well). I flat out told him no. Every time I take antibiotics, I get a yeast infection, so it’s regulated to the “absolutely necessary” for me. I got my podiatrist on my side, who flat out told my dentist “no” as well. 🙂 When it comes to doctors, you have to remember that you are in still in the driver’s seat, and you have the right to assert your authority when it comes to your own health.

  5. I thought the trend over the last few years was moving away from prescribing so much antibiotic use, in response to the rise of resistance bacteria? I have several doctors in my circle of friends, and all of them restrict ABs to “absolutely necessary.” They even caution their patients against the use of antibacterial soaps and the widespread use of disinfectants around the home, which contribute to the problem and inhibit immune systems from developing normally in children.

    A far bigger issue it seems to me are the ill-informed, worry-wart parents who bring their kids into the doctor’s office at the smallest sign of any illness and demand antibiotics, even when the doctor informs them that the illness is viral–like these drugs are some sort of cure-all. In reality, most childhood illnesses can be prevented or mitigated by teaching proper hand-washing, providing a fresh, whole foods diet, and keeping your child home, in bed when he/she is sick. Most illnesses resolve on their own w/ rest and proper nutrition. I remember my mother never taking us to the doctor unless we were either bleeding profusely (had a few stitches as a child) or suffering from pain. Common fevers and colds were dealt w/ baby asprin, homemade chicken soup, and a day or two in bed.

    I remember having strep throat only once as a kid. Mom forced me to gargle every 2 hours with a vile concoction of garlic, ginger, lemon, fennel seed, honey, tumaric, and peppermint. I was also forced to drink a chicken broth infused w/ the same ingredients. It was gross, but it worked on the infection w/out antibiotics.

    1. Roxanne, what a sensible mom you had. I think some docs are prescribing antibiotics less. But many are now prescribing them preventatively, so the result may be sixes? And YES, I agree–parents who don’t know better demanding an Rx are probably more than half the problem here!

  6. Dear Robyn,

    First of all I am so sorry about misspelling your name the last time I wrote a comment.

    I wish I had your knowledge and understanding when it comes to health and nutrition. Not only with regards to the ab but other health issues that are bound to happen with 3 children. ( for example how do I help my son who has hay fever??) I really appreciate your answers, thank you for finding time to leave your comments. How I wish I could pick your brains and have the confidence that what I’m doing is for sure the best for me and my family.

    Alma

  7. Before I learned about food allergies and the reason behind the chronic congestion & bronchitis every 3-4 months, I took antibiotics several times/year. Yes, my immune system suffered and got really messsed up. My system reacted with increasing severity to all kinds of environmental and food particles that most people don’t have problems with. (most scents,rice, sprouts etc.) I began working on alternatives to antibiotics.

    One year, I had a particularly bad bronchial infection that rest, heat, neti pot, steam, mega fluids, herb tea, Celestial Seasonings Breath Easy (before they reformulated) ,chicken soup & vit.C etc. didn’t help. I learned about NAC & flucomune. Drink 2 cups warm water (weak herb tea) with 2 caps Nac & 2 caps flucomune (ayervedic formula at the HFS). Repeat every two hours until color disapears from nasal drainage, reduce to one cap every 2-4 hours for another day. Continue Nac with lots & lots of water until nasal drainage stops, reduce to every 4 hours, then 8 as needed. Reduce dosage gradually, sudden reduction may invite a relapse, if support is still needed. The NAC dries up lots of excess mucous & infected drainage, the flucomune fights the infection. I haven’t taken an antibiotic in several years, in part due to this protocol. I haven’t had a bronchial infection in 3 years. Yeah! Still struggle with allergies, I don’t know how long it will take my body to completely heal.

  8. Thank you so much for this discussion. I think it’s an important one. I never had a problem with acne growing up as a teen but when I turned about 20, I started to get, while still mild, more acne. By the time I was 23 it was getting pretty bad. I had been prescribed all sorts of creams and AB’s to control it. Turns out, amoxicillan worked fairly well to keep things under control so I used it for over 2 years straight! The docs just kept prescribing it because it was working. Meanwhile, I was getting yeast infections, horrible outbreaks of cold sores (like 10 at a time) and digestion problems. It was really bad news. That’s when I started to do other research and found out about the China Study, green smoothies, eliminating animal products, etc. I bagged the AB’s because I knew they were seriously messing up my entire system and starting changing my lifestyle. I’d be lying if I said I adhere to everything I believe is most healthy, but I’ve changed a lot for the better. I take no medication for my acne, only wash with mud soap and have virtually no acne, although still sometimes a little because I am pregnant and that comes with the hormone territory. I have all but eliminated my digestion problems and rarely get cold sore outbreaks anymore. It probably took close to a year to get things back to a more “normal” state, and I am sure I still have some healing to do. However, I have no desire to touch AB’s again and 100% believe good nutrition is the best medicine out there.

  9. What if they person used an essential oil as an antibiotic instead? Oil of Oregano and other oils have been scientifically proven to be natural antibiotics that are so strong they can kill superbugs like MRSA. If I was in this situation, I would not take the antibiotic, rather – I would use a natural antibiotic like Oregano in its place.

  10. I am fairly new to the raw foods movement. I have been drinking green smoothies for breakfast for about a year but was just recently introduced to your site and have just started to really change other things about my diet for the remainder of the day. I am reading these posts about AB, and while it completely makes sense… I find myself still at a lost. I have 4 kids and my youngest (21 months old) has a staph infection right now. In 30 minutes, I’m taking her to the doctor where I know she will be prescribed an AB. In my mind, she needs it. How else do you get rid of a staph infection? It makes me sad to think how many rounds of AB just my youngest has been on in her short little life. But I’m still confused what you do when it seems that is the only option.

    1. Melanie, I will collate all the suggestions for natural antibiotics after this. Definitely grab hold of new information to change the internal terrain for your daughter, and then perhaps there will be natural means for you to deal with the hopefully MUCH more minor things that come along for your young family. 🙂

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