What To Do After You’ve Taken Antibiotics: Natural Steps to Regain Your Health
This post has been medically reviewed by Dr. Tim Jackson, DPT and functional medicine practitioner.
But antibiotics are still one of the most over-prescribed class of drugs--and one of the most debilitating, in terms of their long-term risks and side effects.
Antibiotics destroy ALL the bacteria in your digestive tract, even the good guys, which leaves you vulnerable to poor immune health and a whole variety of diseases and illnesses.
In this post:
- Find a Small-Batch Superior Probiotic
- Use Digestive Enzymes
- Eat Prebiotic Foods
- Don’t Take the Nausea Meds
- Increase Intake of Gut-Healing Foods
- Boost Your Immune System
- Have a Warm Drink
- Keep a Positive Outlook
- Try Tapping
- Calm the Nervous System
Allie, a member of our GreenSmoothieGirl team, had a terrible experience after taking two rounds of strong antibiotics this past year.
She had a tooth abscess that a conventional dentist missed (twice, x-rays and all), and by the time she was officially diagnosed, the situation was serious.
She took the antibiotic Clindamycin to get rid of the abscess, had her tooth extracted, then shortly after, was rushed to the hospital. She was diagnosed with Clostridium Difficile (C Diff), a severe colon infection resulting from antibiotics wiping out all of the “good” bacteria, allowing the bad ones to take over.
And guess what the cure for C Diff is? Stronger antibiotics. There went a lifetime of Allie’s body carefully cultivating healthy gut bacteria! It’s a vicious cycle.
Since abscesses and C Diff can both turn ugly (and deadly), she felt she didn’t have a choice in taking them. Once on Flagyl, the stronger antibiotics, she soon developed a painful, blistering rash all over her chest and torso: shingles!
It’s extremely likely that Allie developed both C Diff AND shingles as a result of losing all of her healthy gut flora, which weakened her entire immune system.
She was then prescribed anti-virals, while still taking the Flagyl, but she decided “enough was enough.”
Her body couldn’t handle any more immune suppressing, and since shingles wasn’t going to be deadly, she chose not to take more drugs.
This cluster of events, and the devastation of her good gut bacteria, began a horrible road for Allie. She developed Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, severe histamine intolerance, reactions to lights and chemicals, and extreme anxiety. (These may seem like very different symptoms, but they are all commonly linked to antibiotic use.)
She was in and out of the hospital for months without answers.
She took matters into her own hands. She decided to find a way to heal her body after all the damage the antibiotics did, and with extensive research, patience, and dedication to rebuilding her gut health with the steps below, she’s finally feeling much better.
If you’ve ever had to take antibiotics before, you know that healing your gut can take time. Years, even.
So it’s best to equip yourself with knowledge in order to have the best shot at repopulating your gut with the good probiotic organisms that are your defense against the microbes that cause illness we are all exposed to.
Here’s what Allie learned in her healing process after taking antibiotics:
Find a small-batch superior probiotic
This is vital, as the antibiotics have wiped out all of your bad bacteria in your body, along with the good bacteria. You’ll have to add it back in with probiotics, following your antibiotics course.
Probiotics are live, helpful bacterias and yeasts which are essential for digestion, immune health, and absorption of vitamins and minerals. There are many types of probiotic strains, and the more strains in your gut, the better.
In many studies, probiotics taken during and after antibiotic courses have reduced patient risk of developing complications like Allie experienced. L. casei, L. bulgaricus, and S. thermophilus are especially helpful strains.
Our GreenSmoothieGirl PreZyme Pro contains all three of these probiotic strains, along with 12 others, and many other excellent gut-healing ingredients. Taking this supplement alone will reintroduce 15 strains of the good bacteria back into your body!
Use digestive enzymes
Digestive enzymes should be your second line of defense for a gut that needs attention and healing, since they break down nutrients so your body can better absorb the food you eat.
Enzymes help your immune system function. White blood cells, which help fight off those viruses and bacteria, are full of enzymes.
In fact, if your body lacks digestive enzymes, undigested food can build up in your digestive system, which will activate your immune system unnecessarily. By taking enzymes, you’re ensuring your body can focus on rebuilding and restoring, rather than digesting.
Again, our PreZyme Pro is a wonderful place to start, since it includes prebiotics, 15 total strains of probiotics, and six enzymes all-in-one. This supplement is designed for total GI tract health, helping you absorb nutrients in every stage of your digestion.
Eat prebiotic foods
Eating prebiotic foods is an easy way to stimulate growth of lactobacilli or bifidobacteria and other “good bacteria” in your gut and colon. They’re what probiotics “eat” to proliferate quickly.
Our PreZyme Pro contains the prebiotic Organic Yacon (FOS), which has been proven to have multiple benefits for your digestion and immune health.
You can also eat fibrous foods to get your prebiotic fill: greens, veggies, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Don’t take the nausea meds
Sometimes, antibiotics can make you nauseous. Allie’s antibiotics were so strong that her doctor prescribed the same anti-nausea meds used for chemotherapy patients. After considering the side-effects of this type of medication (dizziness, lightheadedness, fever, blurred vision, and more), she decided not to use it.
One good alternative is an acupressure wristband. It’s drug-free and proven in studies to work efficiently as a substitute for anti-nausea meds like Zofran.
Increase intake of gut-healing foods
Do you sense a theme here? Around 85% of your immune function is in your second brain (your gut), so you’ve got to focus on gut-healing foods.
Fermented foods increase your antibodies, which recognize foreign invaders, and also support your immune system with their beneficial bacteria.
Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, make your own bone broth, drink aloe, and read my article on kefir (a cheap way to help your microbiome). I have an entire Rehab Your Gut With Food video in the 12 Steps to Whole Foods masterclass if you want to learn more.
Our Bone Broth Protein is another great option, giving you the nutrient benefits for your gut, joints, and muscle tone without having to simmer bones for days!
Boost your immune system
Your immune system is closely linked to your gut health. If you have a healthy gut flora, you have a stronger defense against viruses, bad bacteria, and other illnesses. In fact, you can think of your gut flora as your immune system warriors.
Because antibiotics wipe out your good gut bacteria, and therefore temporarily weaken your body’s defense system, there are some supplements you can take along with your antibiotics to give your body some additional immune system support.
I’ve written about 7 Natural Immune Boosters where I discuss my top favorites supplements for supporting the immune system, including Vitamin C and zinc.
We cannot produce our own Vitamin C, so we have to get it through plant foods, like strawberries or citrus, or by temporarily supplementing. Vitamin C works to support immune system cells, which destroy invaders like bad bacteria.
Zinc helps control inflammation and support T-cells, which are a type of white blood cell. T-cells are a vital part of the immune system, and important defenders against pathogens.
Another way to boost your immune system is to get enough rest and sleep, allowing your body time to regenerate.
Have a warm drink
You’ll find ginger and lemon in my Immune Fuel Hot LemonAid recipe, which is easy to make and has immune boosting properties. I’ve seen this drink “knock down” a cold or flu countless times. After taking antibiotics, your body can use all the immune support it can get!
Fresh ginger has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties, and also has been found to activate your immune system’s T-cells. Ginger also has great digestive benefits, like stimulating saliva and gastric juices to help break down the food you’re eating.
Lemons are high in potassium and Vitamin C, which help support your body in fighting off invaders.
Keep a positive outlook
When you’re sick, it’s easy to feel upset and focus on the negative symptoms. Instead, do everything you can to stay positive.
Scientists have found that being optimistic actually helps strengthen the cells in your immune system, while being pessimistic depresses your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight any "bad guys." While you can’t change the fact that you were sick and needed antibiotics, you can definitely control your attitude and keep it positive, especially now that you know it could help in your healing.
Create a gratitude journal and write in it every morning. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself, instead of dwelling on how crummy you feel. Write a mantra and post it all over your house or office where you can see it.
Another way to get yourself in the right mindset for healing is through Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, which is leveraging acupressure points, or the body’s energy meridians, without needing a professional. You tap on certain energetic points from the top of the body to the midpoint, while repeating positive or true mantras.
One example would be to say, “Even though I am feeling sick and I don’t have faith in my healing right now, I completely love and accept myself.” Then you would progress through the meridians, tapping with two fingers on your head, face, and collarbone, repeating mantras like, “I am safe. My body will heal itself. I release all stress and tension associated with this illness.”
Tapping was especially useful for Allie in her healing process. Listen to my podcast episode for a more in-depth look at tapping. In the podcast shownotes, you’ll find a free 8-point EFT tapping chart you can download to get started.
Calm the nervous system
I talk a lot about raising your vibration through the foods you eat and the way you think. In fact, my podcast Your High Vibration Life is named after that very concept.
When you’re sick, you want to focus on habits that will take you to higher frequencies, such as health, joy, peace, and gratitude. One way to do that is to follow some guided meditations. This will be calming to your nervous system, which, in turn, will allow your body to focus on healing.
Another way to calm your nervous system is to make sure you’re getting enough highly absorbable nutrients and trace minerals, since your body needs them for its every function. By adding Ultimate Minerals drops to your water before bed and first thing in the morning, you’re supporting your neurological system when it needs it the most. Our formula allows nutrition to enter your cells, which lets your body begin recovering from the damage antibiotics can do. Ultimate Minerals are simply fulvic and humic acids from deep-Earth ancient plant deposits, which is the source of minerals for all plant life. (However, most plants, due to overfarmed soils and spraying, are depleted.)
Along with getting adequate rest and sleep, these above tips should help get your body back on track after taking antibiotics. Know that it can be a slow process. It can take months or even years to build your gut flora back up, since antibiotics kill virtually all flora in a matter of days, but building it up takes consistent effort over the course of a few months, at least. Be consistent with these rebuilding efforts, and have faith in your miraculous body that knows how to heal itself, with the right raw materials!
If you’ve taken antibiotics recently (or ever), then you definitely want to join my FREE video masterclass, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, happening now.
The Rehab Your Gut with Food video will be extremely helpful as you begin rebuilding your gut flora after taking antibiotics. Throughout the masterclass, you’ll be equipped with a great deal of knowledge, including how to eat healthy on a budget and how to use cultured foods for gut healing.
This course isn’t always available, but sign up here if it is, or get on the waitlist for the next time we open this very special class.
Robyn Openshaw, MSW, is the bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and 2017’s #1 Amazon Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, Vibe. Learn more about how to make the journey painless, from the nutrient-scarce Standard American Diet, to a whole-foods diet, in her free video masterclass 12 Steps to Whole Foods.
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