(NaturalHealth365) A staggering 70 percent of children and 40 percent of adults take antibiotics every year. They are also given to literally billions of animals that are used for food.
And, while proper use of certain antibiotics may offer benefits, over 10 percent of users report experiencing adverse antibiotic side effects. In some cases, the use of antibiotics has led to long term health issues and even fatalities.
The growing cause of alarm in using antibiotics
Consumers have had numerous reasons to question the veracity of antibiotics lately, with reports of various debilitating and sometimes deadly side effects of antibiotics being reported. Now, results of a recent animal study are adding to the list of reasons to be deeply concerned about the safety of antibiotics both short and long-term.
A study published in the journal Gut, by researchers at Oregon State University, has found that antibiotics impact the natural microorganisms in the gut – in a much more complex and comprehensive manner than originally realized. The study confirms that profound harm can come to immune system function via the gut from the use of antibiotics.
What are the side effects of antibiotics on gut health and immunity?
Researchers have been aware of the harmful side effects of antibiotics for some time, and one of the main ones is the disruption of beneficial gastrointestinal microorganisms. The new study results offer more insights into what exactly is happening, suggesting that long-term antibiotic use can have far more profound and negative health consequences that previously thought. These can range from immune system problems to glucose and food absorption issues to higher stress levels, behavioral problems and even an increased risk of obesity.
According to Martin J. Blaser, M.D., a professor of microbiology and chairman of the department of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, the “overuse of antibiotics could be fueling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations.”
Simply put, the overuse of antibiotics destroys the delicate balance of healthy vs. unhealthy bacteria in the gut. According to Dennis Kasper, a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at Harvard Medical School, ‘an imbalance between these subsets of immune cells can make someone more susceptible to immune-mediated diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis or their flare-ups.’
The newest study found that not only did antibiotics deplete microbiota and diminish certain aspects of immune health; they also caused the death of intestinal epithelium – which are key sites for nutrient absorption and immune system functioning. Mitochondrial performance was also affected, leading to higher levels of cell death and a decline in overall health. Mitochondria are crucial in cell signaling, energy production and growth; when this communication system is disrupted, so is immune system function.
Additional health problems include digestive problems, diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. The new research also links antibiotics with the inability to properly absorb the nutrients from food, asthma, allergies, sepsis and depression.
It’s time for healthier alternatives to prescription medications
The researchers hope that their studies into the effects of antibiotics on animals will fuel the search for helpful probiotic solutions to avoid these effects. They also hope there is acceleration in the development of systems for identifying gut health issues and addressing them in a targeted, effective manner.
Healthy microbiota could potentially be used to overcome “bad” bacteria and improve the immune system without the need for antibiotics.
Antibiotics have been used for decades, but the results of this study as well as a growing swell of reports about the harmful side effects of antibiotics are a call for change. It’s time for medical professionals to start offering healthier alternatives to antibiotics — ones without potentially fatal side effects – like, vitamin C, oregano oil, cayenne pepper, garlic and turmeric, to name a few.