FDA warns some antibiotics can cause fatal heart damage

NBC: FDA warns some antibiotics can cause fatal heart damage

Last week, the FDA announced that certain Fluoroquinolone antibiotics might “raise the risk of an aortic dissection.”1 Fluoroquinolones, which are a commonly prescribed to treat upper respiratory infections and urinary tract infections, include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), gemifloxacin (Factive) and moxifloxacin (Avelox).

The FDA said in a statement,

“A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review found that fluoroquinolone antibiotics can increase the occurrence of rare but serious events of ruptures or tears in the main artery of the body, called the aorta. These tears, called aortic dissections, or ruptures of an aortic aneurysm can lead to dangerous bleeding or even death.

Fluoroquinolones should not be used in patients at increased risk unless there are no other treatment options available. People at increased risk include those with a history of blockages or aneurysms (abnormal bulges) of the aorta or other blood vessels, high blood pressure, certain genetic disorders that involve blood vessel changes, and the elderly.”2

(This also includes those at risk for an aortic aneurysm, patients with peripheral atherosclerotic vascular diseases, hypertension, certain genetic conditions such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (which I have), and the elderly.)

This new information will be added to the labels and prescribing information of fluoroquinolone drugs, according to the FDA. They also stressed that they should only be used when absolutely necessary.

Please be careful. High blood pressure is the main cause of aortic dissection so if you have high blood pressure, discuss this with your doctor before using fluoroquinolones. And if you are taking this class of antibiotic and feel sudden, severe, and constant pain in the stomach, chest or back, call 911 and get to an emergency room as quickly as possible.


Children With Asthma Prescribed Antibiotics Unnecessarily

Children presenting with asthma are 1.6 times more likely than children without asthma to be prescribed antibiotics by primary care practitioners, new research shows, despite the fact that antibiotics should not be used to treat asthma.

“We compared the UK primary care database with a Dutch database because we know that the Netherlands has one of the lowest antibiotic prescription rates in the world,” said investigator Esmé Baan, MD, from the Department of Medical Informatics at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Although antibiotic prescriptions overall were higher in the United Kingdom than in the Netherlands, the rate of prescriptions written by primary care practitioners for children with asthma were similar in the two places, she told Medscape Medical News.

For their study, Dr Baan and her colleagues identified 1,591,036 children 5 years or older in the British database, and 330,726 in the Dutch database.

An asthma disease code plus the use of at least two prescriptions for asthma drugs in a 1-year period were considered to indicate a diagnosis of asthma. “This would include salbutamol and inhaled corticosteroids,” Dr Baan said here at the European Respiratory Society International Congress 2017.

The team cross-referenced antibiotic codes with codes for a diagnosis of asthma to determine how often antibiotics were prescribed.

After adjustment for age, sex, and calendar year, antibiotic use was significantly higher in children with asthma than in those without in the United Kingdom (374 vs 250 per 1000 patient-years) and in the Netherlands (197 vs 126 per 1000 patient-years). The rate of prescription was 60% higher in children with asthma than in those without asthma in the United Kingdom, and 65% higher in the Netherlands.

Children with asthma have a lot of respiratory symptoms, and when they are coughing or presenting with symptoms of infection, it is difficult to differentiate between an asthma exacerbation and infection, Dr Baan explained. It is possible that general practitioners are prescribing antibiotics because they “just want to be on the safe side.”

Infection Not Always Easy to Identify

“If you’ve seen one bad pneumonia in a child, you want to give treatment on time,” she said. “It’s not a good excuse, but I understand it.”

Parents who are quick to ask for antibiotics could also be a contributing factor, “but it’s the role of the doctor to say no,” she pointed out.

The prescription of antibiotics for asthma has been associated with increased microbial resistance, which puts the individual and the population at risk. “We have to make physicians and the population more aware,” she said.

“The use of antibiotics is really too high in all countries,” added Francesco Blasi, MD, from the University of Milan.

“Children are exposed to a lot of antibiotics and they get a lot of respiratory tract infections,” he acknowledged, but antibiotic use in children needs to be reduced.

In a new program in the United Kingdom, patients are asked to wait a few days before filling antibiotic prescriptions, he reported. “This could be a good idea for children — delayed use.”

The finding that most surprised Dr Baan and her colleagues was the prevalence of antibiotic prescriptions for asthma exacerbation only. This was the case in 3% of the British records and 14% of the Dutch records.

“I thought that if a doctor wasn’t sure about a diagnosis, we would find a double diagnosis; for example, one for bronchitis and one for asthma,” Dr Baan said. “But that wasn’t the case. What we often saw was indication of asthmatic exacerbation only.”

For children without asthma, the most common indication for antibiotics — lower respiratory tract infection — was documented in 21% of the records in the United Kingdom and 28% in the Netherlands. For children with asthma, the rates were 12% and 14%, respectively.

When the researchers looked at quality indicators for the prescription of antibiotics, they found that narrow-spectrum antibiotics were prescribed more often in the United Kingdom than in the Netherlands.

In the United Kingdom, ratios of amoxicillin use (indicating better quality) to broad-spectrum antibiotic use (indicating worse quality) were 7.6 for children with asthma and 8.6 for those without. In the Netherlands, ratios were 1.2 and 1.3, respectively.

Evidence of Change

Some of this difference is likely related to country-specific antibiotic guidelines. For example, Dr Baan explained, the prescription of first-generation cephalosporin, a narrow-spectrum antibiotic, was much higher in the United Kingdom than in the Netherlands, and “narrow-spectrum cephalosporin does better in quality scores.” However, in Dutch guidelines, the use of cephalosporin is reserved for secondary care providers, like hospitals.

Despite high overall rates of antibiotic prescription in both countries, over the 4-year study period, there was a decrease of about 1% each year, overall, in the prescription of antibiotics for asthma, Dr Baan reported.

“We actually investigated the influence of time and saw, in both databases, a small but significant decrease of antibiotic use, so there is hope for change,” she added.

Antibiotic and acid-suppression medications during early childhood are associated with obesity


Objective Gut microbiota alterations are associated with obesity. Early exposure to medications, including acid suppressants and antibiotics, can alter gut biota and may increase the likelihood of developing obesity. We investigated the association of antibiotic, histamine-2 receptor antagonist (H2RA) and proton pump inhibitor (PPI) prescriptions during early childhood with a diagnosis of obesity.

Design We performed a cohort study of US Department of Defense TRICARE beneficiaries born from October 2006 to September 2013. Exposures were defined as having any dispensed prescription for antibiotic, H2RA or PPI medications in the first 2 years of life. A single event analysis of obesity was performed using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results 333 353 children met inclusion criteria, with 241 502 (72.4%) children prescribed an antibiotic, 39 488 (11.8%) an H2RA and 11 089 (3.3%) a PPI. Antibiotic prescriptions were associated with obesity (HR 1.26; 95% CI 1.23 to 1.28). This association persisted regardless of antibiotic class and strengthened with each additional class of antibiotic prescribed. H2RA and PPI prescriptions were also associated with obesity, with a stronger association for each 30-day supply prescribed. The HR increased commensurately with exposure to each additional medication group prescribed.

Conclusions Antibiotics, acid suppressants and the combination of multiple medications in the first 2 years of life are associated with a diagnosis of childhood obesity. Microbiota-altering medications administered in early childhood may influence weight gain.

Use paracetamol to relieve a sore throat instead of antibiotics , says NICE


With Aging Comes More Antibiotics for Respiratory Conditions

Study found number of prescriptions increases through age 64.

The highest rates of antibiotic prescriptions for any upper respiratory infection were for adults ages 40 to 64, and the rates increased from childhood through adulthood, even after adjusting for other confounders, researchers found.

Rates of antibiotic prescription more than doubled from the youngest children (227 per 1,000 visits for children ages 0 to 2 years) to the adults ages 40 to 64 (523 per 1,000 visits) for a 133.4% increase, reported Monica L. Schmidt, MPH, PhD, of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, North Carolina, and colleagues.

 Indeed, patients were more likely to be prescribed an antibiotic the older they were, up through age 65, even after adjusting for comorbidities, race, gender, and indication, the authors wrote in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

They noted that indications, such as viral upper respiratory infections, acute bronchitis, and bronchiolitis “have clear guidelines that do not support the use of antibiotics,” and described a 2015 White House National Action Plan with the goal of cutting inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use in half by 2020.

Researchers examined a cohort of around 450,000 outpatient visits across 898 providers, and 246 practices, ranging from urgent care, family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatric practices from 2014 to 2016. They specifically looked at four conditions where antimicrobials may not be indicated: acute respiratory infection, acute bronchitis, bronchiolitis, and nonsuppurative otitis media.

Overall, the prescribing rate was 407 prescriptions per 1,000 visits, with acute bronchitis having the highest rate of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing (703 prescriptions per 1,000). The most frequently prescribed antibiotics across all classes were azithromycin (46.6%), followed by amoxicillin (18.1%) and amoxicillin-clavuante (11.8%). Family medicine practices had the highest rate of prescribing, while pediatric practices had the lowest rate, the authors said.

Antibiotic prescribing increased incrementally with age, they noted, with children, ages 3 to 9 years, having a 25% increased risk of receiving an antimicrobial compared to those ages 0 to 2 years (IRR 1.25, 95% CI 1.19-1.32). The authors said the reason for the association with age and risk of receiving an antibiotic could not be identified, but they hypothesized it was due to pressure from “working-age” patients and a misunderstanding of which illnesses would get better with antibiotics.

African American and Asian pediatric patients were less likely to receive an antibiotic versus white patients, and pediatric patients with commercial insurance plans were more likely to receive antibiotics than those on managed care.

The authors also found that advanced practice practitioners had higher rates of prescribing than physicians among the adult, but not the pediatric population. They cited prior research that found similar findings, especially for acute respiratory infection.

“Future national stewardship efforts should target education and antimicrobial stewardship interventions for [advanced practice providers] as their role in patient care continues to grow,” they wrote.

Antibiotics are not always the answer

Antibiotics are not always the answer

The discovery of penicillin in 1928 was heralded as a medical miracle. As one of the first antibiotics, it could cure patients of potentially deadly bacterial illnesses, such as scarlet fever, typhoid and pneumonia.

Unfortunately, overuse of penicillin and other antibiotics can cause other problems for both individual patients and the general population. That’s why it’s important to take antibiotics only for true bacterial infections, including whooping cough, strep throat and .

Antibiotics don’t kill viruses

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to one-third of antibiotic use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate. Antibiotics do not fight viral infections such as colds, flu, bronchitis and most sore throats. Still, many patients expect  to prescribe antibiotics to “cure” minor illnesses.

“Some parents who hate to see their child suffer will contact the doctor’s office at the first sign of an , hoping for a prescription for antibiotics to quickly end the child’s suffering,” said Barbara Cole, a nurse practitioner with Penn State Medical Group. “But the painful condition is usually caused by a virus.”

Although antibiotics kill most  at first, some of the microbes survive and eventually become resistant to that particular drug. As a result, new, stronger antibiotics are developed to fight the , and then the bacteria become resistant to them, as well. The CDC says virtually all bacterial infections have become resistant to the  of choice.

Bacteria also become resistant when antibiotics are overused in food production and by farmers, as in with cows and chickens.

“Just as in humans, antibiotics are essential in treating some diseases in animals, but using antibiotics just to promote the animal’s growth leads to resistance,” Cole said.

When a person is infected with an antibiotic-resistant , medical professionals must resort to stronger, more toxic antibiotics to fight it and help that individual get well again. Illnesses last longer and, in more cases, lead to death. According to the CDC, every year more than 23,000 people in the United States die from bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics.

Relieve symptoms without antibiotics

“Antibiotics are not the answer for every cold, flu or ear infection,” Cole said. “Often, a few days of rest and at-home remedies will cure a minor illness.” She recommends:

  • Cold or flu: drink fluids, get plenty of rest
  • Comfort for a sick young child: Simply sit and rock him or her
  • Ear infections: Apply warm compresses
  • Runny nose: Use saline drops or sprays, run a cool-mist vaporizer, elevate the head, such as by putting an infant in a car seat
  • Sore throat: Soothe with cool drinks, cough drops (for older children), or honey (for children at least 1 year old)

When an antibiotic is prescribed, patients should be sure to take it correctly:

  • Take each dose at the appropriate time to maximize the effectiveness of the drug.
  • Take the antibiotic for as long as prescribed, even if symptoms are gone. Otherwise, some bacteria can survive and become resistant.
  • Don’t take “leftover” antibiotics or those prescribed for someone else. They might not be appropriate for current symptoms and could allow bacteria to multiply.

“Remember, don’t demand  when a  professional says they’re not necessary. An antibiotic offers no benefits in treating a viral infection,” Cole said. “Taking an unnecessary antibiotic increases the chances that a resistant infection will arise later.”

Moreover, an antibiotic can kill the “good” bacteria in the human body, causing intestinal and other problems.

Antibiotics can save lives. Anyone with a bacterial infection should take the prescribed antibiotic. On the other hand, when an illness is mild and probably caused by a virus, it’s better to treat the symptoms and let time be the cure.

Researchers developing new tool to distinguish between viral, bacterial infections

Antibiotics are lifesaving drugs, but overuse is leading to antibiotic resistance, one of the world’s most pressing health threats. Scientists identified 11 genetic markers in blood that accurately distinguished between viral and bacterial infections 80 to 90 percent of the time. The finding is important because physicians don’t have a good way to confirm bacterial infections like pneumonia and more-often-than-not default to an antibiotic. The goal of the research is to develop a tool, such as a blood test, that physicians can use to rule out a bacterial infection with enough certainty that they are comfortable, and their patients are comfortable, foregoing an antibiotic. Credit: University of Rochester Medical Center

Antibiotics are lifesaving drugs, but overuse is leading to one of the world’s most pressing health threats: antibiotic resistance. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are developing a tool to help physicians prescribe antibiotics to patients who really need them, and avoid giving them to individuals who don’t.

Scientists from the University’s National Institutes of Health-funded Respiratory Pathogens Research Center identified 11  in blood that accurately distinguished between viral and bacterial infections (antibiotics help us fight bacterial infections, but aren’t effective and shouldn’t be used to treat viruses). The finding, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, is important because physicians don’t have a good way to confirm bacterial infections like pneumonia and more-often-than-not default to an antibiotic.

“It’s extremely difficult to interpret what’s causing a , especially in very ill patients who come to the hospital with a high fever, cough, shortness of breath and other concerning symptoms,” said Ann R. Falsey, M.D., lead study author, professor and interim chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital. “My goal is to develop a tool that physicians can use to rule out a  with enough certainty that they are comfortable, and their patients are comfortable, foregoing an antibiotic.”

Falsey’s project caught the attention of the federal government; she’s one of 10 semifinalists in the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge, a competition sponsored by NIH and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to help combat the development and spread of . Selected from among 74 submissions, Falsey received $50,000 to continue her research and develop a prototype diagnostic test, such as a blood test, using the genetic markers her team identified.

A group of 94 adults hospitalized with lower respiratory tract infections were recruited to participate in Falsey’s study. The team gathered clinical data, took blood from each patient, and conducted a battery of microbiologic tests to determine which individuals had a bacterial  (41 patients) and which had a non-bacterial or viral infection (53 patients). Thomas J. Mariani, Ph.D., professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Genetics at URMC, used complex genetic and statistical analysis to pinpoint markers in the blood that correctly classified the patients with bacterial infections 80 to 90 percent of the time.

“Our genes react differently to a virus than they do to bacteria,” said Mariani, a member of the Respiratory Pathogens Research Center (RPRC). “Rather than trying to detect the specific organism that’s making an individual sick, we’re using genetic data to help us determine what’s affecting the patient and when an antibiotic is appropriate or not.”

Falsey, co-director of the RPRC, and Mariani say that the main limitation of their study is the small sample size and that the genetic classifiers selected from the study population may not prove to be universal to all .

A patent application has been filed for their method of diagnosing bacterial infection. Edward Walsh, M.D., professor of Infectious Diseases, and Derick Peterson, Ph.D., professor of Biostatics and Computational Biology at URMC, also contributed to the research.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States. The use of  is the single most important factor leading to  around the world.

Antibiotics, resistance and their side effects.

Antibiotics are drugs used for treating infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics have saved countless lives, but scientist are becoming very concerned with their side effects and resistances.

Image result for antibiotics

Misuse and overuse of these drugs, have created an antibiotic resistance. This resistance develops when harmful bacteria mutate or adapt in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics cause these different ailments: skin infections, meningitis, sexually transmitted diseases and pneumonia.

Resistance to the benefits of antibiotics aren’t our only concern. Antibiotic work by killing bacteria in the body, but it also kills the beneficial bacteria within your intestines. Eliminating our guts “good bacteria” upset the delicate balance of your intestinal flora. Yeast grows into large colonies and take over, in a condition called dysbiosis.

Yeasts can use their tendrils to literally poke holes through the lining of your intestinal wall. Scientist suggest this to be a cause of leaky gut syndrome.

“It is ironic that this humbled fungus, hailed as a benefactor of mankind, may by its very success prove to be a deciding factor in the decline of the present civilization.”
-Dr. John I. Pitt, The Genus Penicillium, Academic Press, 1979

What I find to be most terrifying is, the FDA finally admitted that Levaquin should not be taken for common infections and should only be taken as a last resort. This antibiotic is highly dangerous and life threatening and are “associated with disabling and potentially permanent serious side effects….” The FDA has documented over 5,000 related deaths and tens of thousands of related illnesses that are life-threatening and debilitating with this antibiotics use.

Researcher, Dr. Charles Bennett is concerned with with the loss of lives, “What we’re talking about is much more serious today 30,000 deaths potentially.”

Dr. Bennett is currently studying the adverse reaction reports for both Levaquin and a similar antibiotic called Ciprofloxacin.
He found these antibiotics can potentially do damage to cells and to the brain. “The mitochondria is the energy of the cell you damage that and places where you need the most blood supply say like the achilles tendon or your nerves or your brain completely at risk.” – Dr. Bennett

Potential side effects of antibiotics:

  • Ruptured tendons
    •Nerve damage
    •Severe watery diarrhea and abdominal crampscramps: signs of a serious bacterial infection of the gut – Clostridium difficile infection
    •Allergic reaction (shortness of breath, hives, swelling of lips, face, or tongue, fainting)
    •Vaginal itching or discharge
    •Oral thrush: White patches on the tongue
    •Antibiotic resistance
    •Brain damage
    •Other debilitating issues


Online pharmacies illegally handing out antibiotics are fuelling rise of superbugs

Antibiotics are a prescription-only drug in the UK 

Online pharmacies are fuelling the rise of drug-resistant superbugs by handing out antibiotics without asking for a prescription, an investigation has found.

A study by Imperial College London found evidence suggesting that nearly half of online-only pharmacies are selling the drugs illegally, with eight in 10 letting customers choose the size of the their dosages.

These findings are a real concern, and raise several important issues regarding antibiotic resistance and patient safety with online pharmaciesDr Sara Boyd, Imperial College London

Inappropriate use of antibiotics is prompting an increase in the number of pathogens which are immune to the drugs, leading to a warning last year that antimicrobial resistance could return medicine to the “dark ages” and kill tens of millions of people.

Dr Sara Boyd, co-author of the NHS-backed study, said: “These findings are a real concern, and raise several important issues regarding antibiotic resistance and patient safety with online pharmacies.”

Her research team analysed 20 pharmacies that were available for UK consumers to access online, and found 75 per cent appeared not to be legally registered.

Meanwhile only 30 per cent of the websites asked customers to complete a health questionnaire prior to dispensing drugs, the study found.

All online medicine vendors selling to UK consumers must by law register with both the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the General Pharmaceutical Council.

The research is published in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Antibiotics Kill Your Body’s Good Bacteria, Too, Leading to Serious Health Risks

“It is ironic that this humbled fungus, hailed as a benefactor of mankind, may by its very success prove to be a deciding factor in the decline of the present civilization.”

-Dr. John I. Pitt, The Genus Penicillium, Academic Press, 1979.

Antibiotics Kill Your Body's Good Bacteria, Too, Leading to Serious Health Risks

Story at-a-glance

  • Antibiotics may help fungi to proliferate within your body and cause drug resistant bacteria to thrive
  • The vast majority of people suffering from chronic respiratory infections (as well as their physicians) are not aware their problem is caused by fungi, as opposed to bacteria, so antibiotics are of no use
  • Most disease originates in your digestive system; once you heal and seal your gut lining and make your digestive system work properly again, disease symptoms will typically resolve
  • One of the most beneficial steps you can take to combat infection is to maintain a healthy intestinal system by eating a diet rich in natural probiotics, especially naturally fermented foods, such as Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS Nutritional Program

Simply put, antibiotics are poisons that are used to kill. Only licensed physicians can prescribe them. The drugs are used to kill bacteria. Certainly, many people have benefited from using them. However, if bacteria were the only organisms that antibiotics killed, much of this book would be unnecessary. In fact, I contend that poisons that kill small organisms in small doses — organism-specific varieties notwithstanding — can also kill big organisms, when they are taken in big doses. You, my friend, are a big organism.

We’ve talked about the link between fungus and human disease. This chapter addresses the possibility that antibiotics may help fungi to proliferate within the human body.

As an adult human, you have three to four pounds of beneficial bacteria and yeast living within your intestines. These microbes compete for nutrients from the food you eat. Usually, the strength in numbers beneficial bacteria enjoy both keeps the ever-present yeasts in check and causes them to produce nutrients such as the B vitamins.

However, every time you swallow antibiotics, you kill the beneficial bacteria within your intestines. When you do so, you upset the delicate balance of your intestinal terrain. Yeasts grow unchecked into large colonies and take over, in a condition called dysbiosis.

Yeasts are opportunistic organisms. This means that, as the intestinal bacteria die, yeasts thrive, especially when their dietary needs are met. They can use their tendrils, or hyphae, to literally poke holes through the lining of your intestinal wall. This results in a syndrome called leaky gut. Yeasts are not the only possible cause of this syndrome. Some scientists have linked non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as naproxen and ibuprofen to the problem. Given their ability to alter intestinal terrain, antibiotics also likely contribute to leaky gut syndrome.

In addition to possibly causing leaky gut syndrome, I believe that parasitic yeasts can also cause you to change what you eat in that they encourage you to binge on carbohydrates including pasta, bread, sugar, potatoes, etc. So, it should come as no surprise that weight gain counts as one of the telltale signs of antibiotic damage and subsequent yeast overgrowth.

By altering the normal terrain of the intestines, antibiotics can also make food allergies more likely. An array of intestinal disorders can ensue, as well. Sadly, most doctors claim ignorance concerning their patients’ intestinal disorders rather than admit that the drugs they themselves prescribed actually caused the disorders to begin with.

Tons of antibiotics are fed to American livestock on a daily basis, purportedly to proof them against bacteria. This practice not only possibly contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans — many experts feel weight gain, and not disease prevention, is the real reason antibiotics are so widely used. Fat cattle sell for more than thin cattle. That’s all very well, but imagine what the antibiotics thereby possibly present in dairy products could be doing to our children’s health.

Back in the 1950s, two researchers in Albany, New York, worked to develop an antimicrobial drug from a substance produced by a soil-based fungus. Although the nystatin they discovered is technically a mycotoxin, it works wonders as an intestinal antifungal. This as yet revolutionary drug stops the yeast overgrowth caused by all other antibiotics and is 100 percent safe to use. In addition, nystatin works with no side effects, though it can cause a pseudo sickness that patients often confuse with side effects.

Also in the 1950s, scientists used mice to grade the relative toxicity of 340 antibiotics (Dr. William S. Spector, The Handbook of Toxicity, 1957). The researchers based their rankings on the amount of a given antibiotic required to kill half of the lab mice injected with it. I relate this story only to ask you, before 1957, how did scientists decide what would serve as prescriptive doses for these very same antibiotics when used in humans?

I’ll assume that the same toxicity scale remains in place today. If it does, and if a given dose of penicillin will kill 50 percent of mice injected, it stands to reason that a much larger dose, or perhaps repetitive doses extended over 40 years, might prove fatal to a human. I don’t know if larger doses are in fact administered to people. And, the 40-year scenario has its problems. But you have to admit, it’s certainly food for thought.

The time span between when patients take rounds of antibiotics and when they die interests me. That’s because I believe that few people really die of heart disease and diabetes. In actuality, antibiotics are responsible for deaths attributed to these diseases, because these drugs are what caused people to develop the diseases to begin with. And yet, incredibly, death certificates usually state the probable cause of death without mentioning whether the deceased had a history of taking antibiotics.

Remember, antibiotics are dangerous mycotoxins — fungal metabolites. Just as importantly, medical experts have written articles maintaining that these drugs kill people. But, other experts insist on remaining skeptical as to the problem, even though these same experts readily recognize the link between weakened immune systems and death.

According to the 2001 Allergy and Asthma Report, the first immunodeficiency syndrome was identified in 1952. This document tells us that since that time, “more than 95 immune syndromes have been identified, with new conditions coming to light every day.” The report goes on to say that research indicates that “increased antibiotic use in human infancy may be associated with increased risk of developing allergies.”

Max Planck won the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics. He once weighed in as to why science is slow to change even in the presence of overwhelming evidence that it should do so.

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light,” Planck said, “but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with the ideas from the beginning.”

That a new generation will grow up knowing of the dangers inherent in taking antibiotics is a good thing. That doctors will continue randomly prescribing fungal toxins should teach us the importance of knowing medical facts before blindly accepting any prescription. Please study the antimicrobial benefits and the immune system stimulants that nature provides. Know also that, in some instances, antibiotics may become necessary.

If you reach the point where no alternatives exist, I recommend that you ask your doctor to prescribe nystatin simultaneously with the antibiotic (see Dr. Holland’s article). Also, keep in mind the post-antibiotic importance of restoring the intestinal terrain with plain yogurt and probiotics. If you experience bloating, belching, gas, constipation, diarrhea, GERD, or other intestinal problems, probiotics can play an important role in restoring your intestinal terrain.

Antibiotics—To Take or Not to Take?

By David A. Holland, M.D.

I looked up antibiotics in Harrison’s Textbook of Internal Medicine. The listing referred me to “antimicrobials.” This caused me to realize how much more accurately the second term describes these substances, given the broad-spectrum nature of a lot of them.
I must confess that, as a doctor, I do prescribe “antimicrobials.” Perhaps I prescribe more antifungals and nonprescription remedies than the usual doctor, but I do prescribe antibiotics, as well. Perhaps even more horrifying, considering Doug’s articles condemning them, is that I’ve taken them myself! In fact, in these times it’s a rare individual who goes through life without ingesting those little pills. So, three questions have become important — when should you take antibiotics, when should you refrain, and what will you do when you’ve already taken them?

Alexander Fleming, by the grace of God, brought us a mixed blessing in 1928 with his accidental discovery of penicillin produced by, of all things, a fungus. Medicine’s interest treating people for exposure to fungi dropped dramatically in succeeding years, until the microbes were only thought important insofar as their ability to produce increasingly diverse varieties of antibiotics.

Interest in fighting bacteria proliferated like a flesh-eating Strep infection, fueling the race to discover ever more antibiotics. Pharmaceutical salespeople invaded doctors’ offices and hospitals, intent on convincing physicians their antibiotic was better than the others. These salespeople supported their pitches with studies, graphs, charts and convincing stats, while often failing to mention that their research had been funded by their own companies. The possible conflict of interest was, and remains, enormous.

I have no quarrel with such salespeople. They’re regular men and women like you and me, just trying to make a living. However, when human lives are involved, funding research to prove that your own product is better than the competition’s is just plain wrong. The advantage is obvious, and the danger that a great deal of objectivity could be lost is only all too real.

I believe that an impartial, third party should be assigned to perform such research, funded by a mandatory “ante” from all pharmaceutical compan­ies involved in producing a given category of drug. Of course, that will be the day! In case the above scenario never happens, we would do well to take with several grains of salt the unregulated information that companies provide about their own products.

Perhaps you are wondering about the use — and abuse — of antibiotics in general. Let me give you an example. One of the most common diagnoses given at a doctor’s office is the upper respiratory infection (URI). It accounts for up to 70 percent of all antibiotics dispensed (Annals of Internal Medicine. American College of Physicians.American Society of Internal Medicine. March 20, 2001).

However, according to Dr. Carol Kauffman, most URIs are not caused by the bacteria that antibiotics are designed to fight. Rather, Kauffman says, they are caused by fungi. So, unless a secondary, bacterial infection presents itself — and even then, the rules change — most URIs do not require the use of antibiotics.

Regarding ear infections, in one study, children administered antibiotics for acute otitis media suffered double the rate of adverse effects compared to children in the study who took placebos (Clinical Evidence 2000). The difference in outcome for those children in the study who took antibiotics compared to those who do not was almost negligible. Some scientists counter that children who take antibiotics run lower risks of secondary ear infections such as meningitis or mastoiditis (infection of the angular bone located behind your ear).

Of course, the landscape is complicated by noncompliance. The portion of people who take their antibiotics as prescribed has been estimated at anywhere between 8 to 68 percent. So it’s difficult to say just how effective antibiotics actually are.

Now, say my daughter was to get sick for 10 days, miserable with a high fever and screaming ear pain. Say our doctor said her ear canal checked out as angry red. Am I going to have my daughter take the prescription? Probably so. We cared for a young woman at the hospital where I worked who was literally at her deathbed with overwhelming Streptococcal — bacterial — pneumonia. One of her lungs was saturated with the infection, which had also spread throughout her bloodstream.

I went on to my next rotation thinking that was the last I would hear of that patient. However, I later spoke with her attending physician. He told me she walked out of that hospital, completely cured. So, antibiotics save lives, but it’s not exactly a common occurrence. Certainly, most of you out there suffering from the common cold are not near death, so you should think twice about taking antibiotics.

The non-synthetic antibiotics are fungal by-products called mycotoxins. Penicillin is perhaps the best example. In other words, mycotoxins kill off fungi’s competitors, allowing fungi to grab up all of the nutrients for themselves. Alexander Fleming himself observed this in action, and it later led him to develop penicillin. When a mold — molds are fungi — contaminated a bacteria colony upon which Fleming was performing an experiment, the invader cleared the area around it of all bacteria. When Fleming investigated, It turned out that the fungus had produced a substance he would later call penicillin, killing the bacteria in residence.

Just because they kill bacteria, you may be thinking, doesn’t mean that some, many or especially all of the mycotoxins used as antibiotics are necessarily harmful to human beings. A. V. Costantini in effect counters this idea when he speaks of the work of two scientists by the name of Bernstein and Ross. Costantini says that the men found that two or more months of treatment with penicillin and other antibiotics contributed to what they saw as a “significantly increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans (Costantini, A. V. Fungalbionics. 1998).”

How many people, children included, have undergone dose after dose of antibiotics for recurring infections? Doug and I believe that these relatively small doses taken over long periods of time are actually harming us in similar, incremental fashion, later showing up as cancer, diabetes, vasculitis or other diseases.

We take antibiotics when we are sick, when our immune systems weaken. The mycotoxins pharmacies dispense for use as antibiotics only exacerbate the problem, because the lion’s share of these substances have been shown to be immunosuppressants (CAST Report No. 116. November 1989.). Not only are they capable of hamstringing our immune systems, they also destroy the friendly bacteria that guard our intestines.

These friendly bacteria include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidus and Bulgaricus, supplements for which can be found in any health food store’s refrigerated section. They protect us against pathogens such as Salmonella, yeast, cholera, and the bad E. coli. They are so potent that, prior a trip abroad, to protect yourself from traveler’s diarrhea you’d do better to skip the usual antibiotics and instead take acidophilus supplements.

Unfortunately, these good flora are so vulnerable to antibiotics that, in mice, a “single injection of streptomycin can eradicate the protective effect of the normal flora. (Mandell. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 2000.)” And, once gone, these friendly bacteria are replaced by hostile bacteria such as Pseudomonas, Clostridium, and Klebsiella, and by Candida yeast, a powerful member of the fungi family.

So, we have the good and the bad regarding our chemical friends known as antibiotics. They can “save the day” at times, but they have ruined them at others — just ask any woman with a yeast infection or look at any baby who suffers from thrush. You should know that, even should you just say “no” when your doctor moves to prescribe antibiotics for you, theoretically speaking you may still be taking them with every bite of steak and pork you eat.

That’s because more antibiotics per pound are used on livestock than in human medicine. How much of those antibiotics are passed on is difficult to determine, but the mere possibility of this kind of thing is certainly a worry.

Our goal in this book is to educate you and to help you make informed decisions. Some final, simple tips follow:

  1. An ounce of prevention…. Exercise, eat intelligently and take a few supplements. Avoid alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs. Get some rest once in a while. Pray. Despite our best efforts, most of us will get sick at some point and decide to go see a doctor. If you are a stubborn, married man, your wife will likely make the appointment for you.
  2. Ask Questions. If your doctor diagnoses you with an upper respiratory infection, sore throat (in which the strep throat test is negative), bronchitis, sinusitis, or ear infection, and you wonder if you really need an antibiotic, make a point of asking her about it. A lot of physicians would be pleasantly surprised that one of their patients would even consider trying to recuperate without antibiotics. Ask if you can treat your condition symptomatically and come back or call in a couple of days if you are not better.

    If your questions annoy your doctor, then get another doctor. After all, you pay the bills, either directly or out of your paycheck in the form of insurance, and you deserve adequate treatment. On the other hand, if you feel you, in fact, do need an antibiotic and your doctor disagrees, try to work a deal in which she will prescribe an antibiotic for you if you don’t feel better in a couple of days. I learned an important lesson about this kind of disagreement during college, on a visit to the infirmary. The doctor there refused to give me an antibiotic for a URI I’d come down with. I had to suppress my anger at what I saw as arrogance on his part, but lo and behold, he was right. I got better without the pills I’d been sure I’d needed. I think a lot of people tend to underestimate their bodies’ healing abilities, in much the same way as I did. That’s just one reason why doctors are oftentimes in a better position to make the call as to whether or not to prescribe.

  3. Take an objective look at yourself and your life-style. If you keep coming down with the same thing, do some research and a little thinking. Do you drink a lot of soda? Do you smoke? Are you taking antibiotic after antibiotic and now have a secondary yeast or fungal infection? How is your spiritual life? Your stress level? The point is, myriad factors contribute to “wellness.”

As far as chronic sinus infections go, Johns Hopkins researchers are now saying most such conditions are caused by a fungus. So, if you do have chronic sinusitis, stop taking antibiotics, get on an antifungal diet, and ask your doctor for antifungal medications. If your doctor refuses, visit a health food store for natural, off-the-shelf antifungals such as olive leaf extract, garlic, and Caprylic acid.

Once you improve, make sure you go back and let your doctor know how things worked out. Chances are she is neither experienced nor comfortable with prescribing antifungal medication. Your story may convince her to do her own research, the first step to changing her treatment philosophy.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to convince your doctor to let you try a prescription of nystatin. As one of the better gut antifungals, nystatin is also remarkably safe and free of side effects.

If you’ve decided to go ahead and take an antibiotic:

  1. Get the facts. Ask your doctor how many days you must take the antibiotic and if you, in fact, do need the latest, most powerful one on the market. Simple urinary tract infections are now treated with only three days of antibiotics. Sinus infections, bronchitis, and ear infections in children over two years of age can be treated with as few as five days of antibiotics, new or old, generic or name brand. This may not be possible, however, if you have other medical conditions or if you smoke.
  2. Build trust. Commit to the full course of the antibiotic unless you experience significant side effects or an allergic reaction. You sought medical advice and agreed to the prescription. You will build trust with your doctor if you work as a team. This trust will be very important once you see number 3 below.
  3. Take an antifungal with the antibiotic. For example, you could ask your doctor for a prescription of nystatin to take during the course of your antibiotic. Many dermatologists do this when prescribing long-term antibiotic courses for acne. I suggest adults take two tablets twice a day — 1 cc of suspension twice a day for children — to prevent yeast overgrowth in your intestines. Most cases of upset stomach or diarrhea that kick in a few days of beginning a round of antibiotics can be cured with a single dose of the drug. Diarrhea after a two-week round of antibiotics is likely caused by a different bug altogether — be sure to bring that to your doctor’s attention. I should tell you that, in my clinical practice years, many of my patients made great strides against acne through taking nystatin and a change in diet alone, without the antibiotics.
  4. Supplement your intake. Take an antioxidant supplement, one that includes vitamin E, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin A, among others. According to A.V. Costantini, all antioxidants are antifungal. (Costantini. 1998.)
  5. Keep your bowels moving. If antibiotics kill off your friendly, intestinal bacteria, once you cease taking antibiotics you’ll run a higher risk of infection by other, more hostile bacteria. These bacteria will be quick to find and exploit pockets of debris that could be collecting and putrefying in your intestines if you happen to become constipated. So, be sure to keep your digestive tract as clear as possible until you can repopulate it with friendly bacteria. Psyllium hulls fiber from your local health food store is the best, bulk fiber to use, as long as you don’t have a history of intestinal obstruction. Psyllium not only relieves constipation. It also slows diarrhea by absorbing excess water.
  6. Replace the good bacteria in your intestines. Supplement with an acidophilus supplement for a few weeks following any course of antibiotics. Do not take these simultaneously with your antibiotic, or you will simply end up with a lot of very dead, albeit still friendly bacteria in your intestines. At the very most, take acidophilus supplements either in between antibiotic doses or after you have completely finished your prescription.
  7. Look back at why you became ill to begin with. I once suffered from strep throat after indulging in half a box of chocolates. That should have come as no surprise. Who wouldn’t be crippled by that amount of garbage? More than likely, you have your own experience regarding similar binges. My point is, diet plays at least as much a role as actual exposure to germs as to whether we get sick — when we are healthy and eating correctly, our bodies are amazingly resistant to infection.

One, last note: Please ignore advertisements that recommend guzzling orange juice for the vitamin C it contains. A big dose of sugar is what you’d actually be getting. I have heard more than a few patients note that once they felt they were coming down with something, they immediately began downing glass after glass of orange juice, only to get even sicker. They concluded that they must not have caught the illness in time, which couldn’t have been any further from the truth.

The truth is, they simply fueled the fire of their infections with lots of sugar, all because they trusted a corporation’s advertisement to educate them about proper healing strategies. If you want that much vitamin C, you will be perfectly fine taking it in the 1,000 mg pill form a few times a day. As far as fluid requirements are concerned, your body is 70 percent water — and that is exactly what it needs!

Dr. Mercola’s Comment

The information above is a two-part article taken directly from Doug Kaufmann and Dave Holland, MD’s book, “The Fungus Link, Volume 2.” Inside this first follow-up to the original Fungus Link, published in 2000, you’ll learn about the dangers of antibiotics and the ins and outs of natural and prescriptive antifungals. Additionally, Doug and Dave share with you the role fungi and their mycotoxins play in what are unfortunately everyday diseases such as prostatitis, ear-nose-throat disorders, weight problems (including obesity and anorexia), autoimmune diseases, hormonal disorders, neurologic diseases, hair loss, and eye problems.

There is also now “The Fungus Link Volume 3 ,” published in 2008.

Antibiotic overuse has spurred a vicious cycle. If you take antibiotics, you can develop drug resistance that lasts up to a year. The more antibiotics are prescribed for coughs and flu-like illnessesand the more antibiotics are fed to livestock, the more bacteria become resistant in an endless cycle. And in most cases of human upper respiratory infections, antibiotics are of no use in the first place because the infections are most often fungal in origin—not bacterial.

Mixed Mold Toxicosis

The vast majority of people suffering from chronic respiratory infections are not aware that their problem is related to mold exposure. And unfortunately, their physicians are also uninformed, making appropriate treatment impossible. Most primary card practitioners are not trained in mold poisoning and their approach is limited to prescribing steroids and dangerous antifungal medications, many of which are toxic to your liver.

All molds have the potential to cause ill health, depending on their type, whether or not they produce toxins, how long you are exposed, and your overall health and resistance to infection. Mold exposure is a growing problem now known as Mixed Mold Toxicosis. In addition to minor or major respiratory problems, molds can also cause a multitude of other issues, including skin rashes, gastrointestinal problems, genitourinary problems, immunosuppression, and hemorrhage.

The most common places for indoor mold to take hold are bathrooms and kitchens, behind or under appliances, around windows, in basements, or in any other damp area.In addition to consulting a professional “mold remediator,” a high quality air purifier may help reduce your exposure to mold toxins.

Recovering from a mold-induced illness requires an integrative approach under the guidance of at least one knowledgeable healthcare practitioner. The most important aspect of recovering from mold toxicity is starving the fungi out of your body with an antifungal diet, and avoiding foods likely to be mold-contaminated. Probiotics, select herbs, air purification, and other natural therapies have been found to accelerate recovery.

The Importance of Probiotics

I can’t stress enough the importance of consuming foods rich in natural probiotics, especially if you have an infection of any kind. Your gut serves as your second brain, and even produces more serotonin—known to have a beneficial influence on your mood—than your brain does. It is also home to countless bacteria, both good and bad. These bacteria outnumber the cells in your body by at least 10 to one, and maintaining the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health—physical, mental and emotional.

Most disease originates in your digestive system. This includes both physical and mental disease. Once you heal and seal your gut lining, and make your digestive system work properly again, disease symptoms will typically resolve.

The GAPS protocol, created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, is designed to restore the integrity of your intestinal lining by providing your body with the necessary building blocks needed for healthy enterocyte reproduction, and restoring balance to your gut flora. I recommend your listening to my interview with Dr. Campbell-McBride about how to “heal and seal” your gut for optimal health. She cured her son’s autism through her deep understanding of the importance of balanced intestinal flora, developing the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) nutritional program.

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