Recently, I came down with a raging fever and a very sore throat. After a trip to Urgent Care, I received a diagnosis of tonsillitis (a tonsil infection) and given a prescription for antibiotics.
I held off on taking the antibiotics for a couple days, knowing that my body was doing important work and fighting off an infection with the fever. I took vitamin C, got acupuncture, and rested.
But when symptoms didn’t improve, I decided to take the antibiotics. (Remember, it’s ultimately your choice, not your doctor’s choice, to take any medication).
After frustrating and fruitless years spent trying to address my autoimmune disease in doctors offices, I knew Western Medicine hands out antibiotics like candy. The frequency and duration of antibiotic usage in our culture does more harm than good, but that doesn’t mean they are never a viable solution. Instead, we need to be vastly more conscious of alternatives and judicial antibiotic use.
I decided antibiotics were the best route for me in this situation. But I also knew, when the round of antibiotics was over, I would have repair work to repopulate my gut with healthy flora.
Here are the steps I took to re-inoculate my body with healthy gut flora and recover from antibiotics:
I used the following supplements to restore the healthy gut bacteria that was wiped out by the antibiotics.
Sacchromyces Boulardii is a beneficial yeast that supports balanced gut flora and can help address candida overgrowth. Because it’s a yeast, not a bacteria, it’s not killed with antibiotic treatment. So, I took this during the course of the antibiotics (2 per day) and finished the bottle after the treatment. I recommend this brand of Sacchromyces Boulardii, but you can find it from various supplement brands.
VSL-3 Probiotics are heavy-duty probiotics, specifically formulated to help those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Even if you don’t struggle with those autoimmune issues, I recommend this high-quality probiotic after antibiotic usage. I took 1 capsule, 3 times per day, until I finished the bottle. You can find this supplement in the refrigerated section of well-stocked health co-ops, and I was also told by a reader that it’s available at Costco.
UPDATE: This informative comment was shared on my facebook page and I wanted to pass it on to you.
Hi Lauren, excellent article! I have been following your blog since its very beginning. I LOVE your blog and all the wonderful and inspiring information you consistently give.
I am the manager at a small apothecary at an integrative medical clinic in Boulder Co. We used to carry VSL3 and it was a HUGE seller. However, VSL3 is no longer on the market due to a lawsuit from the founder/creator (DeSimone) of the formula. VSL3 was discredited due to changing the formula and fraudulent claims.
Claudio DeSimone is now producing his original formula via his own company ExeGi its called Visbiome…which is a fantastic and trust-worthy medical food probiotic. 8 strains and 112.5 billion beneficial bacteria per 1 capsule serving. It is very similar to VSL3, but better. It is still gluten free and dairy-free. There is a ton of information online about both the VSL/AlfaSigma 2017-18 lawsuit and Visbiome. Check into it! — Jesse Alban
Garden of Life Probiotics are more easily accessible, and while not as potent, still very helpful. You can find them at Whole Foods, most health food stores, and online here. I took 1 capsule, 3 times per day, until I finished the bottle.
Biokult is another potent probiotic, developed for use with the GAPS Diet. If I couldn’t find the VSL-3, I would take Biokult instead. It’s available here.
Fermented foods like lacto-fermented sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir pack a wallop of probiotics. The month following my antibiotics, I enjoyed fermented foods with at least one meal per day.
Restore, a soil-derived supplement, is made from — brace yourself — “decomposed prehistoric matter.” The decomposition process, with the pressure and atmosphere, creates lignite extract.
When destroyed by stressors, toxins, or antibiotics, our gut flora becomes imbalanced and pathogenic bacteria move in. These pathogens, along with chemicals and certain foods, loosen the junctions between the cells of the small intestine.
As a result, toxins and undigested food molecules escape into the bloodstream and cause immune dysfunction. This is referred to as “leaky gut.” While antibiotics will not necessarily cause leaky gut, they can contribute to this condition or exacerbate it.
When balanced, our gut flora communicates widely via carbon molecules called redox molecules. Restore introduces these carbon-based messenger molecules into the digestive tract, promoting essential communication of our gut flora. When our gut flora communicates, they can re-establish balance and intestinal healing.
Restore is shown in a controlled study to restore the tight junctions between small intestinal cells — in other words, it promotes the reversal of leaky gut.
I supplemented with a bottle of Restore post-antibiotics, taking 1 tsp. Three times per day. You can get Restore here on Amazon.
Colostrum is one of the most potent health elixirs, produced by mammals the first few days after giving birth. This pre-milk contains nutrients that prepare the gut for lifelong healthy digestion.
The immune-supporting “active ingredients” include:
- Immunoglobulins — these antibodies are your body’s first line of defense, and fight invading bacteria and viruses
- Proline-rich polypeptides — these polypeptides can support reduced inflammation
- Growth factors — these hormones make colostrum helpful for leaky gut, as they support tight junctions between intestinal cells
Colostrum can help restore the gut lining, foster a healthy immune response, and support recovery from leaky gut. (Source and source). It’s not a supplement I use on a regular basis, but I took it after my antibiotics to care for my digestive and immune system.
I don’t digest cow dairy well, but I have no problems with colostrum. That’s likely because it contains enzymes that help break down the casein (the milk protein) and the lactose (the milk sugar) responsible for digestive distress.
I recommend this Liposomal Colostrum. It comes from pasture-raised cows, and the colostrum is taken after the calves have had enough.
Take colostrum on an empty stomach. I take it first thing in the morning and before bed, 1 tsp. per serving in water.
How do you determine when it’s appropriate to take antibiotics? Do you use other steps to recover after?