Antibiotics and Gastrointestinal Dysfunction!

Antibiotics create their damage in a number of different ways. This is a huge problem in our society as antibiotic use has been frantically prescribed for every infection and inflammation, particularly pediatric ear infection, bronchitis, and sore throat. Ironically, most of these infections are viral in nature, and not only are the antibiotics damaging, but they are ultimately unnecessary. Plain and simple, antibiotics should be considered a hospitalization level medicine and used only when bacteria have entered the blood, bone or organ!

How do they create damage?

1. The first is by destroying beneficial bacteria. The small intestine and large intestine host over five hundred different kinds of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria perform hundreds of functions required for healthy metabolism and immune response. Through enzyme secretions, bacteria transform metabolic and microbial wastes (cellular debris, hormones, chemical wastes, bile, viral toxins, bacterial toxins, etc.) before they are discharged from the body.

For example, the body creates bile not only as a lubricant to flush wastes out of the liver, but also, to detoxify many of the poisons accumulating in the liver. Bile, however is extremely damaging to the large intestine epithelium. When bile enters into the small intestine via the common bile duct, beneficial bacteria break the bile salts down into  less toxic compound, making it non-dangerous by the time it reaches the large intestine. Taking antibiotics destroys these bacteria allowing bile salts to freely enter and cause damage to the large intestine. Further, it has been suggested that this alone contributes significantly to the high incidence of colon cancer plaguing today’s society.

2. Beneficial bacteria also break down hormone secretions that are discharged from the liver to the small intestine. If you lack the bacteria necessary for the breakdown of estrogen and intestinal permeability has been altered, the body will reabsorb these estrogens in their natural state. These excess estrogens that the body was unable to detoxify due to a lack of beneficial bacteria are then deposited by the body into sensitive tissue areas such as the breast, uterus, or ovaries, contributing, if not causing, fibroids, tumor and premenstrual syndrome.

Antibiotics Promote the Growth of Fungus

Another way antibiotics damage the intestines is by fostering the growth of Candida albicans and other pathogenic fungi and yeast. This event, more than any other, precipitates Leaky Gut Syndrome. In a healthy situation the lining of the small intestine (epithelium) maintains tight cell junctions, which contributes to the physical barrier involved in intestinal absorption. In addition to the physical barrier, there is an important chemical barrier within the mucus that contains immune agents. These immune agents are responsible for neutralizing any toxin that comes in contact with the physical barrier, also known as our bodies first line of defense.

Candida excretes aldehyde which cause the epithelial cells of the small intestine to shrink. This allows intestinal toxins to infiltrate through the protective barrier of the small intestine and into the blood. The secondary barrier, the immune agents in the epithelial mucosa, remain the sole agent for neutralization and eventually the immune system becomes exhausted having to consistently rise to this challenge.

The damage done by Candida is to the intestinal epithelial barrier, allowing the absorption of serious toxic agents and chemicals, which then enter the blood and affect numerous organs, including the brain.

Intestinal hyperpermeability is a topic in and of itself, however it is very important to understand that when we find ourselves susceptible to chronic infection that we must look further into what is going on. By continuing to address the issue through the use of antibiotics we are creating an optimal environment and setting the stage for dysfunction and chronic disease.