All three of my kids are on antibiotics. I’m both super sad and incredibly grateful.
I used to blindly accept antibiotics for my family in all situations. If the doctor said we needed them then that’s what we did of course! Once I started studying nutrition and the body and realized how critical bacteria is for a healthy immune system, I got kind of ticked off. How could doctors keep prescribing antibiotics for every little thing when they never address how important good bacteria is for long-term health? Truthfully, I got a little sanctimonious about the whole thing…which I think is common for newbies to the world of holistic health.
I now do my best to keep my family off of antibiotics because I know that antibiotics kill gut bacteria. Not just the bad bacteria, but the good bacteria too. Good bacteria plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. It helps our bodies make and use vitamins and minerals. It is the key player of our immune system. The foundation of our health lies in the quality of our bacteria. We have almost 40 TRILLION bacterial cells in the body – that outnumbers our human cells! Most of our bacteria lives in our large intestine – the colon. The goal is to have more good bacteria in the body than bad bacteria…more good guys than bad guys. Taking antibiotics is like H-bombing it, the good and the bad. This leaves us wide open to more illness because the good bacteria helps protect us from getting sick. It’s a weird ironic vicious cycle. We take antibiotics to get better but it creates the conditions for more illness. Ever taken antibiotics for an ear or throat infection and then seemed to get sick again not long after that? Yep. That’s a compromised bacterial situation.
I have successfully avoided antibiotics for my children in the last few years. I will do everything else before I resort to that: lots of healthy food, probiotics and other supplements, essential oils, and time…just waiting it out. That’s not to say that the doctors have not recommended antibiotics over the last few years….they have….several times.
I went swinging from one extreme to the other – taking any and every prescription recommended by a doctor to refusing pretty much all conventional recommendations. I don’t dose my kids with Tylenol the second they have a fever; I don’t automatically assume they have to have antibiotics for an ear infection; I don’t jump to the red dye #40 cough syrup as a first resort. And I’m glad. I’m glad I have preserved and protected as much of their good bacteria as possible over the last few years. Because now, NOW, I need you antibiotics!
My kids were recently diagnosed with impetigo…a bacterial infection of the skin. It’s downright gnarly. These photos don’t capture when it was at it’s worst. It’s contagious, so, of course, all three of mine got it – all over their bodies.
It’s interesting the way it started. When I picked up my son from camp he had what I call “detox legs.” He eats terribly when he’s at camp. And it shows. He gets bloated and inflamed and his body breaks out in boils. But this time they didn’t look so much like boils as blisters. I thought that since he went to camp two weeks this year instead of one, that the reaction was more extreme. But over the next week the condition spread and got worse. Then I started noticing my other kids getting something similar. When I took all three to the doctor, she confirmed that it was impetigo.
The doctor said it looks like it could have started out as something else (the bad food reaction) because of they way my oldest son’s spots on his leg were so round and uniform. And then they got infected and spread to the other kids. I knew she would recommend antibiotics and I was wholeheartedly ready to accept the prescription for the oral and topical forms. THIS is definitely a time to H-bomb the bad guys. The infection was spreading fast and beyond anything I could do quickly enough with holistic care.
This has been a humbling experience and a good check on my sanctimonious self. I’m quite grateful that I have the option to use antibiotics in a case like this. Thank God for them! Antibiotics have done lots of good for lots of people. Does that mean I’m not still peeved that they’re grossly overused or that most doctors don’t explain the risk of taking antibiotics for every little thing? Oh no, that still burns me up. I will continue to educate and help others understand the implications of overusing antibiotics and the important role of nutrition in keeping the good bacteria alive and healthy in the body. But I will not judge others – or more importantly, judge myself as a failure – for using antibiotics. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I will always try the more natural, less chemical, more holistic route first. I will continue to build up my family’s immune system with good nutrition and probiotics. But I will also embrace how fortunate we are to have modern medicine and wonderful doctors available to us. There’s room for both conventional and holistic care in our lives.
To help counteract the antibiotics and help my kids heal faster, I gave them the following supplements that I had on hand. These plus good nutrition. Really wish I’d had some fermented foods handy – they are an incredible source of probiotics.
These probiotics – given at a different time of day from the antibiotic.
This fish oil – for faster healing of the skin.
Blackcurrant seed oil – helpful for restoring healthy skin.
This topical probiotic spray – to help restore good skin bacteria.