Monday, October 27, 2014

Effects of antibiotic use

While antibiotics have saved countless lives that would have been lost due to infection, they are a double-edged sword.  Antibiotics are prescribed to kill a particular pathogen, for instance, one causing strep throat.  Sometimes, these antibiotics are targeted to a particular pathogen, often called Gram negative or Gram positive, but more often broad-spectrum antibiotics are prescribed to hasten the healing process.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea[41] is often the result of antibiotic use and directly caused by altering the gut flora.  When the gut flora is altered, as it is with a round of antibiotics, pathogens are allowed to grow out of control and biofilms develop that protect these pathogens.

All of the defense systems our body has that rely on gut bugs are weakened by antibiotic use.  This seems like a contradiction, but when we kill off both good and bad microbes the playing field is stacked against the good microbes as they rely mostly on sheer numbers to keep pathogens at bay.  Antibiotics alter the microbes not just of the gut, but of the entire gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus and the skin.  All of these systems rely on subtle interactions to keep our metabolic, hormonal, and immune systems functioning.  When these interactions are disrupted, four billion years of evolutionary adaptations which keep us healthy are flushed down the proverbial toilet bowl.

Martin Blaser, Chair of the Department of Medicine, New York University, raised the alarm in 2011 stating:[42]

“Our love affair with antibiotics is fuelling 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."

Dr. Blaser reflects that the unprecedented lifespans we are seeing today are unquestionably due to the use of antibiotics in life-saving situations, but the assumption that antibiotics are generally safe has led to their overuse and an increase in bacteria that are resistant to treatment. Additionally, Blaser believes the long-term changes to beneficial bacteria may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease.

Blaser recommends we develop specific agents to stabilize microbial populations such as effective probiotics and narrow-spectrum antibacterial agents to minimize collateral damage to unintended microbial targets.

Special thanks to Dr. Grace Liu, PHARMD, from Animal Pharm for contributions to this article.

[41] "Antibiotic-associated diarrhea Definition - Diseases and Conditions ..." 2014. 19 Jan. 2014 <>
[42] Blaser, Martin. "Antibiotic overuse: stop the killing of beneficial bacteria." Nature 476.7361 (2011): 393-394.


  1. This is not a comment on the article, I apologize. However, I wanted to share something I discovered. I have followed PHD for a little over two years, with great success in terms of weight loss and general health. However, I continued to have troubles with allergies, chronic sinus infections, and I still got sick easily. I got off of the medication, but the issues were still present at a reduced level. The RS was a breakthrough moment for me, and greatly reduced my allergies, but they were not completely gone and I was still having sinus issues. Thank you for your work. Furthermore, I moved to Hawaii from Virginia and after a couple of months was so lethargic I couldn't get off the couch, my allergies and sinus issues worsened, and I kept getting sick. I started to experiment with taking iodine and things got worst. After some reading, I decided to do a “salt flush”. (I don’t really recommend this, but I was desperate.) I felt amazing. Bouncing off the walls amazing. I realized after some experimentation, it was increased salt that made me feel so much better. Things have stabilized and I no longer feel like bouncing off the walls, but all the lingering issues are gone. I have zero sinus issues, allergy issues, and am back to sleeping seven hours a night and being fully rested. After doing some reading on the matter, I think salt was the missing key, and everything about the PHD diet is high potassium/low salt, and promotes sodium wasting. I have been ensuring I get at least two teaspoons of salt along with the normal salt in my food and haven’t felt this good in years. Oh, and the weight loss, which had stalled, has started again. I, sadly, don’t have the time to dig up all the studies, and have not found much out there outside of studies done on athletes and cattle. In both cases, there is less pressure to find the politically correct results and find what really works instead. Despite the limited resources, I think there is an argument to be made the US population is chronically LOW in sodium (or overeat in order to get the minimum amount of sodium) and it may be a factor in driving obesity. (Cattle and rats are made fat by restricting salt.) If you have a moment, it might be worth looking into/experimenting with.

  2. Tate, that sounds interesting. How often did you do the "salt flush". And, is the salt flush the same thing as two tablespoons of salt dissolved in one quart of water, then drank throughout the day? How many days in a row, or how many times did you do this?

    It is true the potato hack is low in salt compared to the potassium, and your two teaspoons of salt sounds about the same as what I'd come up with for potassium/sodium balancing.

    According to "The Cool Diet", flu, cold, sinus issues, etc, are even more common in the tropics than in the colder countries. Cold/cool has some protective effects.

    Why are french fries and potato chips so rewarding to eat? Perhaps it is their perfect combination of sodium and potassium. The PHD may be high potassium, but most Americans are very low in potassium. Getting half your calories from potatoes fixes that low potassium issue, and then some. I wonder what cassava and sweet potatoes are like for potassium.

  3. Also off-topic, I found an easy way to make a really nice pudding. Awesome texture, mild flavor.

    Boil potato. Peel it. Put it in the blender on high, with a little bit of added water. After a minute, it is just like tapioca pudding. Add your flavorings. Done. No eggs, no gelatin, no cooling down time; just a really nice pudding.

  4. The "salt flush" was a tablespoon of salt in a glass of water on an empty stomach. Again, I don't recommend it. Now I just take salt pills equal to two teaspoons spread through the day.

  5. Two teaspoons of salt is 10 grams. Thank you Tate.

  6. Tate, is there any chance you have low thyroid and low adrenal function? Low thyroid function results in chloride not being retained by the kidneys.

    The potato commissioner of Washington state ate only potatoes for whatever, 60 days I think. He didn't appear to suffer from an excess of potassium or lack of sodium. That's why I'm thinking your kidneys are spilling chloride.

    Maybe get blood tests done if you can afford them? Find out what's going on with your hormones and kidney function.

  7. Interesting. I haven't thought of that possibility and will look into it. I had assumed it was the sodium because it got worst moving to a warmer climate.

  8. I apologize for hijacking the post. I looked up the symptoms for both low sodium and low chloride... and the symptoms match low sodium perfectly and not so much with low chloride. However, increased salt should help both.