5. Be med conscious
We generally are taught from an early age the following pattern for pain, discomfort, and illness:
- Get sick, go to the doctor, take an antibiotic or other med, get well
Have pain or discomfort, take meds, get relief
But, here we’ve seen that everything from what we eat and drink to even our stress levels can affect our gut. So, where does medicine fit into this picture? Here we’ll look at three commonly used medicines and their effects on the body: antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and laxatives.
Antibiotics are given to attack the bad bacteria that cause infections. But, antibiotics attack bacteria, period. The medicine can not differentiate between good bacteria in our gut and the bad bacteria causing the infection.
Studies show that antibiotics, even in low doses, and even taken short-term, can permanently damage the microbiome of the gut.
The effects on gut health from extensive use of antibiotics is shown to be a contributing factor in diseases such as autism, asthma, depression, IBD, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
The very name of this medicine alone sounds as if one could rest peacefully knowing no harm would come to their overall health with its use. I mean, they are called anti-inflammatory drugs.
The problem here is that while these medicines have been known to decrease localized inflammation and suppress the body’s sensitivity to pain (never mind the fact that they don’t heal what is causing your pain), they cause bleeding, ulcers, and inflammation in the gut (particularly the stomach and small intestine).
Constipation is said to affect millions of Americans. And, to find relief from this common irritation, Americans spent roughly $1.4 billion on laxatives in 2019.
So, how do these supposed gut-aiding meds actually affect one’s gastro-intestinal tract?
Some studies have shown that the use of laxatives can completely erase some families of gut bacteria.
And, though the microbiome of our gut is diverse. Disruptions in this diversity can cause inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease and other bowel disorders.
Things to remember regarding these medicines:
- Realize that antibiotics aren’t always beneficial and aren’t always necessary.
- Remember that an anti-inflammatory lifestyle will naturally promote gut health.
- Decreasing inflammation and healing one’s gut can allow freedom from chronic pain and constipation
With a healthy gut microbiome and a lack of systemic inflammation, the body is free to work as intended without medicinal intervention: as an innate healer.
Hippocrates is often credited with the realization of the link between gut health and disease. So, in the words of Hippocrates, “let food be thy medicine.”