Not only are antibiotics increasingly less effective, now comes a study that shows even low-doses may increase aggressive behavior – especially in children.
Early this month, a team of researchers at the McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Health Care Hamilton in Ontario, Canada, examined the effects of low-dose penicillin treatment in pregnant mice and their offspring. They found that the antibiotic triggered neurochemical changes in the brain and spurred a gut bacteria imbalance in mice. These changes included higher levels of aggressive behavior in young mice.
The study, published in Nature Communications, is significant because it offers further evidence that antibiotics screw up the microbe balance in the gut, which compromises the blood-brain barrier and can lead to psychological problems, ranging from anti-social and aggressive behavior to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The study also is important because while past research has shown similar results with high dosages of antibiotics, this is the first study proving that even a small amount of antibiotics can have dire consequences.
Lead author of the study, Dr. John Bienenstock, says the findings are particularly disturbing because:
There are almost no babies in North America who haven’t received a course of antibiotics in their first year of life. Antibiotics aren’t only prescribed, but they’re also found in meat and dairy products. If mothers are passing along the effects of these drugs to their as yet unborn children or children after birth, this raises further questions about the long-term effects of our society’s consumption of antibiotics.
Antibiotics And The Slaying Of Good Microbes
Scientists refer to the microbiome as the communities of microorganisms that inhabit your skin, mouth, gut, and other parts of your body. Like fingerprints, no two microbiomes are the same. The trillions of microbes in the intestinal tract profoundly impact human biology — digesting food, regulating the immune system, and even transmitting signals to the brain that alter mood and behavior.
“One of the key functions of the human GI is to help in the production of neurotransmitters — chemical messengers, which are necessary to help with mood,” says Dr. Justin Hoffman, a Santa Rosa, California, licensed naturopathic medical physician.
Anything that affects the health of the human GI system can also have an impact on the microbiome and therefore our neurotransmitters. We know that any amount of antibiotics can negatively impact the health of the microbiome, and subsequently impact other areas of a person’s health, including their ability to maintain a balanced emotional well-being.
Hoffman says that antibiotics don’t discriminate between strains of bacteria — good and the bad are killed. As a result of the bactericidal effects of antibiotics, our microbiome can be thrown into a state of “dysbiosis” — or complete microbiome chaos.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), gut bacteria strongly influences our metabolic, endocrine, immune, and both peripheral and central nervous systems. Depression has been associated with enhanced levels of proinflammatory biomarkers and abnormal responses to stress.
In her book Path To a Healthy Mind & Body, certified integrative nutrition coach Connie Rogers discusses how the foods we eat (and medications we take) can affect our moods due to the brain to stomach connection known as the gut/brain axis.
“This means our gut bacteria directly influence every system in the body including endocrine, metabolic, immune, digestive, the peripheral system, the enteric nervous system, and our central nervous system (CNS),” says Rogers. “The enteric nervous system has a direct relationship with happy, joyful, upbeat emotions as well as depression, anger, and anxiety.
Rogers points to a Journal of Neuroscience report: “Alterations from antibiotics are found in human brain diseases, including autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.”
Says Rogers, “When our gut microbiome is traumatized, so is our brain.”
Penicillin Just Another Chemo Cha-Cha?
Microbiology professor Holly Ahern agrees with Rogers, and refers to the gut as the second brain.
“Penicillin and other antibiotics are really the equivalent of chemotherapy for cancer,” says Ahern. “While the drug kills the cancer cells, there is collateral damage to normal cells and tissues as well. In the case of antibiotics, the collateral damage is to the microbiota.”
As way of example, Ahern points to gut bacteria that produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that gets to the brain via the vagus nerve (connects the brain to the abdomen) where it can influence the function of the hypothalamus. Serotonin helps us sleep and stay calm.
“It stands to reason that anything we do to disrupt the normal microbiota in our gut will disrupt the way our first brain receives and sends messages to our second brain,” Ahern says.
Penicillin and other antibiotics certainly fit that bill. This has been demonstrated directly with mice and indirectly with humans, specifically humans with autism, who are often found to have profound changes in the composition of their gut microbiota.
Antibiotics interfere with the communication of our central nervous system, according to Rogers.
“This superhighway of neurons dictates our emotions, hormones and fertility, immunity, neurotransmitters, digestion, cognition, stress levels, controls appetite, decision capabilities, and addictions,” says Rogers. “It also changes how we form intimate relationships. Antibiotics influence all brain functions and behavior.”
What The Heck Is In That Stuff?
Rogers believes an additional health issue with antibiotics involves how they are made.
“From what I have studied, dangers can occur in the fermentation process,” says Rogers.
Among possible dangers, Rogers lists:
- Viruses can infect bacteria and fungi, passing along genes from one infected organism to the next.
- They may contain GMO soy meal and have several refining steps.
- They may contain dangerous microorganisms that are never listed on the label.
Probiotics Shine In Study
Another aspect of the McMaster University study showed that feeding mice penicillin along with a lactobacillus strain of bacteria helped to lessen anti-social behavior. Lactobacillus and other beneficial gut microbes are called probiotics.
“Our results suggest that a probiotic might be effective in preventing the detrimental effects of the penicillin,” says Bienenstock.
You can now buy supplements that introduce healthful microbes into your digestive tract. However, it’s important to use probiotics that survive stomach acids. Just Thrive offers a natural probiotic-and-antioxidant combination product that survives the harsh conditions of the stomach and arrives alive in the small intestine to get to work for you 100 percent of the time. Many people are using probiotics in combination with prebiotics, which help nourish probiotics.
Here’s The Natural Antibiotic That Is Gaining Attention Again Just When We Need It Most!
Silver, The Natural Gentler Antibiotic
Before penicillin, a natural antibiotic existed, and those who had it (although often limited to royals and the wealthy elite) survived quite nicely. Silver has been a powerful healer for people in the know for millennia. Today, in light of antibiotic resistance, silver is getting another look and deservedly so as an actual, functional defense against the threat of antimicrobial resistance.
Silver Excelsior Serum, for example, uses chelated silver to create a natural antibiotic that can kill more than 600 varieties of bad bacteria, while leaving the good bacteria intact. That means, no worrying about antibiotic resistant superbugs, new gut health issues, or the toxicity that comes with pharmaceutical antibiotics. You can also make your own colloidal silver with the market’s leading solution, Silver Healer, at the cost of distilled water (currently selling at $100 discount!).
Silver has proven to be effective for humans as well as cats and dogs.
According to Hoffman, this issue of antibiotics and the negative health implications on our mood and other areas of our health needs to be investigated further.
Certainly our modern day reliance on antibiotics has created many problems, from superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics (like MRSA) to GI problems, to neurotransmitter imbalances and potentially implications that any amount of antibiotics can cause aggressive behavior or affect our mood and emotional health.
Thomas Ropp Longtime journalist Thomas Ropp is an environmental advocate and proponent of living healthier. After spending most of his life in Arizona, he relocated to a Costa Rican rainforest ten years ago and helped with reforestation projects to expand the habitat of the endangered mono titi monkey. He has dual residency in the United States and Costa Rica.
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