I read an article by Dr. Mercola the other day about the dangers of Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics. It was scary. Scary enough that I shot the article around to family members to see if anyone was taking the antibiotics mentioned in the article. Turns out that two family members had recently had prescriptions of Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), the most well-known of the Flouroquinolones.

First, here is a blurb from the article about the dangers of Flouroquinolones (please read full article)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning that fluoroquinolone antibiotics, taken by mouth or injection, carry a risk for permanent peripheral neuropathy. The safety announcement states:1

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required the drug labels and Medication Guides for all fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs be updated to better describe the serious side effect of peripheral neuropathy.

This serious nerve damage potentially caused by fluoroquinolones may occur soon after these drugs are taken and may be permanent… The topical formulations of fluoroquinolones, applied to the ears or eyes, are not known to be associated with this risk.

Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage in the arms and/or legs, characterized by “pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness, or a change in sensation to light touch, pain or temperature, or sense of body position.”

This is not the first warning FDA has posted about this family of antibacterial drugs. In 2008, they posted a black box warning about severe tendon damage. Now having the additional warning for severe and sometimes-permanent nerve damage, there should be NO question in your mind about the danger of these drugs, and I strongly recommend avoiding them if at all possible.

The article goes on to say that “fluoroquinolones should be reserved for treating serious bacterial infections that won’t respond to any other treatment, when the patient is made fully aware of the potential for serious adverse events.” Shortly after that statement, the article explains that unfortunately this isn’t the case and the fluoroquinolones are “often inappropriately prescribed for mild conditions like sinus, urinary tract and ear infections.”

One family member was prescribed Cipro for a serious sinus infection. This sinus infection would definitely fall into the category of “serious bacterial infection”. Even so, the dangers of Cipro were never discussed. This particular family member developed pain in his Achilles tendon for no apparent reason. Real pain.  He eventually learned that he wasn’t just dreaming up this pain, it was in fact a side effect of the medication (Cipro) that he was on. After having read Dr. Mercola’s article, it appears that a ruptured Achilles tendon could have been a real possibility. YIPES!

The other family member was prescribed Cipro for a UTI. She was feeling pretty lousy so it’s hard to say if any of what she was feeling was a side effect of the medication. This family member was also unaware of the potential side effects of the medication. Her doctor never mentioned any side effects or dangers.

O.k. so that’s all great. Just great! Big problem with an antibiotic. Perfect, now what are we supposed to do. That’s basically what the female family member said to me. “Thanks for the article but what am I supposed to do?!” Well, I don’t have an answer for the sinus infection or the ear infection (I’ll need to do more research) but I do have some suggestions for the UTI.

I recently did a month long class on the urinary system. During this class we did discuss UTIs and what could be done naturally/nutritionally to support the immune system and help keep UTIs from happening in the first place.

Dietary & Lifestyle options:

  • Drink lots of water to help flush the urinary system
  • Take a high quality probiotic daily (Make sure you don’t take a probiotic at the same time you take an antibiotic. If you take your antibiotic in the morning/evening take your probiotic in the afternoon)
  • Cranberry Juice and/or Blueberry Juice – 8 oz. UNSWEETENED per day. – supposedly makes it difficult for the e. coli bacteria to stick to the walls of the bladder or urinary tract (? I’ve read mixed things about cranberry juice some say it’s helpful others say it won’t hurt but it also won’t really help – you decide).
  • High vitamin C foods – an easy superfood high in vitamin C is Camu camu
  • Coconut has high anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties so try to incorporate that into your diet
  • hot sitz baths with 1-2 cups of Epsom’s Salts twice daily

Supplement: D-Mannose

Dr. Mercola also has an article about D-Mannose and UTIs, it’s called D-Mannose: Destroy Urinary Tract Infections without Antibiotics or Cranberry Juice. We also discussed the use of D-Mannose in my class.

So, for my female family members and any friends/followers of this blog, if you are going to try and avoid antibiotics for UTIs maybe D-Mannose is the answer. I certainly like the idea of using it as a preventative. You should talk to your nutritionist or holistic health care provider about D-Mannose. Some of the high quality supplements that I have investigated give dosage information for maintenance as well as information on dosing to treat a UTI.

Well, I’m sorry about the antibiotic bad news. I hate to give bad news without some sort of “good news” more natural option. Sadly, my good news option is really only for one type of infection. I will continue to look for natural options for sinus infections and ear infections but for now D-Mannose for UTIs is all I have.

Eat Well, Feel Good, Have Fun!

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