Hello dear friends!
Although I believe that holistic and earth-based medicines are better for almost all conditions, there’s a time and a place that calls for the big guns of Western medicine. Recently, I encountered a bit of a nasty infection that was causing significant pain, chills, and other not-so-fun symptoms. I knew that something was “off” with my body and did my best to give it the support that it needed to put up a good fight- lots of bone broth, fermented foods, golden milk, herbal tea…the works.
However, it seemed like I needed an extra hand, so I took my doc’s advice and did a round of antibiotics. And even though the side effects were pretty unconformable, I’m really glad I went that route. You see, when it comes to acute, serious, or life-threatening diseases or trauma, Western medicine is fantastic. It’s just all the other stuff that it doesn’t seem to have a clue about! I guess I’m trying to say, if you’re really suffering from something that could be serious and could be effectively treated with pharmaceuticals, it may not be a bad option. And I’m here to help you get your body back into balance after your course of treatment is done!
Antibiotics, while they work great to kill off the offending infection, also do a number on your natural microbiome- the billions of little critters that live inside your gut that keep you healthy and your digestion strong. It’s important to remember, even if your doctor doesn’t mention it, that the 7-14 days of medication is only the beginning of your healing process. It’s what you do after the last pill is taken that really counts.
Personally, within a few days of starting my antibiotics, I could tell that my body was getting out of whack. I was starting to get stomachaches, my tongue took on a blackish coating, my bowel movements became irregular, I’d get ravenously hungry at random times, and my sense of taste was diminished. Sprinkle in a few gnarly headaches and fatigue, and that pretty much sums up my experience! However, my infection cleared up rather quickly, and I was able to take a shorter course of meds than expected (Hallelujah!), so I put my recovery plan into action asap.
If you're curious about all the benefits of probiotics (and there are a LOT), and some food sources of probiotics, check out this great article.
If you have recently completed a course of any kind of antimicrobial drugs, or you are going to start one soon, it’s a great idea to have a few tools at the ready to help your body bounce back faster. I’ll share with you my post-treatment must haves, and I can personally attest that these work amazingly well. Following these guidelines, my body felt “back to normal” within only a week!
Here are my tips for recovering after a course of antibiotics:
1. Start probiotics early
I’m a big fan of high-potency probiotics, so if you’re not already taking them daily, now’s a great time to start. And yes, you should continue to take these probiotics even during your course of medication. There is a lot of research to show that this strategy can have a balancing and protective effect, reducing side effects and reducing infection recurrence. But don’t worry if you’re already post-treatment- you can load up on probiotics now! The more diverse the strains, the better. A good rule of thumb is to space out your antibiotics and probiotics by 2 hours- meaning, don’t take them both at the same time, but wait for at least 2 hours before you take one or the other.
Having trouble choosing the right probiotics for your needs? Check out these reviews!
2. Eat fermented foods every day
This is an important one- the naturally occurring strains in fermented foods are different from those in prepared probiotic pills. Aim to consume a serving of fermented foods at least once a day, up to three times a day if you’re really feeling off balance. Again, the more variety in your sources, the better! I personally like to rotate things like sauerkraut, kombucha, and pickles, but find the fermented foods that you really enjoy. Just be careful of yogurts, even coconut/non-dairy yogurts, as these often have a lot of added sugar, and are typically pasteurized, killing off the natural organisms that may help you. If you don’t have an aversion to soy, you may also add fermented soy products like tempeh and miso.
3. Sip that bone broth
Delicious and nourishing, broth has been used for centuries to help people recover from illness or injury, and we’ve recently discovered that it has a lot to do with the gut! Recent studies suggest that bone broth helps to heal the tiny holes in the gut, reducing gut permeability (aka “leaky gut”) which strengthens digestion and reduces overall inflammation. It’s no joke that chicken soup is one of the most healing foods, and post-antibiotics is a great time to put this wisdom to good use. There are many excellent quality paleo bone broths out there these days, in lots of tasty flavors. I generally try to warm it up and sip it straight, but you can also chop up some veggies and herbs if that helps!
4. Take detoxifying herbs
Medications like antibiotics, NSAIDs, and the like can really take a toll on your liver, where all of these compounds are processed and filtered. To give your liver a little love, you may benefit from adding in some detoxifying herbs and supplements, at least for a few days post-treatment. For a full-body flush, try herbs like: dandelion, milk thistle, ginger, turmeric, red clover, peppermint, and yellow dock. I made myself some coconut golden milk every evening, and sipped on blended herbal teas throughout the day. I also have a great detoxifying tincture available in my shop that is ideal for this purpose.
5. Drink more water
Most of us are chronically dehydrated, and when your body is trying hard to detox from antibiotics, it needs way more fluids than you may be used to drinking. Fresh, clean, filtered water will provide more lubrication around your organs and joints, pump up your blood volume to take away toxins faster, and give your cells more room to carry out their vital metabolic processes. Plus, drinking fresh water throughout the day can help with fatigue, headaches, unruly appetite, and other side effects you my be experiencing.
6. Play outside
That’s right- Mother Nature is your friend when you want to rebalance your body’s system. Get outside into the fresh air and sunshine, and get your hands and feet dirty- literally! The soil is chock full of naturally beneficial organisms (aka soil-based organisms or SBO), and being in contact with the earth (aka “earthing”) has many documented perks like reduced inflammation, elevated moods, boosted immunity, and decreased muscle tension and pain. If you’re able to get some sun, don’t shy away from it! Your body wants extra Vitamin D right now for immune support, and to balance your neurochemicals- after all, your gut is known as your “second brain”! Aim to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors, even if you’re just lying in the grass.
7. Be patient
All of our bodies are different, and we will all respond to antibiotics and these post-treatment tips differently. Especially if you are already struggling with a chronic health condition, like I am, it’s important to give your body a little extra slack and stick with your recovery plan until you feel better. Your microbiome is a delicate ecosystem, and any disruption can take a while to bounce back from, and that’s okay! This is your chance to infuse your body with super-healthy foods like fresh greens, organic protein, broth, and herbs, and rebuild your system in an even better way. If you are working with a certified health coach, ask them to help you plan and track your post-antibiotic recovery, so you can have some guidance and encouragement!
Of course, anything else you can do to reduce your stress levels and boost your self-care during this time is wonderful, and will deepen your healing. Consider lightening up your workload, getting a massage, taking an Epsom salt bath, picking up your meditation practice, or giving your pet a few extra snuggles. Your body knows how to heal itself- you just gotta give it a hand!
Alright friends, happy rebalancing, and as always…
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~
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