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Medication

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Oral antibiotics are tied to colorectal cancer (CRC). Researchers matched over 28,000 patients with CRC found in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink database with controls. Results showed that CRC risk depends on antibiotic type and location in the colon, but overall, CRC risk was dose dependent with any antibiotic use. Antibiotics with anti-anaerobic activity, which disrupts the gut microbiome in a way that allows carcinogenic microbes to develop, posed the greatest risk, especially in the proximal colon. These antibiotics include penicillin (ampicillin and amoxicillin). Interestingly, antibiotics showed a protective effect against rectal cancers, specifically in doses of more than 60 days of antibiotic exposure when compared to no antibiotic exposure. While the study was funded by Johns Hopkins Fisher Center Discovery Center and Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, the study reported indirect competing interests, including receiving financial support from pharmaceutical companies. Gut Takeaway: While these results do not prove a…

Hilary didn’t have a history of lots of antibiotic use in the past, but she was a picky eater in childhood who avoided fruits and vegetables like the plague. She was now in her thirties and in good health until a case of severe gastroenteritis, with nausea, vomiting, fever, and dehydration led to a five-day hospitalization. The cause of the gastroenteritis was never identified, but because she had a fever, while in the hospital she was treated with two different intravenous antibiotics and discharged on an additional ten-day course of oral antibiotics. Hilary felt better by the time she completed the antibiotics, but three months after the hospitalization she developed mushy stool that she described as having an oatmeal consistency, as well as severe bloating. Upper endoscopy and colonoscopy were unrevealing, and biopsies were negative for celiac disease, microscopic colitis, or any other abnormalities. A month later Hilary was prescribed…

…and this can really matter when we’re talking about cancer medication. Immunotherapy is a type of drug therapy used to treat cancer that focuses on boosting the immune system. Without the harmful side effects that come with chemotherapy, immunotherapy is the preferred method to treat many cancers today, yet positive response rates to this type of therapy fall somewhere south of 60%. Why so low? Because gut bacteria play a heavy role in metabolism and immunity, they can ultimately determine the fate of a medication’s effectiveness. And in those who suffer from dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria), the likelihood of a positive response to immunotherapy is lower than those with a balanced, diverse microbiome. In fact, both human and animal studies show that taking antibiotics within a short timeframe before starting immunotherapy results in lower response rates. Researchers have also compared the microbiomes of those who respond well to immunotherapy and…

Glenn had been on various antibiotics for cystic acne for seventeen years. His skin would initially respond well, but after a year or two the cystic lesions would return, and his dermatologist would switch him to a different antibiotic. Ten years after he first started taking antibiotics Glenn began to have persistent loose stools and weight loss. He experimented with cutting out dairy and tried to increase his calories, but no matter what he ate, he still had diarrhea and trouble gaining weight. Evaluation of his digestive tract eventually revealed a diagnosis of celiac disease, and he was put on a gluten free diet (GFD), which he adhered to strictly. His doctor reassured Glenn that after a few months on the GFD his diarrhea and weight loss would improve, but two years later nothing had changed. Repeat evaluation showed the signs of celiac disease had completely resolved, and his small…

Antibiotic therapy disrupts the gut microbiome and results in a pro-inflammatory response that negatively affects bone health. Previous studies have uncovered the direct relationship between a balanced microbiome and healthy bone development. A February 2019 study took this relationship further and investigated the use of a broad-spectrum antibiotic in mice to determine if there were any microbiome-mediated alterations in skeletal formation on a cellular level. After administering antibiotic therapy during the post-puberty phase (this phase is responsible for 40% of our bone accumulation), researchers found that the antibiotics led to significant disruptions in gut bacteria that altered the communication between immune cells and bone cells. These alterations led to substantial changes to trabecular bone – the bone type that experiences high rates of bone metabolism. The American Journal of Pathology  Takeaway: Antibiotics, especially broad-spectrum ones, significantly alter the gut microbiome, which may have negative and lasting effects on skeletal health. Researchers hope to conduct…

Those who use antidepressants are significantly more likely to experience severe gastrointestinal bleeding, and the risk is increased in those who take over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Coumadin, aspirin, and Plavix). The 2019 review study looked at selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), prescribed to 13% of Americans 12 years and older and the most commonly prescribed medication in the United States. After a complete review of the literature, scientists found that those on SSRIs are 40% more likely to experience severe gastrointestinal bleeding and are at a higher risk of life threatening intracranial bleeding. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association →Takeaway: If you’re taking antidepressants and are wondering if you’re experiencing gastrointestinal bleeding, bright red blood in the stool or tarry stools are signs you can look for. If you experience either of these symptoms, contact you’re healthcare provider immediately. No matter how safe or harmless a medication seems, all…

Are cholesterol-lowering drugs necessary? Essential oils may be just as effective. A recent study fed rats a high fat diet for 6 weeks that resulted in high cholesterol. Over the subsequent 6 weeks the rats maintained their high fat diets but were given oral doses of ginger and rosemary oils, alone and in combination. Oil administration of ginger and rosemary together resulted in weight loss, lower triglyceride and glucose levels, and liver structure preservation. African Journal of Traditional Complimentary Alternative Medicine →Takeaway: Statins (or cholesterol-lowering drugs) come with a long list of side effects including headaches, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and much more. While human studies are needed to justify replacing cholesterol-lowering medications with essential oils, this study is a reminder of how powerful natural methods for healing the body can be – and minus the side effects! There is a strong link between heart health and the gut microbiome. If you…

General anesthesia negatively alters the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome. A 4-hour exposure to anesthesia (Isoflurane) in mice resulted in a significant decrease in microbial diversity and depletion of several commensal bacteria including Clostridiales. Anesthesia & Analgesia →Takeaway: Researchers conclude that anesthesia may lead to dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria) in patients following an operation. If you have an operation coming up or have recently undergone general anesthesia, eating a microbiome-friendly diet can have huge benefits on gut bacteria diversity and composition, as well as the healing process post surgery. At Gutbliss we recommend following the Live Dirty Eat Clean diet laid out in The Microbiome Solution, and supplementing with daily green smoothies.

Are you a victim of “legacy prescribing”? As 2018 concludes, it could be time to check your medicine cabinet! A McMaster University study looked at 50,813 patients older than 18 years of age and found that 46% of patients receiving antidepressants, 45% receiving proton pump inhibitors, and 14% receiving bisphosphonates had a legacy prescription (a prescription that prescribes a drug past its effective or recommended period) between 2010 and 2016. Researchers hypothesize that legacy prescriptions are also common for medications used for pain, anti-anxiety, and ADHD. Annals of Family Medicine →Takeaway: The study’s lead researcher recommends taking control of indefinite prescription writing by asking the appropriate questions to your healthcare provider when the medication is first prescribed. Be sure you understand what the usual course length is for the specific medication, and when, why, and how you should stop taking the medication. Also be sure there is good communication between your specialists (who often…