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Updated 1/30/19 by Dan Jackowiak and Dr. Taylor
Antibiotics cause yeast infections because in addition to killing the bacteria that may be giving you an infection, they also kill the good bacteria that keep yeast under control.
Normally, candida yeast lives in the vagina and intestines at very low levels, undetectable on stool tests or vaginal cultures. They are kept under control by your good bacteria but antibiotics kill these good bacteria, which can result in yeast getting out of control.
According to Websters dictionary, "Biotic" means, relating to, or caused by living organisms, having a (specified) mode of life.
"Anti" means, one that is opposed or against.
So antibiotic means against life. In this case, against the life of the bacteria that is causing an infection.
They are typically made from substances that are produced by fungi or bacteria themselves, through a fermentation process. They can then be chemically enhanced in many cases.
Some antibiotics are made from chemicals, such as the quinolone class known as fluoroquinolones. Fluoroquinolones have broad spectrum anti-bacterial abilities and are cable of killing gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Ciproflaxin is a very commonly used broad spectrum antibiotic.
Plants of all types also produce substances that could be considered antibiotics. These substances will have natural antibiotic effects against that plants natural fungal or bacterial predator.
Most antibiotics, other than broad-spectrum types, are targeted to individual species of bacteria. So in theory, taking these antibiotics should not upset your good bacteria balance in your gut and vagina. But when put to use in the human body, they do, antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria if the bacteria is susceptible to the antibiotic.
Basically, the antibiotic strips the good bacteria in your vagina that defends you from yeast. If enough good bacteria is stripped away, or killed, a vaginal yeast infection is the result.
Because you take these antibiotics by mouth, good bacteria levels in the intestine are also reduced, which could allow intestinal yeast to get out of control. If yeast does get out of control in the intestine, because of the proximity of the anus to the vagina, it can transfer. This process results in chronic vaginal yeast infections, month after month as as you re-infect yourself.
If you take to many antibiotics within a year, it can become a never-ending cycle. Many women will get an antibiotic for their cold or flu, urinary tract infection, etc and get a vaginal yeast infection as a result. The doctor gives them an anti-fungal or an anti-fungal cream, or they purchase it over the counter at the local drugstore. The infection may go away for a little while, but then it returns. This will continue to happen until the resulting antibiotic destruction to the microbiome has recovered.
In studies done on mice in 2000 and published in "Principals and Practices of Infectious Diseases", a "single injection of streptomycin eradicated the protective effect of normal flora".1 Streptomycin is usually prescribed for people that are allergic to penicillin.
In an article that was published in November of 2015, based on a study done by multiple doctors and scientists in the UK and Sweden on adults, it was found that a single 10 day course of antibiotics not only reduces population levels but also the overall diversity of the intestinal microbiome. Depending upon what antibiotic was used, the effects lasted anywhere from four months for something like amoxicillin, to a year for a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Cipro. The largest reduction was in the bacteria that produce butyrate, a substance that protects the intestine from inflammation and cancer.2
Doctors Ahmad A, Khan AU from the Aligarh Muslim University in India, in 2009 found, that antibiotics, pregnancy and contraceptives, all contributed to vaginal yeast infections.
The most common prescription for antibiotics is for upper respiratory infections, but according to Dr. Carol Kauffman, "most of these infections are caused by a fungi". These infections do not require an antibiotic as treatment, yet doctors continue to prescribe them. This will alter the natural balance of stomach bacteria to yeast allowing the yeast to overgrow, and the result is full-blown yeast infection.
Yes, they can and here is a short list:
In 1998 two scientists, Bernstein and Ross, discovered that antibiotics "significantly increased the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans".
According to the 2001 Asthma and Allergy Report, the first immuno-deficiency syndrome was identified in 1952. Since that time 95 more have been identified with new conditions being discovered every day. The report also states that increased use of antibiotics in infancy is contributing to increased risks of allergies. What is interesting to us is in the 1950's antibiotics came into wide spread general use in medicine. Do you see a correlation here?
In June of 2016, Aalto University in Finland published a study linking the childhood use of antibiotics to the development of asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases, diabetes and obesity later in life.3
A 2016 study done by doctors Amy Langdon, Nathan Crook, and Gautam Dantas from the Washington University School of Medicine, that was published in Genome Medicine, found that antibiotic use can also lead to clostridium difficule infection, which claims the lives of about 14,000 people a year. They severely disrupt the human microbiome which leads to dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis is when the normal bacteria balance of 85% good bacteria to 15% bad bacteria, gets thrown out of balance. Normally dominating species numbers are reduced and normally contained species increase in numbers.
Dysbiosis of the microbiome has been associated with a large number of health problems and causally implicated in metabolic, immunological, and developmental disorders, as well as susceptibility to development of infectious diseases.4
A study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland and published in Nucleic Acids Research Journal in October of 2018, found the effect of ciprofloxacin stopped
the normal maintenance and transcription of mitochondrial DNA -- which dropped mitochondrial energy production.5
And without energy, your cells can't function.
Antibiotics are also present in many common foods that most of us eat. More recently, Harvard Medical School found that antibiotics are now being detected in the water supply from our overuse. The waste water enters the sewer system, which is then treated, and in many cases pumped right back into the underground water table, rivers or lakes.6
The most common foods that have antibiotics in them in America are commercial beef, dairy and poultry. The livestock industry gives antibiotics to their animals, which is supposed to kill bad bacteria and make the food supply safer. But they are also used to fatten them up. A fat cow will sell more than a thin cow, won't it? But the antibiotics are also present in milk, cheese, and the meat itself as well.
This over exposure is creating antibiotic resistance in humans and bad bacterial resistance to the drugs, not to mention the long-term health effects to our children, ultimately destroying the beneficial bacteria in your intestines allowing a yeast infection to develop.
Now it would be a rare individual that could go through life without ever being prescribed an antibiotic. We are in no way advocating to not ever take them because they do save lives. But choose wisely, do you really need to take them or not for whatever it is you have at the time?
Colds for instance are caused by a virus and the best way to treat them is to dry them out. We find that Mucinex during the day and Advil PM at bedtime does this quite well. By drying out the mucous you will be able to breath and will feel much better. Then it typically, for most people, takes two weeks to run its course.
Bladder and urinary tract infections are a very common reason women have to take antibiotics. On this webpage, we have a couple suggestions that I would try first before you committed to taking antibiotics. Rarely do are suggestions not work.
If you do decide to take an antibiotic, have your doctor prescribe Nystatin and Fluconazole with it to avoid
the possible overgrowth of yeast. Just so you know, Nystatin works best in the intestine and Fluconazole, because it absorbs into the blood stream so well, works everywhere else.
You could get on a good high dose probiotic
product like those we talk about on this webpage. Whatever probiotic you choose, the probiotics help offset the antibiotic caused destruction of your good bacteria and
to help your good bacterial colonies replenish themselves. Doses should
be a minimum 50 billion twice a day and the stronger the antibiotic, the more you should take.
While on the antibiotic do not take the probiotic at the same time of day. Usually antibiotics are taken with food so take your probiotic 60 minutes before breakfast and at bedtime. When you are done with the antibiotic, take the probiotic away from meals on an empty stomach with non-chlorinated water for at least another three months so your microbiome you can fully recover.
To avoid antibiotics in meats, buy organic and grass fed beef. Not only is the fatty acid ratio correct, which will give you better health, but you will be avoiding the antibiotics as well.
Because you took this antibiotic by mouth, and you know that it stripped the good bacteria in your vagina and gave you a yeast infection, based on the studies above, we also know that it has reduced your good bacteria levels in your gut.
So the best thing to do is to treat the gut and the vaginal infection at the same time, so you can prevent re-current infections and get yourself back to normal in the shortest amount of time.
The bottom line is, antibiotics cause yeast infections and if taken to often, yeast infections can become chronic and never go away, because they can severely alter your bacteria microbiome. In some cases it can take months of good diet and taking high dose probiotics and anti-fungals to recover.
If you have any questions about how antibiotics cause yeast infections or how to treat yourself and repair the damage? Please contact us through the contact page of this website.
Article written by Dan and edited for accuracy by Dr. Taylor
1. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. Published Date: 18th September 2009
2. Zaura E, Brandt BW, Teixeira de Mattos MJ, Buijs MJ, Caspers MPM, Rashid MU, Weintraub A, Nord CE, Savell A, Hu Y, Coates AR, Hubank M, Spratt DA, Wilson M, Keijser BJF, Crielaard W. 2015. Same exposure but two radically different responses to antibiotics: resilience of the salivary microbiome versus long-term microbial shifts in feces. mBio 6(6):e01693-15. doi:10.1128/mBio.01693-15.
3. Aalto University. "Childhood antibiotic treatments reduce diversity, stability of intestinal microbiota." ScienceDaily. 22 June 2016.
4. Genome Med. 2016; 8: 39. Published online 2016 Apr 13. doi: 10.1186/s13073-016-0294-zPMCID: PMC4831151. The effects of antibiotics on the microbiome throughout development and alternative approaches for therapeutic modulation.
5. University of Eastern Finland. "Ciprofloxacin has dramatic effects on the mitochondrial genome: Antibiotics should be used cautiously." ScienceDaily, 1 October 2018
6. Harvard Health Letter. Drugs in the water. Published: June, 2011
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