2020-12-20 12:58
by Lisa Keilhofer
  Last edited: 2020-12-21 13:53

Prerequisites for a quick recovery after the intake of antibiotics

Woman with Antibiotics
Antibiotics are still counted to the standard repertoire of conventional medicine. (Picture: © Pixel-Shot - stock.adobe.com)

Beginning of July 2020, a team of scientists from the University of Singapore and the GIS (Genome Institute of Singapore) published a study on the gut microbiome that pointed out a correlation between the prevalence of certain microbes and the ability for recovery after the intake of antibiotics (1). Antibiotics are today among the most common options of medication, despite the knowledge that it does not only kill pathogens, but also harm the useful microbes. After a course of antibiotics, some patients recover faster and some take quite some time to fully recover, so the study adds a lot to the research in this field.

Antibiotics and their effect

Today, antibiotics are still counted to the standard repertoire of conventional medicine. Many lives have been saved and many courses of illnesses have been shorted, since the first antibiotic was discovered. At the same time, antibiotics often tend to be prescribed “just to be on the safe side”. The result is an increasing resistance in bacteria against most common antibiotics and with that the threat of multi-resistant germs.

Article-recommendation: Find out more about the history of antibiotics and the threat of multi-resistance here (2)

Scientists from all over the world warn from excessive use of antibiotics (3). Especially children suffer from the intake of antibiotics, as their microbiome is still developing and gets particularly harmed by this kind of medication. Parents can view the full details in the movie “Let them eat dirt” (5). As indicated by the name anti-biotics (meaning against living things), that kind of substance is killing or impeding bacteria. And that effect is not limited to pathogens, as antibiotics have no friend-foe-identification, but goes also for useful bacteria.

One of the leading scientists of the above-mentioned study, Dr. Niranjan Nagarajan, (Associate Director GIS) compares the impact to “how a forest fire wreaks havoc on its flora and fauna. The recovery of a forest’s ecosystem is dependent on its food-web relationships and the presence of certain key species. The same is also true for the gut microbial ecosystem” (1). And it is crucial for the patient that this recovery does not take too long, as our gut microbiome covers a lot of “system-relevant” tasks, to use one of the Corona-related phrases of 2020. It is in charge for the immune response, among others, and helps to digest food. The microbes help to break down substances and turn them into metabolic products that are essential to our body.

Key bacteria for a quick recovery

The study that was also published in the journal „nature, ecology and evolution“ (5) identifies a prevalence of bacteria that come with enzymes for breaking up carbohydrates as being a key factor for a resilient gut microbiome. These bacteria are capable of splitting up food rich in carbohydrates into substances that are not only useful for the host (that is us). Furthermore, they are the basis for feeding other bacteria dwelling in our guts, what makes them an important prerequisite for the development of a high microbial diversity.

The scientists team adds an important contribution to research on the consequences of antibiotic gavages. Prof. Patrick Tan, Executive Director at GIS, highlights the relevance of the outcome: “The synergy between different types of gut bacteria that promote recovery is an exciting direction of research. It needs to be further explored to protect our bodies from the side effects of antibiotic usage. The team is working on follow-up projects that aim to further characterise the mechanisms and synergies involved in gut microbiome recovery. In time, we hope to promote this recovery through consumption of appropriate pre- and probiotics“.

Pre- and Probiotics after antibiotics

This careful statement of a scientist illustrates how the use of pre and probiotics is to be evaluated from today’s perspective. There are quite a few products on the market that claim to restore an imbalanced microbiome after an antibiotics course, but are useless from a medical point of view. The use of pre and probiotics is pretty complex. Clients are advised to refrain from food supplement products and prefer the ones of biotech companies or pharmaceutical companies as they work under stricter regulations and standards. Any serious pre or probiotics cure should best be carried out under medical supervision.

Nevertheless, the A-STAR study provides “first insights”. A magic solution is far in the future, and most likely there is no magic solution. Please also have a look at the following readings:

To sum things up, the results indeed are an important first step, but follow-up research needs to be executed and probably “the” one and only probiotics cure that is capable of balancing all negative side effects of antibiotics will never be found. So, our first goal should be the limitation of antibiotics to the smallest possible scope to prevent our microbiome from being impaired, and at the same time to avoid the rise of multi-resistant germs. And as the conventional medicine is still not taking this into account close enough, we see our only chance in spreading the news and hope to educate responsible clients. So, please, also share this information with friends to help us in this mission.

Lisa Keilhofer
Lisa Keilhofer
Author

Lisa Keilhofer studied at the University of Regensburg. She works in internationalization and as a freelance editor.

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