by Dr. Bill Rawls
How do I restore my gut after antibiotics? In this video, Dr. Bill Rawls explains how antibiotics can upset the gut microbiome and trigger a host of troubling GI symptoms. Plus, he shares the best herbs for gut health, including herbal remedies for suppressing pathogenic microbes, supporting the good bacteria, and finding relief from symptoms. Read all about Dr. Rawls’ natural approach to gut health here.
Question: How do I restore my gut after antibiotics?
Hello, this is Dr. Rawls. Question: How do you restore your gut after you’ve had antibiotic therapy?
Part of that question, too, is how long you’ve had antibiotic therapy, and with which antibiotics? Some are going to disrupt the gut more than others, but the longer you use any antibiotic, the more you’re going to get a disrupted gut.
Many people with chronic Lyme disease had been taking antibiotics for six months or a year, and they found out that they’re not any better than when they started. Which really does cause you to question the value of antibiotics for treating the kinds of things that we’re seeing with chronic Lyme disease.
But nonetheless, a lot of folks out there are really struggling with this issue. And, one of the things that actually turned me toward herbal therapy was I would get two or three weeks into an antibiotic, and it would just rip my gut apart: Loose stools, pain, dysfunction, bloating, just the whole nine yards.
It’s because what we’re doing with the antibiotics is we’re nonselectively suppressing all the microbes. And so pretty quickly the more aggressive microbes develop antibiotic resistance. So you start having overgrowth of Clostridium difficile and candida, and a whole spectrum of other microbes in the gut that damage the gut lining and cause problems.
So how do you restore the gut? How do you get better? Well, one thing is just stopping the antibiotic, but it takes a long time for your normal flora to come back. Can you help that? The answer is yes, absolutely.
Like with so many things, in my opinion, herbs can be a central part of the equation. They are many herbs, but berberine-containing herbs such as goldenseal, coptis, and Oregon grape are really the top of my list. Berberine is not well-absorbed systemically, but it does have the effect of suppressing those pathogens and allowing the normal flora to recover.
Many other herbs — andrographis, cat’s claw, some of the standard herbs that we’re using in our Lyme regimens — are also very good at suppressing those gut pathogens and allowing the normal flora to flourish. So if you’re using antibiotics, I would definitely recommend the herbs on top of that. That can be very beneficial.
Cutting out the things that feed bad bacteria in the gut — the grain-based carbohydrates and sugar, especially — can really help restore the gut.
Slippery elm has mucilage, and mucilage helps protect the gut lining. So you have a restoration of gut function so the gut can heal. So slippery elm is basically restoring the mucus lining that protects the gut from the bacteria. This allows the gut cells — the normal cells that line that gut that have villi, or little microscopic projections that have been damaged — it allows them to recover.
So slippery elm, berberine-containing herbs, cat’s claw, andrographis, diet — all of those things are really good for restoring the gut back to normal. Probiotics? Probiotics can sometimes be beneficial. It’s still really unknown how much a long-term probiotic is beneficial, or the exact right probiotic for the right situation.
Most basic probiotics do have some benefit in helping to seed the colon and seed the intestines with the normal flora that help overcome those pathogens. So that’s very beneficial. But one I would put at the top of my list is one called Saccharomyces boulardii. This is a favorable yeast species, so it suppresses not only Clostridium difficile but also candida.
So Saccharomyces boulardii is a really nice probiotic to use. You can use it in combination with some of the standard probiotics that have lactobacillus and other favorable bacteria in them.
So herbs, really important. Diet, really important. Probiotics can be beneficial. Most of the time, the probiotics are just mainly beneficial until you get function back, and then you finally get back to where you need to be. So those are some good options for recovering gut function after a prolonged use of antibiotics.