Ask Carol: I’m on an antibiotic for a serious infection. Should I stop taking my supplements or take different ones? Do I need to change my diet?
Good questions! Sometimes we really DO need medications and acute infections are one of those instances in which antibiotics can be a short-term necessity.
What Jennifer and I would recommend (for those who do find themselves in this situation) is an integrative protocol that supports the acute scenario, but also follows through for the longer term healing.
We know that healing is still happening after antibiotics are completed. So, our protocols address long-term healing and sustained health to help ensure you don’t get sick again.
A Food First Approach
Current research shows it takes six months, after antibiotic exposure, to restore a person’s microbiome and gut to healthy function. As your second immune system, your microbiome needs to be supported and healed: that is a big part of our strategy.
It goes without saying that we recommend a healthy-food-first approach, and especially during acute illness. Focus on real foods and home-cooked foods, and make sure you add a rainbow of vegetables to every meal or snack.
If your appetite is altered on antibiotics, try juicing your greens into a green drink or adding a green powder to morning smoothie. Cooked vegetables in soups or stews are also an easy way to ingest vegetables when you’re not feeling your best.
When you’re feeling better, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles and kimchee are a great way to feed a healthy microbiome.
Finally, we would recommend eliminating sugar, dairy, and gluten for a very speedy recovery. These are inflammatory foods that interfere with the body’s own healing response.
For lifestyle supports, SLEEP is our number one choice. Your body needs 7-8 hours of good sleep, each night, to repair and heal.
Often, once we feel a little bit of relief from the antibiotics, we are back to our normal busy life schedule. You must make it a priority to get good rest while you are on antibiotics, and for a good two weeks after you finish the medication.
Essential oils are another self-care and lifestyle practice you can use for immune support, and overall rest, while you are recovering. Lavender is a wonderful essential oil for your immune system and its calming affects help promote rest and sleep.
Supplements, Herbs and Antioxidants
In addition, we would include key supplements in your recovery plan for acute and long-term healing. Number one on the list is probiotics. These days, most medical practitioners will encourage clients to add probiotics with the antibiotics they prescribe.
Normally, our clients are on a daily dose of probiotics for wellness; but, during an acute event and antibiotic use, we recommend taking probiotics twice a day (morning and evening).
It’s especially important to know that antibiotics kill off probiotics, so the two must be separated by four hours to be effective. We suggest staying on this double dose for two weeks after antibiotic use, to get additional help healing the microbiome.
Second and third on the supplements list would be Vitamin D and Omega 3; both are important in the immune and healing response.
Finally, we do recommend additional herbs and antioxidants once the initial antibiotic therapy is completed. This supports the final healing process. The specific herbs/antioxidants we’d advise depends on your body’s unique needs and the specific areas affected.
If you’ve had an acute infection, and are in a healing phase, it’s a great time to come in. We’ll give you support, so you heal well and stay healthy!
Carol Heckman, RN, CNHP, MH, CNC
Carol is a Registered Nurse, as well as a Certified Natural Health Practitioner, a Master Herbalist, and a Certified Nutritional Consultant.
Rejuvenating Green Juice Recipe
Here is a basic green drink recipe that you can tweak to your liking. This recipe is from our A Taste of Chesapeake Holistic cookbook.
Total time: 10 minutes
- 1-1/2 cup organic washed and dried spinach, packed
- 1 organic apple
- 2 organic carrots
- 1 organic cucumber
- 1/2 an organic lemon
Run all ingredients through juicer’s chute.
Adjust to taste – if this still tastes a little too “green,” try adding more lemon, cucumber, or apple if necessary.