Hopefully, you’ve already heard that acetaminophen (Tylenol) can harm your liver and you’re using other, safer painkillers. I’ve certainly talked about this problem before, giving you some solutions. But as toxic as it is, acetaminophen is not the most harmful drug you can take. That honor is reserved for another group of over-prescribed drugs. In fact, these medications caused the most liver toxicity of all drugs, as reported in a recent study out of Indiana University School of Medicine.
The drugs that were most harmful to the liver are antibiotics.
In this study, researchers followed 300 patients over a six-month period. They looked at more than 100 different agents associated with drug-induced liver damage. They excluded people who had taken acetaminophen. Here’s some of what they found: Dietary supplements used for weight loss and muscle building caused toxicity in 9% of the cases. Antibiotics were responsible for 45.5% of the cases. Yet, all we hear about are the dangers of supplements.
There are two primary ways to prevent you from needing prescription antibiotics. The first is to support your immune system with enough sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and immune-boosting supplements so your body can fight off bacterial infections. My favorite immune-boosting supplement, and one that has kept me healthy for the past seven years, is MycoPhyto Complex — a combination of medicinal mushrooms grown on Ayervedic herbs.
The second way is to use herbal antibiotics at the first sign of a microbial infection. They are non-toxic and are often sufficient. These include grapefruit seed extract, garlic, and artemesia. For more information on which herbs to use when antibiotics are needed, read Herbal Antibiotics: Natural alternatives for treating drug-resistant bacteria by Stephen Harrod Buhner (Storey Books, 1999). Different herbs are more effective in killing different bacteria. This is an excellent and easy-to-read book that will steer you in the right direction. I recommend it for your health library.
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Of course, there are times when the best solution is a pharmaceutical antibiotic. In these cases, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations. But often, you can head off a bacterial infection early with herbs and a change in lifestyle.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Chalasani, N, et al, “Causes, clinical features, and outcomes from a prospective study of drug-induced liver injury in the United States,” Gastroenterology, September 17 2008