Vegetarians and Antibiotics

(They are not very compatible!)

A few years ago, my dentist almost killed me with a "routine" prescription (4 capsules/day) of Keflex (generic Cephalexin, 500mg/capsule) antibiotic I now know to be of the "stronger" category. What I experienced is in the medical books, where the "complications" are listed as: dyhydration with electrolite imbalance, perforation (of the intestinal walls), toxic megacolon, and...death!! The symptoms are described as: profuse watery diarrhea with cramps, tenesmus, low-grade fever, and rarely, blood per rectum."

What is it called? "Antibiotic-associated Colitis"  ... an attack by Clostridium difficale.

What happens is that the antibiotics wipe out all the "good guys" in the intestinal tract, leaving an "open door" to Clostridium difficale...a normally innocuous bacteria lurking in the background of our intestinal fauna. Clostridium , when it gets a chance, populates and toxifies our intestine, also causing the lesions which become perforations. Being a healthy, clean vegetarian I did not have the intestinal "goop" to insulate my "good guys" from the antibiotic; thus, long term treatment was not required for this reaction.

I have been a very dedicated vegetarian and fruitarian for nearly 22 years before this incident; mostly on raw foods, with no dairy and eggs. Most of my cooked food comes during winter months, or when in India. My intestine is very clean, not at all coated with the mucous and other stuff of junk food, diary and meat-eating diets. The symptoms started on the 6th day of taking the antibiotics, with diarhhea and headache. By morning of the seventh, the additional weakness and slight body pains were enough to alert me to think of the antibiotics...and, thank God, I did not take that last day's dose. By late afternoon, I was in bed with such total body pains, that it reminded me of the Malaria I had experienced in India 20 years ago (no, I was not having "recurrent" malaria). My entire body was in pain for two days; and of course, with very little strength. Trips to the toilet averaged 1 per hour. That evening and the next day, I also had two attacks of hypothermia...normally, a bodily response (deep, uncontrollable shivering and chills) to an overexposure to cold temperatures. I've experienced hypothermia twice in my life, so that memory still exists.

In the midst of the hell and agony, I asked my dentist why he prescribed such a "bomb" for my body. He knows the nature of my diet, so I felt he should have "known better". He said it was his routine prescription, and no patient prior to myself has had any complications that he knows of. As a person who rarely gets ill, or even gets the flu, I didn't know better...since I've probably not had more than 2 days worth of tetracyline (and no other antibiotic) in the last 20 years of my vegetarian/fruitarian life.  I asked a nurse friend... "who is it that "normally" gets this condition, since it is well enough known to be in the medical books?" Her answer..."commonly it is seen in hospital situations where patients are undergoing long term, broad spectrum antibiotic treatments for any variety of reasons."

I've been told by several medical folks, that in ordinary (non-vegetarian) intestines, half of the antibiotic would pass right through untouched. Others, say it gets so absorbed in the intestinal "goop" that it slowly gets absorbed into the blood and body over a long period of time. With the terrible diets common in our society, it is no wonder that in hospital situations...or even routine ones as with my dentist...such heavy and long term doses of antibiotics are given in order to get results. Well, dear vegetarian brothers and out! With our clean bodies, the results come real quick and hard! No doubt, every bit of that Keflex in my system got used with no delay!

The symptoms did not end with what I've described above. The night of the 3rd day was another form of agony. A ring of very intense gas cramps in my abdomen moved along slowly with each hourly journey to the toilet. I got no sleep that night until about 6 am. That was the end of the "agonies", but the following 2 1/2 weeks was nevertheless heavily characterized with frequent journies to the toilet (at least 8-10 per day for the first week; 6-8 for the second). Also,very significant weakness, and occasional low-level headaches. For most of those 2 1/2 weeks, I had very little strength or inspiration for anything. Sleep was my most common activity (other than journies to the toilet).

For therapy, I used mega-doses of Acidophilus, with slippery elm to stop the loose motions; peppermint tea to sooth the Intestines; Buffered Vitamin C, Spirulina and Bioflavanoids for intestinal health; and, of course, electrolytes for survival!! When there was sufficient strength and capacity to eat food, I also did 5 days of Bentonite and Psyllium to de-toxify my intestine of the Clostridium. All of this worked quite well, although in the medical books, they simple describe two other antibiotics for 90% or less effectiveness in killing the Clostridium!!

I was also blessed to be in the company of dear friends, over 1000 miles from home, during the first two weeks. One, being a naturapathic doctor, offered epsom salts baths. Each time, my renewed strength commented positively on the effect of those baths. She also tossed lots of other cleansing goodies in there, and made the water plenty hot! During the first 4-5 days, I probably ate no more than a total of one days "light" diet. My weight check showed that I had lost at least 5 6 days.

Three weeks later, after normal bodily sensations returned, weakness continued for yet another couple of weeks; and mucousy gas with several changes of underwear per day, were the norm for perhaps 2 months! One of those night's produced a vivid dream of pooping so much that I entirely filled the toilet!

So, it is not enough for us to say "no" when we are asked if we have any allergic reactions to Antibiotics (mine was not an allergic reaction); and then trust that the "Doc" will do what is best -- as I did. If we trully need the Antibiotic, somehow we need to determine for ourself, or with the intelligent (rather than "routine") side of our doctor, that which is the simplest and most gentle dose for the job.

Best wishes, and may this never happen to you! navinclude.html


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