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The Truth About Antibiotics

Updated: May 20, 2023

Antibiotics are widely used to treat infections and diseases caused by bacteria. While killing harmful bacteria, antibiotics also kill good bacterial strains that we need. Even a single antibiotic dose can lead to detrimental shifts in the composition and diversity of the gut flora (1).

blue and white antibiotics spilled out

According to the CDC, doctors prescribe about 47 million antibiotic courses annually for infections that don't need antibiotics (2). The unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics has resulted in about 1 in 3 people suffering from yeast-related symptoms or conditions like yeast and candida overgrowth (3).


In 2015, healthcare providers prescribed 269.4 million antibiotic prescriptions—equivalent to 838 prescriptions per 1000 persons. The most commonly prescribed antibiotic was Azithromycin, and 46.2 million doses were prescribed (4). Like all medications, antibiotics have a long list of side effects, so let's discuss the side effects of the most commonly prescribed antibiotic, Azithromycin (5):

  • Abdominal or stomach cramps or pain (severe)

  • Abdominal or stomach tenderness

  • Agitation

  • Black, tarry stools

  • Bleeding gums

  • Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin

  • Bloating

  • Blood in the urine or stools

  • Bloody or cloudy urine

  • Blurred vision

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Chills

  • Coma

  • Confusion

  • Constipation

  • Convulsions

  • Cough

  • Darkened urine

  • Decreased urine output

  • Depression

  • Diarrhea (watery and severe, which may be bloody)

  • Difficult or labored breathing

  • Difficulty with swallowing

  • Dizziness

  • Dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position

  • Fainting

  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse

  • Fever with or without chills

  • General feeling of discomfort or illness

  • Greatly decreased frequency of urination or amount of urine

  • Headache

  • Hives or itching

  • Hostility

  • Increased thirst

  • Indigestion

  • Irregular heartbeat recurrent

  • Irregular or slow heart rate

  • Joint pain

  • Large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs

  • Lethargy

  • Light-colored stools

  • Loose stools

  • Loss of appetite

  • Muscle pain

  • Muscle twitching

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Pain

  • Pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back

  • Pinpoint red spots on the skin

  • Puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue

  • Rapid weight gain

  • Red skin lesions, often with a purple center

  • Red, irritated eyes

  • Skin rash

  • Sore throat

  • Sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips

  • Stupor

  • Sweating

  • Swelling of the face, mouth, neck, hands, and feet

  • Swelling of the hands, ankles, feet, or lower legs

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

  • Unusual tiredness or weakness

  • Yellow eyes or skin

Aside from the long list of side effects, anytime antibiotics are used, they can contribute to the pandemic of antibiotic resistance. This is because antibiotics increase antimicrobial resistance and are driven by a combination of germs exposed to antibiotics, the spread of those germs, and their mechanisms of resistance (6).


Although the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claims antimicrobial doesn't mean our body is antibiotic resistant, the World Health Organization (WHO) admits the misuse (or overprescribing) of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process (7). Unfortunately, in the U.S., more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur each year, resulting in more than 35,000 deaths (8).


Additionally, antibiotics can also lead to long-term changes in the gut flora. After completing an antibiotic dose, most bacteria return after 1–4 weeks, but their numbers usually don't return to the prior levels (9). Another study discovered that a single dose of antibiotics diminished the diversity of Bacteroides, one of the most dominant bacterial strains, and boosted the number of resistant strains. These consequences remained for up to two years (10)!

true risks of antibiotics

So what can we do when we need an antibiotic but are uncomfortable taking pharmaceuticals?


That's where oil of oregano comes in.


Oil of oregano sometimes referred to as oregano oil (not to be confused with oregano essential oil), is made by infusing extra virgin olive oil with dried oregano leaves, creating a robust and ingestible "natural antibiotic" widely used in the natural community.


Natural Antibiotic Recommendations

I highly recommend making Homemade Oil of Oregano, but if you're not ready to start creating your own herbal remedies, some of my spremade oil of oregano recommendations include:

  • Gaia Herbs' Oil of Oregano Capsules are a source of natural antioxidants, containing phytochemicals that help support the body's natural resistance to immune challenges. Gaia Herbs' supercritical CO2 extract of oregano volatile oils contains phenols, including carvacrol and thymol. These oils help support the intestines and a healthy immune response.

  • Garden of Life's Oil of Oregano Drops offers traditional support with modern convenience, delivering 34mg of Organic oregano leaf extract in a base of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil & mixed tocopherols from non-GMO sunflower.

I do not recommend MaryRuth's Oil of Oregano as they use aerial parts oil, also known as oregano essential oil, which is not safe for consumption. Learn more about essential oil safety in my blog, How to Safely Use Essential Oils.


⚠️ Warning: The Holistic Hipppie is not a functional medicine practitioner. The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This content is not medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or replace medical guidance. The Holistic Hipppie assumes no liability for the application of the information discussed.


What's your go-to natural antibiotic?

Sarena-Rae Santos

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