I am often asked why I prescribe antibiotics to my patients with rheumatoid or reactive arthritis, late-onset asthma, Crohn's disease, fibromyalgia and other so-called "autoimmune diseases". Before I prescribe any medication, I ask myself whether it will help or hurt. All of the "auto-immune" diseases cause severe disability. Conventional medications neither cure these diseases nor stop the progressive destruction that they cause. Doctors prescribe immune suppressives that sometimes have deadly effects. Antibiotics are far safer than the drugs conventionally used to treat these diseases. So, if antibiotics can be shown to help control these diseases, they should be used long before a doctor thinks of using the conventional immune suppressives.
When a germ gets into your body, you are supposed to produce cells and proteins called antibodies that attach to and kill that germ. These diseases are felt by many doctors to be caused by your own immunity. Instead of doing its job of killing germs, your immunity attacks your own tissue. If it attacks your joints, it is called reactive arthritis; if it attacks your intestines, it's called Crohn's disease; your colon, it's called ulcerative colitis; and if it fills your lungs with mucous, it's called late-onset asthma. I do not believe that your immunity is that stupid. Accumulating data show that all of these conditions can be caused by infection. Many diseases that were thought to be autoimmune turn out to be infections: stomach ulcers are caused by bacterium, helicobacter pylori and others; multiple sclerosis may be caused by HHS-6 virus; rheumatic fever is caused by the bacterium, beta streptococcus, group A; Gillian-Barre syndrome may be caused by the bacterium, campylobacter; Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis by E. Coli, Klebsiella, Bacteroides or Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis; and so forth.
Shouldn't We Be Concerned About Resistant Bacteria?
The argument that giving antibiotics causes bacteria to be resistant to that antibiotic is reasonable, but it has no place in discouraging people with these diseases from taking them. First, these people have serious diseases that cause permanent damage and death. Second, the treatments that are available are toxic, shorten life, cause cancer, and have to be followed with frequent blood tests. On the other hand, I prescribe derivatives of tetracycline and erythromycin. These drugs are extraordinarily safe and do not require drawing frequent blood tests. If you were to become infected subsequently with bacteria that are resistant to these antibiotics, you would have lost nothing. No reasonable doctor would prescribe erythromycin or tetracycline for acute serious diseases, such as meningitis, pneumonia or an abscess, because tetracyclines and erythromycins do not kill germs, they only stop them from multiplying. Instead, doctors prescribe far more bacteriocidal antibiotics that kill bacteria.
Many doctors criticize my use of antibiotics, but antibiotics are far safer than conventional treatment, cost less, can be administered by a general practitioner, and often cure the condition, rather than just suppressing symptoms. I know that the most physicians who develop these conditions will treat themselves with antibiotics because they know that conventional treatments with prednisone, chloroquine, azathioprine and methotrexate are toxic, and treatment with erythromycins and tetracyclines is safe. However, treatment of many conditions with long term antibiotics is controversial and not accepted by most doctors; discuss your particular condition with your doctor.
How you can help to prevent antibiotic-resistant bacteria:
Suffer through short-term illnesses. Don't ask your doctor for antibiotics when you have a cold, flu or other self-limiting illness. You may feel miserable, but antibiotics are useless against viruses.
Finish your prescription. If you stop taking a prescribed antibiotic as soon as you feel better, you encourage the development of resistant organisms.
Become a vegetarian. The bulk of antibiotics are given to animals raised for food. As long as humans demand huge amounts of meat, farmers will use whatever means they have to deliver their product economically.
Bacteriocidal Antibiotics, such as penicillins and cephalosporins, kill bacteria. They are used to combat most bacterial infections, particularly acute, serious diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia, a ruptured intestine or an abcess. However, most bacteriocidal antibiotics are not effective against chlamydia, mycoplasma or ureaplasma, bacteria that have no cell walls.
Bacteriostatic Antibiotics such as tetracyclines (including doxycycline and minocycline) and erythromycins (including Biaxin and Azithromycin) keep bacteria from multiplying. Your own immunity is then able to kill the bacteria and remove them from circulation.