Antibiotics Associated With Nerve and Tendon Damage

There are many health concerns surrounding the use, and overuse, of antibiotics.  We worry about the health of our digestive tracts, the development of antibiotic resistant super bugs and the health of our antibiotic-consuming livestock.

Some important side effects associated with the use of antibiotics are severe tendon and nerve damage.  In particular, fluoroquiolones have become associated with cases of permanent damage to tendons and nerves. The fluoroquiolones family of antibiotics includes the drugs Cipro and Levaquin.  

These are common drugs that are used to treat a wide variety of infections.  These medications are prescribed to treat everything from pneumonia to urinary tract infections.  Experts and medical institutions are encouraging doctors to avoid the overuse of these medications as the association with severe nerve and tendon damage is becoming more clear. 

No one completely understands how these drugs damage tendon and nerve tissue.  It is suspected that the drugs may limit blood flow to the these tissues, starving them of nutrition and causing an inability to recover from normal levels of activity.

These reactions are rare but severe!  When combined with all the other risks associated with antibiotics, it is worth first considering other options before starting a course of antibiotics.  Of course there are dangerous conditions that should always be treated with antibiotics such as pneumonia, ear infections, and strep throat.  But for other less dangerous conditions fortifying the immune system and treating infections with herbal remedies may be the best first line approach. 

Chinese herbal medicine has many formulas used to treat infections. Many berberine rich plants are used in these formulas.  Berberine is a yellow alkaloid that has natural antibacterial properties. These herbal formula are a potent tool for knocking out many infections and avoiding the use of prescription antibiotics.  Talk with your acupuncturist if you feel you are coming down with something and want to employ the herbal approach first.  

Infections treated well with herbal therapies:

  • Sinus infections

  • Cough with sputum

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Diverticulitis

Herbal therapies should be used under the guidance of a skilled practitioner who can monitor results with the understanding that if symptoms worsen antibiotics may be the correct course of treatment.