A group of researchers in Denmark recently discovered a 90-day course of antibiotics led to a 75% success rate in reducing or eliminating lower back pain for 29 patients who completed the study.
All participants had been diagnosed with a herniated disc and modic changes (MRI indicated swelling of vertebral bone tissue) in an earlier study. The working theory, now being tested in a larger study, is anaerobic bacterial infection in the patients’ herniated disc tissue led to inflammation and lower back pain.
This is promising news for chronic lower back pain sufferers. But like many conventional medicines there’s a downside. Antibiotics, including Amoxicillin-clavulanate used in this study, often come with side effects. Three of the participants (out of 32 who started the treatment) dropped out due to severe diarrhea. No word on how many had the trouble but put up with it in an attempt to end their back pain. Other undesirable side effects of amoxicillin can include fever, nausea, headache, thrush, hives and even seizures.
Antibiotics are also associated with a potentially more dangerous weakening of the immune system. Think of your immune system like a muscle. As it is used it grows stronger. Allowing your body’s natural defense mechanisms to fight off bacterial invaders builds immunity. Using antibiotics to fight your body’s battles essentially atrophies your body’s immune response leading to a harder fight the next time the same bacteria come back.
So yes, antibiotics kill bad bacteria. But they also kill off good flora in the intestines. This breakdown of the normal intestinal balance between good bacteria, bad bacteria and yeast in the intestines increases risk of malabsorption syndromes, food allergies, and parasitic infection.
Perhaps most frightening, antibiotic use is also linked to cancer. A recent Finnish study published in the International Journal of Cancer tracked over 3 million individuals with no history of cancer. It found increased use of antibiotics directly increased risk of cancer — by as much as 37% over the following six years.
Fortunately there is another option for helping your body naturally fight off bacterial infections with less risk of side effects than even “milder” antibiotics. Unlike antibiotics it even helps fight off viral infections, which can also lead to painful vertebral inflammation and lower back pain. This alternative is called systemic enzyme therapy.
Also called proteases, systemic proteolytic enzymes taken on an empty stomach enter the circulation system through the stomach or intestinal lining. There they break down excess fibrin which causes internal scar tissue to form, breaks down virus carrying proteins, and fights inflammation from bacterial origin as well.
Antibiotics can be an important tool for fighting off life threatening bacterial infections. Too often they are used when unnecessary to the detriment of the patient. While systemic enzyme therapy isn’t for everyone — including those taking antibiotics — it is a useful natural alternative to antibiotics worth exploring when looking for relief from lower back pain and other inflammation related ailments.
Related Clinical Studies:
Albert, HB et al.: Modic changes; possible causes and relation to low back pain. Medical Hypotheses. 2008;70(2):361-8.
Kilkkinen, A et al.: Antibiotic use predicts an increased risk of cancer. International journal of cancer. 2008 Nov 1;123(9):2152-5.
Netti, C; Bandi, G. L.; Pecile, A.: Anti-inflammatory action of proteolytic enzymes of animal, vegetable or bacterial origin administered orally compared with that of known antiphlogistic compounds. II Farmaco Ed. Pr. 27: 453 (1972).
Inderst, R.: Systemic enzyme therapy. Journal of Pharmacy 52 (1992).
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