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Antibiotics kill the bacteria in the body that are causing an infection and they can also kill a large percentage of the good bacteria in the gut as well. It can take up to six months or more to replenish the good or 'friendly' bacteria. However by taking a good probiotic after a course of antibiotics you can help to restore the good bacteria in the gut. These good bacteria are very important for many reasons, they:-

• defend against disease, harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi

• produce essential B vitamins

• strengthen digestion

• improve resistance to infection

• produce substances which act as natural antibiotics

Other side effects of antibiotic use can include diarrhoea, thrush, loss of appetite and nausea. Continuous use can also lead to their ineffectiveness.

Steps to help avoid using antibiotics -

• Eat a healthy diet, preferably organic. Non-organic meat, eggs and dairy produce can contain remains of antibiotics administered to the animals.

Support the immune system naturally through diet and supplementation (either throughout the year or at least from September through to March) - see Immune Support.

• If you or your children do become unwell try and fight the illness naturally first, using the information in these pages, or seek professional help.

• Ensure plenty of rest. Trying to carry on regardless, taking paracetamol or something similar, going to work, or sending children off to school or nursery does not allow the body to heal itself, and will often make the problem worse.

• Remember that colds and flu are viral infections and antibiotics will not work against them. It is usually a secondary infection such as a chest infection, tonsillitis or ear infection that is bacterial and may require antibiotics. By treating the virus properly you may be able to avoid a bacterial infection, and the need for antibiotics.

  Avoid the over-consumption of mucous-forming foods (primarily dairy products and animal proteins) as mucous is a breeding-ground for infection.

• Drink plenty of fluids each day in the form of filtered or bottled water, herbal teas, diluted fresh juices, and fruit and vegetable juices or smoothies.

Supplements after antibiotic use:

However hard we might try to avoid taking antibiotics there may well be times when this is unavoidable. If you have had a course of antibiotics there are steps you can take to replenish the good bacteria and strengthen the body again.

• Use a probiotic supplement for at least 6-8 weeks to replace the friendly bacteria in the gut - see Probiotics and Probiotics for Babies & Children.

N.B All the probiotics available are formulated in a base of fructo-oligosaccharides (F.O.S) - the substrate on which healthy bacteria feed.

• An excellent supplement to strengthen the immune system and increase vitality after illness is Colostrum. This is the fluid produced by all female mammals when they give birth, before the actual breast milk is produced and gives powerful immune protection to newborns. When taken as a supplement it can benefit benefit individuals of all ages. Colostrum supplements are produced only from healthy cows, without the risk of contamination through pesticides, hormones or antibiotic residues. The liquid formula is casein free and hypoallergenic and is available from the Nutri Centre on 020 7436 5122. Adults and older children can use the capsules - see Specific Formulations.

• You can also support the immune system by using the herbs Goldenseal & Echinacea after illness, which are particularly effective when taken together in liquid form for ten days - see Herbs. If you prefer capsules these are available. For children see 'E-Kid Nacea Plus' - Herbs for Babies & Children. Children below the age of four will need to use just Echinacea products.

NB. Goldenseal should not be taken if pregnant, breastfeeding, or diabetic, and not for longer than ten days on a daily basis.

• Consume plenty of immune-boosting foods (rich in antioxidants and zinc) and take additional immune boosting supplements - see Immune Support for more information.

• Avoid refined white sugar, which can weaken the immune system.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

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