No doubt you have seen those commercials for medications when the announcer speeds through the list of side effects at the very end.
Or opened up the package insert that comes along with an over-the-counter or prescription drug and saw a long list of possible side effects.
I don’t know about you, but to me sometimes the side effects sound worse than the condition the medication is actually treating!
Don’t get me wrong…there is a time and place for medications. Many are lifesaving.
But as is evidenced by the commercials and inserts, the risks with medications are possible unwanted or unexpected side effects.
Even though these side effects often list GI symptoms like nausea or upset stomach, I haven’t seen one yet that lists the long-term toll that many of these medications can have on our gut microbiome and ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
Here’s just a short list of common medications that can have a long term effect on the function of our gastrointestinal tract/gut and ultimately our health:
Antibiotics. Not only do they kill off the bacteria causing infections throughout our body (Good thing!), but also eradicate the trillions of symbiotic bacteria in our gut that are critical for our health.
Antacids. Popping an acid-blocking medication or chewing some Tums can soothe your stomach when it is in distress, but regular use of these medications can impact your ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
Laxatives. As I mentioned in a previous article, constipation affects many people. However, depending on laxatives can damage the digestive system by altering the function of the nerves and muscles of the colon. Laxatives can also have long-term negative effects on the composition of our gut flora (those trillions of microorganisms we house in our gut.)
NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) Despite their efficacy in the short-term relief of pain and inflammation, the use of these anti-inflammatory medications can have adverse effects on the GI tract. They can increase intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut) and change the composition and diversity of the gut microbiome.