Simi Pharmacy

Medication & supplements: the not-so-obvious links

I had a bad throat.

Doc says: “Looks like strep.  I’m giving you amoxicillin … three times a day, five days. You’ve feel better after a couple days but finish the course.  And here … along with the amoxicillin, take one vitamin K pill every day.”

I know something about medicine, so I tell the doc: “Don’t you mean vitamin C?  You know, the Sunshine Vitamin that makes me so loveable.”

Well … turns out that vitamin D is the Sunshine Vitamin and vitamin C is the stuff that helps the body absorb iron so it can make red blood cells.  And vitamin K is what keeps me from bleeding to death any time I get a little cut. Plus, it keeps my blood vessels from silting up with too much calcium.

Still … what’s the connection between amoxicillin and vitamin K?

It turns out that amoxicillin is an antibiotic and antibiotics make you feel better by busting the cell walls of disease-producing bacteria.  But, they’re just like the Marines.  You know…”kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out”.

So, it turns out that bacteria in my gut are making all my vitamin K. The amoxicillin kills off the strep bacteria but wipes out my gut bacteria at the same time, so I’m left with no vitamin K.  That’s why I’m taking vitamin K along with the amoxicillin.

SIMI PHARMACY is well aware that antibiotics can be affected by the supplements you take, and antibiotics can affect your body’s ability to absorb certain vitamins and minerals.  The relationships between medications and nutrient supplements are complicated.  Anytime you are prescribed a new medication, give us a heads up on what you are taking.  We can tell you if any of your current prescriptions and supplements are working at cross purposes.

It’s not just medications and supplements that have to be reviewed.  A complete pharmaceutical analysis will look at

  • drug-drug interactions
  • therapeutic duplication
  • drug-disease interactions
  • drug-allergy contraindications
  • drug-food interactions

In other words, we help you to personalize the combination of medicines and supplements you are taking, so that nutrient depletions can be identified, managed, and prevented.

Different types of antibiotics are prescribed to kill different bacteria in different parts of the body, and each can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb critical vitamins and minerals.  Two things can happen:

  • The antibiotic wipes out a particular infection, but the resulting kill-off of necessary bacteria results in health problems;
  • A nutrient in the body reduces the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

Both results involve the friendly bacteria that live in your body, such as lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum.  These are also called “probiotics”.  Basically, they are bacteria (and some yeasts) that are vital for the body’s healthy functioning.  You don’t want to lose them. 

For one thing, loss of the friendlies gives an opportunity to the hostiles to move in and multiply, resulting in a new health problem.  Long story short:  it’s important to keep the bacteria in your body in correct balance.

This brings up another word, “microbiome”.  Your microbiome is your unique collection of microbial cells.  It’s not like anybody else’s and nobody else’s is like yours. Think of it as a unique inter-dependent garden of organisms.  Most of this little garden flourishes in your large intestine where the different organisms do things like

  • Help your body digest food;
  • Keep bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick;
  • Create vitamins;
  • Support the cells that line your gut so that any bad bacteria that you may have consumed can’t get through to your blood;
  • Breakdown and absorb medications.

Aside from antibiotic-bacteria interaction, there are other kinds of complications.

Suppose a person is a staunch believer in the Paleo Diet.  Her full quota of daily calories comes from lean meat, fruits, whole grains and lots and lots of nuts.

But her cholesterol is on the high side so the doctor prescribes a medication called a statin.  She continues with her paleo food choices, takes the statin pill as prescribed and then … Whoa! Leg cramps, sore muscles and an out-of-kilter liver.  It had to happen.  

Statin pill plus natural statins in over-the-top nut consumption equals the same therapy two times over.

Here’s another case.  Meat-eaters don’t have to worry about getting plenty of vitamin B12 but vegetarians easily run low on it and have to take it in pill form. Suppose our vegetarian suffers from Type 2 diabetes and from ulcers.  His doctor prescribes melformin for the diabetes and an ulcer-relief medication which reduces stomach acid.  Vitamin B12 needs stomach acid in order to be absorbed by the body, and melformin is known to deplete vitamin B 12. A couple weeks into his diabetes and ulcer treatment, this vegetarian feels tired all the time, his skin has turned sallow, he’s getting headaches, feels nauseous and complains of brain-fog.  Quick ! Pump up the vitamin B12. 

At SIMI PHARMACY we can tell you if you’re headed for a deficit … or if you’re headed for a double dose.  Take advantage of the wealth of information we have to fine tune your therapy so that you get the optimum benefit.  We have detailed information on the many types of interactions described in this post and we offer this consultation as a FREE SERVICE.  If your prescription warrants  a supplement addition, the ones we carry are pharmaceutical grade.

As always, ASK US.    WE ARE HERE TO HELP.

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