What is the association between antibiotics and rheumatoid arthritis? Does the overuse of antibiotics lead to an onset of rheumatoid arthritis? In this article, we look at the connection between the two.
The Study Connecting Antibiotics and Rheumatoid Arthritis
A study on antibiotics and Rheumatoid Arthritis onset in the BMC Medicine Journal has highlighted evidence that there is a connection. Those on the Paddison Program often have a history of overuse, or an unusually high frequency of use, of antibiotics, has led to the development of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Clint also has experience with this. In his particular case, he took five years of antibiotics as a teenager to combat acne. That same doxycycline he took for acne he took for another 3 months (10 years later) as an anti-malaria strategy when visiting the Middle East. It was about six months after that second 3-month dose that he developed rheumatoid arthritis.
He has noted that the development of rheumatoid arthritis could be related to a history of antibiotic overuse. The aforementioned study highlights evidence that this is the case.
Katy’s Experience with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Antibiotics
Before looking into the study in more detail, we look into a case study from a previous blog post. Katy spoke on the podcast about her rheumatoid arthritis reversal with the Paddison Program.
Katy has been doing tremendously well and she provided us with a two-year update on the podcast.
In the episode, she dug into her medical history a little bit more with notes that her mother had taken and she found that she was ‘born healthy’. Then at two months old, she experienced her first ear infection. They treated this with antibiotics. And a couple of months later she had another ear infection, treated again with antibiotics.
Then a month after this second ear infection she developed a swollen ankle. This was the first rheumatoid arthritis symptom and Katy was just 10 months old.
Katy, at the time of the podcast, was 27. So she has been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis her entire life.
Katy’s example is important because her whole life has been affected by these early antibiotic interventions. There are other examples of antibiotic use and the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. But Katy’s case demonstrates the point.
This article is not looking to criticise standard medical interventions. Nor to comment on whether or not Katy required antibiotics. It is simply important to showcase there could be a connection between antibiotics and rheumatoid arthritis and raise awareness about the risks involved so more care and consideration is taken when antibiotics are presented and whether they are required.
Further Details About the Study Between Antibiotics and Rheumatoid Arthritis
The antibiotics and rheumatoid arthritis study, mentioned above, is a very fascinating one and simple. However, the implications are significant.
The study looked at and identified 22,677 cases of rheumatoid arthritis through medical data from the UK. They then matched these people with those who did not have rheumatoid arthritis who were of the same age and gender. Then the study ran some statistical analysis. It looked back over a decade to see if there was a correlation between taking antibiotics and developing rheumatoid arthritis.
This study showed a correlation. According to the study, the odds of developing rheumatoid arthritis were 60% higher for those exposed to antibiotics within the past 10 years. This was from just one exposure.
There was also a frequency-dependent association between the number of antibiotic prescriptions and the development of rheumatoid arthritis. The more prescriptions a person was issued, the higher the chance that the patient developed rheumatoid arthritis. The increased risk applied for all types of antibiotics. Another point to acknowledge is that those who had taken antibiotics in the previous twelve months also had a higher statistical likelihood of developing symptoms.
The reason why is that antibiotics can have a negative impact on your microbiome.
Impact on the Microbiome
The study takes a look into how the taking of antibiotics can have an impact on the human microbiome and how the negative impacts tie into autoimmunity. So what are the suggestions if you already have rheumatoid arthritis and can we see how much impact there is with antibiotic use?
It is important to note that when we have something that comes up that is an acute issue with our health, that has to take priority. The rheumatoid arthritis can wait and you can always get back to the healing path after you’ve addressed the short-term issue. So if there is a need to take antibiotics and this is the only way forward for you, then you must.
Minimise the Impact of Antibiotics on your Microbiome
There are things that you can do that can minimise the impact of antibiotics.
Consider an increase of:
- Unpasteurised miso
- Sauerkraut and/or kimchi
- Non-dairy probiotics
- Leafy greens vegetables
Eat a quality miso paste that has not been flash heated (pasteurized). You can eat fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi. You can also take non-diary probiotics. It doesn’t matter whether you take the refrigerated or non-refrigerated, they’re just different technologies of probiotic preparation. Shelf-stable probiotics are the newer technology.
Include lots of leafy greens in your diet, so we’re talking about prebiotics here. We’re suggesting feeding the gut bacteria because when the numbers are lowered due to the potential negative impact of antibiotics, you want to make sure the good bacteria are getting lots of food so they’re able to proliferate rapidly.
The general feeling amongst the medical community is that it will take a few months for your microbiome to recover from any antibiotic treatment.
However, when you have an autoimmune disease, you don’t have two months to wait before you can start to get rid of the inflammation that comes from the disrupted microbiome. So you’re going to want to take action straight away.
You Could Increase your Intake of Probiotics and Prebiotics
It might be recommended then, that even during your course of antibiotics to increase your intake of probiotics and prebiotics.
And to avoid any concerns, you want to separate the probiotics from the antibiotics because you don’t want to negate the medical intervention. You want the antibiotics to kill the bacterial overgrowth or the pathogens that they’ve been prescribed for and not destroy the probiotics that you want in your system.
So the suggestion is that you wait about three to five hours from taking the antibiotic dose. At this point, you can take your probiotics.
There is a great deal more information about antibiotics and Rheumatoid Arthritis in the video solutions library inside Paddison Program Membership.
Microbiome Recovery: How Long?
So, this should be kept up for about three to four weeks after the antibiotics are finished. It can take this long for your microbiome to recover and you will want to be on the safe side. After antibiotic use it can be advantages to follow a prebiotic-rich and bacteria-rich approach.
Clint has been taking miso paste for years. He used to eat miso paste every day and still enjoys it regularly. He now takes probiotics on an irregular basis and eats leafy greens all the time, for lunch and dinner.
Final Word: Study Suggests Link Between Antibiotics and Rheumatoid Arthritis
For a long time, there has been a suggestion that there is a link between antibiotics and rheumatoid arthritis. The study has shown that there is a 60% increase in the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis if you have taken antibiotics within the last 10 years. The expansive medical records of RA patients in the UK. showed this And it has been seen numerous times with those who’ve been helped with RA on the Paddison Program.
It’s a large increase, but if the chance of developing RA in a western country is 1% or 2%, then this number can increase to 1.6% or 3.2%.
So, if you’re looking at needing to take antibiotics for a short time, then you need to have a strategy to minimise the risk of suffering from that antibiotic and rheumatoid arthritis connection.
 Sultan, A.A., Mallen, C., Muller, S. et al. Antibiotic use and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis: a population-based case-control study. BMC Med 17, 154 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1394-6