I have a chronic health condition called Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic Toxicity Syndrome. It was caused by the antibiotic Cipro (Ciprofloxacin), produced by Bayer Corporation, and there is literally not a single day that I do not struggle in some way with the damage done by this drug. Some days that struggle is epically harsh, and some days it's more of an annoyance, but it's never not there.
I never should have been prescribed something as dangerous as Cipro for a mild urinary tract issue, but I was. Fluoroquinolones have been erroneously prescribed for minor infections for over 30 years now, making the pharmaceuticals corporations big bucks in exchange for our health, well-being, and even lives. (Fluoroquinolone antibiotics have killed tens of thousands of people worldwide.)
The labels were changed on fluoroquinolones in the U.S. in 2016 and in Canada in 2017 to say that they are far too dangerous to be used for minor, uncomplicated infections, but this information, unfortunately, has not trickled down to the medical establishment across the board. They're still being prescribed for minor infections on a daily basis.
I'm one of millions of people experiencing this type of health devastation after taking a fluoroquinolone antibiotic.
I've been fighting to regain my health since being poisoned in December 2009. I've written about it on the blog, and I've also done YouTube videos on the subject.
- All Willow's Web Astrology Cipro is Evil articles
- What Has Helped My Recovery From Cipro Poisoning
- What Has Helped My Recovery From Cipro Poisoning - Emotional and Psychological Effects
- Billions Against Bayer-Monsanto April 28, 2017 and Continued Recovery From Bayer's Antibiotic Cipro
- Update on My Recovery From Cipro Poisoning (Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic Toxicity Syndrome)
- Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic Toxicity Syndrome and Trigger Substances (Caffeine)
- Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic Toxicity Syndrome: The Need to Cut out Coffee...Again! Boo.
- Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic Toxicity Syndrome: Candida
This article is a compilation of things that have helped me in my recovery process. I'm far-and-away better than I was in the first years of this reaction. In fact, I was bed-ridden for much of those early years. These days, it's rare for me to spend even part of the day in bed - although I do get a lot more sleep than most people!
PLEASE NOTE: I'm sharing what has worked for me over a ten year period of intense trial and error. Recovery and healing are an ongoing process for me, and I'm always learning new things and making adjustments. You can take what makes sense for you and disregard the rest. I am not suggesting that anyone follow this to the letter, nor am I promoting a certain diet or plan. Everyone's body is different, and what helps one person may harm another person. This includes things like natural supplements, holistic treatments, and foods. It's up to you to experiment in order to determine what your body needs to heal. Tap in to your body's reactions, and follow what they're telling you. This is my own personal story only, and please take it as such.
I can't take vitamins, minerals, or herbal supplements, which I discovered only after buying and trying many of them! (Oy for wasted money.) They crash my blood sugar and cause kidney stress, for some reason. So I have had to do almost all my healing with diet and water. By far, these two things have helped me the most.
Again, this is what works for me, but I'm not suggesting anyone adopt this diet or my other methods for recovery.
- no grains (including gluten-free, but sometimes I can get away with a little quinoa)
- no dairy
- no soy
- no beans or lentils
- no alcohol
- no refined sugar
- no caffeine
- no chocolate
- no processed foods
- no seafood or farmed fish
- no conventionally-produced meat or eggs
- no grapefruit (apparently, this is an aggravator for many people with FQ poisoning)
You might not have to completely eliminate these things like I do, but reducing them is likely not a bad idea to see how your body responds.
I had to eliminate dairy and grains completely because I developed severe allergies to them that gave me cellulitis infections if I ate even small amounts.
The Diet that Works for Me (at present, anyway)
- lots of vegetables, a mix of cooked and raw (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, beets, zucchini, kale, lettuce, dandelion greens, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, peas, mushrooms, avocados, onions)
- a moderate amount of sweet potato (or sometimes red potato) for starch
- organic eggs or ground beef or chicken that is up to organic standards for protein
- a moderate amount of low-glycemic fruit, usually Granny Smith apples, raspberries, or strawberries
- a tiny amount of dried fruit: seven or eight raisins or a couple prunes
- select nuts: walnuts, pecans, peanut butter (organic and low-mold), occasionally some pistachios
- seeds: chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter
- olive oil, sometimes coconut oil
- raw sauerkraut for probiotics
- salsa (no additives)
- apple cider vinegar
- lemon and lime juice in my water
- Himalayan pink salt for sodium
- milk thistle tea for liver support
- peppermint tea
- garlic powder, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon (although I sometimes have to cut spices out temporarily)
- basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary
An example of what I might eat in a day:
- Chia seed hot cereal (2 TBS and water) with chopped Granny Smith apple, walnut pieces, and some wild blueberries
- two hard-boiled eggs dipped in salt
- cucumber in apple cider vinegar
- carrots and salsa
- two or three spoonfuls of peanut butter (err...if I'm controlling myself!)
- chicken, beef, or two eggs
- sweet potato
- steamed broccoli
- cooked onions
- half a Granny Smith apple or some raspberries (if I'm on a higher carb day)
I'm also a big fan of eating a large salad for supper with mashed avocado dressing and two chopped hard-boiled eggs.
If I'm hungrier than usual, I'll add in a third meal or more snacks. Some days are higher carb and some days are lower.
I try to eat all my calories between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Eat as much organic food as you can afford (but don't beat yourself up about it). This does not necessarily have to be certified organic. Independent farmers and ranchers often produce food that is up to organic standards (or very near those standards) but is not certified. It's particularly important to eat animal products that are up to organic standards. I get Hutterite chickens from a local fruit stand operator that are "clean" but are much less expensive than buying certified organic from a grocery store. I buy ground beef directly from a local rancher that has no hormones, no antibiotics, and no GMOs. Buying directly from a producer like this also makes the products more affordable.
Avoid GMOs (genetically modified foods) and chemical herbicide and pesticide. These have been proven in animal feeding trials to cause digestive damage, inflammation, organ damage, and a range of other health problems. Glyphosate, in particular, has been conclusively linked to certain forms of cancer.
I've had problems with oxalates in the past (kidney stress) and have had to eliminate high-oxalate foods like almonds, almond butter, and spinach. I've had to limit my beloved raspberries, which are also high oxalate but are OK in moderation if I'm not eating other high-oxalate foods.
I also have to watch my peanut butter intake pretty carefully because if left to my own devices, I'll really go to town on that delicious, creamy treat! I might have to seriously reduce peanut butter consumption at some point, but I just haven't had the heart to do it yet. ha.
Candida (yeast) overgrowth is one problem that can plague people who have digestive damage due to antibiotics (fluoroquinolones or otherwise), and the rallying cry from most of the natural health world is: low carb to almost no carb diets in order to combat candida. IE. carbohydrates are the devil
Well, what I came to find out after cutting carbs too severely is that going too low carb can really mess up your hormones, as well as your liver, thyroid, and adrenal function.
I did a YouTube video on the subject: Low Carb Diets and Hormone Problems
Going too low carb made my hormones go completely out of whack. I stopped menstruating. I was ice cold all the time and couldn't get warm. I was bone-numbingly exhausted. My hair got brittle. And my candida symptoms did not get better.
As soon as I added some green apples and sweet potato back into my diet, my period came back, my energy returned, and my body temperature was regulated. Eventually, the candida came back under control, as well.
I've come to learn that yes, eating too many carbohydrates can cause candida overgrowth and terrible symptom flares. Eating the wrong kind of carbohydrates can also cause a flare. These would be things like refined sugar, white flour, baked goods, pasta, fast food, potato or tortilla chips, fruit juice, alcohol, etc. For me, becoming too acidic can also cause a flare (eating too many acidic foods without balancing them off with enough alkaline foods).
But! (And this is what almost no one on the web will tell you...) Eating too few carbohydrates can do the same thing. I noticed that going too low carb made the candida seem to "fight for its life." I was having the same types of terrible flares when eating very low carb that I had when I was consuming too many carbs. Research I've done since has backed that up (though I forgot to bookmark the article), outlining how starving the candida of carbs can make it more aggressive, turning it from the yeast form into the pathogenic fungal form and spreading it throughout the body as it goes in search of food.
The diet that has worked for me to keep my Cipro symptoms, candida symptoms, and hormone imbalances under control has been a low-moderate carb diet. I fluctuate between lower carb days (but not extremely low or no carb) and days when I eat higher amounts of carbohydrates. My body provides certain clues as far as how many carbs it needs. If I'm starting to feel exhausted and my body feels like it's struggling, I know it's time to add in a little extra potato or maybe a tiny bit of dried fruit. If I'm starting to feel a little "buzzy" and a bit itchy, it's time to decrease the carbs and sugars.
This is often an overlooked issue, but it is actually huge. Tap water is not good for producing a state of healing. This is due to added chlorine and, in some areas, fluoride, but also due to other contaminants like pharmaceuticals, farming and industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactive elements, among other things. These days, even well water and spring water can be contaminated with these things.
I would recommend filtering your water if you are trying to heal or if you are generally concerned about health.
I use a Berkey water filtration system with two sets of filters - the standard filters with the fluoride/arsenic filters added.
A Berkey system is an investment, it's true, but it's definitely worth it, in my opinion.
For one person like me, the standard black Berkey filters will last at least seven years before they need to be replaced, and the fluoride/arsenic filters last 2.5 years before replacement.
I also use a chlorine filter on my shower, as chlorine is absorbed through the skin and also breathed in during showers. This filter is also long-lasting. For one person, it will last about six or seven years before it needs to be replaced.
Drink enough water every day that your urine is very pale yellow, almost clear.
Rest and Sleep
This is a big one. After the bed-ridden stage, which was pretty much all rest, all the time, getting 10 hours of sleep per night (yep, 10!) has been one of the things that helped me to recover. I also allowed myself to rest throughout the day whenever my body and mind needed it. Gradually, I have needed less time to lie down during the day, and now, it's rare that I have to lie down until evening.
If a person is working in the mainstream workforce, resting throughout the day, of course, will be impossible to implement, but I'm a big fan of the idea of people getting a little nap or lie-down during the work day. Naps for all! I'm sure it would make for happier and more productive workers.
Try to get to bed by 10 p.m. each night. Highly restorative sleep occurs between 10 p.m. and midnight.
- gentle yoga, as my tendons would allow
- swimming in the river (non-chlorinated water)
Because I experienced tendon and connective tissue damage, a common result of fluoroquinolones, I was not able to implement a regular exercise program. Lifting weights or going to the gym was out of the question and pretty much still is.
I don't drive, so the biggest form of exercise I get is walking, including carrying groceries home from the store on a weekly basis (for a little extra workout). I also live near a river with trails, and I regularly walk on those.
I'm a gardener, and this type of exercise, combined with sunshine, the outdoors, and the wonderful little plants, has helped me body, mind, and spirit.
Gentle yoga has been very helpful, but only when my tendons/connective tissue will allow me to do it. I often have to go weeks or even months without doing yoga because my tendons are acting up and would become injured from even gentle stretching and weight-bearing.
Based on the reactions I have had to chlorinated tap water, I would most likely have a bad reaction to chlorinated swimming pools, but I do a bit of swimming in the river in the summertime.
The key with fluoroquinolone injury is to listen to your body, rather than locking yourself in to a standard exercise routine on a standard schedule. You will most likely have to adapt your exercise to how your body is feeling that particular day. This goes against the common wisdom of setting a regular exercise routine on a regular schedule and "feeling the burn." Feeling the burn in this case could lead to tendon rupture or other serious injuries, so it's definitely necessary to change the thinking around that.
Sunshine and the Outdoors
Nature is a great healer. Even if all you have is a scrap of grass nearby, being around plants and nature is a big help. If you can immerse yourself in nature, even better.
Sunshine is a double-edged sword. Sun helps our mood and also provides needed Vitamin D. It is often energizing to get out in the sunshine.
Fluoroquinolone poisoning can cause phototoxicity, however, and make one more susceptible to skin cancer. So stay out of the most hardcore rays and choose to take your sun in "medicinal doses."
After drinking chlorinated tap water over a few months, I had a terrible relapse of symptoms. Peripheral neuropathy like I had never had it. All over tendon and connective tissue pain, stiffness, and dysfunction. Digestive problems. Exhaustion. And a lower back that was seizing up and dropping me to my knees on a regular basis. Very painful and debilitating.
Out of desperation, I tried acupuncture, and over the course of a few months, it reversed the relapse.
Natural treatments are expensive, and a lot of fluoroquinolone-injured people don't have extra cash lying around. However, for me, it was a necessity to get any type of function or well-being back, and my mother generously agreed to pay for my treatments. I didn't like having to rely on her to pay for them, but at that point, I just had to swallow my independence pride, and I'm glad I did.
Acupuncture helped my liver to release a lot of the backed-up chemicals and toxins, and it restored the level of function I had prior to drinking that nasty tap water!
I will say, though, that I think acupuncture would have been too powerful for my system in the first years of the reaction when I was at my sickest. I was about eight years into recovery when I started this treatment.
De-stressingThis is easier said than done because being ill and in pain is quite a stressful situation. Many people with fluoroquinolone poisoning have difficulty working, and this creates the added stress of financial uncertainty. Fluoroquinolones can also cause anxiety, depression, morbid thoughts, and suicidal thinking as part of the chemical reaction. For me, these symptoms plagued me for three years until I started using cannabis (temporarily), and they went away.
As difficult as it may be, eliminating/reducing sources of stress, meditating, and spending time in nature can help the healing process.
Accept where you are and what you're experiencing - even though it is very uncomfortable or painful - but keep your sights set on ongoing healing and recovery. Focus on the small improvements you are seeing rather than comparing your situation to your life before fluoroquinolone poisoning. Things have changed, but that's OK. Every day, you're moving away from the poisoning and toward greater health.
Spiritual Faith (atheists can skip this section)
Connecting with spiritual faith is also a form of de-stressing. It means that you are falling back on your faith that you are not alone with this, that you are not being tortured for no reason, that you are always connected to loving God, even when going through tremendous trials in life.
You are being shown some of the dark machinations of power on Planet Earth so that you can protect yourself and others going forward. You are getting a crash course in health. You're becoming much more aware of the hidden dangers in our world and how to avoid those dangers. You are becoming much wiser about what you put in your body. You are becoming much wiser about taking doctors' or pharmacists' or drug companies' or governments' words for it. You are becoming much more wary about following the words or the instructions or the advice of anyone or anything external without doing your own research first. You are coming into closer connection with yourself, with your body, and with your own intuition as a guiding force.
Your loving higher power is with you through it all. Your loving higher power knows what you're going through and wishes for your recovery just as much as you do.
You're working your way into greater depth, awareness, and wisdom through this very difficult experience. A coal-to-diamond experience. This type of growth is very valuable. In fact, it's priceless.
Time, Patience, and Not Giving Up
Healing from fluoroquinolone poisoning takes time. It takes patience. It takes some motivational self-pep talks when you're feeling overwhelmed and down. It takes a degree of experimentation and adaptation and a willingness to not give up on yourself or your recovery. It requires a great deal of self-love.
Because of the damage done to our bodies (including mitochondrial damage to cells), we often do not heal like other people heal. Our bodies don't react to things the same way other people's bodies react.
I had a moderate-severe reaction, and for me, there was no magic pill or supplement or treatment that made it all better. (In fact, I had bad reactions to most supplements I tried.) I had to gradually implement all the things listed above and make them my lifestyle. This is not a temporary plan for healing. It's how I live and how I eat now.
But I will say, if there is healing for me, I think there is healing for almost anyone. I went from being bed-ridden in a state of exhaustion, constant pain, and digestive collapse, certain I was a lost cause, to living and enjoying life again. I will always have symptoms to manage from fluoroquinolone poisoning. I will always have to be very careful with my health. There will always be things I can't do because of this illness. But I've seen quite remarkable progress over the past 10 years, progress for which I'm hugely grateful, and I know if I can do it, you can do it, too.
Sending lots of love to everyone struggling with Fluorquinolone Antibiotic Toxicity Syndrome or with a bad reaction to these drugs. You're not alone. I know what you're going through, but I also know that progress is possible. For me, even many years later. Keep going!