It's that time of the year. Chilly weather ushers us indoors, where close contact, runny noses, and common coughs collude to spread bacterial infections. When you're up against something stronger than the standard cold—pneumonia, sinusitis, strep throat—your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics, Western medicine's golden bullet.
There's reason for antibiotics to be revered. For decades, these wonder drugs have stamped out formidable infections that can otherwise prove deadly. But their lifesaving potency comes at a cost. In killing off dangerous bacteria, antibiotics kill off the good, too. In a report published last year in Gut journal, researchers cataloged a host of adverse antibiotic effects on the gastrointestinal system, immune system, and metabolic system, even finding correlations between antibiotic use and rises in obesity and stress.
So, what are you to do when you've been prescribed these powerful pills?