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Considerations when Undergoing Treatment for
Gulf War Illness/CFS/FMS/Rheumatoid Arthritis

by Prof. Garth L. Nicolson
The Institute for Molecular Medicine, 15162 Triton Lane, Huntington Beach, California 92649-1041
Tel: (714) 903-2900   Fax: (714) 379-2082   E-mail: gnicimm@ix.netcom.com  Website:
www.immed.org

There are a number of considerations when undergoing therapy for chronic illnesses, including traditional medical approaches as well as integrative medicine.  The Institute for Molecular Medicine is a nonprofit institution and does not endorse commercial products.  The products and procedures below are only examples of the types of approaches and substances that could be beneficial to patients with chronic illnesses.  Consult your personal physician for advice on exact dosing and schedules which can vary among individuals.


 Antibiotic Therapy for Chronic Infections

Subsets of GWI (~40-45%), FMS (~60-70%), CFS (~50-60%), RA (~40-45%) and other autoimmune patients have chronic mycoplasmal, chlamydial and other bacterial infections. Several months (starting with 6 months [no break], then 6-wk on 2-wk off antibiotic cycles) of doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, minocycline, clarithromycin or similar antibiotics work best as capsules without starch fillers. Oral antibiotics must be taken with a full glass of water, crackers or bread to avoid esophageal irritation (do not lie down for at least 1 hr). For many antibiotics direct sunlight must be avoided. To overcome Herxheimer reactions (die-off involving chills, fever, night sweats, muscle aches, joint pain, short term memory loss and fatigue or a general worsening of symptoms) or other adverse responses i.v. antibiotics have been used for a few weeks‹then oral. Oral Benadryl (diphenhydramine HCl) 50 mg at least 30 min before antibiotics and lemon/olive drink (1 blended whole lemon, 1 cup fruit juice, 1 tbs olive oil‹strain and drink liquid) are useful. This period usually passes within a few wks and differs from allergic reactions that can cause rashes, itching, swelling, dizziness, trouble breathing‹if these occur, seek immediate medical attention. Many antibiotics cannot be used during pregnancy or by infants. Cycles of Augmentin in between the 6-wk cycles or concurrently, if needed, can help to suppress secondary bacterial infections. Some add the antiviral Famvir (500 mg 3X/day) or other antivirals (Gancyclovir) for the first 2+ wks in a 6-wk antibiotic cycle. Mycoplasmas have some characteristics of viruses, so this can be useful, and viral infections are also important in these illnesses. Antibiotic uptake and immune responses may be inhibited by some drugs, and antidepressants (sertaline [Zoloft], fluoxetine [Prozac], amitriptyline [Elavil], maprotiline [Ludiomil], desipramine [Norpramin], clomipramine [Anafranil], nortriptyline [Pamelor], bupropion [Wellbutrin]), muscle relaxants (cyclobenzaprine [Flexeril]), opiate agonists, anticonvulsives or certain analgesics (oxycodone [Percodan], carbamazepine [Tegretol], acetaminophen/hydrocodone [Vicodin]), narcotics (codeine w/Penergan, propoxyphene [Darvon], morphine), antacids, antidiarrheas among others should not be taken, if possible, or gradually decreased during therapy.  Some drugs (certain antibiotics, antidepressants, analgesics, narcotics, etc.) may inhibit immune responses and interfere with therapy.
Oxidative Therapy for Chronic Infections

Oxidative therapy can be useful in suppressing a variety of anaerobic infections: Hyperbaric Oxygen, American Biologics Dioxychlor are useful, or peroxide baths using 2 cups of Epsom salt in 20 inches of hot bath or Jacuzzi.  After 5 min, add 2-4 bottles 16 oz. of 3% hydrogen peroxide.  Repeat 2-3X week; no vitamins 8 hr before the bath.  The hydrogen peroxide is added after your pores open.  Hydrogen peroxide can also be directly applied to skin after a work-out or hot shower/tub.  One approach is to apply Swedish Beauty type A tanning accelerator for 5 min before peroxide.  Leave hydrogen peroxide on for 5 min, and then wash off.  For oral irrigation, mix 1 part 30% hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water and use like a mouth wash 3X per day.  Most chronic illness patients have periodontal problems, and oral infections are common.

General Nutritional Considerations

GWI/CFS/FMS/RA patients are often immunosuppressed and susceptible to opportunistic infections, so proper nutrition is imperative.  You should not smoke or drink alcohol or caffeinated products.  Drink as much fresh fluids as you can, lots of fruit juices or pure water are best.  Try to avoid high sugar and fat foods, such as military (MRE) or other fast foods and acid-forming, allergen-prone and system stressing foods or high sugar/fat junk foods.  Increase intake of fresh vegetables, fruits and grains, and decrease intake of fats and simple or refined sugars that can suppress your immune system.  To build your immune system cruciferous vegetables, soluble fiber foods, such as prunes and bran, wheat germ, yogurt, fish and whole grains are useful.  In some patients exclusive use of 'organic' foods has been beneficial.
 
Vitamins and Minerals

Chronic illness patients are often depleted in vitamins (especially B complex, C, E) and certain minerals.  These illnesses often result in poor absorption.  Therefore, high doses of some vitamins are useful; others, such as vitamin B complex, cannot be easily absorbed by the gut (oral dose).  Sublingual (under the tongue) natural B-complex vitamins in capsules or liquids (Total B, Real Life Research, Norwalk, CA, 562-926-5522 or GNC) should be used instead of swallowed capsules.  General vitamins plus extra C, E, CoQ-10, beta-carotene, folic acid, bioflavoids and biotin are best.  L-cysteine, L-tyrosine, L-carnitine, malic acid and especially flaxseed or fish oils are reported to be useful.  Certain minerals are depleted in chronic illness patients, such as zinc, magnesium, chromium and selenium.  Some recommend up to 300 mcg/day sodium selenite, followed by lower doses.  Minerals should not be taken at the same time of day as antibiotics, because minerals can affect antibiotic absorption. The suggested doses of vitamins can vary dramatically among patients; consult with your physician or nutritionist.

Replacement of Natural Gut Flora

Patients undergoing treatment with antibiotics and other substances risk destruction of normal gut flora.  Antibiotic use that depletes normal gut bacteria and can result in over-growth of less desirable bacteria.  To supplement bacteria in the gastrointestinal system yogurt and especially Lactobacillus acidophillus capsules are strongly recommended.  Mixtures of Lactobacillus acidophillus, L. bifidus, B. bifidum, L. bulgaricus and FOS (fructoologosaccharides) to promote growth of these "friendly" bacteria in the gut (example, DDS-1, NeutraCeuticals, DDS-Plusor Multi-Flora ABF, UAS Labs (800-422-3371); Intestinal Care-DF.  L. acidophillus mixtures above (2.5-3 billion live organisms) should be taken 3X daily.

Natural Immunomodulators and Remedies

A number of natural remedies, such as ginseng root, herbal teas, lemon/olive drink, olive leaf extract with antioxidants are sometimes useful, especially during or after antibiotic therapy.  Other examples are immune modulators, such as milk whey protein (IMUPlus, 888-563-1506; Immunocal, 800-337-2411), Echinacea-C (NF Formulas, 800-547-4891), Super-Immunotone (Phyto Pharmica, 800-553-2370), olive leaf extract (Immunoscreen, 818-966-1610; Creations Garden, 800-), NSC-100 (Nutritional Supply, 888-246-7224), Nu-Life Formula (Sophista-Care, 760-837-1908), Tahitian Noni (Morinda, 800-445-8596), Laktoferrin (Nutricology, 888-563-1506) or Super Defense Plus (BioDefense Nutritionals, 800-669-9205).  These products have been used to boost immune systems.  Although they appear to help many patients, their clinical effectiveness in chronic illness patients has not been carefully evaluated.  They appear to be useful during therapy to boost the immune system or after antibiotic therapy in a maintenance program to prevent relapse of illness and opportunistic infections.

Yeast/Fungal or Bacterial Overgrowth

Yeast overgrowth can occur, especially in females (vaginal infections).  Gynecologists recommend Nizoral, Diflucan, Mycelex, or anti-yeast creams.  Metronidazole [Flagyl, Prostat] has been used to prevent fungal or parasite overgrowth or other antifungals [Nystatin, Amphotericin B, Fluconazole, Diflucan] have been administered for fungal infections that occur while on antibiotics.  As mentioned above, L. acidophillus  mixtures are used to restore gut flora.  Bacterial overgrowth can also occur, for example, in between cycles of antibiotics or after antibiotics have been stopped.  This can be controlled with 2 week courses of Augmentin (3 X 500 mg/day) in between cycles or concurrent with other antibiotics.

Flying, Exercise and Saunas

Flying, excessive exercise and lack of sleep can make signs/symptoms worse.  Flying exposes you to lower oxygen tension, and can stimulate borderline anaerobes that grow better at low oxygen (see above).  Some exercise is essential, but avoid relapses due to overexertion.  Dry saunas help rid the system of chemicals, and saunas should be taken 3X per week--moderate exercise, followed by 15-20 min of dry sauna and tepid shower.  Repeat saunas no more than 2X per day.  Work up a good sweat, eliminating chemicals without placing too much stress on your system, and replace body fluids after each session.  During exercise patients should always avoid pollutant and allergen exposures.  For recovery after exercise and to decrease muscle soreness, some use a Jacuzzi or hot tub, but only after a sufficient cool-down period. Donąt get overheated in the process.  Please donąt over do it!!!

 

 

 

Antibiotics Recommended When Indicated for Treatment of Gulf War Illness/CFS/FMS/Arthritis

by Prof. Garth L. Nicolson
The Institute for Molecular Medicine, 15162 Triton Lane, Huntington Beach, California 92649-1041
Tel: (714) 903-2900   Fax: (714) 379-2082   e-mail: gnicimm@ix.netcom.com   Website:
www.immed.org


 Doxycycline (aka Vibramycin, Doxychel, Doxy-D, Doryx)

Doxycycline is a broad spectrum tetracycline with good lipid solubility and ability to penetrate the blood-brain-barrier.  This antibiotic acts by inhibiting microorganism protein synthesis; it is readily absorbed by the (normal) gut, and peak blood concentrations are maintained between 2-18 hrs (half-life, 18-22 hrs) after an oral dose of drug.  Food, calcium, magnesium, antacids and some drugs reduce absorption, and alcohol, phenytoin [Dilantin] or barbiturates reduce blood half-life or suppress the immune system.  Minocycline [Minocin] can be substituted, and for some illnesses (RA) it is preferred because it penetrates tissues better (same dose/day).

For GWI/CFS/FMS/RA use, the recommended oral dose is 200-300 mg/day (2-3X 100 mg capsules, 2 in the morning) for 6 months.  After 6 months, 6 wk cycles are suggested (2-wk inbetween).  Initially, doxycycline can exacerbate chronic signs and symptoms (Herxheimer reactions or adverse responses, such as transient fever, skin, gut discomfort, etc.) but these are usually reduced within a few wks (see first section).  Patients usually start feeling better with alleviation of major signs and symptoms within 12 wks, but in some patientsą major symptoms are not alleviated until after 12 wks. Severe reactions or prior damage to the gastrointestinal track may require i.v. administration of 100-150 mg/day (rapid i.v. administration must be avoided) for 2-3 wks, then the remainder of the course should be oral (to avoid thrombophlebitis and other complications that can occur with prolonged i.v. therapy).  Some patients react to the starch filler in the capsules and must use Doryx, a granular form of pure doxycycline.  Virtually all patients relapse (show the same major signs and symptoms) if they stop therapy before 6 months.  In a pilot study, ~85% relapsed after 12 weeks of therapy, so the first 6 months without a break is recommended.  Doxycycline has been used successfully in addition to other antibiotics in situations where either antibiotic alone had minimal effects (ie., doxycycline plus ciprofloxacin or doxycycline plus azithromycin).

Doxycycline and minocycline are primarily bacteriostatic and effective against the following organisms: gram-negative bacteria (N. gonorrhoeae, Haemophilus influenzae,  Shigella species, Yersinia pestis, Brucella species, Vibrio cholera); gram-positive bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes); mycoplasmas (Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Mycoplasma fermentans [inc. incognitis strain], Mycoplasma penetrans); others  (Bacillus anthracis [anthrax], Clostridium species, Chlamydia species, Actinomyces species, Entamoeba species, Treponema pallidum [syphilis], Plasmodium falciparum [malaria] and Borrelia [Lyme] species).  

Precautions: Avoid direct sunlight and drink fluids liberally, especially with oral capsules.  Doxycycline or minocycline therapy may result in overgrowth of fungi or yeast and nonsensitive microorganisms (see Considerations, first page).  Patients on anticoagulants may require lower anticoagulant doses.  Use during pregnancy or in children under 8 years is not recommended, in the latter case due to tooth discoloration, but lower doses of doxycycline have proven to be very effective in children with GWI/CFS (weight 100 lbs or less, 1-2 mg/lb divided into two doses; weight over 100 lbs use adult dose). Patients with impaired kidney function should not take doxycycline, and the following drugs should not be taken with doxycycline: methoxyflurane [Penthrane], carbamazepine [Tegretol], digoxin or diuretics.  Other drugs can effect uptake or immune systems (see above). For complicating bacterial infections, 2 wks Augmentin (3X 500 mg/day) can be taken in between courses of antibiotics. For fungal and yeast complications, please see the instructions above.

Adverse Reactions: In a few patients doxycycline causes gastrointestinal irritation, anorexia, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, mouth dryness, hoarseness and in rare cases hypersensitivity reactions, hemolytic anemia, skin hyper-sensitivity and reduced white blood cell counts.  In general, doxycycline is considered a very safe drug, in that there are few adverse reactions reported in the literature.

Ciprofloxacin (aka Cipro, Cifox, Cifran, Ciloxan, Ciplox)

Ciprofloxacin is a broad spectrum synthetic fluoroquinolone antibiotic with good absorption characteristics.  This drug acts on bacterial DNA gyrase to inhibit bacterial DNA synthesis.  Ciprofloxacin is secreted rapidly in the urine and has a half-life in the blood of ~4 hrs. Food delays the absorption (by ~2 hrs) but doesnąt effect total absorption; antacids containing magnesium, aluminum or other salts as well as various drugs reduce absorption and should not be taken at the same time of day.

For GWI/CFS/FMS use, the recommended dose is 1,500 mg/day (oral, 3X 500 mg capsules, 2 in morning) for 6 months, then 6 wk cycles of therapy.  Ciprofloxacin may or may not be taken with meals.  Initially, ciprofloxacin may exacerbate some signs/symptoms (Herxheimer reactions or adverse antibiotic responses) but these are usually gone within a few wks or so. Patients report that doses of 1000 mg/day or lower are not effective in alleviating symptoms.  Patients usually start feeling better with alleviation of major signs/symptoms within 4-6 wks, but in some patients signs/symptoms are not reduced until after 6 wks.  Ciprofloxacin has been used for patients in which doxycycline cannot be tolerated or in some patients that no longer respond to doxycycline.  In a few cases ciprofloxacin has been used simultaneously with doxycycline.  Herxheimer reactions, if present, usually pass within days to a few wks; prior damage to the gastrointestinal system may require i.v. 400-500 mg X2/day (over one hr per each infusion, rapid i.v. administration is to be avoided) for 2-4 wks, then the remainder on oral antibiotic (oral doses).  Virtually all patients relapse (with major signs/symptoms) if drug is stopped at in 6-12 wk course of therapy.  Additional antibiotic courses result in milder relapses after drug is discontinued.  Subsequent cycles of antibiotics may require the use of doxycycline or other antibiotics.  Sparfloxacin, a fluoroquinolone with better tissue penetration, can be substituted (oral dose, 400 mg/day).

Ciprofloxacin is effective against the following organisms:  gram-negative bacteria (Shigella species, Citrobacter diversus, Citrobacter  freundii, Escherichia coli, Klebisella pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae,  Enterobacter species, Proteus vulgaris, Psuedomonas aeruginosa, Yersinia pestis, Vibrio cholera), Moraxella catarrhalis; gram-positive bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, Staphylococcus hominis, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus saprophytieus); mycoplasmas, moderately active (Mycoplasma species); others (Clostridium species, Chlamydia species, Mycobacterium tuberculosis).  

Precautions:  Direct sunlight is to be avoided, especially with sparfloxacin, and patients should not take floxacin and theophylline concurrently.  Ciprofloxacin therapy may result in drug crystals in the urine in rare cases, and patients should be well hydrated to prevent concentration of urine.  Pregnant women and children should not use this drug due to reduction in bone and cartilage development.

Adverse Reactions: Adverse antibiotic responses resulted in discontinuing drug in ~3.5% of patients, and such reactions included nausea (5%), diarrhea (2%), vomiting (2%) abdominal pain (1.7%), headache (1.2%) and rash (1.1%).  In rare cases cirprofloxacin may cause cardiovascular problems (<1%) and central nervous system (dizziness, insomnia, tremor, confusion, convulsions and other reactions (<1%).  Small numbers of patients have experienced hypersensitivity (anaphylactic) reactions which have required immediate emergency treatment.  Other drugs may effect absorption and immune systems.

Azithromycin (aka Zithromax)

Azithromycin is a azalide (macrolide) antibiotic with good absorption and a serum half-life of ~68 hrs.  This class of drug acts by binding to the 50S ribosomal subunit of susceptible organisms where it interferes with protein synthesis.  Food decreases absorption rate, but absorption is unaffected by antacids containing magnesium, aluminum or other salts; other drugs may affect absorption (see above).

For GWI/CFS/FMS use, the recommended dose is 500 mg/day (oral, 2X 250 mg capsules taken at once) for each 6-wk cycle of therapy.  Azithromycin should not be taken with meals (1 hr before or 1 hr after).  Initially, azithromycin may exacerbate some symptoms but these are usually gone within a few weeks.  Patients usually start feeling better with alleviation of most major signs/symptoms within several weeks, but in some patients major symptoms are not alleviated within months.  Azithromycin has been used for patients in which doxycycline cannot be tolerated or in patients that no longer respond to doxycycline.  Herxheimer reactions usually pass within a few days to weeks.  Virtually all patients relapse (show the same major signs/symptoms) after terminating therapy in less than 12 wks.  Additional cycles of antibiotic result in milder relapses after drug is discontinued.  Azithromycin has been shown to be safe for pediatric use (10 mg/kg/day is recommended for children under 14, but see below).

Azithromycin is effective against the following organisms:  gram-negative bacteria (Bordetella pertussis, Shigella species, Haemophilus influenzae,  Chlamydia species, Yersinia pestis, Brucella species, Vibrio cholera); gram-positive bacteria (Streptococci  group C, F, G); mycoplasmas (Mycoplasma species); others  (Clostridium species, Treponema pallidum [syphilis], and Borrelia species).  

Precautions:  Azithromycin is principally absorbed by the liver, and caution should be exercised with patients with impaired liver function.  Antacids containing magnesium, aluminum or other salts should not be taken at the same time of day with azithromycin.  Other drugs can also interfere. Macrolides plus terfenadine [Seldane] or astemizole [Hismaral] may dangeriously elevate plasma antihistamine and cause arrhythmias and increase serum theophyline levels in some patients, particularly those receiving methylated xanthine causing nausea, vomiting, seizures.  Plasma levels of carbamazepine [Tegretol] can also be elevated, leading to carbamazepine toxicity and nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and ataxia.

Adverse Reactions: Adverse antibiotic responses were mild to moderate in clinical trials and included diarrhea (5%), nausea (3%), abdominal pain (3%).  In rare cases (<1%) azithromycin may cause cardiovascular problems (palpitations, tachycardia, chest pain) and central nervous system (dizziness, headache, vertigo), allergic (rash, photosensitivity, angioderma), fatigue and other reactions (<1%).  In pediatric patients >80% of the adverse responses were gastrointestinal.  In children, doses above the suggested 10 mg/kg/day have been shown to produce hearing loss in some patients.

Clarithromycin (aka Biaxin)

Clarithromycin is a broad spectrum macrolide antibiotic with good absorption and serum half-life.  This drug acts by binding to the 50S ribosomal subunit of susceptible organisms and interfering with protein synthesis. The drug is mostly bacterostatic but high concentrations can be bactericidal.  Food decreases absorption rate, but absorption is unaffected by antacids containing magnesium, aluminum or other salts.  Some drugs may interfere with absorption or depress immune systems (see above).

The recommended dose is 500-750 mg/day (oral, 2-3X 250 mg capsules, 2 taken in morning) for 6 months of therapy, then 6-wk cycles.  Clarithromycin should not be taken with meals (1 hr before or 1 hr after).  Initially, clarithromycin may exacerbate some symptoms due to Herxheimer reactions and bacterial death but these are usually gone within wks.  Patients usually start feeling better with alleviation of most major signs and symptoms within 1-2 wks, but in some patients major symptoms are not alleviated until after 12 wks or so.  Clarithromycin has been used for patients that do not respond or cannot tolerate doxycycline.  Herxheimer reactions usually pass within days to wks.  Virtually all patients relapse (show the same major signs/symptoms) when therapy is stopped within 12 wks.   Additional cycles of antibiotic result in milder relapses after drug is discontinued. For children, the recommended dose is 15 mg/kg/day X2; at this dose some children have gastrointestinal problems.

Clarithromycin is effective against the following organisms: gram-negative bacteria (Neisseria gonorrhoeae, N. menigitidis, Moraxella catarrhalis, Campylobacter jejuni, Eikenella corrodens, Haemophilus ducreyi, Bordetella pertussis, Shigella species, Salmonella species,  Haemophilus influenzae,  Chlamydia species, Yersinia pestis, Brucella species, Vibrio cholera,  Aeromonos species, E. coli, gram-positive bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes, S. pneumeniae, anerobic  Streptococci, Enterococcus faccalis, Staphlococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, Bacillus anthracis, Corynebacterium diptheriae, C. minutissimum, Listeria monocytogenes, Actinomyces israelii); mycoplasmas (Mycoplasma species, M. pneumoniae, Ureaplasma urealyticum); others  (Clostridium species, Treponema pallidum [syphilis], Legionella pneumophilia, L. micdadei, Mycobacterium avium, M. chelonae, M. chelonae absessus, M. fortuitim, Rickettsia species and Borrelia species).  Yeasts, fungi and viruses are resistant.

Precautions:  Clarithromycin is principally absorbed by the liver, and caution should be exercised with patients with impaired liver function.  Antacids containing magnesium, aluminum or other salts should not be taken at the same of day as azithromycin.  Other drugs may also interfere (see above).  Macrolides plus terfenadine [Seldane] or astemizole [Hismaral] may dangerously elevate plasma antihistamine and cause arrhythmias and increase serum theophyline levels in some patients, particularly those receiving methylated xanthine causing nausea, vomiting, seizures.  Plasma levels of carbamazepine [Tegretol] can also be elevated, leading to carbamazepine toxicity and nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and ataxia.  Macrolides like clarithromycin should not be used with cyclosporin [Sandimmune].

Adverse Reactions: Adverse antibiotic responses were mild to moderate in clinical trials and included diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain.  In rare cases (<1%) azithromycin may cause cardiovascular problems (palpitations, tachycardia, chest pain) and central nervous system (dizziness, headache, vertigo), allergic (rash, photosensitivity, angioderma) and  fatigue.

Clindamycin (aka Cleocin, Dalacin, Lacin)

Clindamycin is a semisynthetic antibiotic made from lincomycin and is effective against severe anaerobic infections.  It is primarily bacteriostatic against a wide range of Gram-positive and anaerobic pathogens, including some protozoa. It has good absorption and tissue penetration; its half-life is ~3 hrs in adults and ~2 hrs in children.  Since clindamycin use can result in severe colitis even weeks after cessation of the drug, it should not be used as primary therapy.  Food does not adversely affect absorption rate, but absorption is affected by antacids containing magnesium, aluminum or other salts.  Some drugs may interfere with absorption or depress immune systems (see above).

The recommended dose is 600-1200 mg/day (oral, 4-8 X 150 mg capsules, in three divided doses) for 6-wk cycles of therapy. Herxheimer reactions may exacerbate signs/symptoms but these are usually gone within days-weeks.  Patients usually start feeling better with alleviation of most major signs and symptoms within days-weeks, but in some patients major symptoms are not alleviated until after several weeks or so. For children, the recommended dose is 8-16 mg/kg/day divided into 3-4 doses.

Precautions: Clindamycin should not be used for patients with nonbacterial (viral, fungal) infections.  Its use is associated in some patients with colitis and severe, persistent diarrhea and abdominal cramps, and when this occurs the drug should be discontinued. It must not be used with opiates or diphenoxylate with atropine [Lomotil].  Patients with hepatic or renal problems require dosage adjustment.  Antidiarrheal drugs that reduce peristalsis, such as dipenoxylate, loperamide or opioids, should be avoided.  If prolonged therapy is used, periodic liver and kidney function tests and blood counts should be performed. Clindamycin should not be used by pregnant women, and prolonged use can result in overgrowth of yeasts and other nonsusceptible microorganisms.  Cholestyramine or colestipol resins bind clindamycin and should not be administered simultaneously.

Adverse Reactions: Adverse antibiotic responses were mainly diarrhea in 2-20% of cases, some severe and dangerous (colitis).  Psuedomembranous colitis may develop during or several weeks after therapy.  This can be serious if ignored.  Other gastrointestinal effects of the drug have been reported (nausea, vomiting, esophagitis, abdominal pain or cramps), and hypersensitivity reactions, including skin rashes occur in up to 10% of patients.  Mild cases of colitis should be managed promptly with fluid, electrolyte and protein supplementation as indicated.  Other effects include transient leucopenia, polyarthritis and abnormal liver function (jaundice and hepatic damage rarely occur). Clindamycin should not be used with erythromycin. Clindamycin has been shown to have neuromuscular blocking properties that may enhance the action of other neuromuscular drugs. Clindamycin should only be used with caution in patients receiving such drugs.

Final Comments/Suggestions

Recovery will be gradual not rapid, and almost all patients experience initial Herxheimer reactions that can be quite severe and can last for weeks. You will have to be patient and not abandon therapy prematurely, because few patients recover in less than one year of therapy. Do not take antibiotics at the same time of day as vitamins, minerals, supplements, etc.  Vitamins and minerals should be taken 3 hrs after antibiotics to prevent interference with antibiotic uptake. Stop antibiotics if adverse reactions continue. You will experience cycles of relapse when severely physically or mentally stressed, and you should not be alarmed if some signs and symptoms occasionally return or worsen. This is not unusual. Eventually you will be off antibiotics but you will need to continue various supplements to maintain your immune system.

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