Antibiotics and Acid Blockers: A Link to Allergies?

Allergies are an issue that many of us are familiar with; with over 40 million people experiencing some type of allergic reaction to different substances every day, it’s helpful to determine what forms of allergies are out there, and the connection between the responses that our bodies have to what has possibly happened early on in life to precipitate those allergies. Allergic reactions can happen at any time and to anyone; some of the possible allergens that we’re exposed to today include: latex, dust, pet dander, food, bug bites, drugs, grass, and mold, just to name a few. (1)

So, what exactly initiates an allergic reaction? Allergies occur when the allergen substance – whatever that may be – comes in contact with antibodies on cells in the body. These cells begin to excrete a chemical called histamine, which then causes the symptoms and reactions that we get to these allergens. (3) Some of these symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, itchy skin, redness, rashes, and tingling, depending on the type of allergic substance. More severe symptoms include anaphylaxis, chest tightness, and swelling in the mouth. (3)

Allergies can begin at any stage of life, and they’ve increased in occurrence within the last 30-40 years; one study even found that allergies to different types of foods have increased 18% in a period of 10 years. (4) Dermatitis and asthma are two more allergies that have seen a rise in incidence as well – so the question is, are we doing something within our lifestyles to initiate these allergies? (2)

A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association has found a correlation between medicines that block acid, and the occurrence of allergic reactions; another study also found the same connection, citing that there is a relationship between antibiotic use and the prevalence of food allergies later in life. Due to both of these studies – and many other studies that are out there today – that are finding a common theme with early life medications and allergies, it’s vital that we realize the long-term effects of these treatments on health into the future. (2) (5)

As babies, our bodies are constantly changing and developing. Because of this important period of growth, there needs to be a certain level of exposure to substances that cause a reaction with our immune systems – this in turn helps to create a healthy immune system. Studies today have theorized that the bacteria and organisms that are present in our digestive tract during childhood are playing vital roles in the sensitivity level against foods, which then can possibly associate with any allergic reactions later on in life. (5)

Since food is digested throughout the whole digestive system – including in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and large and small intestines – having the cells in these areas be desensitized by acid blockers or antibiotics in the midst of their growth can cause food particles and the cells within them to not be digested correctly. (4) Medicines like acid blockers (such as histamine-2 receptor antagonists or PPI’s) work by suppressing the acid that is produced in the stomach, which in turn has been shown to actually limit how many of the proteins in the foods that are eaten are binding to antibodies. When the food proteins can’t bind to those antibodies, that is where we see the start of food sensitivities and allergies.  Doctors are taught (mostly by pharmaceutical reps and scientists sponsored by corporate research) that it is acceptable to automatically treat the cold with antibiotics or colic with acid blocking medications. (4)

Another similar study found the same results, except this time they were interested in how antibiotics changed the gut health in children – and in turn, how it affected them into the future. Antibiotics (such as penicillin or amoxicillin) that treat diseases like colds and upper respiratory infections are most commonly given to younger children, and also have an impact on the antibodies in the digestive tract that lead to food sensitivities (did you know the national average for prescribed antibiotics for a 1 year old American child is two rounds of antibiotics?). In most cases, the study showed that the more antibiotics that were administered, the more likely it was to have a corresponding allergy to food. (5) Building up the antibodies in the digestive tract is important in developing a tolerance to the proteins in food, and interrupting the normal production and process of the gut can lead to these allergic diseases.  This is why functional medicine and my practice in Boulder have been so heavily vested in gut health and the consequences of both healthy, and unhealthy function in this critical organ! (5)

Within the allergic reactions that arose from these studies, one of the most prevalent reactions was to food, specifically peanuts. Other foods that caused a reaction included dairy products (milk from cows), eggs, and seafood. Issues such as dermatitis and asthma also developed in some children as well, as a result of having acid blockers and/or antibiotics at such a young age. (2) What’s interesting about these food allergies is that the chances of development vary; depending on how long the medicine is prescribed for. That being said, infants that took meds for more than 2 months in a row were at a 50% higher risk of food allergies than infants who took meds for less time.  Maybe we need to start questioning our doctor’s decisions and ask why they need to be on consecutive medications for conditions that were never treated as such 30 years ago? (2)

In studies from both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the children tested were less than 12 months of age; this implies that the relationship between the use of acid blockers and antibiotics on infants is quite significant. (2)(5)

Being aware of the possible side effects (and long-term effects in regards to allergies) of acid blockers and antibiotics on children is vital; both parents and health care providers should be knowledgeable about the health and wellness effects of these prescriptions, and how it will impact the future gut health of children.

If you feel frustrated about the path your child is on, we are to!  We have raised 4 healthy children and barring one incident of antibiotic use because of a post delivery sepsis issue (thank you medicine!) we have never used anything except functional medicine and chiropractic.  Ear infections are treated with essential oils and fresh pressed garlic and an upper cervical adjustment. Its not that our children don’t get infections, quite the contrary! We don’t try to hide them and avoid an exposure.  We would rather expose them to infections like the cold so that their immune system can build into the robust, amazing creation that it can be. Unfortunately, corporate medicine utilizes fear and sews discord among our population rather than knowledge and education about an informed choice.  So many of my autoimmune patients like Hashimoto’s hypothyroid, asthma, rheumatoid and Celiac disease were set up with systemic issues early from lack of exposure to antigens and then over-medication due to knee jerk medicine. But, you can still create tolerance! Functional medicine can help your gut and immune system stay focused on self regulation and tolerance.  Through individualized medicine and important choices in diet, environment and supplementation you can tackle these challenging disorders and get back on the right track!

Where there is a will, there is a way and we are here to help guide you through that process.


Yours in health,


Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP


https://acaai.org/allergies/types (1)

Mitre, E., Susi, A., Kropp, L., Schwartz, D., Gorman, G., Nylund, C. (2018). Association Between Use of Acid-Suppressive Medications and Antibiotics During Infancy and Allergic Diseases in Early Childhood. Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, pp. E1-E8. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0315 (2)

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351497 (3)

Trikha, A., Baillargeon, J. G., Kuo, Y. F., Tan, A., Pierson, K., Sharma, G., Wilkinson, G., … Bonds, R. S. (2013). Development of food allergies in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease treated with gastric acid suppressive medications. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology: Official Publication of the European Society of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 24(6), pp. 582-588. (4)

Love, B. L., Mann, J. R., Hardin, J. W., Lu, Z. K., Cox, C., and Amrol, D. J. (2016). Antibiotic prescription and food allergy in young children. Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology: Official Journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 12, 41. doi:10.1186/s13223-016-0148-7 (5)

Knee Pain

Did you know that when you walk down stairs, the load on your knees can reach as high as five times your body weight? The knee is the largest, and most complicated joint in the human body. Here is a brief study in knee anatomy:

The knee is made up of parts 4 different bones: the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone), the fibula (smaller shin bone), and the patella (knee cap).

The major muscles which cross the knee are the quadriceps (front of your thigh), hamstrings (back of your thigh), sartorious, and gastrocnemeus. The primary range of motion for the knee is flexion and extension. These motions are depicted and labeled in the picture below:

In addition to flexion and extension, there is a small amount (approximately 5 degrees) of rotation or twisting in the knee. During activities where the knee is being compressed, this rotation can leave the knee vulnerable to injury. This risk is mitigated by a muscle called the popliteus. This muscle plays a key role in preventing small twists in the knee that reduce its capacity for absorbing shock.

There are 4 ligaments that help to stabilize your knee; they prevent the knee from bending in ways that would cause damage. The two intrinsic ligaments (located within the joint) are the ACL and the PCL (anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament). The two extrinsic ligaments (lining the borders of the joint), are the medial collateral ligament and the lateral collateral ligament (MCL and LCL).

Each knee has a layer of cartilage, called the meniscus, which serve as the knees’ shock absorbers. This cartilage can be damaged due trauma in a single event, like a sports injury, or this damage can occur over a long period of time. The meniscus has a poor blood supply which limits its ability to heal. For this reason, many people turn to surgical options.

Scientific studies about the success rate of meniscus surgery show a poor prognosis for long term follow up. This means that while the surgery helped in the short term, over the long-haul, the knee that was operated on was still not 100%. The same studies also often found that these patients were prone to undergo more surgery down the line.

Some of you may be familiar with, or have tried corticosteroid injections in the past. While this procedure has shown to decrease symptoms in the short term, they do little in terms of healing the joint. They actually accomplish the opposite and can accelerate the degradation of the joint by masking the pain and allowing the patient to do more damage without noticing.

One of the most common conditions of the knee is arthritis. This is often the result of more force being placed on the knee than it can handle over a long period of time (traumatic incidents also significantly increase the risk of arthritis). The surfaces between where the bones meet each other become rough and irregular. This produces symptoms like pain, stiffness, and crepitus (increased clicking/grinding noises).

It was recently published in a scientific journal[1] that the amount of people who experience knee OA during their lifetime has doubled for males and tripled for females over the past 20 years. There have been a number of risk factors identified, but the increased burden of knee OA demands innovative new approaches.

This is where stem cells come in. Think of these as the building blocks to create a human body. We are born with a very high number of these stem cells, but they decrease dramatically as we age. This is why younger people typically have greater healing potential than older people.

Recently, advances in stem cell technology have shown that there are multiple types of stem cells that can be isolated to be used for regenerative medicine. We use a Wharton’s jelly derived Mesenchymal Stem Cell product. Wharton’s jelly is a specific part of the umbilical cord that has been proven to contain some of the most potent stem cells for healing purposes (Mesenchymal Stem Cells, aka MSC).  Wharton’s jelly also has on of the highest concentrations of hyaluronic acid, a critical component to shock absorbing tissues.

By injecting a dose of these stem cells into the knee joint, we are giving the body a surplus of raw materials with which to repair damaged tissue. Once inside the knee, the stem cells quickly get to work by identifying what types of cells are most needed. They can then change themselves to become whatever type of cell that is. For example, if your knee has a lot of damage to the cartilage, the stem cells will transform to fill the gaps in the cartilage.

The procedure costs significantly less than knee surgery (average knee surgery is $60,000!) with virtually none of the risks involved. Stem cell therapy is proven to be safe and effective consistently and age does not appear to be a factor in your outcome!

It is important to understand that knee pain is not simply a knee problem, it is a quality of life problem. Limitations due to knee pain can prevent you from enjoying physical activity and lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. This sedentary lifestyle is associated with increased risk for chronic conditions like cardiac (hypertension), endocrine (Diabetes), and/or some types of cancer. This lifestyle has also been linked to increased chance of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety (who the heck wants to go exercise when they are in pain?).

Knee replacement surgery has been shown in studies to have a 30 day mortality rate of 1 in 400. That means that for every 400 knee replacement surgeries, 1 of those patients will likely die. Stem cells offer a safe and effective alternative to this surgery.

Stop letting knee pain rob the joy from your life. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to those around you. Call our office today, or visit our website, to find out more.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3408027/