Half of All Commonly Used Drugs Seriously Affect The Gut Microbiome, Scientists Warn

By Alanna Ketler

  • The Facts: Many commonly prescribed medications have been found to have a drastic affect on the “good bacteria” in our gut.
  • Reflect On: It is important to be aware of all potential side effects before taking a new drug to decide whether or not it’s worth it for you.

The link between a healthy gut microbiome and overall well-being has been established in recent years as we are learning that around 95% of the serotonin (commonly referred to as the “happy hormone”) produced in our bodies actually comes from our gut! This is one of many reasons why it is important to take care of our health, be mindful of the foods we are eating and be aware of adverse reactions from any drugs we are taking.

A recent study presented at UEG Week 2019 (United European Gastroenterology) has found that 18 commonly prescribed prescription drugs extensively affect the taxonomic structure and metabolic potential of the gut microbiome. Another eight drugs from different categories were also found to increase antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in study participants, and that’s not good.

According to the official press release regarding the findings of the study,

Researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen and the Maastricht University Medical Center looked at 41 commonly used drug categories and assessed 1883 faecal samples from a population-based cohort, patients with IBD and patients with IBS intermixed with healthy controls. The researchers compared the taxonomic and metabolic functions profiles of drug users to non-drug users, looking at the effect of single medication use and then combined medication use. The changes observed could increase the risk of intestinal infections, obesity and other serious conditions and disorders linked to the gut microbiome.

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In a healthy gut, we all have a microbe population living inside our intestines. This microbe population consists of tens of trillions of microorganisms, which include over 1000 various species of bacteria. There are many different factors that can affect the microbiota population in the human gut, including various forms of medication.

The drug categories that were concluded in the study to have the biggest impact on the gut microbiome are as follows:

  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – used to treat dyspepsia which affects between 11% and 24% of the European population. PPIs are also used to treat peptic ulcer, H. Pylori eradication, Gastro reflux and Barrett’s oesophagus.
  • Metformin – used as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes, affecting 10% of European adults
  • Antibiotics – used to treat bacterial infections, taken by 34% of the European population each year
  • Laxatives – used to treat and prevent constipation, affecting 17% of European adults

More Important Findings

The study also showed that the gut microbiota of PPI users resulted in an increased level of upper gastrointestinal tract bacteria as well as increased fatty acid production. Metformin users showed higher levels of bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli).

The research also showed that seven more categories of drugs were linked to significant changes to the levels of bacteria populations found in the gut. Oral steroids were related to higher levels of methanogenic bacteria, which has is associated with an increased BMI and obesity. Also, certain antidepressant drugs (known as SSRIs) used by those who also suffer from IBS was linked to an abundance of a bacteria species called Eubacterium ramulus, which can be harmful.

Lead-researcher of the study, Arnau Vich Vila said: “We already know that the efficiency and the toxicity of certain drugs are influenced by the bacterial composition of the gastrointestinal tract and that the gut microbiota has been related to multiple health conditions; therefore, it is crucial to understand which are the consequences of medication use in the gut microbiome. Our work highlights the importance of considering the role of the gut microbiota when designing treatments and also points to new hypotheses that could explain certain side-effects associated with medication use.”

Final Thoughts

It is important to understand all potential side effects when deciding on introducing a new drug into our system. The bacteria in our gut is there for a reason and it assists our bodies with many functions and if they are killed off or thrown off-balance it could result in more serious issues down the road.

If you are experiencing any of these issues and taking any of these medications it may be worthwhile to talk to your doctor about it and see if there are any alternative methods for treatment.

Our health is our greatest wealth!


This article was sourced from Collective Evolution.

Hi, I’m Alanna! My journey really began in 2007 when I began to question what was being presented to me, my path led me to Collective Evolution and I joined the team in 2010. Wow, has it been an incredible journey so far! I am extremely passionate about learning new information! I aim to have a voice for animals and animal rights, I also enjoy writing about health, consciousness and I am very interested in psychedelics for healing purposes! I strongly believe that knowledge is power, and the first step to creating change on this planet is by raising awareness. “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” -Jack Kornfield Questions or comments? Email me [email protected]

Image credit: Pixabay

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