Popular pain-reliever reduces your ability to fight superbugs

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is one of the deadliest antibiotic-resistant superbugs on the planet. It causes about 250,000 infections and leads to nearly 14,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Not to mention that it costs the health care system at least $1 billion annually.

Years ago, the only way you caught C. diff was in a supposedly “sterile” hospital or healthcare setting. But nowadays, you can pick it up just about anywhere. Even from a “routine” endoscopic procedure.

And according to a new study, taking a common painkiller, even for a short time for a bad back or a headache, could reduce your ability to fight off this dangerous superbug…

Superbug crisis not going away any time soon

For the new study, researchers infected two groups of lab animals with C. diff. Then, they treated both groups with antibiotics for one week.

But there was one key difference…

Researchers gave the first group a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prior to being infected with C. diff. The second group didn’t receive the NSAID.

And here’s what happened…

The researchers found the NSAID “worsened” the effect of C. diff infections. In fact, this supposedly innocuous pain drug:

  • Altered the mice’s all-important GI microbiome, the environment in the gut where billions of healthy probiotic bacteria normally thrive
  • Depleted prostaglandins, which play an important role in GI health
  • Impaired function of the cells lining the intestines
  • Weakened the mice’s immune defenses against infections

When you look at that list, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that just 20 percent of the mice treated with the NSAID survived to the end of the study. On the other hand, 80 percent of mice not exposed to the NSAID survived the infection.

So, clearly, even brief exposure to an NSAID prior to infection worsened the severity of the infection and reduced survival.

I should note the researchers gave the mice in this study a highly potent NSAID called indomethacin, which has been around since the early 1970s. But they said the findings can be extended to other, more common NSAIDs — such as ibuprofen — since they operate on similar biological mechanisms.

And I would agree, as previous studies have shown that NSAIDs cause colitis (inflammation of the intestinal tract) by inhibiting normal production of prostaglandins.

How you can respond to this never-ending war

Without a doubt, hospital-acquired, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections like C. diff pose a serious public health hazard for patients, doctors, and the entire healthcare system. And they’re not going away any time soon.

Granted, Anthony Fauci, Director-for-Life at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has declared a government war on hospital-acquired infections. But, like the never-ending war on cancer, this war can never be won.

And perhaps that’s the whole point.

It seems the goal of these government wars is to perpetuate the cycle and keep people sick forever. (Because to them, a sick customer is a good customer!)

My advice to you is pretty simple…

First, avoid hospitals and surgery at all costs, whenever you can. And if you must have a procedure done at a hospital or surgery center, make sure you avoid taking an NSAID in the week leading up to it.

Second, I usually advise against taking most NSAIDs in the first place (with some key exceptions).

However, you can find effective pain relief by using my ABCs of pain relief — ashwagandha, boswellia, and curcumin. You can learn all about these herbal pain-relievers and more about the antibiotic-resistant superbug epidemic in the upcoming March 2019 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.


“Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs Alter the Microbiota and Exacerbate Clostridium difficile Colitis while Dysregulating the Inflammatory Response.” mBio 2019; 10 (1): e02282-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02282-18