Are Antibiotics Safe? Generally, Yes

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Antibiotics Safety in a Lyme disease treatment image from Marty Ross MD

Anbiotic Benefits Versus Risks in Lyme

Treating Lyme is about weighing benefits and risk. For many treatment requires the use of herbal or prescription antibiotics. In spite of the general viewpoint, antibiotics are generally safe. The relative risks of antibiotics are actually quite low compared to the health and life risk of not treating chronic Lyme disease.

There is great benefit in using antibiotics that far outweighs any risk.

Risks are Low. How can that be so?

Here is the interesting part. Studies show using any one antibiotic carries a 4 % chance of a minor complication and a .01 % chance of a major complication (1). Yes, .01 %! Minor complications include problems such as nausea, headaches, loose stools, and minor allergic reaction. Major ones include problems like severe allergic reaction and kidney or liver inflammation. Regarding the major complications, many of these are preventable through periodic blood testing. If problems occur stopping or changing the antibiotic for minor and major complications will fix the problem. And no there is no evidence showing antibiotics harm the immune system.

A Lyme Byte

Marty Ross MD discusses antibiotic safety. This recording is a Lyme Byte from Conversations with Marty Ross MD on 12/10/14 when Dr. Ross practiced in Seattle, Washington.

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Antibiotic Drug Resistance.

Yes we are using too many antibiotics and this is leading to community-based drug resistance. But did you know 80 % of all antibiotics are used in the USA for animal farming to prevent illness? (2) The development of antibiotic drug resistance is mostly due to the overuse in the animal food industry.

If a person develops antibiotic resistance during a chronic Lyme disease treatment, it is against that antibiotic alone. There are many other antibiotic choices for the lyme and other bacteria that can infect a person.

In reality, in my Seattle practice I rarely saw someone develop resistance to any one antibiotic.

Antibiotics and the Gut.

Herbal and prescription antibiotics can decrease healthy bacteria in the gut. This can lead to yeast overgrowth and leaky gut syndrome. But these issues are both preventable and treatable using probiotics, limiting sugar and when needed using herbal or prescription anti-yeast medications. For more information about this see Prevent Yeast and Leaky Gut Syndrome. Take These Steps.


The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.


  1. Maes E, Lecomte P, Ray N. A cost-of-illness study of Lyme disease in the United States. Clin Ther. 1998;20:993-1008.
  2. Bottemeiller, Helena. Most antibiotics go to animal agriculture. Food Safety News. Feb. 24, 2011.

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