When it comes to staying healthy, many of us regularly take medicines without much thought about what they could be inadvertently doing to our bodies. However, new research focusing on gut health found that many common medications may not be as effective thanks to the way our microbiome works — and they could even cause other medical issues in the process.
In a new study published in the scientific journal Nature, University of Cambridge scientists ran lab tests looking at the how 15 common medications interacted with 25 ordinary strains of gut bacteria. These included popular heart prescriptions, antidepressants, pain relievers, and more. They were seeking to answer two key questions: Did the digestive tract break down these drugs like it was supposed to, or were there unintended consequences of these chemicals mixing with the delicate microbiome?
Looking at the data, researchers made a stunning discovery. They ended up noting that there were 70 different kinds of interactions total between meds and gut bacteria, 29 of which hadn’t been documented before. Of those 29, 17 of them resulted in medications’ chemicals not breaking down properly in the stomach and intestines. This means that many common drugs may not be as effective as we were led to believe. But there could also be other health problems if the compounds in these medications are accumulating in our digestive systems over time without undergoing any changes in our gut, potentially wreaking havoc on these organs.
Scientists are a long way from figuring out what the long-term consequences of these interactions are on the body, but they say this is just the beginning of their research. “The next steps for us will be to to take forward this basic molecular research and investigate how an individual’s gut bacteria tie with the differing individual responses to drugs such as antidepressants – differences in whether you respond, the drug dose needed, and side effects like weight gain,” explained study author Kiran Patel, PhD.
Curious about what this could mean for any medications you’re taking? It may be a good idea to talk to your doctor and get a better picture of what’s happening in your gut. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at some natural or holistic remedies first!