Antibiotics Destroy Memories?

Even in my earliest days of practicing medicine, I was never a big fan of prescribing antibiotics – except, of course, in cases of extreme or life-threatening infections.

Because even back then, I was concerned about the damage these drugs could cause to your gut.

That’s because trillions of microscopic bacteria – some that protect against certain diseases and some that can cause disease – live in your microbiome and exist in a delicate balance with each other.

The problem is that antibiotics can’t distinguish between so-called “good” bacteria and the “bad” ones causing the infection.

These drugs kill everything they touch.

You see, this microbiome of bacteria and other microbes is essential to almost every aspect of your health – from your immune system and how much energy you have to the absorption of nutrients and even your vulnerability to depression.

Now a study by epidemiologists at Harvard Medical School reveals a crucial link between your gut’s reaction to antibiotics – especially when taken during midlife and older – and a dramatic decline in cognitive ability as you age.

This makes sense because your gut microflora acts like a biochemical telegraph system that sends messages along your vagus nerve directly to your brain.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against antibiotics, per se.

Since the rollout of penicillin in the 1940s, and the other antibiotics that followed, these drugs have saved hundreds of millions of lives in the fight against diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, and diphtheria.

I am against their overuse. And now there’s one more reason to stop overusing these drugs…

Studying the data of more than 14,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study project, Harvard scientists found that taking antibiotics for two months or more during midlife was “significantly” linked to poorer cognition, learning, and memory scores, as well as reduced psychomotor speed and attention.1

The researchers noted that the decline in brain power was the equivalent of losing about three or four years of normal aging.

The message of the study is loud and clear – keep your antibiotic use to a bare minimum.

There are still too many doctors who hand these dangerous drugs out like candies whenever a patient appears with a sore throat, cough, or a urinary tract infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary.2

But the problem isn’t just confined to prescription antibiotics. Antibiotics are pumped into industrialized cattle and poultry to fight bacterial infections that spread through cramped feedlots and battery chicken farms.

They are also sprayed onto fruit trees and industrial vegetable farms to prevent and treat infection. During spraying, the wind can carry them further afield into the water supply.

3 Simple Steps To Protect Yourself From Antibiotics

Protecting yourself from the damage of antibiotics requires a three-pronged strategy…

  1. Avoid Cheap Meats: Cattle and poultry pumped full of antibiotics are now awash in our food supply. Make sure the meat you purchase is always grass-fed, pastured, and antibiotic free.

    Unless you know the source of the meat and the practices of the ranch or farm, the safest foods are USDA-certified organic foods. If your grocer doesn’t carry them, let them know you’ll shop elsewhere.

  2. Bulk up Your Immune System: A strong immune system is essential, not just for fighting infections – but also for fighting the effects of antibiotic use. Two of my favorite immune system boosters are:
    • Anamu. Studies show this South American herb contains a powerful compound called dibenzyl trisulphide, which is a potent stimulator of your body’s “T helper cells.” Their job is to give other immune cells an extra boost.3 Anamu capsules are available at most health food stores. I suggest taking 500 to 1,000 mg per day in divided doses.
    • Astragalus. This herb has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for millennia to strengthen the body’s immune defenses. Astragalus is called an “adaptogen,” meaning it helps protect the body against physical and mental stresses. I recommend 500 mg of the concentrated extract three times a day.
  3. Replace Big Pharma Meds with Natural Antibiotics: Nature has given us hundreds, if not thousands, of herbal alternatives. A few good ones are:
    • Garlic. Research has found that garlic can be an effective treatment against many forms of bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli. Garlic has also been shown to be effective against drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria.
    • Honey. Multiple studies reveal honey to be a powerhouse natural antibiotic, with the ability to inhibit more than 60 kinds of bad bacteria.4 The best is raw honey, and always avoid pasteurized honey products.
    • Curcumin. This is the main ingredient in the spice turmeric, and it’s one of the cornerstones of ancient Ayurvedic medicine. Thousands of studies prove curcumin beats a long list of modern drugs, including antibiotics. A recent study found curcumin killed 100% of the MRSA superbug within 2 hours.5

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD, CNS


1. Mehta RS, et al. “Association of midlife antibiotic use with subsequent cognitive function in women.” March 2022. Plos One. 17(3):e0264649.
2. “1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions unnecessary: New CDC data show large percentage of antibiotics misused in outpatient settings.” CDC. May 3, 2016. Available at:
3. Williams LA, et al. “A critical review of the therapeutic potential of dibenzyl trisulphide isolated from Petiveria alliacea L (guinea hen weed, anamu).” West Indian Med J. 2007 Jan;56(1):17-21.
4. Mandal MD, Mandal S. “Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity.” Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011 Apr;1(2):154-60.
5. Poonam Tyagi, et al. Bactericidal Activity of Curcumin I Is Associated with Damaging of Bacterial Membrane. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0121313.