Are Your Antibiotics Making You Sick?

May 15, 2018
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Best-selling antibiotics like Cipro and Levaquin may be doing you more harm than good.

On the morning of October 4th, 2010, Keri woke with symptoms of a UTI.  Being no stranger to this, she called her boss to tell her she was going to run by the minor emergency clinic and would be a few minutes late to work.  The doctor gave her a prescription for Levaquin. Within an hour of taking her first pill, the left side of her face was swollen, her breathing was labored, she was chilled to the bone, shaking, nauseous and her heart was racing. She took a Benadryl, called the doctor and was assured that the worst would be over soon.

It was just the beginning.

Keri’s health began to deteriorate immediately. She had to leave her job and lay on the couch for a year as she suffered with:  abdominal cramping, headaches, shakiness, dizziness, loss of appetite and weight, nausea, hot and cold flashes, bouts of constipation and diarrhea, weakness, achiness, tinnitus, brain fog, sight problems, tremors, electrical zaps through her body, memory loss, heartburn, muscle wasting, strange rashes, back pain, tachycardia, fatigue, insomnia, joint and muscle pain, neuropathy, low blood pressure, food and chemical sensitivities, teeth breaking and more.

She told every doctor she saw that she’d been sick ever since a reaction to Levaquin and she believed them when they said it couldn’t be related – until she decided to look up the drug she had reacted to. She read so many stories like her own and finally knew what had plagued her body – Fluoroquinolone Toxicity. (Read more about Keri’s story here.)

The Shocking Truth

In 2008, the FDA issued its first Black Box warning for the Fluoroquinolones; this highly toxic class of medications was known for causing tendon ruptures. Since then, additional warnings have been given because “these medicines are associated with disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system that can occur together in the same patient.” Other serious and disabling side effects can include permanent peripheral neuropathy, worsening of myasthenia gravis, cardiac effects, dermatologic reactions, and hypersensitivity.

Reports of adverse effects to this class of antibiotics continue to pour into the FDA, and lawsuits against the manufacturers abound. Current investigations include association of these drugs with reports of retinal detachment in the eye and aortic aneurysm or dissection. If a connection is found, these former-chemotherapy-drugs-turned-antibiotics will go from warnings for being dangerous and disabling to outright deadly.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin), Avelox (moxifloxacin), Factive (gemifloxacin), Noroxin (norfloxacin), and Floxin (ofloxacin) disrupt collagen synthesis and do damage at the DNA level. This effect comes primarily from the fluoride component of the drugs, which gives them their potency. Fluoride is also responsible for their ability to penetrate into deeper tissues and cross the blood-brain barrier, making them potent neurotoxins and affecting the brain and entire central nervous system. As high as 91 percent of patients taking these drugs have reported nervous system effects from dizziness to even psychosis, not to mention the musculoskeletal, sensory, cardiovascular, skin, and gastrointestinal reactions.

What To Do if You’ve Been “Floxed”

Sadly, Keri’s story is far too common. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs on the market, so reactions and adverse effects are numerous. If you’ve been injured by one of these drugs, here are 5 steps you can take to recover and restore your health.

1. Clean Up Your Diet. Reduce inflammation and start flushing out the toxins just by cleaning up your diet. If you have fluoroquinolone toxicity, it’s like having a nuclear bomb go off in your gut, with damage all the way down to your cellular DNA. You may have sensitivities you’ve never had before with diarrhea or constipation as your constant companion. The clean, organic, anti-inflammatory foods on my Fat Flush Plan are the perfect prescription to nourish your cells and start the natural healing and detox process your body is craving.

2. Detox Your Liver and Heal Your Gut. Once you’ve tailored your diet to feed your cells, it’s time to support your liver and get the toxins out. Healing from fluoroquinolone toxicity is a marathon, not a sprint, so I don’t recommend harsh herbs to detox the liver. Instead, gentle cleansing and support with UNI KEY’s Liver Lovin Formula is my go-to, along with a heaping scoop of Daily Greens Formula.

3. Fight the Fluoride. While a small amount of naturally occurring fluoride in foods isn’t toxic, the fluoride in these antibiotics has proven to be neurotoxic, crossing the blood-brain barrier and wreaking havoc. Boron is a naturally occurring trace mineral vital to your health and is proven in studies to detox fluoride from the body at a dose of at least 3mg per day. Another way to fight fluoride is with iodine. Fluoride and iodine are both halogens, which means you can displace fluoride by supplementing with iodine.

4. Support Collagen Synthesis. If you’ve been “floxed,” the damage goes deep into many different tissues. Collagen is a building block in the membrane of every cell in your body. These fluoroquinolone drugs are toxic to collagen and block collagen synthesis. Matthias Rath, MD, who continues the work and research of Linus Pauling, found the combination of Vitamin C, Lysine, Proline, and EGCG (a polyphenol from green tea) promotes healthy synthesis of collagen and increases the strength of its matrix. The time-released formula of UNI KEY’s Time-C gives you a steady supply of vitamin C throughout the day available to aid in the repair of your cells.

5. Supplement to Block the Damage. The fluoride in these antibiotics binds magnesium, creating a brittle compound that tenses up muscles and causes susceptibility to tendon damage. Magnesium deficiency is thought to be a cause of fluoroquinolone toxicity. The fluoride in these drugs also depletes intracellular magnesium, so it’s essential to keep supplementing and building your supply back up even once you are feeling better. UNI KEY’s Mag-Key is the most absorbable magnesium supplement that I’ve personally ever taken, without diarrhea or digestive upset.

With treatments like IV Vitamin C therapy proving successful for infections even as severe and life-threatening as sepsis, the question becomes should we “just say no” to antibiotics? According to the FDA, the risk of these drugs already outweighs the benefit for most people. Unless you have a life-threatening bacterial infection that hasn’t responded to any other treatment (including IV Vitamin C), I highly recommend asking for other options before you accept a prescription for any of these dangerous Fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Maureen Hebert

    Last December I was prescribed Ciprofloxacin for a UTI. I started having extremely itchy skin, developed tendinitis, swollen hands, and dizziness. Now almost six months later, I still have dizziness, and my right hand is still swollen slightly, cannot wear my rings. I looked up ciprofloxacin, the site also stated that it was not recommended for anyone over a certain age due to the side effects. I wish I had read it first.

    • Mark A Girard

      Sorry to hear this Maureen. I recommend that you go to FQ Groups & Pages Page on facebook. There are many great support groups, information pages and so on. I hope we can help, best wishes! Mark A Girard

  2. Sherman

    Please keep up emphasis on danger, buyer beware!! Was prescribed Levaquin in 2006 for a nasty ear infection, immediately broke my circadian sleep cycle, not ever been quite the same. 6 months later, infection came back this time in my sinus’ (every cavity), gradually over a 4 years, worse than initial ear infection. Over past 6 years: iodine detox, then transdermal mg, high amts of C w bone broths and collagen and more recently boron…step by step. Wish I had this information years ago, coulda saved time, energy and boatloads of angst.

  3. Eve

    I took Septra and immediately had all the symptoms Sherman describes even the circadian rhythm messed up and add to it iunexplained internal tremors. The doctors could not fix me they didn’t even understand the damage done by the medicine they prescribed me. I could barely work and almost lost my job because I looked normal on the outside but was physically broken and damaged on the inside. it took seven years to heal from it. At least this article is trying to warn people and give them a solution if it’s happened to them.

  4. Team ALG.

    We are so sorry to read all your unfortunate experiences with these antibiotics. Taking 3 mg daily of boron and essential fatty acids can indeed help.

  5. Mark A Girard


    I am a leader in the community of people who have been harmed by FQs and will share this excellent article in a bunch of our exploding support groups on facebook and ask people to come add comments. Your readers need to know just how HORRIFIC adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to FQs can be and they need to know that these ADRs are not rare at all, but rather, they are under-reported by a factor of hundreds. The sad and sorry truth is that a huge swath of humanity has misdiagnosed and then prescribed more toxic and often addictive chemicals just the way the executives at Bayer and J$J planned it when they decided to mass market these incredibly toxic chemicals. They did this to us on purpose in order to sell more stuff. We have been battling them for a long long time and are only now starting to be heard thanks to honest people who dare to challenge the system and tell the truth.

    Most FQ ADRs are delayed so 99.9% of the victims have no idea why their lives turned to crap. Who thinks of the antibiotic they took several seasons ago when their tendon ruptures and their cartilage gets lesions and their hair falls out and nails fall off, rashes form, vision goes, tinitus sets in, and confusion, hallucinations, teeth crumble out, bones fracture easily, legaments get loos, bowels get tight, wounds unheal, discs bulge and slip, muscles tear, stomach hurts, gas from hell, lungs collapse, chemical and food sensitivity sets in, neuropathy, insomnia, chronic fatigue and on and on?

    Everyone should go to FQ Groups & Pages Page in facebook to find out more. It has links to many of our support groups and to information and awareness pages. I will try to share the link in another post but know this works. If you know someone who suddenly started being sick all the time and who dropped out of lif, this could be what happened to them. If you or someone you love has unexplained health issues, this could be the cause. They prescribe this crap 35 million times a year in the US and in similar rates in most other counties as well, so MASSIVE numbers of people have been harmed. Please look into it!

    Mark A Girard
    Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Advocate

  6. Roberta Rayl

    I’m recovering from being Floxed in 2015.
    Awareness and education are key to reduce the number of effected people. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Tracy Jean

    Thanks for sharing your experience with fluoroquinolones. Cipro was my poison. Recovery can take years and some never recover.

  8. Toni Landau

    Great article!!! Thank you for helping to spread awareness on this absolutely devastating class of antibiotics. One round of Cipro in February of 2016 absolutely demolished me. Theses antibiotics absolutely paved the way for the opioid epidemic. They were introduced in 1987 and millions upon millions of innocent men , women and children have been destroyed by these drugs, never realizing that a seemingly innocuous antibiotic was the reason for their failing bodies and minds. The vast majority of these walking wounded have been further injured/ruined/disabled with steroids, anti depressants, anti anxiety, sleep meds, PAIN MEDICATIONS, and a whole host of Big Pharma products (PLANNED POISONING BY BIG PHARMA). This is a world wide health crisis!!!! These chemotherapeutic drugs should only be used in a hospital setting for LIFE THREATENING infections that do not respond to safer narrow spectrum antibiotics. These fluoroquinolones have been black boxed, yet doctors continue to hand this antibiotic out like candy for simple sinus infections, UTIs, ear infections, etc….Doctors are NOT being educated on the dangers of this incredibly toxic antibiotic. Again. thank you for helping to spread awareness.

  9. Betsy

    In Feb of 2007 I took 4 pills of ciprofloxacin for sinusitis. My life and health haven’t been the same since. I went from healthy and athletic to chronically ill and disabled. This antibiotic ruined my health and also caused me to be unable to tolerate most medications. If someone prescribes you this class of drugs ask for something else! It’s not worth destroying your life.

  10. Virginia Ward

    THANK YOU for this wonderful article that raises awareness of the danger of FQs and gives ideas to speed healing! I suffered 2 tendon ruptures from just 5 days of Cipro 4 years ago and am still dealing with pain from them.

  11. Barbara Heller

    I was floxed in October 2015. I was a super healthy person who already ate well and took supplements. I have seen some improvements but feel stuck at this new normal and I don’t like it. I will keep researching and feeding my body and continue to pray for a complete recovery.

  12. Kelly

    Fluoroquinolone antibiotics (like Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox) can cause a lot of damage to people who were previously healthy. I know from personal experience as Levofloxacin (generic of Levaquin) gave me permanent nerve damage/neuropathy, joint damage, tendinitis, pressure/pain ears, tinnitus, tremors, and gastrointestinal issues. The FDA is aware of the side effects associated with this drug, yet doctors tend to over prescribe them like candy! I hope one day, these drugs will only be used as a last line of defense, rather than a first. Thank you for spreading awareness!

  13. Sue Hayden

    Thank you for this article. I was given Levaquin and Cipro and the results were devastating. The effects from the Cipro were immediately crippling. It has been years of recovery.

  14. Team ALG.

    Thank you all for your comments — we are so sorry.

  15. Andrea

    Thank you for this important piece on the risks associated with all Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics. Greater awareness about the warnings on this class of antibiotics is essential for human health. Levofloxacin disabled me after 3 pills. I went from near perfect health to not being able to walk unassisted for over 2+ years. My doctors were unaware of the risks so couldn’t warn me. We need for the medical community to connect the dots and understand the side effects and just how disabling they are. Remember to ask for a safer alternative unless your life is threatened. Chemo drugs have their place in medicine but not for treating simple infections. Best.

  16. Debra Watson

    I am writing in support of my friends, family, and all who’s lives have been harmed by Fluoroquinolones, and the thousands who STILL don’t know what has destroyed their health. I was prescribed 2 separate runs of the generics for Levaquin, & Cipro. Generic Fluoroquinolones, which currently no legal action is allowed in the State in which I live. Like many, I was forced to take generics by my Health Ins. Thankfully, a Thyroid Dr I was referred to actually KNEW about the dangers of FQ’s, unlike the GP, or Neurologist, I would shortly recieve failed Neck Fusion from. Had that Thyroid Dr NOT known, & informed me about FQs, I still may have never have realized what was crippling me. Had I NOT been wearing a Ortho Boot for the torn Achilles Tendon, that was refusing to heal for well over 4 months, had I NOT thought to LIST that I was at THAT time half way into the 2nd run of FQ’s, & my Thyroid Dr, treating me for FQ induced Thyroid Issues NOT educated himself, & told me to discontinue the FQ’s immediately until discussing w/GP. Then, phoned GP HIMSELF to assure I would NOT be told to take ANY more FQ’s, had these things not have happened just as they did, I would have remained in the dark. &, having had an involved Hysterectomy only 1 yr prior, my only support @the time, my Husband, was already feeling quite impatient, frustrated, in disbelief w/the constant severe bladder, & kidney infections. Now, I was having Thyroid issues, tendons not healing, acute Neck, Shoulder Pain, numb hand, found to be ruptured discs, requiring fusion only 5 mos after my known 1st adverse reactions to being given an FQ, another torn Achilles Tendon w/fixed cast because the foot specialist could not believe I had done nothing to create the damages. brain fog, along w/acute anxiety, that only made me seem less credible. I should not forget to emphasize, while the 1st visible, provable FQ Damage was the torn tendons, discs, Thyroid damage. W/o any doubt, the worst 2 adverse reactions for me were the unprovable so totally disregarded, invalidated, minimized explosive body wide sharp & aching pain, imagine your worse case of Flu ever, then double it. That is the level of body pain and sensitivity I was having that at times can still flare if I do something that triggers it. And, the other 2nd worse unseen reaction for me was the horrible sense of anxiety, feeling panic, desperate, & terrified about what was & could continue to happen to me, my family, & have not since before the initial adverse reactions, have I found a true sense of peace of mind, comfort that everything will be ok. Needless to say, not healing from Neck Fusion was a Nightmare. And, my unknowing Neurologist, gave me NO collar for any relief while attempting to heal w/the idea that the muscles might become weak. But, they were already weak, cripplingly so, refusing to heal, and on pain Meds, he just could NOT understand WHY my pain was so acute when the rod etc seemed in place from the Scans at 8, then 10, then 12 mos out. I was basically deemed a failed surgical attempt, w/permanent nerve damage, & released to continue care from Pain Management. Since the date of the 1st onset of adverse reactions, January 6th, 2012, I have NOT had a day w/o pain, and have had a majority of the other adverse reactions that others have listed above. All this while enduring skepticism from family, friends, the medical community, and STILL to this day have been verbally assaulted by a rotating PA who was terrified she might lose her license that’s to the new Opiod Guidelines recent release. Then, her notes altered what I actually said during the appt. So, when the PA who has seen me for 5 yrs also verbally assaulted me. And, over 5 years of these ordeals, suffering, despite, the multitude of evidence being finally documented about this epidemic, my immediate family has become so desensitized to my pain, and damages, that they will often purposefully be dismissive and even cruel. I believe I read in information from the FB Support Groups that the FQ effected are 20% more likely to commit suicide. I can well attest to, relate, & understand this #, suspect it is actually much higher, as is the # of people effected negatively by FQ’s. It is beyond frightening that these chemicals are still being unknowingly given to children, elderly, and the immune compromised. And, how can one not wonder how many have been given these chemicals, IV, otherwise, & died from the damage they do? Please heed ALL the warnings that are listed by All effected, educate. And, I too thank you sincerely for addressing this devastating widely still unknown epidemic. I totally agree w/the comments made about the Pharmaceutical Companies making people sick so that they can then also sell us tons more meds in efforts to relieve the damages. Until more people are made aware, & demand signed consent by the prescribing Dr & Patient after being verbally made aware of the potential damages, this epidemic will continue to grow and cause more unnecessary suffering. Thank you for doing your part by producing such a wonderful, informative Article that not only explains the issue, but offers education & hope for healing. Thank you.


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