Common Medications are Damaging Your Gut Microbiome


A new study suggests that one in four commonly used medications have antibiotic side effects on gut bacteria.


We’ve known for a long time now that antibiotics hurt the gut microbiome. However, a few commonly used non-antibiotic drugs have recently been linked to changes in the gut microbiome.


To test the extent of this problem, researchers tested the effects of over 1000 marketed drugs on 40 representative bacteria from the human gut. They found that more than a quarter of the non-antibiotics (250 out of 923) affect the growth of at least one type of bacteria in the microbiome.


Notably, antipsychotic drugs featured heavily among those affecting the microbiome.


This is the first study to comprehensively test a wide variety of medications for microbiome side effects.


These findings are surprising and worrying. Many of these drugs are taken for long periods of time (often years), and the findings suggest that, in addition to harming gut bacteria, these medications could also be contributing to antibiotic resistance.


The researchers hope that knowing how common drugs interact with the gut microbiome will help them understand how individuals sometimes respond differently to the same medication.



Maier L, et al. (2018) Extensive impact of non-antibiotic drugs on human gut bacteria. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature25979