Pain medications that include opioids have a lasting negative affect on the gut microbiome. Have you ever taken a Tylenol #3 with codeine? Had an operation and needed pain killers like meperidine (Demerol) or morphine? Or a prescription for oxycodone (OxyContin®) or hydrocodone (Vicodin®) to help relieve intense pain? Opioids are a class of drugs that also include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
Consequences of opioid use are well known. If overdosed, it suppresses breathing function. Also commonly experienced at prescribed levels are: constipation, nausea, vomiting, bloating and “leaky gut” (gut barrier dysfunction). There is an evident change in bacterial colonies and bile acid production is also affected. Bile acids are used to break down fats and digest food. Gut barrier dysfunction can lead to multiple food sensitivities and chronic inflammatory patterns like headaches, joint pain and brain fog. All of this disruption can increase risk of infectious disease.
Support of the microbiome with probiotics is key to health maintenance. Research continues on which would be most beneficial during opioid therapy. Critical is the restoration of a healthy microbiome post surgery, opioid pain medications or even addiction.
Naturopathic doctors excel in identifying food sensitvities, removing unwanted microbes, repairing and restoring gut function.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor with a Functional Medicine approach. She has advanced training in pharmaceuticals, is a certified HeartMath Practitioner and a Certified Gluten Practitioner and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only Functional Medicine and ancestral health training company.