Even the healthiest body encounters challenges every now and then, and occasionally, antibiotics are needed to treat an infection. While they serve a very necessary purpose, antibiotics can also have some unwanted side effects, including upsetting your gut health and affecting your immune system.
So if you’re asking yourself, “How do I maintain a healthy immune system after antibiotics?” you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll discuss how antibiotics impact your body (both positively and negatively) and share four ways to promote healthy immune function after antibiotics.
How Antibiotics Affect Your Body
A healthy immune system helps fight off invasive bacteria that cause infections (bacterial infections). However, sometimes your body needs a little help. That’s where antibiotics come in.
Antibiotics are designed to do away with bacteria. They don’t treat viruses, but when it comes to fighting off a nasty infection caused by bacteria, they are quite effective, which is good news.
Decades ago, people died from infections that are easily treated with antibiotics now. But what you might not be aware of is that not all bacteria are bad.
Bacteria are living microorganisms, some good for your body and others not. For example, there are good bacteria in your gut that support digestion and your immune system.1
Antibiotics typically do a fantastic job of destroying the unwanted bacteria that cause infection in your body.
Here’s how: “Antibiotics work by disrupting bacterial cells in several ways, such as inhibiting the bacterium’s ability to build its cell wall, blocking its reproduction, or interfering with its ability to store and use energy.”2
The problem, however, is that they are also efficient at doing away with good bacteria in your digestive tract.
Antibiotics can cause side effects that are directly related to your digestive system. About one in 10 people who take antibiotics will have side effects such as temporary vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, and more.3
All of that said, it’s clear that antibiotics are sometimes necessary.
But since they can also wipe out the good bacteria in your gut, which can impact immune function, after antibiotics you need to care for your digestive tract in order to sustain your immune system.
How to Maintain Your Immune System After Antibiotics
Since much of your immune system is dependent on your gut bacteria (or microbiome), maintaining your immune system after taking antibiotics is all about supporting your digestive tract function and microbiome health. This will, in turn, support your immune health.
Because all of your bodily systems are intricately connected, taking care of your body in general will also pay off when it comes to maintaining a healthy gut and healthy immune system. That means sleeping well at night, exercising, and managing stress.
But in addition to those wellness tips, there are a few specific ways that you can care for your gut after a round of antibiotics.
Eat Fermented Foods or Take Probiotics*
You may already be familiar with this step. Probiotics are beneficial living microorganisms. They can be found in fermented foods (such as those listed below) or taken in supplement form.
When you consume probiotics, these new beneficial microorganisms join the good bacteria you already have in your gut.
To help support your immune system, you can take high-quality probiotics in supplement form or increase your intake of the following delicious probiotic-rich foods:4*
- Sourdough bread
- Some cheeses
We just talked about probiotics. Now we’re talking about prebiotics.
What’s the difference? Prebiotics are a type of fiber that nourishes your gut bacteria (probiotics). In other words, prebiotics are what the microorganisms in your gut feed on. Without prebiotics, the good bacteria in your gut can’t flourish.
Prebiotics are naturally found in foods such as asparagus, beets, garlic, onion, Jerusalem artichokes, wheat, honey, bananas, barley, tomatoes, rye, soy, milk, peas, beans, and others.5
However, they’re present in these foods only in low concentrations. That’s where prebiotic supplements come in.
Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food is a plant-based prebiotic powder for digestive health made with beneficial herbs, including Larch, Acacia, Acerola, Fenugreek, Cinnamon, and Ginger.* With no added fillers, flavors, or sweeteners, you can feel good about what you’re putting in your body.
This powder is convenient to use and mixes easily in water. Adults should mix one teaspoon into four to six ounces of water and drink it daily between meals. You can gradually increase to one tablespoon per day for additional prebiotic support.*
Support a Calm Stomach*
When good bacteria are wiped out because of antibiotics, in addition to supporting the population of beneficial microorganisms, you also want to aid digestion and soothe your stomach. After all, it may not be at its best without those beneficial bugs.
Turn to Gaia Herbs GI Feel Good, a delicious tonic to help support a calm stomach and healthy GI tract.*
We chose this 350-acre plot of land for its rich alluvial soil and amazing biodiversity. We grow 25 to 40 different herbs each year, nurturing and observing every plant that we cultivate, allowing it to flourish in the sun until the precise moment to harvest—when the active phytochemicals are at their peak.
We verify at every stage of the Gaia Herbs seed-to-shelf journey because you deserve to know exactly what’s in your herbal supplement.
As part of our commitment to transparency, we make it easy for you to discover the origin of all of the herbs in your formula; learn how they were grown, harvested, and extracted; and allow you to see validation of your product’s level of purity and potency.
Simply visit meetyourherbs.com, the world’s first herb traceability platform, and enter the ID number located on the back of your GI Feel Good liquid extract (or any Gaia Herbs product) to access this information and more.
To maintain a calm stomach, simply take 60 drops of GI Feel Good in a small amount of water three or four times a day.*
Bitters can also help support a calm stomach.* They have been used for quite some time in countries like China, India, Europe, and the Americas.* In some places, bitters have been counted on for thousands of years.
Gaia Herbs Sweetish Bitters is a liquid extract that helps promote healthy digestion and is convenient for use at home, the office, or while traveling.*
To take advantage of the benefits of digestive bitters, simply put 60 drops of Sweetish Bitters in a small amount of water and drink it 15 to 20 minutes before a meal.
Discover Daily Immune Support*
Now that we’ve talked about four ways to maintain a healthy immune system after taking antibiotics, we want to leave you with some natural options for immune support.*
Everyday Immune Mushrooms & Herbs
Adults should take one capsule twice a day and continue to use long term for the best results.*
Immune Mushroom Blend
For more year-round immune support from mushrooms, turn to our Immune Mushroom Blend, a mix of five potent immune mushrooms—Reishi, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Shiitake, and Chaga. The mushrooms are 100% organically grown and sustainably sourced. At 5x strength, you only need one capsule per day.*
If you prefer a powder that you can mix into smoothies or drinks, Gaia Herbs Immune Shine™ is a great option. This USDA Certified Organic powder combines all the benefits of mushrooms that support immune health with herbs traditionally used to maintain overall well-being.*
To benefit from the Astragalus, Maitake, Chaga, Black Elderberry, and Ginger in this supplement, simply mix one teaspoon of powder into a smoothie, dairy or non-dairy milk, or any other beverage of your choice and enjoy.*
One last tip for the busy and stressed-out among us: Stress can tax the immune system over time, especially when it may be affected after a round of antibiotics.
For long-term immune support during stressful times, turn to Eleuthero and Ashwagandha.* These adaptogenic herbs can help your body cope with stress in a healthy way so you can stay feeling your best.*
Gaia Herbs offers many options for supporting a healthy immune system.* You can browse them here.
Probiotics and Prebiotics to Help Sustain Immune Health*
Antibiotics are a modern medical marvel that have saved millions of lives. The downside is that in addition to killing the bad, unwanted bacteria, antibiotics can also damage your good gut bacteria.
To maintain your immune system after antibiotics, you’ll want to take good care of your digestive system.
Follow the four tips we listed above: eat fermented foods or take probiotics, take prebiotics such as Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food, and keep your stomach calm with GI Feel Good and Sweetish Bitters. These tips and the supplements mentioned here can also help keep your digestive and immune systems functioning at their best.*
A healthy gut is essential to a healthy immune system. With just a bit of extra care, you can support your gut microbiome to help maintain your immune system after antibiotics.
1. Mary Cheung, MD, “6 Things You Should Know About Your Gut Bacteria,” The Well by Northwell, accessed April 18, 2021,
2. “All About Antibiotics,” GI Society, accessed April 18, 2021,
3. “Side Effects: Antibiotics,” NHS, accessed April 18, 2021,
4. “How to Get More Probiotics,” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, updated August 24, 2020,
5. Dorna Davani-Davari et al. “Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications,” Foods 8, no. 3 (March 2019): 92,