The Antibiotic Cipro Damages the Batteries in Your Cells

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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We’ve seen many patients over the last decade or two whose lives have been ruined by quinolone antibiotics, like Cipro. Why? We usually see them for severe chronic tendon problems. Turns out that, in addition, these antibiotics, like so many drugs, work by inhibiting an enzyme that bacteria and your cells need. Basically, a case of unintended consequences. Let me explain…

Understanding Ciprofloxacin and Other Quinolone Antibiotics

Ciprofloxacin, known commonly as Cipro, is easily the most popular antibiotic in the quinolone family, but it’s only one of many; quinolone (short for fluoroquinolone) antibiotics also consist of levofloxacin (Levaquin), ofloxacin (Floxin) norfloxacin (Noroxin), and many others. The most common way to know if you’re dealing with a quinolone antibiotic is by “-floxacin” in the generic drug name.

Quinolones are prescribed to fight bacterial infections, and the list of issues they treat is long, including bone and joint infections, urinary tract infections, skin infections, dental infections, respiratory infections, and so on. Unfortunately, however, many people cannot tolerate quinolone antibiotics, and some can even suffer devastating effects, such as the patient below who experienced severe antibiotic tendonitis following a prescription of quinolone antibiotics and prednisone:

Mitochondria: Powerhouse of the Cell

In order for our cells to function, for all of the other cell structures to accomplish the job they need to do, our cells have to have power, a way to “keep the lights on” so to speak. That’s the job of the mitochondria. The mitochondria live in the cytoplasm of the cell, and their job is to convert the nutrients from food into a chemical energy source that powers our cells. If mitochondrial power is jeopardized, it weakens the cell. If the power is shut off, the cell is useless—no work can be done and it dies. This is why healthy mitochondria are very important in keeping cells healthy.

There are many things that can damage mitochondria, and one of those may be what’s behind the many Cipro side effects. Let me explain.

Cipro Side Effects: Damaging Effect on the Mitochondria

The new study researched the response of mitochondria to the quinolone ciprofloxacin. They found that the same process that allows the ciprofloxacin antibiotic to inhibit a specific enzyme (topoisomerase) in bacterial invaders, thereby killing the bacteria, inhibits the same enzyme in our healthy cells. This particular enzyme is imperative to mitochondrial function. During the study, ciprofloxacin not only stopped the human cells from growing and differentiating into other cells but also disrupted the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy for the cell.

What does this mean? If mitochondrial processes are disrupted when ciprofloxacin is taken, and this results in weakened or dead cells, this effect is passed through tissues and structures that the cells supply. For example, as tendon cells weaken and die, these Cipro side effects are likely to result in damaged and ruptured tendons.

What Else We Know About Quinolone Antibiotics

We know that some people tolerate quinolones better than others, and another study suggests that the reason some have such devastating effects when taking these drugs may simply be due to a genetic predisposition.

The link between quinolones and tendon damage is well known. For example, we’ve known for nearly a decade now that quinolone use has been linked to Achilles tendon ruptures. Tendon damage also seems to be due to an effect that the drugs have on our cells as quinolones have also been shown to have a toxic effect on our stem cells, the body’s repairmen. Our tendons have their own healing stem cells, and when these cells are damaged, they can’t repair the tendon, leading to further injury.

The upshot? Cipro, like so many other drugs, is like a bull in the china shop of your cellular chemistry. On the one hand, it can kill bacteria; on the other, it harms your cells as well. In the meantime, if you’ve had tendon problems due to taking a drug like Cipro, don’t despair. We’ve seen good results with precise, image-guided, high dose platelet-rich plasma injections to help heal the damage!

 

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13 thoughts on “The Antibiotic Cipro Damages the Batteries in Your Cells

  1. Steve Trivoli

    Hi guys,
    I have many issues including tendinitis. I have been prescribed Cipro at least 3 or more times. Is the fact that you are bringing this up connected to a therapy you provide that will remedy it??
    Thanks
    Steve Trivoli

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Steve,
      We usually treat these issues with platelets. Please see:https://regenexx.com/blog/antibiotic-tendonitis-can-ruin-a-life/ In some cases, even precise image guided Prolo injections have helped.

  2. Carolyn Bridges

    I have neuropathy in hands & feet from Cipro. I have also had the other two drugs many times over the years. In my veins too. I always had long loose tendons in my legs. Now my legs are stiff & ache. I guess the needle that broke the camel’s back was in 2011 when I got cellulitis in my right leg & was prescribed Cipro for 5 months. A procedure to cure would be great

    1. Regenexx Team

      Carolyn,
      Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/antibiotic-tendonitis-can-ruin-a-life/ We’d need to examine you to see if we can help. Please call 855 622 7838 for assistance.

  3. Steve Reese

    My son reacted to Cipro a couple years ago.

  4. Mary

    I was prescribed a quinolone antibiotic about a year ago. I do regularly take iodine. my iodine dose while taking it. I am not sure if my drinking water is fluoridated either. Since they contain fluoride, I upped the dose briefly.
    Iodine is an essential nutrient for the human body. Wonder why it gets such a bad rap, anyway?
    No side effects as far as I can tell.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Mary,
      That’s great! You may be on the right side of genetics, as there is some research that suggests some people may be genetically predisposed to the dangers of Quinolone antibiotics. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/genetically-predisposed-dangers-quinolone-antibiotics/

  5. J Burton

    I was prescribed Cipro twice many years ago at different times for UTIs. On both occasions the drug affected my right thumb and only the right thumb. Thumb became swollen and very painful and symptoms went away when I stopped the Cipro. Never had those symptoms before or since. Weird!

    1. Regenexx Team

      J Burton,
      Likely a good idea to avoid Cipro in the future.

  6. Nancy B.

    Another thing you failed to mention about Cipro is that it can cause various eye problems (like retinal detachment) in susceptible individuals. I have a genetic connective disorder and the first and only dose of Cipro caused nystagmus (which is uncontrolled rolling movement of the eyes). Fortunately, I immediately stopped the drug and apparently did not suffer any more effects.

    I’m not sure that stem cells can be utilized at this time for disorders of the eye–especially if they are caused by a drug side effect–so patient beware!

  7. Ashley joel

    I was given cipro 2 months ago , I now have tendentious in my Achilles knees hip elbows I have also developed dry eyes and dry month and tinnitus, can you help me please.struggling to walk now:vision blurred:

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Ashley,
      Sorry to hear you’re feeling so unwell. You would likely need tests to rule out some other medical conditions that can come on suddenly, but if the issue is antibiotic tendonitis, our UK Regenexx Provider may be able to help. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/antibiotic-tendonitis-can-ruin-a-life/ and https://www.algocells.com/?utm_source=regenexxreferral&utm_medium=webreferral&utm_campaign=regenexxlocations

  8. Jeff W

    I was given Cipro in 2003. At the end of my prescription I ended up going to the hospital with tremendous pain in my foot. The emergency doctor said I only wanted drugs and told me to go away. There was a black box warning, but I didn’t see it, as I was given samples. And my doctor told me it had nothing to do with the pain. For years I suffered in pain. Slowly it dissipated though until I was prescribed Levaquin. After the second pill I could feel pressure on my Achilles heel. I called the doctor and he advised to stop taking. That was 2013, and again I suffered for years with tendon pain in my feet and achilles. I read somewhere that taking large doses of Vitamin C helped with the side effect. And it seemed to help for me. At this time I’m able to walk and only have occasional mild pain. Which is eased with taking vitamin C. 2 to 3k mg a day.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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