If you’ve had a severe reaction after taking an antibiotic called Cipro, it can be a scary time if you’ve read some of the horror stories on the internet. In 2007, I took Cipro and I was “floxed” – or that’s what we called it back then. I developed some of the now well-known side effects of the antibiotic and it would change my life for 2 years. In this article, I want to share with you which supplements I used to recover from Cipro.
I’ll save my own personal story about Cipro and all the ways it affected me for a future article. I’ve spoken about it before in many different forums, my old blog, and I still have people privately messaging me over 10 years later asking me for advice on how to recover because of my story and people get referred to me.
I was one of those rare successful recovery stories that you didn’t see too much of back then (there are a lot more now). One of the differences between my story and others is my proactive approach to recovery from day one. After I had taken the antibiotic and realized I had a reaction, I started implementing strategies to deal with it right away.
My goals were to achieve the following:
- Use supplements to bind to the antibiotic that was still in my body to reduce further damage.
- Alter my diet in a way that would help speed up my recovery and minimize damage.
- Change or add in new supplements to boost my body’s repair mechanisms, increase stress resistance, and protect cells.
One of the things I came across most in trying to help people recover is their reluctance to take supplements and fear of new side effects from taking them.
Symptoms associated with being floxed can fluctuate a lot as you recover (it tends to go in cycles). This cyclic effect is not unique to quinolone-recovery but also happens with many other conditions.
While I did sometimes notice old symptoms come back or new ones appear as I added new supplements, these effects were always temporary. And after each cycle of my symptoms reappearing (insomnia, nerve pain, tendon pain etc) I would get much closer to fully recovering.
The whole process of recovery took about two years, but I was mostly better after around 14 months.
Supplements I used to help me recover from Cipro
Anyone who reads my blog now will know that I switched to a vegan diet in 2012, but at the time of taking ciprofloxacin, I was a vegetarian.
So, in this case, I will include non-vegan supplements that I used and also direct you to vegan alternatives as well. I know many people who are floxed are scared of using animal-based products, so perhaps the vegan option will be better.
#1. Protein powder
Whey protein powder contains all the essential amino acids that you need to build protein. Whey protein’s amino acids are also very bioavailable and also significantly raises levels of IGF-1 which helps boost collagen synthesis, which can improve and speed up tendon and ligament recovery. 
If you have any significant tendon, ligament or muscle damage from Cipro, I recommend you take protein supplements.
How much I took
Each day I had between 2 – 3 whey protein shakes. Sometimes I would mix the whey protein in with my morning oatmeal even!
Why I supplemented whey protein
I developed Achilles tendonitis in both of my tendons, which stopped me from doing exercise for a long time. It took me about one year before I could exercise lightly again.
You cannot simply rely on supplements to heal. To improve recovery, you also have to stress the tendon to help remodel and strengthen it. One of the mistake I made which lengthened my recovery time was not doing any strengthening exercises.
If you don’t strengthen your tendons, they will be prone to injury and flare-ups in the future. There are many good physical therapy and sports websites out there which can give good advice on the best exercises.
The product line for Reflex Whey protein has since changed since 2007-2009, but there are many good options to choose from.
After I recovered from Cipro-induced tendonitis, I never developed it again.
Vegan options: Vegan protein powders
#2. Bromelain supplements
Bromelain is found mainly in pineapples. It’s non-toxic and has been found to be safe in humans while retaining its proteolytic ability once absorbed.
Bromelain has been studied a lot for its ability to enhance soft tissue healing, but it also has numerous other benefits such as improving sinusitis symptoms, treating diarrhea, speeding up recovery from surgery, blocking pro-inflammatory cytokines which cause tissue destruction, and can improve cardiovascular health.
How much I took
I took one capsule per day away from food. Usually first thing in the morning!
Why I supplemented with bromelain
Based on research I did at the time, I concluded that adding bromelain would be a good idea because of its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. There was a good amount of evidence that it helps promote healing in sports injuries as well as improve pain and swelling associated with arthritic conditions (something that many ‘floxed’ people report).
Bromelain has been found to promote tendon recovery by increasing tenocyte population .
#3. Magnesium supplements
I’ve always had issues with being more susceptible to magnesium deficiency and that’s why I have to always supplement it despite getting over the recommended daily allowance from my diet.
How much I took
I took between 300-400 mg of magnesium citrate (powder form).
Why I supplemented with magnesium
So, in my research, I came across studies that indicated diets which are deficient in magnesium may lead to a great risk of damage from taking quinolone antibiotics. Studies indicate that quinolone-induced toxic effects could be prevented by magnesium supplementation.
In a study from 2001, researchers looked at dogs that were magnesium deficient and dogs that were given ciprofloxacin and saw that in both cases there were significant biochemical alterations in tendons that would put people at risk of quinolone-induced tendon disorders .
Several other animal studies also link magnesium deficiency or the antagonistic effects of quinolones on magnesium availability as the reason why quinolones such as Cipro can be toxic to chondrocytes and cause arthritis . Rats that are administered magnesium and vitamin E is able to diminish the damage from Cipro .
Magnesium is also able to help reduce the central nervous system side effects of quinolones by inhibiting excitation of NMDA receptor activities and promote the GABAerigic system which calms down nervous systems and help with sleep .
#4. Phytonutrient supplements
There are many different phytonutrients which can have protective effects by increasing cell protection mechanisms, up-regulating DNA repair, reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines and immune system dysfunction and protect against oxidative stress and cell death.
Although we can get many of our phytonutrients from a healthy plant-based diet, the amount obtainable from diet alone can be too small to have a significant effect. Also, many people who have a reaction from Cipro report sensitivities from foods and have a more limited diet.
Here are a few of my recommended supplements, foods and drinks:
Green tea – EGCG is the main active component in green tea and is able to help protect cells against antibiotic-induced toxicity in animal studies. The reason for taking EGCG is to help increase protection against central and peripheral nerve damage and cartilage destruction.
One of the mechanisms green tea protects against arthritis is by suppressing the same MMP enzymes that are linked to damage from quinolone antibiotics .
Green tea has also been shown in several studies to protect against different antibiotic-induced ototoxicity (hearing damage). Some of the mechanisms behind the ability of green tea to protect against hearing damage are by suppressing free radical damage, inhibiting inflammation and caspases to prevent cell death.
Drinking matcha green tea will provide significant amounts of polyphenols or you can take a supplement. I would not recommend doing both! If you would rather drink green tea, check out my article on sencha vs matcha green tea.
I took 700 mg of AOR EGCG supplement at the time. I’ve not been able to find many places which sell AOR supplements anymore (they were my preferred supplier), but there are other brands available. I recommend at least 400 mg of EGCG. Life extension also has a good EGCG supplement here.
Green tea (beverage) also contains an amino acid called L-theanine which is able to help promote alpha waves in the brain and calm anxiety and stress. I wrote an article here on how L-theanine relieves stress and also list which green tea contains the most l theanine.
Curcumin – This polyphenol is found in turmeric (a popular spice in Asia). Curcumin has been found to be protective against neurodegenerative disorders and also significantly improves the symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by blocking the destruction of cartilage.
Studies show that curcumin may help prevent and even promote nerve regeneration .
When I got floxed I regularly used turmeric in my meals and also added to my green tea along with ginger.
Ginger – In powder form, it can be used in teas and in food. Ginger helps to alleviate symptoms of nausea and also dry mouth.
Bilberry/Blueberry – Anthocyanins have many health-promoting effects which can aid in recovery. These include supporting eye health, stabilizing blood sugar, promoting gut health. They also help improve the structure and strength of collagen.
Polyphenols and other nutrients promote healthy stem cells and their proliferation to promote healing.
Multiple studies have shown that a combination of polyphenols and vitamins are able to increase bone marrow stem cells and may speed up healing.
In this paper, it is shown in humans that a combination of green tea, astragalus, goji berry extracts, L. fermentum, ellagic acid, beta 1,3 glucan, and vitamin D3 can increase the number of circulating stem cells.
#4. Vitamins, essential fats, and probiotics supplements
When I was floxed I started to take a supplement called “Essential Mix” by AOR. It contained all the essential vitamins and minerals as well as a few extras. In the first few months, I took a full serving and then lowered it to 50% because my diet was already a very healthy plant-based, vegetarian diet.
I haven’t been able to find this supplement for years (I think it’s been discontinued) but it was formulated well.
I would recommend taking half a multivitamin, especially if your diet isn’t that great. Any deficiencies will slow your recovery down significantly.
Aside from all the basic nutrients, the supplement I was taking also had tocotrienol (a highly effective form of Vitamin E), choline, Vitamin K2 (most multivitamins have K1), chromium, boron, silicon, vanadium citrate.
If you’re a vegan (or not) I have a review of some good vegan gummy vitamins here you can take a look at. Otherwise, just choose a multivitamin that suits your needs.
If you don’t want to take a multivitamin I recommend the following:
Vitamin C – 1000 – 2000 mg – Supports adrenals, immune system and collagen production. High dose vitamin C may also accelerate Achilles tendon repair by stimulating blood vessel growth and collagen synthesis.
Vitamin E – take a mix of tocopherols and tocotrienols. (check out the best tocotrienol supplements). Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Methylcobalamin (B12) – Supports nerve function and repair. If you’re taking a multivitamin, you could skip this supplement.
Omega 3 – Essential fats help calm down inflammation, improve symptoms associated with anxiety, depression and can help support nerve health. Studies have found that omega 3 prevents nerve damage and speeds up nerve regeneration .
Although recent studies have concluded that omega 3 may not benefit people with dry eyes (something people who are floxed may suffer from), I found that omega 3 completely eliminated symptoms of dry eyes when I took it.
Check out my article on vegan omega 3 supplements without carrageenan.
Probiotics – Quinolones just like all antibiotics destroy our microbiome and this can exacerbate certain symptoms like inflammation and neurological side effects. Probiotics are also useful in preventing the occurrence of pathogenic bacteria from taking hold in the bowel.
Check out my article to find out which are the best probiotics.
What to expect when you take supplements
Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure for this problem other than supporting your body and mind to heal from the damage. For some people, the recovery process is just a few weeks (very mild reactions) while others with a moderate to the severe reaction can take years.
When I was affected, I had a lot of symptoms but thankfully most of them disappeared within the first 12 months and then they were completely gone by two years. I could function more normally after about 14 months out from taking Cipro.
Altogether, I was taking over 100 different nutrients (including all those in the multivitamin) and I believe this helped me recover quite fast relative to many other people. I spoke to people who got affected after taking quinolones for many years, and unfortunately many of them never fully recovered.
We went about our recovery in very different ways. While many people were afraid to supplement and be proactive due to being worried about side effects or a flare-up of symptoms, I was absolutely 100% determined to recover.
And that exactly what I did. Not only did I recover, but I felt even better than I ever did.
If you have any questions about my recovery or the supplements I listed here, please comment below!
I wish you well and a fast recovery from Cipro! 🙂