How intestinal bacteria affect the effect of drugs – Heilpraxis

Interactions between intestinal bacteria, diet and drugs

Medicines don’t work the same for everyone. According to a renowned biochemist, the way a drug works also depends on the Darmflora a person. Recent research suggests that microbiome in the intestine a crucial role in Effectiveness of drugs plays.

Dr. Michael Zimmermann is a biochemist at European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. In an interview with the Daimler and Benz Foundation, the expert explains how intestinal bacteria affect the effectiveness of drugs.

Gut bacteria affect the effectiveness of drugs

The microbiome in the gut is often referred to as the gut flora. This means all microorganisms that have settled in a person’s intestines. Studies in recent years have repeatedly shown that gut bacteria produce important metabolic products that they are general human health I am.

as Dr. Zimmermann reports that gut bacteria are capable of doing this too To activate or deactivate the active ingredients of medicines. Conversely, some drugs such as antibiotics in turn change the Composition of the intestinal florawhich can have unwanted effects.

The team around Dr. Zimmermann examines this interaction. Scientists want to ensure that patients receive medications that are suitable for their respective intestinal flora. The research work is funded by the Daimler and Benz Foundation with 40,000 euros.

Since when is the influence of intestinal flora on drugs known?

“In fact, the gut microbiome has only been at the center of science for two decades.”, explains the biochemist. This is mainly due to technological developments. Today it is possible to sequence the DNA of intestinal bacteria in a short time.

“However, the idea that gut flora influences the effect of drugs has been around for a long time; 50 years ago there was even a first scientific conference on this “., according to Dr. carpenter. But it is only today that it is possible to deepen these connections.

Size of the intestinal flora

“Our body is densely populated with at least as many microbes as we have in the cells of our body”, emphasizes the expert. Microorganisms gather 150 times more bacterial genes than we have human genes in our bodies.

Huge scientific potential

From a scientific point of view, this is fascinating because the microbiome has enormous metabolic potential. “We still don’t understand most of his genes”, clarifies Dr. carpenter.

The scientist sees a huge treasure of knowledge hidden in the intestinal flora. “After all, the microbiome is relevant to food intake, metabolism and the immune system.”the researcher points out.

How does the intestinal flora differ in different people?

“Although we humans are only less than one percent genetically different from each other, the difference in the microbiome from person to person is up to 80 percent.”, explains the biochemist. The interaction is sometimes affected by the nutritionto the lifestyle as well as from diseases.

Cultural differences are also evident. “Our European food, for example, is not as rich in fiber as in other cultures or in earlier times”explains the microbiome expert. This could become Partial loss of the microbiome to drive.

The working group around Dr. Zimmermann uses several approaches to research on gut flora. Among other things, the team wants to find out what microbes are biochemically capable of and how they interact with drugs.

The intestinal flora is not designed to metabolise drugs

“We can learn a lot from basic research, because the evolution of bacteria was not originally designed to metabolize drugs in our bodies – this has only been happening for about a century.”says Zimmerman.

As part of the research, the team works with hospitals. Researchers analyze the microbiome of patients and sequence the DNA of gut bacteria. Power Associations with some diseases be revealed or Interactions between drugs and bacteria.

Medicines adapted to the intestinal flora

“We hope that our findings and results will make a significant contribution to personalized medicine in the coming years: after submitting a stool sample and analyzing their microbiome, patients should receive the right drug in the right dosage in the future.” describes the biochemist.

At best, the positive effect of a drug must be maximized while the gut microbiome is minimally affected. This is different with medications that they might be used specifically for improve the composition of the intestinal floraas an example Prebiotics or Probiotics.

improve the treatment of many diseases

According to Dr. Zimmermann’s findings could improve the treatment of numerous diseases. According to him, it would benefit in particular “Chronically ill; for example people with high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune diseases or psychotic disorders – and obviously people with organ transplants, for whom the adaptation of the immune system is always a therapeutic path on the razor’s edge. “.

Let food be your medicine

The Greek physician Hippocrates is said to have said: “Make food your medicine and medicine your food.” As Zimmermann points out, this still holds true: “We don’t just want to describe it with our research, we want to predict it!”

“A better understanding of the functions and metabolism of the gut microbiome appears to be an important key to this.”, summarizes the intestinal bacteria expert. (vb)

Information on the author and source

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by medical professionals.


Graduate Publisher (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Daimler and Benz Foundation: Do intestinal bacteria determine if a drug is effective? (PDF, published: 6 July 2022),

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and is not to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.

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