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Fluoroquinolone toxicity: when antibiotics damage human cells

Fluoroquinolones are some of the world’s most prescribed antibiotics, with a total of 32 million prescriptions in the US in 2015. 

These heavily used antibiotics are so commonly prescribed because they are very effective at killing microbes – yet, for some people, they come with a dark side: they can harm human cells and lead to severe, long lasting side effects.

The potential side effects of fluoroquinolones

Many people develop chronic symptoms after taking a course of fluoroquinolone antibiotics and see their life change for the worst. These symptoms can be disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system.

  • Aortic aneurysms and ruptures (recently acknowledged by the FDA in 2018)
  • Tendinitis and tendon ruptures
  • Nervous system damage, including peripheral neuropathy, which causes weakness, pain and tingling sensations in the hands and feet
  • Dangerous drops in blood sugar
  • Mental changes, including attention problems, disorientation, agitation and delirium
  • Aggravation of myasthenia gravis symptoms

They can occur in someone all at the same time. Some people will react after only 1 pill, some after a whole treatment and some others will react months later. In the majority of cases, the symptoms are long lasting and continue well after the treatment has ended.

My floxed story

In 2015 I took 14 pills of ciprofloxacin, one of the most commonly prescribed fluoroquinolone antibiotic, to heal a UTI. 2 weeks later, I was at the hospital in a wheelchair, unable to walk.

Ciprofloxacin damaged my muscles and nervous system in only 2 weeks. 

– Julie

fluoroquinolone floxed

At 25 years old, I couldn’t walk without collapsing, I couldn’t use any of my muscles without excruciating pain. I had constant brain fog, dizziness, hallucinations, and digestive issues. I couldn’t stand any sound, any light. I was sleeping 6 hours a day, 12 hours a night. After 2 years of misery, I started a Lyme treatment with cortisone pills that brought me further down the hole. I was at my worst.

At that moment, I decided to stop the treatment and let my body fight. Naturally.

That decision eventually saved my life.

It took me 5 years to understand what had happened to me, thanks to a French naturopath called Adam Nour, a specialist in chronic lyme disease, who made the link (Adam – THANK YOU. I will forever be grateful!)

He told me – ‘Julie… I don’t think that you have lyme disease. Your symptoms resemble very much of a fluoroquinolone toxicity’.

I almost fell off my chair as my mind was racing… ‘I’ve never heard of this thing’ – I thought. Adam then sent me a list of the names of these specific antibiotics and after confirming with my medical insurance, I had the proof that I had taken ciprofloxacin 2 weeks before my hell started.

It’s called being floxed.

And it might have happened to you or to someone you know.

What makes fluoroquinolones different from other antibiotics?

Quinolones were first developed in the 1960s. They kill bacteria in the body by blocking and binding to a certain set of enzymes called class II topoisomerases. But by biding to the enzymes, the quinolones prevent them from mending their cut. In the 1980s, scientists added fluorine atoms to the quinolone structure and made them more effective at fighting a broad range of bacterial infections. These fluorine atoms could now penetrate tissues throughout in the body, including the central nervous system.

And with that discovery, came a lot of dangerous and life threatening side effects that doctors and scientists took a long time to acknowledge. Some FDA approved fluoroquinolones were quietly taken off the market after severe side effects (damaged livers) and deaths – namely trovafloxacin, withdrawn from the market in 1999.

The most dangerous fluoroquinolones

Here is a list of the most commonly known fluoroquinolone antibiotics against which the FDA has issued a warning: (as a rule, avoid anything ending with ‘floxacin’):

  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Gemifloxacin (Factive)
  • Moxifloxacin (Avelox)
  • Levoflacin (Levaquin – known to rupture tendons)
  • floxacin (Floxin(
  • Norfloxacin (Noroxin)
Are fluoroquinolones still prescribed today?

Facing a lot of serious side effects reported after the take of fluoroquinolones and several class actions against fluoroquinolone manufacturers over the last decades, the FDA now advises against using fluoroquinolone antibiotic for the treatment of three common infections: acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis, and urinary tract infection without complications. 

The FDA made this decision because the chances of serious side effects outweigh the benefits for most people.

In 2016, the FDA has passed a warning about serious musculoskeletal complications from fluoroquinolones antibiotics that is now included on the drug’s labels.

‘These medicines are associated with disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system that can occur together in the same patient” – the FDA explained in 2016.

Approximately 22 million Americans were prescribed an oral fluoroquinolone in 2014 even though the FDA says the antibiotics should only be prescribed to treat uncomplicated sinus infections, bronchitis or urinary tract infections if the benefits outweigh the risks.’

– consumernotice.org

Today, sadly, doctors continue to prescribe fluoroquinolones like if they were candy. Most of them are not aware of their dangerous side effects, and a fraction of that would even remotely know what fluoroquinolone toxicity is and how to treat it.

List of ressources

You will find below a few links directing you to websites / created by fellow floxies to share what works best to recover and to educate the public:




https://www.fqtoxicity.com/ – this one sells a e-book that is quite informative

Dr. Mark Ghalili, regenerative medicine, LA, USA – has been using stem cell treatment to fight fluoroquinolone toxicity. (I have heard mixed results though)

In a next article I’ll share my current floxed protocol and what I found helped most to help recover from fluoroquinolone toxicity.

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts below, and share your experience if you have been floxed too.

Much love

Julie healing (5)


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8 Comments on “Fluoroquinolone toxicity: when antibiotics damage human cells

  1. My first dose was in May 2003 and again June 2003 by IV when a recurring UTI reached my kidneys… I believe a history of being over prescribed antibiotics for acute sinus infections that eventually became chronic is what set me up to be vulnerable to the side effects. I was diagnosed with GAD in 2004 & IBS-D in 2005, when I got another UTI in 2010 (after the warnings started but before I
    knew better) that was treated at an after hours clinic with Norfloxacin. By then my IBS pain was severe and disabling but after a bike accident in fall 2010 combined with that later dose it shifted… All my IBS pain calmed down but muscle and back pain and muscle weakness dramatically increased. By fall 2011 I was chronically fatigued and in chronic pain, diagnosed with low thyroid and in Feb 2012 diagnosed Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyolitis aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – nothing really changed until I started with eating better with Medical Medium and addressing mitochondrial damage with both Dr. TERRY Wahls protocols and fluoroquinolone detoxing. Knowing I am not alone and others are healing too helps me fight for my best life everyday and ENVOL helps me stay on track.

  2. Hello Julie,
    I’ve been following your blog for two months. I am from Germany. I was self-tricked with Levofloxacin three years ago and then got CFS, four months ago I took it again and now I have problems with my muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments, eyes, heart…. my whole body is going crazy, recently a The doctor made me aware of the fluoroquinolones and when I started researching I suddenly understood what was wrong with me. Would it be possible for you to write more about how exactly you eat? I know you eat raw food, but low fat. How do you do that without losing more weight, and do you also eat bananas and potatoes? As I have developed many intolerances (histamine / fructose / coeliac and salycilates) due to the fluoroquinolones, it is very difficult for me to eat, according to Anthony William, etc. I can’t even tolerate celery juice or pickle juice. Do you have any tips for me? At the moment I am slowly trying to phase out not eating and vegetables, fruit, millet, gluten free oatmeal, nuts and seeds are unfortunately not possible yet. As low-carb, ketogenic or paleo products are often recommended for people with Flox, some people can handle it better, others cannot. To me the diet doesn’t feel right as eggs, meat and dairy are anti-inflammatory and the body is already completely overloaded with fluoroquinolones, but lots of fat and low glucose is supposed to be good for mitochondria, how does that work? Do you see the whole thing? How did your detoxes go, Flox people often had problems here, did you have ups and downs too?
    Yes, I would be very interested and would love it if you could write more about your course, what it was like for you. What exactly did you do, your ups and downs, how were the detoxes, how are you today …?
    Because so far I could only read reports about people who eat ketogenic / paleo or low-carb because it is always recommended and glucose in the form of fruits and also carbs is very is demonized (also potatoes, bananas and gluten-free oatmeal), you are the first one I could find after a long research who did it differently. And I’m already curious about your Flox protocol ;-). Sorry for my English, it is not so good.
    Kind regards

    1. Hi Zeynep,
      Thank you for your comment. I don’t have all the answers when it comes to diet, but I do know my body and how it reacts to certain foods. I no longer eat only raw food (because I live in Northern Europe right now and the quality of fruits is so bad), but I am still experimenting with what works best for me. High fat low carb doesn’t work for me AT ALL – I need sugar, in the form of fruits and starchy vegetables. Sweet potatoes at night are excellent for me. I will share more in the future about my flox protocol and my food journey.
      Take care, Julie

  3. Hi Julie, your story is heartbreaking to read. My name is Mel and I am a 33 year old wife and mother of 2 young children in the UK with full body floxing. My arms are the worst affected but the rest of me isn’t far behind. I was floxed August 2020 by cipro. I’m almost a year out and losing patience and hope. I haven’t made any progress at all. I eat organic and clean and take all the right supplements. I avoid the triggers and avoid pharmaceuticals like the plague. I can’t even get in a car for more than a few minutes because of my neck and back pain and am housebound. I even struggle to use my mobility scooter at times due to my arm/hand weakness and back and neck sensitivity . I’m losing the will to keep fighting through this pain.
    Your story is so inspiring and you are such a brave, strong and beautiful young girl. Would we be able to speak via email? I would love to get in touch and it would mean a lot to me. I don’t have any female floxie friends and feel so isolated.


    1. Hi Mel, thank you for sharing your story. Don’t lose hope… healing is possible. Hope the floxed protocol I shared can help you, as well as Envol app to recharge your body as much as possible. We can connect on instagram @julieshealing, there is a beautiful community on there. Best to you xx

  4. It’s so saddening to receive such a generic response from someone who should understand and claims they want to help. Unfortunately I don’t use social media. Mel

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Hi, I’m Julie! I created this blog to share the best healing tips I’ve learned during my recovery against chronic illness and empower you so you can heal yourself.
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I shared my journey since day 1 and built a loving community on instagram. It helped me a lot in my healing journey, and I met wonderful healing warriors that became very good friends. Don’t underestimate the power of community when healing, it can be of great help and support.
I shared my journey since day 1 and built a loving community on instagram. It helped me a lot in my healing journey, and I met wonderful healing warriors that became very good friends. Don’t underestimate the power of community when healing, it can be of great help and support.

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