According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today: Antibiotic’s overuse is the greatest threat to human health today.
Sneeze, cough, get a runny nose or a sore throat, even an ear ache – and patients are demanding antibiotics from their doctors. Now don’t get me wrong, in some cases antibiotics are essential, but in many cases they are not. And again, in many cases too often they are prescribed for minor ailments or viruses, which do not respond to antibiotic treatment.
The World Health Organization has point(ed) to the “over-giving” and broad scale use of antibiotics in the community, a practice which has the effect of unnecessarily speeding up the ability of bacteria to evolve their defenses.
The proof was in the rising number of infections treated in hospitals in which the first, second and even the third-option antibiotic was no longer effective, and studies which show the circulation of newly resistant bacteria in the community.
Many antibiotics being prescribed are ‘broad spectrum’ which means they are effective against a wide variety of microorganisms. They kill bacteria causing (for example) your throat infection – which is wonderful of course, but – at the same time they kill the good bacteria in your body as well. Over time the organisms within your body become used to – or resistant to the medications being prescribed, and make it necessary to prescribe stronger and even stronger still drugs with subsequent bacterial illnesses.
Your entire (GIT) gastro intestinal tract when healthy and in balance is home to a wonderful diverse array of microbes – politely called ‘gut micro flora’. They are not only responsible for the digestion of the foods you consume every day, they are also instrumental in maintaining your good health.
The microflora plays many critical roles in the body; thus, there are many areas of host health that can be compromised when the microflora is drastically altered. The GIT microflora is involved in stimulation of the immune system, synthesis of vitamins (B group and K), enhancement of GIT motility and function, digestion and nutrient absorption, inhibition of pathogens (colonization resistance), metabolism of plant compounds/drugs, and production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) and polyamines.
Many factors can harm the beneficial members of the GIT flora, including antibiotic use, psychological and physical stress, radiation, altered GIT peristalsis, and dietary changes.
Antibiotic use and abuse is a serious factor in the disruption of GIT micro flora, leading to many other serious health effects.
I can personally attest to having my entire gastrointestinal tract seriously thrown ‘out of whack’ through taking necessary doctor prescribed antibiotics. It has taken me over two years to get my gut flora back into a semblance of balance.
Every time the paediatrician treats the mother (or Father) by acceding to her/his pleas for an antibiotic prescription to silence a howling ear ache and get a good night’s sleep, or the dermatologist treats teen acne with antibiotics, billions and billions of domesticated (GIT) bacteria die.
The 2-3 kilograms of bacteria that typically reside inside our digestive tract have formed a harmonious relationship with our digestive system and are as much dependant on us for survival as we are on them. When our gut bacteria are out of balance life can be made a living hell with digestive symptoms such as pain, bloating, constipation and or diarrhoea. Alarmingly, a very common drug prescription is toxic to gut bacteria and may be the reason many people suffer from chronic digestive complaints. (Amongst other things)
The most significant and frequent cause of disruption to gut flora are antibiotics with a single course negatively affecting gut bacteria for at least 16 months afterwards. There is a strong association between antibiotic use and digestive complaints. In a survey of people who had received an antibiotic prescription it was found that transient digestive complaints were more than three times more common in those who had received antibiotics in the last 4 months. The more severe symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have also been strongly correlated with previous antibiotic use.
So what is a person to do? How should or could they treat their symptoms differently, without resorting to using prescription medications?
Today more than ever it will pay us to look back at what our grandparents and elders did in times of seasonal illnesses. Did you know that the human body makes a ‘fever’ a temperature to kill off the invading bacteria – the actual reason as to why a fever occurs is because the raised body temperature can kill viruses and other germs that can cause severe harm. It’s a known fact that white blood cells in our body work better when the body temperature is high, and so, the fever is actually aiding them. By trying to reduce fever, we are only doing ourselves more harm than good.
When should you get concerned about a fever? The normal human body temperature is 98.6 F and anything above 106F is extremely serious and requires medical attention. In the case of infants who are younger than 3 months, a fever of 100.4F is a cause for alarm. A good way to increase the chances of reducing their fever is to breastfeed them while waiting for treatment, as this releases antibodies that are present in the milk. For other people, a fever of more than 102F should always be treated as something that requires medical attention.
A fever also usually acts as a signal that something else is wrong with the body. Most people tend to think of the fever as the disease and do not realize that it also acts as the signal for something that could be more serious and life threatening.
A fever that does not go away in a couple of days could mean that there’s some deep-rooted infection and is something that needs to be taken care of. If the fever hasn’t gone away in a couple of days, then it’s best to consult a doctor to see what course of action should be taken. Not only does a fever help in fighting an infection, but it also acts a signal for a greater infection that needs to be treated. So, while you shouldn’t ply children or adults with medicines that are meant to reduce body temperature, you shouldn’t ignore a fever either, because it is one of the surest signals that the body can give us that all is not as it should be.
Antibiotics are simply substances that kill bacteria. Although synthetic antibiotics are often prescribed for a variety of bacterial infections, there are also a number of natural antibiotics used by herbalists and holistic health practitioners.
Herbs and other natural treatments may be used to complement conventional medical treatment. Always consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before trying herbs or other alternative therapies.
Echinacea is one of the most popular herbal remedies for colds, flu’s and other bacterial infections. It has been used by herbalists as a blood purifier and to treat a number of infections. According to Clayton College of Natural Health, it stimulates the immune system and increases white blood cell counts. It should be taken only when sick, as the body can adapt to it when taken over longer periods of time.
Garlic is also a popular natural antibiotic. Not only does it kill bacteria but also parasites and fungal infections. During World Wars I and II, it was known as “Russian penicillin”. The Herb Guide states that the chemical component of garlic, allicin, is equal to 15 standard units of penicillin. Garlic is most potent when taken fresh. Taken regularly, it is a natural blood thinner and helps to dissolve cholesterol.
Goldenseal is another herb that is often found in herbal antibiotic formulas. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is often used by herbalists to treat sinus infections, vaginal infections, ear infections and sore throats. It can be taken internally and used as a gargle or vaginal wash. The Clayton College Herb Guide warns, however, that it should not be taken during pregnancy, as it may stimulate uterine contractions. It also lowers blood sugar levels and should not be taken by hypoglycemics.
Myrrh has been used by herbalists for centuries and is even mentioned in the Bible. It is antiseptic, antibiotic and antiviral. It can be taken internally, used as a gargle or used as a wash for wounds. The Herb Guide recommends myrrh for bad breath, bronchitis, mouth sores and sore throats. It is a healing agent and helps increase white blood cell counts. Although, it warns not to use myrrh for more than 2 weeks as it is harsh on the kidneys.
Perhaps one of the most controversial natural remedies, colloidal silver has been used for centuries as an antibiotic. During the 19th century, it was also commonly prescribed by doctors for bacterial infections. Modern physicians question whether it is safe for internal use. However, Dr. James Balch and nutritionist Phyllis Balch recommend it for a variety of topical uses, including ring worm and other fungal infections of the skin and nails, wounds, bad breath, mouth sores and tooth aches. It inhibits the growth of bacteria as well as viruses.
Natural Antibiotics in Mammals
A recent study by the University of California found that most mammals, including humans create their own natural antibiotics when sick. These natural peptides, called cathelicidins, are found in tissue and white blood cells. They naturally inhibit microbial growth and fight infections. The researchers further found that overuse of prescription antibiotics leads to bacterial resistance and may weaken the body’s natural defenses.
Usnea: It works as antibiotic without any side effects to kill bad bacteria without disturbing good bacteria. It also cures upper respiratory ailments, vaginal infections, fungi, external injuries. The immune system of the body is strengthened to fight against any ailment. Though these natural remedies are properly evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration but the advice must be taken from the doctor before using it. Pregnant mothers should not use these remedies without consulting the doctor.
Spices and Herbs used daily as antibiotic:
The spices and herbs used in the kitchen are antibiotic in its effect. The list of these spices and herbs is given below:
Antibiotic & Antibacterial:
- Pau d’arco
- Una da gato
Antiviral Herbs and Spices:
- Osha root
- St. John’s Wort
Antifungal Herbs and Spices:
- Black walnut hulls
- Barberry bark
- Maitake mushroom
- Tea tree oil
We lead such busy lives – in the fast lane! Everything must be done NOW if not sooner. We need to learn to treat our bodies kindly not harshly. If you are unwell, rest is the first and most important thing to consider, followed by drinking lots of fluids to flush out impurities and toxins. I hear parents tell me their kiddies don’t want to drink liquids…. make them iceblocks from home juiced fruits. Bath them to cool them down.
Of course if your child is not getting better you need to see a medical doctor, but remember that seasonal colds and viruses can take days (up to a week at times) to resolve by themselves. Be kind to yourself, and those you love, don’t rush things unnecessarily. Ensure you are receiving good nourishment, getting all the needed vitamins and minerals your body needs to enable it to fight off invading colds and influenza. Allow your body to heal naturally, it will be very thankful.