Thoughts on the Threat of Antibiotic Resistance

In recent times there has been much talk of the threat caused to public health by the growing resistance of many bacteria and viruses to antibiotics. The nature of these organisms is that they can mutate and evolve far faster than higher organisms like humans and other mammals. The result has been strains of gonorrhea that are antibiotic resistant, the well known MRSA bug that also has evolved to be immune to current pharmaceutical medicines and the UK government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, describing this as a “ticking time bomb” which should rank alongside terrorism in terms of the severity of threat to the nation. How did it come to this and what actions can individuals take to help avert this?

MRSA virus

MRSA vius

Dame Sally’s fears are built upon the view that if viruses mutate and become resistant to current antibiotics, routine operations will become as dangerous as they were in the 19th century with people dying frequently from common infections. Modern medical practices have lead to antibiotics being given for almost any type of non-descript malaise: go to your GP and complain of a sore throat, coughing, upset tummy or any of a wide range of other symptoms and the chances are you’ll be offered a prescription for some type of antibiotic. Since bacteria and viruses reproduce so incredibly fast, the chances of one of them becoming resistant whilst you take you course of antibiotics is always there – as a society, we’re the ones giving the microbes plenty of opportunity.

It’s not just the NHS that’s driving bacteria towards having the upper hand. Factory farming is massively guilty. Antibiotics are routinely administered to both animals and fish. At the same time, antibiotics are not able to kill of complete strains of virus which means that those still in the wild have time to develop. Why worry about viruses in animals mutating? Anyone recall bird flu? SARS? These are viruses that started out as common bacteria in livestock and which mutated. When they did, they gained the ability to infect humans, with deadly consequences. Modern international travel meant that within days, the virus was spreading around the world. No-one knows quite what the next strain will be or whether any medicines in the world’s current arsenal will be of any use in preventing a potential epidemic.

How can we wean ourselves off of our dependence on antibiotics? I certainly don’t profess to be the expert on all viruses and bacteria, but there are certain things I know that I can do at home to make my need for antibiotics less. If I don’t use antibiotics personally, it’s one less incubator for the potential superbug.

1 – Ditch Eating Meat

Meat eating promotes superbugs in several ways. Firstly, unless you are only eating organic, free range produce, your food has been treated with antibiotics many times. Why? Because they are raised in conditions in which bacteria thrive and which also suppress their immune system, making the live stock prone to infection. A well known tenet of naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine is that if you eat foods that had a strong immune system, they’ll pass that vitality on to you. Sadly most modern day folk are eating food with compromised immune systems and then wondering why they too get ill. You are what you eat. It goes without saying that I needn’t go too far into the implications of horse meat to what I just said to let you know that processed factory farmed meat is even more dangerous to life on earth.

In summary, meat eating supports the growth of superbugs by supporting and industry that overuses antibiotics to offset it’s bad practices, creates substandard food that’s prone to infection and can carry that bacteria to your table, and food that reduces the immune system of those that eat it. Cut out eating anything factory farmed. If you still feel you need meat in your diet, eat it only a couple of times a week and make sure that it is only certified organic and free range.

2 – Build Your Immune System

The immune system is a bit like a new computer. At first it works like a dream but by the time you’ve added all those service packs and updates in, it doesn’t work like it use to! It takes longer to respond and longer to complete tasks. Why is this?

As we go through life, we’re constantly exposed to toxins. Some come from our natural bodily functions, while more come through the air, the water, the food we eat and any other substances we consume. Before we know it, our body has a whole range of critical issues to deal with and unless we spend the time and energy to cleanse ourselves internally of these, our immune system ends up with parts of it constantly stuck fighting to keep these away from causing damage. In fact typically, the body will store these toxins in the liver, the bones and most visibly, in excess fat.

Detoxification is a term used for supporting the body’s natural ability to cleanse itself of these. Some basic detoxes would include regular home enemas to allow the colon to clear faster, or the taking of serrapeptase to clear blockages in the arteries from expose to animal and cooked fats or tar from smoke. Higher cleanses can target the liver, gallbladder, lymph, blood and bone. Start taking detoxifying foods like wheatgrass and chlorella regularly and build detox protocols into your life. By helping your immune system have less to fight against you’ll allow it to have more energy to fight off bugs, meaning less colds and flus and less need for antibiotics.

3 – Think Twice Before Taking Antibiotics

Antibiotics are a vital part of the modern medical arsenal, giving doctors an ability to fight infection they never had before. Yet many times, we’re taking them for vague symptoms or for symptoms which would soon pass. Some of these include:

  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • coughs
  • headache
  • upset tummy

In naturopathic terms, these are all symptoms of a condition called ‘toxemia’ – the build up of excess toxins in the body. Once there are too many toxins in the body, bacteria come to feast upon the garbage which is why we get these common cold or flu-like symptoms. Here’s the important part of this logic to understand and the part we most commonly miss:

Bacteria eating up the excess toxins in our body is unpleasant to experience, however it fulfills a vital role. As they eat up the debris, they naturally die off from starvation and we are cleaned of our filth. This is why so many colds and flus come on after periods of excess, like the Christmas period where we tend to build up toxicity. And it’s also why most colds and flus last only a short time, especially if you eat a clean and modest diet or fast whilst affected by them. Because you’re not adding to the debris in the body, the bacteria devour the filth and then die off. Lastly, most of us are familiar with the post-flu high, a period where we feel good after having sweated out a cold or flu. This is because the body is clean!

If we take antibiotics when our body is naturally trying to harness the purging power of these bacteria to clean us, all that happens is kill the bacteria and keep our filth! The immune system then has to barricade the toxins in and when we next get ill, the symptoms are far worse as there’s now even more filth for the bacteria to feast upon.

It’s best to eat a clean pure, raw food diet so as not to let toxins in in the first place.

It’s best to supplement our dietary care for ourselves with regular detoxes to help out any toxins that get in through our own indiscretions or from environmental toxins.

The next best thing to do, is that should we start to develop cold or flu like symptoms, don’t reach for the antibiotics straight away. Most times, you’ll only experience symptoms for up to 3 days. Of course, if your symptoms do become more severe than a typical cold or flu, you should still speak to your doctor. I’m not advising you to turn your back on them as I don’t. I’m simply suggesting that if you feel rough but still able to get well on your own, it is better to let nature run it’s course as your body will thank you for it in the long run.

Lastly, go see the doctor. Even with great diet and lifestyle, regular detoxes and a good outlook towards self-care, it’s still possible to get seriously ill. If that happens, do talk to your doctor and keep all your options open.

4 – It Doesn’t Always Need To Be Antibiotic

Some years ago, I got really ill after visiting a hospital. It was a bit of a shock as I’d visited the top private hospital in Merton as an outpatient to see a consultant about a knee injury. The hospital looked immaculately clean to the eye yet by the afternoon, I could already feel the heaviness starting to come on in my head of a flu. Within hours it hit me hard and I was bedridden, surprised at how quickly this virus had gotten hold of me. I debated going to the doctor as I could feel within my body that this wasn’t a bacteria I’d experienced before and thee intensity of it’s virility was worrying – I wasn’t sure how bad I was going to get before I hit the bottom and started to fight back. Feeling slightly panicked, I called a naturopath I’d seen on Harley Street previously. His advice is still dear to me to this day.

“Is there anything I can do?” I sobbed.

“Do you have any high strength probiotics?” he answered.

“Yes, many” I replied.

“I want you to take a capsule every hour on the hour until the symptoms go. Antibiotics kill all the bacteria in your body but it’s easier on the body if you crowd out the bad with heaps of good bacteria.”

I grabbed my trusty bottle of Kiki Body Biotics and got started right away. Sure enough by nightfall, the steam had been taken off of the bug’s advance. I got a little worse overnight but followed his advice again for the following day and that took the symptoms down to a manageable level – I was up and about again. I kept on the probiotics for another two days before moving to a maintenance dose.

This high dose, high strength probiotic use has the added benefit over taking antibiotics that at the end, your immune system is massively bolstered rather than run down, so the chances of relapse are less. It’s common knowledge that you should take a course of probiotcs after antibiotics.

I’ve since found that if I wanted to accelerate results with this technique, taking a teaspoon of wheatgrass prior to the probiotic helps them get established quicker as does taking an oxygen therapy capsule formula like Oxypowder or Colosan half an hour after each probiotic. Friendly bacteria thrive in oxygen rich, alkaline environments and these supplements create them. Bad bacteria typically thrive in oxygen-depleted, acidic environments, so these supplements also help make life difficult for them.

These are four of the ways I’ve found I can take antibiotics less frequently so that for the cases where the doctors do need them, they’ve a far high chance of success and I’m not contributing to the superbug scenario. In the last twenty years, I’ve taken antibiotics twice and in neither case has it been effective against the symptoms, which has furthered my view that it’s better to take responsibility for my own health than make myself dependent on my doctor. He’s a great guy who means well and I still consult him, but taking the steps to look after my immune system have meant that I only need to ask for help when I really need it, which is far less frequent.

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