An Alternative to Antibiotics

Antibiotics are among the greatest achievements of medical science, but we have learned to treat them with caution. This once-perceived all-purpose weapon has failed in the battle against infectious diseases and bacteria are increasingly developing resistance to antibiotics. The good news is that researchers have now found a therapeutic equivalent which could replace penicillin and related drugs.

The World Health Organization is warning about resistance to drugs which were once so potent as more pathogens are becoming immune to antibiotics and some bacteria can no longer be combated WHO figures show that in 2010 nearly half-a-million people were infected with a strain of tuberculosis which is resistant to many antibiotics and that one third of those infected died.

The growing spread of resistant pathogens is directly attributable to the indiscriminate use of penicillin and other antibiotics so congratulations to the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig who have found an alternative to the established antibiotics. In the future, antimicrobial peptides will take up the battle against pathogens.

They have already identified 20 of these short chains of amino acids which kill numerous microbes, including enterococci, yeasts and molds, as well as human pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, which is found in the human oral cavity and causes tooth decay. Even the multi-resistant hospital bug Staphylococcus aureus is not immune, and in their tests its growth was considerably inhibited. Antibiotic peptides unlock their microbicidal effect within a few minutes and work at a far lower concentration compared with conventional antibiotics. Another key factor is that the peptides identified in the tests do not harm healthy body cells.

Not just us, but also our food could benefit from the antimicrobial peptides given that the bacterial contamination of food products costs the industry billions every year. Fresh lettuce, for example, are badly contaminated by yeasts and molds and this breakthrough means that the shelf-life could be improved by adding antimicrobial peptides during the production process.

We are still not there yet, so in the meantime if you want to fight infection and bacteria there are some natural aids you can use instead. Garlic, aloe vera and Echinacea have been in use for years and a relative newcomer is grapefruit seed extract which is a very powerful natural antibiotic.

Food is the major source of human antibiotic exposure

October 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

I have often spoken — indeed quite recently — about the dangers of the overuse of antibiotics and you may have patted yourself on the back and thought ‘well I hardly ever have them’ — but I bet you do.
The problem is that you are probably not even aware of it — particularly if you are a meat eater. A new study has shown that what you ingest from your diet is an important factor in the levels of toxicity in your body.

In a conventional, Western, diet you are taking in the antibiotics and hormone growth promoters that are routinely fed to cattle and intensively farmed salmon and chicken and through the pesticides used in modern intensive farming. This can leave you with quite a high level of toxic chemicals in your body — if you are a wholly organic vegan, you can skip the next bit but everyone else might find it of interest.

In order to test the theory that vegetarians are healthier, scientists recruited 25 people to stay at a Buddhist temple for five days, living the same lifestyle as the monks residing there. This lifestyle included adhering to a strictly meat-free diet and I imagine was also fairly stress-free, unless they were suffering severe withdrawal symptoms from their iPhones and computers..

The researchers took urine samples from all participants both 48 hours before and immediately after their five-day retreat and it was tested for antibiotics and their metabolites, as well as six chemicals produced by the body upon the breakdown of phthalates.

What are phthalates I can hear you cry? They are industrial chemicals used in the manufacture of pesticides and soft plastics and have been proven to interfere with our bodies hormonal systems, producing defects of the reproductive, nervous and other bodily systems. Because it is difficult to detect phthalates in urine, the researchers instead had to test for its metabolites.

All six phthalate metabolites were detected in every participant both before and after the study, but levels of levels of all drugs had dropped dramatically. and five metabolites had significantly dropped over the course of the study. That is in just five days — which is quite impressive.

These findings suggest that food is one of several sources through which humans are exposed to phthalates. The researchers found that participants who had eaten more beef, pork and dairy prior to the study started out with higher phthalate levels than participants who had eaten less of those foods.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to reduce the level of drugs and toxins in the body by switching to a diet that contains less meat and more vegetarian sources. I am not suggesting you give up meat altogether, but one idea for a healthier diet is certainly to have at least one or two meals a week that are meat-free.

Antibiotics Are Now Wholly Ineffective –So What Can You Do?

August 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

If you’re lucky, your doctor will not prescribe you antibiotics unless they are absolutely vital in tackling your health problem. Why do I say lucky? Because over the past few years the evidence against the too free use of antibiotics has been growing and recently in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases was confirmation that they are becoming wholly ineffective as treatments for infection.

You may think well what has this to do with me, I never take antibiotics? Sadly you may never knowingly take them but you are certainly ingesting them on a regular basis as they are frequently used in feed for both animals and fish to prevent infection and once you eat them you are getting a dose too.

According to the report, even the most powerful antibiotics available are largely inadequate at tackling the emerging forms of new and powerful “super” bacteria. Professor Tim Walsh from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Biochemistry investigated how common the NDM-1 producing antibiotic resistant bacteria are in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan and the importation of these bacteria into the UK via patients returning from these countries.

Professor Walsh has outlined how this new gene is changing the way infectious bacteria survive. The NDM 1 gene passes among bacteria like E. Coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae and makes them resistant to antibiotics so that even carbapenems, the most powerful antibiotics available, are no match for these new bacteria.

Our reliance since the 1950s on the “magic bullet” school of medicine has led to massive overprescribing of antibiotics to treat infection and we have now reached the end of the road. The problem is that the bacteria evolved during the same period and have become resistant to most of the antibiotics. This means that in some cases more than double the amount of antibiotics is needed to fight a bacterial infection.

According to Professor Walsh there are no antibiotics in the pipeline that have activity against NDM 1-producing enterobacteriaceae and he posits that we have a bleak window of maybe ten years where we are going to have to use the antibiotics we have very wisely, but also grapple with the reality that we have nothing to treat these infections with.

If you are still wondering how important this could be then according to Dr. Livermore, director of the antibiotic resistance monitoring and reference laboratory at the U.K. Health Protection Agency, the entirety of modern medicine could collapse as a result of antibiotics becoming useless. “A lot of modern medicine would become impossible if we lost our ability to treat infections,” he stated.

Natural Solutions:

The simplest solution is to ensure that you never need to take antibiotics for infection and that means doing everything you can to support your body to fight infection naturally. This starts by supporting your immune system with a healthy diet, regular exercise and stress management and by boosting your immunity when needed with supplements including vitamins C and B, Zinc and Echinacea and maintaining a healthy gut with probiotics if necessary.

Our skin naturally produces bacterial fighting proteins but we disturb the natural balance. of microorganisms on the skin through the use of antibiotic creams. These affect the body’s ability to fight the bacteria and can even lead to more skin infections, but in most cases, you only need to wash the wound with an anti-bacterial soap.

We already have natural antibiotics in your body in the form of the live bacteria in our intestines to help with digestion and keep us healthy. These bacteria also fight invading bacteria, but they are destroyed when we take antibiotics so all we have to do is provide the optimum conditions for our body to fight infection and heal itself.

You can also help keep yourself healthy with some essential ingredients from your kitchen such as garlic and Manuka honey, both of which are natural antibiotics that can kill bacteria. If you want to have something topical to apply to a skin infection then try grapefruit seed extract which tastes disgusting but is certainly an effective disinfectant for the skin and used internally kills bacteria such as Strep, Staph and Salmonella. Another old favourite is tea tree oil which contains antiseptic compounds that act as skin disinfectants and is used in the treatment of ringworm, fungal infections of the toenails, yeast infections, bad breath and acne.

A new product that I came across recently is a Natural Antiseptic Gel from Grandmas Vine that harnesses the powerful curative properties of antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic, cider vinegar. I have been using it to treat a persistent patch of dry eczema and it is proving effective at relieving the itching and clearing up the outbreak.

Yet more benefits of green tea

As I have now trailed so many benefits of this ‘wonder’ tea, I am amazed the supermarket shelves haven’t been stripped bare, and yet here is another one. You know that it is packed with powerful antioxidants with lots of great health bonuses, but recently scientists discovered that green tea increased the effectiveness of certain antibiotics by as much as 99.99%…even when pitted against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

This was a 12-month study at Alexandria University in Egypt and the results show that green tea boosted the performance of several antibiotics used in the treatment of 28 different disease-causing bacteria — including several strains of Staphylococcus. For example, 20 percent of previously drug-resistant bacteria were killed when green tea was combined with cephalosporin. This is good news because Cephalosporin is a widely used antibiotic – however many strains of bacteria have developed immunity against it.

Green tea was also shown to effectively support the antibiotics tetracycline, cefuroxime and it helped prevent the production of beta-lactamases-substances produced by bacteria allowing them to develop resistance to antibiotics.

So if you combine drinking green tea when on antibiotics you will help them be more effective and if you are drinking it regularly anyway then hopefully you won’t need the antibiotics at all, or in such quantity.

Abandon antibiotics if you have sinusitis

December 18, 2007 by  
Filed under Health, Natural Medicine, Wellness

If you have a blocked, painful nose, throbbing cheeks and forehead it could be sinusitis. It often comes with a cold. The mucus in your sinuses, air filled spaces in your cheekbones and forehead, can become infected causing inflamed sinuses. You can get acute sinusitis, a one-off nasal infection or chronic sinusitis where you keep getting infections. It normally clears up on its own or with the help of decongestants or painkillers, but antibiotics may be prescribed although recent research shows they are ineffective.

Trials undertaken at University of Southampton, showed that the antibiotic Amoxicillin was no more effective than a placebo in altering the symptom severity, the duration, or the natural history of the condition was the researchers conclusion. This is concerning, as up to 92% of patients with acute sinusitis in Britain and 85% to 98% of such patients in the U.S.A. receive antibiotics, even though doctors rarely confirm a bacterial infection for which they would be effective.

If you do suffer from sinusitis and want some natural relief, then this suggestion might help you stay well, or at least cut the duration of the condition.

Good old fashioned steam inhalation is still one of the most effective ways of clearing your nose, and chest. Try adding five drops each of the aromatic oils of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) and sage (Salvia officinalis) to a bowl of hot water and cover the bowl and your head with a large towel to trap the steam. Do this twice a day and just relax and breathe in until the steam has evaporated. The aromatic oils from eucalyptus and sage leaves help halt bacterial growth and reduce the risk of getting secondary infections. These herbs have both decongestant and antibacterial properties and are an excellent remedy for respiratory problems, including chest congestion, bronchitis, bronchial cough and sinusitis. You could also try adding a couple of crushed garlic cloves in the water as garlic has great antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Natural help for antibiotic side effects

September 27, 2007 by  
Filed under Health

I have mentioned before the problem with taking unnecessary antibiotics, but if you have to taken them then it can really help to take preventive measures to avoid some of the more common side effects. Though their job is to knock out infection-causing bugs, antibiotics often end up destroying good bacteria, triggering stomach troubles and yeast infections and often lead to low moods or depression in susceptible people.

The most important thing you can do while taking antibiotics is to reintroduce good bacteria into your body. In between doses, take good probiotic supplements like acidophilus and bifidus or a good probiotic yoghurt as that will help with antibiotic-related diarrhoea that can occur for those on antibiotic regimes in hospital. This last affects around 25% of those in hospital and a recent trial showed that simply drinking a probiotic such as Actimel reduced their risk of getting diarrhoea by 17%, and would certainly help anyone taking antibiotics at home.

Another problems associated with taking antibiotics is yeast overgrowth, and this can cause vaginal yeast infections and stomach upset. Help your body out by drastically reducing the amount of sugar you have in your diet in food, or in drinks, and increasing the amount of garlic and onions you eat as they help keep yeast in check. Antibiotics put a great strain on the liver, because every drug we take has to be broken down in the body and that’s the liver’s job. Support it by eating dark-green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, beets and artichokes to keep the bile flowing. To regenerate your liver cells, take milk thistle supplements.

If you are susceptible to low moods or depression, then antibiotics can be an problem as it is an associated side effect with some of the antibiotic drugs so please check that your doctor prescribes something that won’t trigger your low moods. For a natural help while on antibiotics, take a good B complex, a gram of vitamin C and St John’s Wort as ‘mood-enhancing’ package every day.