Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Downside of Antibiotics

While the proper use of antibiotics can save lives, many health authorities are beginning to admit that antibiotics are over-prescribed, creating problems that are worse than the original condition they are used to treat.

The widespread abuse of antibiotics is based on some false beliefs:

False Belief #1: Antibiotics are responsible for the decline in infectious disease
Researchers traced the incidence of the major infectious diseases from 1900 to 1973. Their conclusion? “All were in decline for several decades before the introduction of antibiotics or vaccines”. Further research at Boston University concluded that improved nutrition, improved sanitation and hygiene were far more important than the 'wonder drugs' or vaccines in reducing these diseases.

False Belief #2: Antibiotics are useful against colds and flu
Even though antibiotics kill bacteria and not viruses, many physicians continue to prescribe them for viral conditions such as colds and flu. The rationale is to prevent secondary bacterial infection. This starts a vicious cycle.

False Belief #3: Antibiotics are harmless
This myth leads to over-prescribing and blinds physicians and patients to the dangers of antibiotics.

So what’s the big deal with taking antibiotics?   
The list of problems is quite long. Some are common and well known. Others are subtle but equally important.

  • May cause allergic reactions   
  • Destroy friendly bacteria in the digestive system   
  • Give rise to drug-resistant bacteria (super bugs)
  • Suppress the immune system (creating recurrent infections)
  • Creates an overgrowth of candida albicans (yeast infection)
  • Puts you at risk for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Creates nutrient loss
The famous Dr. Pasteur insisted that germs are the cause of disease. His colleague, Beauchamp, insisted that the health of the host was more important than the germs. On his death bed, Pasteur was said to have declared that Beauchamp was correct: "The host is everything, the germs are nothing".  

Allopathic medicine, however, embraced Pasteur's view and ignored Beauchamp.  

It is time to focus more on the person and less on the germs.
Why? Because research shows healthy people do not get many infections.   

Preventing Infections
  • Cleanliness matters
  • Wash your hands several times daily
  • Dress properly in cold weather
  • Get adequate rest and sleep
  • Reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals in food and environment
  • Drink pure water
  • Discard toxic cleaning agents and solvents
  • Avoid silver amalgam dental fillings and opt for composites
  • Get plenty of vitamins A, C, E, selenium and zinc from fresh, natural foods
  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
  • Positive thoughts have a beneficial effect on the immune system
  • Deep breathing is beneficial to the immune system
  • Saunas, steam baths and yoga help prevent infections

Alternatives for Treating Infections
When ill, reducing food intake, liquid fasts, sponging with water and alcohol and bed rest are simple measures that are often forgotten in the belief that 'wonder drugs' will take care of everything.

    An Ounce of Prevention

The ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha is very effective at boosting immune function. Turmeric and ginger are effective anti-inflammatories.  
The Bottom Line
If an infection occurs, apply harmless and simple measures any naturopath can teach you. Reserve antibiotics for when they are appropriate…in life-threatening situations.