Caught a cold or flu? Antibiotics. Coughing? Antibiotics. Ear infection? Antibiotics.
Antibiotics have become one of the most over-prescribed conventional medicines today. Have you ever gone to the doctors when you were unwell and were prescribed antibiotics, despite a lack of diagnosis yet?
Introduced in the 1940’s, antibiotics have been embedded as medicine for the treatment of bacterial infections. Although antibiotics have their place in medicine, are antibiotics really worth the underlying risk?
Know that I have no issue with antibiotics themselves, they are a God-send for saving lives! What I have an issue with, is them being OVER prescribed for conditions that don't require them. They should be left for life-threatening conditions because, like all medication, they put a lot of stress on the body, especially our precious gut.
I've lost count of the number of patient's I've seen when their symptoms began years ago after a course of antibiotics, saying their gut's never been the same since.
The first national report of antimicrobial use found almost half of all Australians were prescribed antibiotics at least once in 2014, and a huge proportion didn't need them.
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care report found that in Australia's hospitals on any given day more than one-third of patients were given antibiotics, with almost half either inappropriately prescribed or flouting guidelines. Similarly, more than one-third of people who visit the doctor when they or their child have a cold or flu-like symptoms are expected to be prescribed antibiotics. The highest rates of antibiotics use in the community were among children up to nine years old and people over 65, with medical practitioners accounting for 88% of all antibiotic prescriptions.
Senior medical adviser, Professor John Turnidge, suggests that “it's such an ingrained belief that all infections are caused by bacteria and require antibiotics when in fact most respiratory infections, around 95 per cent, are caused by virus, and in these instances antibiotics give you nothing but side effects”.
So why should you care?
Let's talk about antibiotic resistance
It is important to be aware of the many side effects and consequences with the overuse of antibiotics and broad-spectrum drugs have on our bodies. It can make the drugs less effective against the bacteria they are intended to treat by encouraging the growth of antibiotic-resistant infection. Conventional antibiotics only target the essential growth processes of bacteria, allowing bacteria to build up a resistance over time, whilst simultaneously destroying beneficial gut bacteria. Today, bacteria which are resistant not only to a single drug but simultaneously to many drugs, are rampantly spread in the community and clinically due to the improper use of antibiotics in the past decade. Antibiotic resistance may result in treatment failure, increased treatment costs as well as the rate of fatalities, and creates even broader infection control problems – spreading resistant bacteria from hospital to community.
Antibiotics give rise to opportunistic organisms in the gut
Have you ever gotten thrush after taking a course of antibiotics?
After taking a course of antibiotics, a lot of the friendly bacteria that exist in our digestive system are also killed and this can make room for what we call - opportunistic organisms to grow. This means that normal bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites that are a healthy and normal part of the ecosystem in the gut, have the opportunity to grow and become pathogenic and cause havoc in the gut – we’ve essentially wiped out the good bacteria that were keeping pathogenic organisms like Candida and parasites in check leading to an overgrowth.
Because they give rise to fungal infections, anti-fungal medication or herbs should be prescribed alongside antibiotics. Saccharomyces Boulardii (yes, why we abbreviate him SB), is a specific strain of probiotic yeast (don't freak out, a great yeast, not dangerous one), that should be taken while on a course of antibiotics to support gut health. With taking any herbal or nutritional supplement, always ask your naturopath before administering for safety and dosages.
Antibiotics damage the lining of the gut causing leaky gut and reduce nutrient absorption. They can also wipe out good bacteria (probiotics) within the gut which assists in digesting food, protection from infections and production of vitamins.
Consequently, antibiotic over-use, results in a negative effect to our digestive system and ironically, lowers our natural immunity to several types of infections in the future.
If you have had a history of taking antibiotics and would like to assess the health of your microbiome, then check out this microbiome test.
Natural alternatives to antibiotics
As this trend continues, medical experts are taking a new look at natural, safe antibiotic alternatives. Herbal antibiotics have very complex nature. These natural substances either exhibit antibiotic actions directly, or stimulate the production of the body’s own protection mechanisms. These natural antibiotics not only kill pathogenic organisms, but strengthen the immune system and support the elimination of pathogens and toxins, thereby holistically treating imbalances of the body.
Let's fight infections naturally with these powerful natural antibiotics:
Garlic – the most potent natural antibiotic.
Garlic has been used medicinally by cultures around the world for thousands of years - Just ask your grandma what she used to do when anybody in her town was sick. It was often used in the 1700’s to ward off the plague. Interestingly, during the earliest Olympics in Greece, garlic was fed to the athletes for increasing stamina – clearly a multi-purpose bulb used throughout history.