The intent of this article is not to suggest that antibiotics should never be used. They can be life-saving. However, many health authorities are beginning to admit that antibiotics are overprescribed and toxic, creating many subtle problems that are worse than the original condition. Let us examine antibiotics more carefully in light of recent findings.
MYTHS ABOUT ANTIBIOTICS
Among the prevalent myths about antibiotics are the following three:
Myth #1. Antibiotics are responsible for the decline in infectious disease.
The truth is that antibiotics are helpful for many infections. However, antibiotics have not resulted in the elimination of infectious diseases by themselves.
In fact, we now have antibiotic-resistant diseases that are much more difficult to treat as a direct result of the use of antibiotics such as certain strains of gonorrhea and tuberculosis, as well as many others that are less well known such as MRSA, a resistant strain of streptococcus. These cause many deaths, especially in hospitals.
In Beyond Antibiotics, the authors use graphs to trace the incidence of the major infectious diseases from 1900 to 1973. The diseases include measles, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, pneumonia, influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria and polio.
All were in decline for several decades before the introduction of antibiotics or vaccines. After reviewing the data, researchers John McKinlay and Sonja McKinlay at Boston University concluded that ".. at most, 3.5% of the total decline in mortality since 1900 could be ascribed to medical measures introduced for the diseases considered here". Improved nutrition and improved sanitation and hygiene were far more important than the 'wonder drugs' or vaccines to reduce these diseases.
Myth 2. Antibiotics are useful against colds and flu.
In truth, antibiotics are only helpful for bacterial infections. However, many physicians continue to prescribe them for viral conditions such as colds and flu. The rationale is to prevent secondary bacterial infection. This would be fine, except for myth #3 below, the dangers of antibiotics.
Given the dangers of antibiotics, it is prudent in most cases not to take antibiotics for colds and flus. They can worsen the situation and prolong recovery.
Myth #3. Antibiotics are harmless.
This is the most insidious myth. It leads to overprescribing and blinds physicians and the public to the dangers of antibiotics, described in the next section. Meanwhile, safer methods of avoiding and treating infections are ignored on the premise that the antibiotics will take care of everything.
The Physicians Desk Reference lists the adverse effects of antibiotics. Anyone who is taking an antibiotic (or any other medication) should read about the adverse effects. This can help prevent nasty surprises.
The interaction between antibiotics and other medications should also be noted. In addition to the side effects and cautions described in books, antibiotics present other problems that are described below.
PROBLEMS WITH ANTIBIOTICS
The list of problems with antibiotics is quite long. Some are common and well known. Others are subtle, but no less important. I have divided the adverse effects into nine categories:
1) They contribute to cancer. A 2008 study of 3,000,000 people divided the participants into groups that had taken no antibiotics for the past two years, those that had taken 2-5 prescriptions and those that had taken six or more prescriptions in the same time period. Participants were tracked for six years afterwards. Those who had taken 2-5 antibiotic prescriptions had a 27% increase in cancers compared to those who took none. Those who took six or more prescriptions had a 37% increase in cancers. This was a carefully done study on a large group of people and published in a very reputable journal (Int J Cancer 08;123:2152-2155).
Other studies show the same thing. A National Cancer Institute study in a major medical journal found that the incidence of breast cancer doubled among women who took took more than 25 antibiotic prescriptions or took antibiotics for more than 500 days over 17 years (JAMA 04;291:827-835).
2. Allergic Reactions. I used to worry every time I prescribed penicillin when I was a medical intern. It had been explained that rarely a patient would have a fatal allergic reaction to it. I was taught that if I practiced medicine long enough someone would die in my office after a shot of penicillin.
While this is uncommon, other allergic reactions to antibiotics occur frequently. Not only can the drug cause a reaction, but most antibiotics contain chemical colors, sugar and other additives that can trigger a reaction in sensitive individuals.
3. Destruction Of Beneficial Bowel Flora. Like pesticides, antibiotics kill good bugs along with the bad ones. Wide-spectrum antibiotics are notorious for this. The human intestine has a somewhat delicate ecology in which certain bugs help digest food, produce certain vitamins, and maintain a balance of organisms that prevents harmful bacteria and yeasts from multiplying.
Wide-spectrum antibiotics derange the normal ecology of the intestine. This can cause parasitic infection, vitamin deficiencies, loss of minerals through diarrhea, inflammation of the gut, malabsorption syndromes and development of food allergies due to defects in intestinal function.
4. Development Of Resistant Species Of Micro-organisms. An article in Science Magazine, August 1992, stated, "Doctors in hospitals and clinics around the world are losing the battle against an onslaught of new drug-resistant bacterial infections including staph, pneumonia, strep, tuberculosis, dysentery and other diseases that are costly and difficult, if not impossible, to treat".
Bacteria have a certain ability to mutate. Antibiotics kill bacteria that are susceptible to their action, but this leaves the field open for mutant strains to multiply even more. It is a case of survival of the fittest. The use of antibiotics actually encourages the development of the mutant, drug-resistant super-bacteria.
5. Immune Suppression. This may sound odd, as the purpose of antibiotics is presumably to help the immune response. However, evidence indicates that people treated with antibiotics have more repeat infections than those who are not treated. This is especially true of children whose ear infections are treated with antibiotics. Vitamin A and C and the use of simple herbs such as echinacea and astragalus, for example, are much safer and often equally effective.
In fact, antibiotics do not aid the immune system. They replace one of its functions. Antibiotics act by inhibiting certain enzymatic processes of bacteria, and by changing mineral balances. Normal cells, however, are also affected. This may be one reason why antibiotics weaken the immune response. Other toxic effects of antibiotics, such as the effect upon the normal bowel flora, may also be a cause.
AIDS research indicates that a risk factor for AIDS is an impaired immune response. This can be due to a history of repeated antibiotic use. Perhaps it is no accident the same group with the highest incidence of AIDS, male homosexuals as of 2009, is also a group that uses more antibiotics than other groups in America.
The link between antibiotic use and increased cancer rates can also be explained this way. This topic is discussed in the paragraphs above under #1.
6. Overgrowth of Candida Albicans And Other More Dangerous Intestinal Infections. Normally, candida albicans, a common yeast, lives peacefully in our intestines and elsewhere, in harmony with other flora that keep the yeast in check. Take an antibiotic and all of this changes. By suppressing the normal flora, candida takes over and problems begin. In its mild form the result is diarrhea or a yeast infection.
Far more serious is the growing problem of chronic muco-cutaneous yeast infection. This is described in books such as The Yeast Connection and The Yeast Syndrome. It is a major iatrogenic illness today, and a very debilitating and potentially fatal condition. One of the prime risk factors for chronic candida infection is repeated antibiotic use.
Even more dangerous is that antibiotic use opens the intestines to infection by other species of pathogenic or disease-causing bugs, parasites, yeasts and other types of organisms ranging from amebas to far more toxic ones that can cause all types of systemic damage, as well as damage to the intestinal lining and related areas.
7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This is another 'new' health plague. It is associated with chronic viral illness and a weakened immune system. While its exact origins are not clear, one of the major risk factors for chronic fatigue syndrome is - you guessed it - repeated antibiotic use.
8. Nutrient Loss And Resulting Deficiency States. Nutrient loss from antibiotics is due in part to diarrhea, which causes a loss of essential minerals. Destruction of friendly bacteria in the intestines can also impair the synthesis of certain vitamins in the intestines. While not a major cause of malnutrition, antibiotic usage may be another factor contributing to poor nutrition and thus a weakened body chemistry.
9. Treating Effects, Not Causes. Antibiotics only address the end-stage result of a weakened body chemistry - bacterial invasion. The bacteria may only be there to "mop up" the biological debris that are present because the body is too weak to eliminate the poisons.
Fever is one way the body burns up toxic substances. Providing it does not get out of hand, the infectious process can serve a useful purpose. Cutting short the process with antibiotics aborts the cleansing function of a fever and impairs long-term health.
Not true, you might say. However, I believe it is true in some cases because on tissue mineral tests, there are clear indicators of increased susceptibility to infections. The indicators are: 1) a low energy level, 2) a low sodium/potassium ratio, 3) toxic levels of mercury, copper, or cadmium, and 4) low zinc.
In hundreds of cases, when these imbalances are corrected, the tendency for infections decreases drastically. In other words, healthy people do not get as many infections. Infections do not strike randomly. There is a logic to infections, and the underlying causes can be addressed.
This line of reasoning traces back to the famous debate between Pasteur and Beauchamp. 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". Orthodox medicine, however, embraced Pasteur's view, and ignored Beauchamp. It is time to focus more on the person, and less on the germs.
10. High Cost. While the cost of a single antibiotic prescription may not be extremely high, newer ones are somewhat costly. The costs are high when the side effects are considered, along with the sheer numbers of prescriptions that are written around the world each day , month and year.
Millions of doctor visits and prescriptions for antibiotics add up to a major expense. While penicillin is not expensive, other newer antibiotics are quite costly.
These newer antibiotics are used more frequently today due to the presence of penicillin-resistant strains of bacteria. We must also include in the cost of antibiotics the cost of allergic reactions, candida albicans infections, repeat infections, development of resistant organisms and immune suppression.
The cost is justified if life is at stake. However, if less toxic and less costly alternatives can be used, shouldn't these be tried first? Bringing health care costs under control is not just a matter of eliminating waste and inefficiency. We need methods of healing that build up the health of the people, not tear it down.
REDUCING THE NEED FOR ANTIBIOTICS
Steps to avoid the need for antibiotics can be divided into two areas: prevention of infection, and alternative treatment of infections.
Preventing infections is a part of taking back control over your life and health. You can do a lot to prevent infections. Much of it involves common sense.
1. Cleanliness. Wash your hands several times daily, wash wounds carefully, dress properly in cold weather, and obtain adequate rest and sleep. Proper hygiene and sanitation are measures we often take for granted.
Also, be careful in restaurants with what you eat. Eggs are the best, soft boiled if possible. If they will not make them this way, poached or even fried are best. Scrambled are not as good.
Please avoid all meats that are not fresh, all dressings unless you know they are fresh and salads unless you are sure they are clean. Cooked food is much better in restaurants. Always avoid pork, ham and bacon in restaurants. Most other foods are safe if cooked adequately.
Also on the subject of cleanliness, be careful in restroom, especially public ones. Wash your hands before and after using the toilet, ideally, but at least afterwards, and use the towel that you dry your hands with to reach for the door and even the flusher if the room is not clean. Most public restrooms are filthy. Do not put clothing, baggage or purses on the floor.
2. Diet, Rest and Sleep. Rest and sleep are of utmost importance to avoid infections of all kinds. In addition, a healthful diet is also most critical. Adequate intake of nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and zinc are important for the immune system.
Fresh, natural, unsprayed foods contain much higher amounts of nutrients than the processed and artificial 'junk' foods so commonly eaten today. Do your best to find meats that are antibiotic-free and hormone-free.
Drink water that is as pure as possible. Unlike some health authorities, I use bottled water although it is packaged in plastic. I believe this is better than taking a chance on tap water in most locations. The best is usually spring or distilled water.
Also, healthful eating habits are almost as important as what you eat. Eat regular meals, slowly, in a relaxed manner, chew thoroughly and rest after the meal at least five or ten minutes before resuming your regular activities. Do not eat on the run, but sit quietly without talking on the telephone or driving a car while eating.
3. Reduce Toxic Exposure. Reduce or eliminate your exposure to toxic chemicals from food, air, water or through direct contact with your skin or elsewhere (such as mercury amalgam dental fillings).
Also, breathe air that is as pure as possible. We realize that in cities this is impossible. Air purifiers in the home can be helpful in this regard.
Don’t store toxic cleaning agents, solvents and other toxic chemicals inside your home, and look for less toxic alternatives. Have your silver amalgam dental fillings replaced, if possible, with composite or other, less toxic alternatives. Mercury used in amalgams is known to inhibit the immune system.
4. Attitudes. Your thoughts and attitudes affect your immune system more than you may imagine. Fears, anger, worries and resentments tend to weaken the immune system.
Positive, inspiring thoughts have a beneficial effect on the body. Spiritual thinking, which is thinking about positive subjects and that God or the high self is present and loving, can even be helpful when one is ill or to help prevent getting an infection. However, this is not substitute for cleanliness and the other suggestions in this article.
Positive thinking not enough. While thinking correctly is a key, never avoid doing the physical suggestions here to prevent and get rid of infections, believing you can just think yourself well. Some people can do this, but most cannot or will not have the discipline to do it correctly. Since infections are always potentially life-threatening, always do all you can to care for them properly.
Deep breathing, which helps oxygenate the blood, has a very beneficial effect upon the immune system.
Saunas and other natural health practices may also help prevent infections, providing you do not overdo on anything.
ALTERNATIVES FOR INFECTIONS
Never ignore any infection! Even a simple cold, ear ache, or infected cut can turn into a serious problem.
1. First, always rest a lot more, preferably in bed. Stay home from work or school and give the body a chance to fight the infection.
2. Eat very lightly and drink more distilled or spring water only, or mild teas made with this water only. Do not drink fruit juices or other sweetened beverages. Sugar makes many infections worse. Eat very simply such as chicken soups, vegetables and perhaps a little chicken or eggs, but not a lot of grains, and no dairy and no red meat until you feel better. More can complicate your recovery. A little vegetable juice is excellent, such as carrot juice.
When high fever is present, fasting on water, teas or dilute vegetable juices alone for a day or two only may be very helpful. This is especially true if the infection affects your digestive tract.
Also, there is no reason to wait even a day to apply natural methods. Simple measures can be surprisingly effective. There are many other ways as well, but too long to numerate here.
OTHER IMPORTANT HINTS FOR FIGHTING INFECTIONS
- Use the safe natural remedies. This is a very important point. Do not skimp on the dosages of vitamins and herbs, for example. Taking a little more will not usually hurt you, but taking less may make them less effective.
- Patience and persistence are essential with any serious infection. Of course, each person and each situation is different. It is not a problem, however, if healing an infection naturally takes a week or even two or three, provided you are slowly getting better. It is not necessary or helpful to abandon your methods just for this reason. Drugs may speed up your progress, but leave you weakened and toxic.
- Always act quickly with all infections, even a cold. I hear of many people who do not want to take antibiotics or other drug remedies, but who fail to apply the natural remedies quickly or at all. This is not wise as any infection can be very dangerous for one’s life, in fact.
- Start natural treatment at the first sign of infection. This will increase their effectiveness and prevent complications that occur due to waiting. Waiting with infections is always a bad idea, as it can allow the infection to take hold more firmly in the body. You never know when complications will set in quickly and be life-threatening.
- If one method is not working at all after a few days, add another one or two. Also, realize that at times results are slow because it is a serious infection and not because your methods are not working.
- You may combine all the natural methods, and you may use them along with antibiotics or other medication if you wish, unless told otherwise. The natural methods do not, to my knowledge, interfere with antibiotics and, in fact, will make them more effective by replacing nutrients in the body.
- If you are not succeeding within a few days to at least feel a little bit better each day, always consult a knowledgeable health practitioner. Rarely, an infection will require medical or other intervention.
If a sinus infection responds slowly, it may be fungal in origin. These respond very fast with the use of two unusual-sounding methods:
1. A single red infrared heat lamp (250-watt bulb sold at Home Depot or other hardware store) shined on the sinuses for 5 minutes every hour is superb.
2. Colloidal silver can also be sniffed or inhaled into the sinuses with excellent results. Do this several times per day. It should also be used systemically, several teaspoons or up to two tablespoons by mouth, at the same time. Preferably take colloidal silver 20 minutes away from all food an drink, both before and after taking it.
Toothaches. Always visit a dentist. However, on a nutritional balancing program, tooth flare-ups occur commonly and usually go away on their own. You may shine a single red heat lamp on the jaw near the tooth 5-8 times daily for 5 minutes each time, as hot as you can stand it. Also, you can place a tablespoon of colloidal silver in the mouth and tilt the head so the solution covers the affected area, and these methods can help in a pinch. Always consult a knowledgeable person if you are not sure what to do.
Antibiotics are a class of medications that can save lives. However, antibiotics are extremely overprescribed and most are quite toxic. They should be used as a last resort, not the first. Very often, simple, inexpensive natural methods described here work better with far fewer adverse effects.
Infections are always serious conditions, even seemingly mild ones. Therefore, take care of all infections rapidly, and aggressively. Natural remedies often work superbly. Finally, always ask for help if you are not sure how to use simple, natural methods or if an infection is not beginning to get a little better, at least, after two or three days, at the most.
Sources: Lawrence Wilson, M.D.