Antibiotics are essential in the treatment of infections and illnesses. However, consistent overuse of antibiotics has become a global crisis. Defaulting to antibiotics for viral infections such as colds and flu (which are not affected by antibiotics) can make us resistant to the medication. If a bacterial infection occurs which requires antibiotics, it may not be treated effectively due to the bacteria becoming resistant through repeated exposure to antibiotics. This common practice of antibiotic overuse causes life-threatening situations on a daily basis.
In addition, studies have shown that antibiotics, when overused in childhood, can create more issues for us as adults. In fact, according to a recent report published in the United Kingdom, by 2050 antibiotic resistance will have killed 300 million people; the annual global death toll reaching 10 million.
In early June, hospitals, food producers, professional medical societies and restaurant chains met with the Obama administration to discuss the crisis over antibiotic overuse. According to The White House, at least 23,000 die each year out of the 2 million patients who become infected with drug resistant bacteria.
A Growing Concern: Antibiotics in Agriculture
The meeting at the White House also addressed concerns about antibiotic use in animal husbandry. This is more proof that antibiotics need to be reserved for life-threatening situations, not just added to feed to in an attempt to avoid disease and increase food production. Antibiotic use in animal husbandry must end immediately to curb this growing health threat.
Consider this: In a report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a study found that antibiotics in meats do little to halt pathogenic bacteria. We are simply using antibiotics in animals so much that when the same antibiotics are used to treat illnesses in humans, it’s not working.
Several food producers including Perdue, Tyson and Foster Farms attended The White House meeting to address antibiotic use in livestock and all have pledges to no longer use antibiotics that humans also use. In response to consumer concern, several fast food chains, including McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A, are now limiting, and eventually eliminating, antibiotics in their chicken products. Slowly, this is changing but at least it is changing.
Stay Healthy Without Antibiotics
- Only use or buy animal products that do not use antibiotic pesticides and/or antibiotic growth promoters. Shop locally and from farms and farmers that use organic growing methods. Ask questions and make sure you know how your famers have grown the food.
- Buy only 100% grass-fed and finished meats from grocers, butchers, or if possible, buy directly from farms. Always chose antibiotic-free, pasture-raised meats.
- Make sure your dairy products are also antibiotic free. Use organic milk and choose eggs made from free range, antibiotic free chickens.
- Only use antibiotics for yourself and your loved ones if absolutely necessary and if your bacterial infections do not respond to other, more holistic treatments. If you must take an antibiotic, be sure to also take a high-quality probiotic to keep your gut healthy.
Guard Yourself Naturally
Boost your immune system naturally to protect yourself from bacterial infections. These natural antibiotics are easily found and will help keep you free from bacterial infections.
Garlic stimulates your immune system and kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria (including MRSA and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis). Garlic should be eaten fresh and raw for maximum effectiveness.
Vitamin C’s role in preventing and treating infectious disease is well established. While some health advocates recommend intravenous vitamin C for chronic illness (which I have used in my practice for many years), it is also effective in oral form for both treatment and prevention of colds and flu. For my patients, I recommend supplementing vitamin C in the form of calcium ascorbate 500-1,000 mg. daily. In my opinion, supplemental vitamin C is best taken in combination with other high-grade vitamins and minerals. Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamins contain 500 mg. of calcium ascorbate vitamin C, along with a full-spectrum balance of other beneficial, immune-boosting vitamins and minerals.
Most of us know the benefits of local versus non-local honey. In addition, manuka honey, which is extracted from the flowers and pollen of the Manuka bush, is extremely effective in treating serious skin infections. In fact, it has been found to be effective against more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including resistant varieties.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, which is applied topically, is a natural antiseptic that can kill bacteria strains. It is especially helpful for skin infections including ringworm. Made of 100% pure, steam-distilled from the leaves of the Australian Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), I recommend NOW Foods Tea Tree Oil.
Most Infections Are Viral
Most of the infections we come down with, such as colds and flu, are viral. As antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, I have used Vira-Calm with my patients for many years with good success. Vira-Calm helps build-up the immune system, and may be taken regularly to help prevent colds and flu, or at the first sign of a cold or flu. This popular, all-natural formula is great to keep on hand!
Photo credit: Michael Mortensen / CC BY-SA 2.0