“Bacteria keeps us from heaven and puts us there.”
(Martin H. Fischer)
There is no doubt that antibiotics have changed the course of human history. They are surely one of the most important, impactful discoveries of all of time. Infections during illness or after surgery were a common killer before antibiotics became commonplace.
These medicines treated not just symptoms, but actually cured medical problems.
And that, friends, is why antibiotics have become such a problem. People know that they cure illness. Patients ask doctors for antibiotics, even when the doctors are sure the patient has a virus. Runny nose? Cough? Sore throat? Common cold or flu—it’s caused by a virus. Yet, antibiotics are prescribed. Why? Because patients ask for them. Because of the proven track record of antibiotics for bacterial infections. Because it’s habit to write out a prescription.
Half of the 100 million antibiotic prescriptions written in a year for respiratory tract infections are unnecessary. This flagrant misuse of this medicine is causing huge problems not only for individuals, but for the medical community as well. Over a hundred thousand people visit the emergency room each year due to adverse reactions to antibiotics. These harmful reactions are most common in children less than a year old.
One of the problems with antibiotics is that they kill bacteria—all bacteria—good and bad. Your gut contains lots of beneficial bacteria to help digest food, gather nutrients, and maintain a healthy balance. Antibiotics upset this balance, killing off good bacteria and allowing bad bacteria and other organisms to thrive in their place. This is why we’re seeing more cases of food allergies and intolerances, leaky gut, and gastrointestinal disorders.
On a wider scale, the rampant use of antibiotics is leading to the evolution of super bacteria. These new strains of bacteria have adapted and survived in the face of antibiotics, meaning they don’t die off. It’s easy to see why this is a problem. Antibacterial-resistant bacteria mean we are moving toward a time when we will no longer have the means to control and treat bacterial infections. The MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infection is one example of highly antibiotic-resistant illness seen today.
The more we use antibiotics, especially unnecessarily, the more gastrointestinal issues we’re going to see in doctors’ offices and the harder it’s going to be to treat infections in the future. This goes for antibiotics in the livestock we eat and in the household cleaners we use. Every time we expose ourselves to antibiotics, we kill good bacteria and make the surviving bad bacteria that much stronger.
So consider this—when you have a cold, the flu, or any illness that your doctor describes as “caused by a virus,” antibiotics are not proper treatments. However, rest, fluids, and supplements are. Limit your exposure to unnecessary antibiotics by choosing organic meats and dairy not treated with the drugs. Avoid hand-sanitizer, and anti-bacterial soap and cleaning products. Instead, wash your hands with warm water and soap. Be sure to lather the front of hands, palms, between fingers, and under nails for at least 20 seconds. Plain white vinegar diluted in water can act as a natural hand sanitizer, as well as a cleaning solution around your home.
It takes some lifestyle changes to stay away from unnecessary antibiotics, but in the long run, it’s what’s best for your health.
This article was written by Dr. Tom Sult and Amanda Ronan. To see this article as it appears on the Just Be Well movement website, click here.
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