Antibiotic Awareness

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With all the hype about Antibiotic Resistance and SUPERBUGS, Let’s take a look at Antibiotic usage, what they treat, why are we creating superbugs and resistance. Here are some natural alternatives.

As an integrative healthcare practitioner, I would have to say that we can generally avoid most antibiotic scripts today through having a healthy lifestyle, where our immune system is maintained in a healthy balance not allowing the opportunistic bacteria to invade and cause harm. Having said this there is a place for antibiotics when absolutely necessary.

When is it Appropriate to Use Antibiotics?

Two major types of GERMS can make people sick: bacteria and viruses. They can cause diseases with similar symptoms, but they multiply and spread illness differently:

Bacteria

Bacteria are living organisms existing as single cells. Bacteria are everywhere and most don’t cause any harm, and in some cases are beneficial. But some bacteria are harmful and cause illness by invading the body, multiplying, and interfering with normal body processes.


Viruses

Viruses, on the other hand, are not alive. Viruses grow and reproduce only after they’ve invaded other living cells. The body’s immune system can fight off some viruses before they cause illness, but others (like the common cold) must simply run their course. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.

Antibiotics work against bacteria because they kill these living organisms by stopping their growth and reproduction.

Antibiotic Overuse

Unfortunately, it seems that antibiotics are prescribed for just about anything and this leads to antibiotic overuse. Antibiotics are one of the great advances in medicine. But through overprescribing and incorrect use this has led to resistant bacteria (bacteria that are harder to treat).
Some bacteria that were once very responsive to antibiotics have become more and more resistant, causing more serious infections, which are harder to treat.

Antibiotic Overprescription

Taking antibiotics for colds and other viral illnesses doesn’t work — and it can create bacteria that are harder to kill.

Doctors prescribe antibiotics for different reasons. Sometimes they prescribe them when they’re not sure if an illness is caused by bacteria or a virus or are waiting for test results. So, some patients might expect a prescription for an antibiotic and even ask their doctor for it.

Antibiotic Overuse & Resistance

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Taking antibiotics for colds and other viral illnesses doesn’t work — and it can create bacteria that are harder to kill.

Strep throat image

For example, STREP THROAT is a bacterial infection, but most sore throats are due to viruses, allergies, or other things that antibiotics cannot treat. But many people with a sore throat will go to a health care provider expecting — and getting — a prescription for antibiotics that they do not need.

Taking antibiotics too often or for the wrong reasons can change bacteria so much that antibiotics don’t work against them. This is called bacterial resistance or antibiotic resistance. Some bacteria are now resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics available. This reduces the number of antibiotics that can be used in the future as they are no longer effective.

Key Facts

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  • Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
  • Antibiotic resistance can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.
  • Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but the misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
  • A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.
  • Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality.

Superbugs

“Superbugs” is a term used to describe strains of bacteria that are resistant to the majority of antibiotics commonly used today. Resistant bacteria that cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections and skin infections are just a few of the dangers we now face.
Antibiotic resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can be slowed, but not stopped. Over time, bacteria adapt to the drugs that are designed to kill them and change to ensure their survival. This makes previously standard treatments for bacterial infections less effective, and in some cases, ineffective.
Without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.

Everyone Can Play a Role to Prevent & Control

Individuals

  • Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional.
  • Never demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them.
  • Always follow your health worker’s advice when using antibiotics.
  • Finish your full course of antibiotics as prescribed even if you are feeling better
  • Never share or use leftover antibiotics.
  • Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people and practising safer sex.
  • Prepare food hygienically, following the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food (keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures, use safe water and raw materials) and choose foods that have been produced without the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or disease prevention in healthy animals.

Policy Makers

  • Ensure a robust national action plan to tackle antibiotic resistance is in place.
  • Improve surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Strengthen policies, programmes, and implementation of infection prevention and control measures.
  • Regulate and promote the appropriate use and disposal of quality medicines.
  • Make information available on the impact of antibiotic resistance.

Health Professionals

  • Prevent infections by ensuring your hands, instruments, and environment are clean.
  • Only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed, according to current guidelines.
  • Report antibiotic-resistant infections to surveillance teams.
  • Talk to your patients about how to take antibiotics correctly, antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse.
  • Talk to your patients about preventing infections (for example – hand washing, safer sex, and covering nose and mouth when sneezing).

Healthcare Industry

  • Invest in research and development of new antibiotics for resistant bacteria, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools.
  • Ensure ethical marketing of the new antibiotics, and market for there intended use only.

Agricultural Sector

  • Only give antibiotics to animals under veterinary supervision.
  • Do not use antibiotics for growth promotion or to prevent diseases in healthy animals.
  • Vaccinate animals to reduce the need for antibiotics and use alternatives to antibiotics when available.
  • Promote and apply good practices at all steps of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources.
  • Improve biosecurity on farms and prevent infections through improved hygiene and animal welfare.

Risks Taking Antibiotics

Antibiotics are not all good however as they kill both good (gut bacteria) and bad bacteria. According to NHS, 1-IN-10 people experience side effects that harm the digestive system after taking antibiotics. Around 1-IN-15 people are allergic to various types of antibiotics, penicillin being foremost.

7 Best Natural Antibiotics

Garlic

garlic image

Cultures across the world have long recognized garlic for its preventive and curative powers. Research has found that garlic can be an effective treatment against many forms of bacteria, including Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli). Garlic has even been considered for use against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

Honey

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Since the time of Aristotle, honey has been used as an ointment that helps wounds to heal and prevents or draws out infection. Recent studies and developments are seen in the promotion and use of Manuka Honey based wound care products to successfully treats & heal wounds infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Ginger

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The scientific community also recognizes Ginger as a natural antibiotic. Several studies have demonstrated ginger’s ability to fight many strains of bacteria. Researchers are also exploring ginger’s power to combat seasickness and nausea and to lower blood sugar levels.

Echinacea

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has been used to treat infections for many years and aids in boosting the immune system. A published study in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology reports that extract of Echinacea purpurea can kill many different kinds of bacteria, including Streptococcus pyogenes. This bacteria is responsible for strep throat, toxic shock syndrome, and the “flesh-eating disease” known as necrotizing fasciitis.

Golden Seal

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usually consumed in tea or capsules to treat respiratory and digestive problems. However, it has shown to combat & aid in the healing of bacterial diarrhoea & Urinary Tract infections. A person taking prescription medications should check with a doctor before taking goldenseal, as this supplement can cause interference. Goldenseal also contains berberine, an important component of natural antibiotics. This alkaloid is not safe for infants, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Clove

clove image

Clove has traditionally been used in dental procedures. Research is now finding that clove water extract may be effective against many different kinds of bacteria, including E. coli.

Oregano

Some believe that oregano boosts the immune system and acts as an antioxidant. It shows to have anti-inflammatory properties and some studies show that oregano is amongst the more effective natural antibiotics, particularly when it is made into an oil.

Risks of Taking Natural Products

Just because something is labelled natural, it is not necessarily safe. The amounts and concentrations of active ingredients vary among brands of supplements.

  • Read the labels carefully.
  • A person should also inform their healthcare provider if they plan to take these supplements.

While natural antibiotics may present opportunities, they also carry risks. Natural antibiotics traditionally used for centuries may contribute to the lifesaving drugs of tomorrow.

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SUN SMART - PART 2
Part 2 of the Sun Smart Series we discuss the damaging effects of the sun, sunscreen & SPF and how to effectively protect yourself from the sun.

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More Silly Season Health Tips
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With the Silly Season & office parties upon us, Here are some health tips to follow.
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SUN SMART

Now that the holiday season is almost upon us it is important to discuss your skin, the largest organ in the body and how to obtain optimal skin health & protection.

LAYERS OF THE SKIN

The skin has three layers:
·The EPIDERMIS, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.
·The DERMIS, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
·The deeper subcutaneous tissue (HYPODERMIS) is made of fat and connective tissue.

THE PURPOSE OF SKIN

+It keeps the insides IN & the outside OUT – provides a BARRIER
+PROTECTS US – The skin functions as our first line of defence against toxins, radiation and harmful pollutants. The skin contains cells that provide immune functions to protect against infections. Our skin has the ability to identify and destroy foreign substances that may potentially be harmful to the body.
+ABSORPTION – Thousands of pores on the surface of the skin can absorb vitamins, acids, water and oxygen in order to provide moisture and nourishment to our skin.
+EXCRETION – The skin is the body’s largest waste removal system. Toxins are released through the sweat glands and pores.
+SECRETION – The skin secretes sebum, a mixture of oils that keeps the skin soft and supple. The layer of sebum on the outermost layer of the skin is known as the acid mantle. When intact the acid mantle has a PH that ranges from 4.5-5.5. The acid mantle is acidic in nature to protect the skin from outside invasion.
+REGULATION – The skin regulates the body’s temperature by sweating; when water from sweat on the skin evaporates it gives off heat and cools the body. The body’s temperature increases or by shivering or getting goosebumps when the body is cold. The contraction of muscles releases energy that warms the body.
+SENSATION – The skin contains millions of nerve endings that transport stimuli. These nerve endings allow humans to detect sensation such as heat, cold, pain and pressure.

SKIN COLOUR

MELANIN: The pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their colour. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people have. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes.

Everyone has about the same number of cells that make melanin, but not everybody makes the same amount of melanin. The more melanin your skin makes the darker your skin. How much melanin your body makes depends on your genes, which you get from your parents. Melanin is why you get a tan or burn.

Dark pigmented people living in high sunlight environments are at an advantage due to the high amounts of melanin produced in their skin. The dark pigmentation protects from DNA damage and absorbs the right amounts of UV radiation needed by the body, as well as protects against folate depletion.

SUNLIGHT & MELANIN

Sunlight modifies melanin
Have you ever wondered why your skin colour changes when exposed to sunlight? Well, it turns out that this important pigment reacts to the exposure of ultraviolet light, so when receiving solar radiation absorbs UV rays to minimize damage to the skin, which modifies its original colour and makes it much more intense and dark

The Process has a positive aspect in that it protects the skin and the body in general from suffering deep burns, although its prolonged exposure to the sun can cause an adverse reaction in the cells, turning them into carcinogens.

The lack of melanin and its consequences
When we have little melanin in the body the consequences are visible, a lack of extreme melanin occurs in the form of albinism, however, a considerable deficiency of it can also manifest as vitiligo, a condition that can reduce the existing pigment in certain areas of the body.

In addition, a lack of considerable melanin in the epidermis can cause the early appearance of grey hair, while its excess can trigger the appearance of age spots.

SUN EXPOSURE
It feels good to lounge in the sunshine, but it can hurt your health in the long run. Over the years, too much time outdoors can put you at risk for wrinkles, age spots, scaly patches called actinic keratosis, and skin cancer.

A tan may look nice, but that golden colour is due to an injury to the top layer of your skin.

When you soak up the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, it speeds up the ageing of your skin and raises your risk of skin cancer.

SUNBURN
Sunburn (First-Degree Burns) There’s no guesswork about whether you’ve got a sunburn. Your skin turns red, it feels hot to the touch, and you may have some mild pain. uIt’s called a first-degree burn when it affects only the outer layer of your skin. To get some relief from pain, try a cold compress, or apply some moisturizing cream or aloe.

Sunburn (Second Degree) A second-degree sunburn damages deep layers of your skin and nerve endings. It’s usually more painful and takes longer to heal. You may have redness and swelling. If blisters form, don’t break them. They might get infected.

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Stay tuned as next week we will discuss the ageing effects of sun exposure.
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