superbugs

Antibiotic Awareness

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.

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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

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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

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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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