This week is World Antibiotic Awareness week.
Antibiotics were a miracle when first isolated and used, Penicillin was called “the Wonder Drug” by the end of World War II.
Drug resistance rapidly followed- after all bacteria reproduce rapidly. The first drug resistant bacteria were found in 1947- just four years after Penicillin started being mass produced. That was fine though, there were always new antibiotics being discovered.
But in our lifetime (or the lifetimes of our children) we may well see pan-resistant bacteria- microorganisms that are resistant to every antibiotic available. With this it is possible that we will once again have high numbers of deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea – once a huge contributor to deaths of humans around the world.
In many parts of the world there are now Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes. That reach out to Health Professionals to change prescribing and use of antibiotics in hospitals and general practices. There are also consumer campaigns to help inform people that antibiotics are only for bacteria, not viruses, and that mild bacterial infections *can* be self limiting and not need antibiotics at all. In reducing the use of antibiotics when they are not necessary we are doing our best to reduce bacterial resistance and allow us to have potentially life saving antibiotics available for longer.
There are other things we can do, not usually offered by medical doctors.
Keeping your skin and gut healthy- these are your first line of defence against pathogens. As well as that a lot of our immunity is mediated through our gut. As antibiotics wipe out our good commensal bacteria it may open us up to more infections as our immune system does not function as well as it should. See a Naturopath for help here.
Diet – a diet high in nutrients and whole foods and low in processed food is best for us. There are so many diets out there, and whether you eat Paleo, Keto, Raw, Mediterranean or something else, the important thing is eating whole foods which are nutrient dense. Sugar is not your friend either and can decrease immunity. Please also be aware that diet is not one size fits all- something that works for you may not work for your friend at all. Again, a nutritionist or naturopath is your best source of information here.
Immune boosting herbs like Echinacea and Olive Leaf support our immune system to do its job fighting the bacteria itself. There are usually two ways to take them, a “maintenance dose” and a “treatment dose”. You take higher amounts more often if needed as a treatment.
Probiotics may help- Lactobacillus Reuteri has an anti microbial action, and more research will continue to be done as to how probiotics can support us against infections. Most research though is into particular proprietary strains, so it may not be generalisable to other brands which will be a slightly different strain.
Homeopathy can support the body with dealing with infections. Consider the following remedies-
Hepar Sulph- thick, yellow pus and discharges. They are irritable and sensitive and can be sensitive to cope drafts.
Silica – repeated infections, and infections that are slow to come on. There may be sharp sticking pains. Nutrient deficiencies despite a good diet are possible.
Mercurius – has infections with hot and cold temperature fluctuations and they feel and smell sick.
Pyrogen – made from decomposed beef this is good for severe, septic conditions. When the risk of blood poisoning is high this remedy can be useful.
Gun powder – often used during war as a prevention for infections and the homeopathic remedy can also be used prophylacticly. It is useful in many infections and can be used in combination with Hepar Sulph or other indicated remedies.
Calendula – for slow healing skin.
For skin infections consider applying
Colloidal Silver- a natural antibiotic
Hypercal tincture or ointment- a combination of Hypericum and Calendula, it helps promote healing of deeper wounds as well as regrowth of the skin. (Calendula ointment is great too but only for surface wounds). If using an ointment my preference is for one in a natural base, not a petroleum base.
MEBO ointment is magic for wounds and has clinical trials showing efficacy for ulcers and serious burns.
Iodine and Hydrogen Peroxide are also effective antibacterial agents but should be used with caution- repeated application can slow healing. For prevention of infection I mostly recommend washing the wound clean, if you are concerned only use iodine or hydrogen peroxide once. If there is a confirmed infection like Staph or Strep then you can repeat the application of iodine or hydrogen peroxide but do so for the minimum possible time and as soon as the infection is clearing switch to something that will promote healing.
If you have an infection, by all means try the natural route, but I also recommend seeing a doctor and discussing risk factors and warning signs of more severe infection or complications. I am happy to help support you with Homeopathy and supplements, but I may ask you to see your doctor for a diagnosis and discussion. Send me a pm if you have an infection or repeated infections you would like to discuss.
Just for fun (and because Pharmacists love a game of “name that tablet”) can you make the antibiotics in this picture? Bonus points for the correct strengths 😂