"The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit." -Molière

Antibiotics: A Double Edged Sword

Imagine you're having a dinner party. You've made sure that only your intended guests were invited and that everyone else was not welcome. Everything is going great until you bring out a keg of beer. Somehow in some way, the environment of the party changes suddenly. Something, probably the aroma, attracts a nearby mischevious gang. They sneak into your house, through the doors and windows. Eventually there's enough of them that they start making a mess. They become obnoxious and start pushing people around. You immediately go to the phone and call the police. At first, your invited guests become angry and confused, but then they start to force the gang out. Then, in the middle of this fray, the riot police show up. They beat the door down, tackle everyone, invited or not, and take them down to the station. You just wanted the uninvited to leave, not your guests. You feel terribly alone. This sort of scenario may never happen to you. But something like it happens everytime you treat an infection with an antibiotic.

Antibiotics were the "cure all/end all" drug of the century. Without them our current medical system would be radically different, helping to eradicate many harmful strains of bacteria. They provide a quick way to kill off most wild bacterial infections. Most antibiotics interfere with the bacteria's ability to synthesize a cell wall, a necessary component for bacterial life. Others interfere with the bacteria's ability to synthesize proteins by attaching themselves to the ribosome (the in-house protein manufacturing plant). Eucaryotic (human) cells do not have cell walls or ribosomes that are similar to bacteria. This being the case, antibiotics inhibit the growth of any cell with a wall or ribosome resembling that of most bacteria. This sounds great, but remember the story above? When called in, the police not only eliminated your uninvited guests, but your invited guests as well.

Billions upon billions of bacterial cells make a home in a healthy human body. These bacteria are not infectious, but actually beneficial (these guys are our friends). More than 500 different species can be found in the intestinal track alone. Bacterial cells outnumber human cells ten to one. From their perspective, we are their hotel manager and they are our guests. This analogy is a good one because your body has gone through a lot of trouble to present these "guests" with a suitable living environment (the intestinal lining serves as an excellent ecosystem for bacteria). These invited guests serve us well by synthesizing vitamins, fighting off infection, aiding in digestion, and supporting a healthy immune system. However, sometimes we are exposed to malicious strains of bacteria which become unwanted tenants by creating infections. Most of the time the immune system, in combination with the beneficial bacteria, can elminate infections when given enough time and supported through nutrition. But in some instances, an infection can become too much and other actions need to be taken. Human technology, past and present, has produced a number of ways to fight infections, one of them being antibiotics. Others include probiotics, colloidal silver, and speciality herbs and herb combinations. Even still, sometimes antibiotics become necessary.

When you take an antibiotic, not only do you kill the deleterious strains that are causing the infection, but you are also killing the friendly bacteria. What's worse is that the friendly bacteria were actually helping you eliminate the bad ones. As a result, a number of problems can arise when taking antibiotics. For one, antibiotics can create an imbalance in the ecosystem of your intestinal flora, resulting in diarrhea. In these instances, probiotics can help to quickly reestablish a healthy intestinal flora. Antibiotics can actually create an infection of another sort, candida albicans. Candida Albicans, and other infectious yeast are not bacterial cells but eucaryotics cells. As described earlier, eucaryotic cells are impervious to antibiotics. Normally, a healthy gut flora will keep these infectious yeast at bay. Once antibiotics kill and weaken their neighbors, they can rapidly grow and become too much to constrain. Candida albicans have been associated with all sorts of chronic illnesses, one of the most common being chronic fatigue syndrome. Once established, it is very difficult to rid the body of a candida albican infection. (Note: The use of broad spectrum antimicrobials, such as grapefruit seed extract, avoids this situation all together, since they kill bacteria, fungi, yeast, and viruses indiscriminately.

Antibiotics are a double edged sword. Their power of fighting infection is indiscriminate towards all bacteria. All bacteria succumb to their powers, no mercy is shown towards beneficial strains. One should avoid the use of antibiotics unless it becomes life threatening. The human immune system has developed many ways to survive an infection and should be trusted, nourished, and given time. Our species would not have survived if our immune system was not the best defense we have against deleterious infections. If the use of antibiotics becomes absolutely necessary, proceed with caution. The longer the duration of antibiotic treatment, the more likely a candida albican infection can occur. Also, the use of fermented foods and/or probiotics during and immediately after antibiotic treatment will help minimize the destructive effects of antibiotics to the beneficial flora.

Other Resources:

The Antibiotic Crisis: Antibiotic Alternatives

Breaking the Antibiotic Habit: A Parent's Guide to Coughs, Colds, Ear Infections, and Sore Throats

NIH: Antibiotics can cause colitis!

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The Healing Crow is a nonprofit corporation. Information published by The Healing Crow is intended to expand the knowledge of the reader about health issues. It is not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or replace medical care. Our mission is to educate the public about chronic illnesses and corresponding non-drug related treatments. We encourage others to critically examine all avenues of information pertaining to health including: naturopaths, chiropractors, physicians, medical and scientific papers, and others; in order to make an informed decision. We believe a patient has the right to question a health source without taking any medical advice on faith. The best patient is an informed one. Before instituting a major change in diet or nutrition please consult a worthy expert in nutrition or a doctor. Although we believe our information to be as accurate as possible, discrepancies may arise. If you have a personal story and would like to include your testimonial on our site, please email us at the link above.


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