Antibiotics: A Double Edged Sword
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
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.
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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