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Some will blame the doctors who are swift to prescribe pharmaceuticals; others will blame patients and their desire for a quick fix; perhaps some will think the over-use of antibiotics in factory farms and dairy products is mostly to blame. Likely, it is the combination of these three main factors that has led to another modern-day crisis: antibiotics are no longer effective.
A high-ranking official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared in an interview with PBS that the age of antibiotics has come to an end.
‘For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about “The end of antibiotics, question mark?”‘ said Dr. Arjun Srinivasan. ‘Well, now I would say you can change the title to “The end of antibiotics, period.”’
The rise of “super-bugs”, capable of fighting off antibiotics, has been on the healthcare industry’s radar for quite some time. Because of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it has become increasingly difficult to treat a variety of illnesses such as ear infections and strep throat with antibiotics, which often results in longer treatment while trying a variety of drugs until one actually works, or the body fights off the disease on its own. The problem becomes more profound when we consider potentially-deadly bacteria such as MRSA.
Dr. Srinivasan offered an example of this notion, citing the recent case of three Tampa Bay Buccaneers players who made headlines after reportedly contracting potentially deadly MRSA infections, which until recently were largely restricted to hospitals.
About 10 years ago, however, the CDC official began seeing outbreaks of different kinds of MRSA infections in schools and gyms.
‘In hospitals, when you see MRSA infections, you oftentimes see that in patients who have a catheter in their blood, and that creates an opportunity for MRSA to get into their bloodstream,’ he said.
‘In the community, it was causing a very different type of infection. It was causing a lot of very, very serious and painful infections of the skin, which was completely different from what we would see in health care.’
But before you get mad at the medical industry and your doctor, consider that the meat industry may be the bigger culprit. For example, the US meat producers’ overuse of antibiotics has become so widespread that about 29 million pounds of these drugs (or 80% of all antibiotics sold in the US) are used in industrial feedlots, with only 14% of these drugs being used for therapeutic purposes.
So how do we address this serious crisis, born out of irresponsibility, convenience and greed? Here is what Dr. Srinivasan has to say:
With bacteria constantly evolving and developing resistance to conventional antibiotics, doctors have been forced to ‘reach back into the archives’ and ‘dust off’ older, more dangerous cures like colistin.
‘It’s very toxic,’ said Srinivasan. ‘We don’t like to use it. It damages the kidneys. But we’re forced to use it in a lot of instances.’
Perhaps in life-and-death cases, you may feel that taking dangerous drugs is the only solution. But for diseases where your doctor suggests trying 2 or 3 different types of antibiotics to address a less-serious infection, a natural remedy may be a better solution. Garlic is one. It has been proven by scientists at Washington State University to be extremely effective in fighting disease-causing bacteria and increases the overall antioxidant levels of the body. (source) It is best if eaten raw – perhaps mix it up with some apple sauce to soften the taste – but it can also be purchased in liquid extract form.
Oregano oil, an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, is another common remedy to prevent and treat bacterial infections. It contains two active ingredients, thymol and carvacrol, that have shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria.
There are many benefits to taking natural antibiotics. For example, you won’t kill off all the good bacteria in your gut and you don’t have to worry about negative side-effects. Natural remedies can also be taken as a preventative measure, to protect and reinforce your body before infection strikes.
For more insight about these natural remedies, see:
The full Frontline special on the rise of drug-resistant bacteria with the interview with Dr. Arjun Srinivasan:Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria.