Let me share with you an incredibly short, humorous history of medicine that I recently read.
- In the year 2000 BC they said, “Here, eat this herb.”
- In 1000 AD they said, “That herb is heathen; say a prayer.”
- In 1850 they said, “That prayer is not science; here, drink this potion.”
- In 1940 they said, “That potion is just snake oil; here, swallow this pill.”
- In 1985 they said, “That pill is ineffective; here, take this antibiotic.”
- In 2014 they are saying, “That antibiotic is artificial; here, take this herb.”
An antibiotic is a substance that inhibits the growth of or even kills bacteria. And though today that definition has been broadened into anything that is anti any kind of germ, literally millions of people have had their conditions improved and lives saved because of antibiotics. In the 1880s researchers like Pasteur, Koch, and Tyndall found that certain types of fungi attacked bacteria. In fact, these discoveries earned them the Nobel Prize for Medicine, though the term antibiotic was not actually coined until 1942 by American biologist Selman Waksman. Originally antibiotics were natural substances, but as demand increased, the pharmaceutical industry found a way to create chemically semi-synthetic antibiotics much faster and more economically.
The antibiotic penicillin was accidentally discovered by Scottish microbiologist Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928. From the get-go, Fleming could see the possibility of its misuse; he basically felt that if penicillin was used too often, in insufficient dosage, or for too short a time it could create a dangerous, antibiotic resistant superbug. Regrettably, that has become reality and there are now strains of mutated bacteria that eat standard prescribed antibiotics like they are candy. Critical care physician, professor, and author Dr. Paul Marino stated that “[t]he first rule of antibiotics is try not to use them, and the second rule is try not to use too many.”
It may interest you to know that about 80% of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used in feed for animals, not people. Feeding low doses of antibiotics to healthy livestock—not to fight infection or disease, but to grow the animal bigger and faster—actually breeds drug resistant bacteria.
I will be the first to admit that technology and pharmacology have done much to improve our lives and health, but there are often unintended consequences such as side effects, allergies, and increasing microbe resistance. Scientists and pharmaceutical researchers have expressed serious concern over their ability to develop new, effective, synthetic antibiotics to combat germs that are consistently increasing in resistance.
Nature is abundant with natural antibiotics that provide a greater margin of safety. Some like garlic, Pau D’arco, olive leaf extract, cloves, sage, cinnamon, and colloidal silver are effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These, as well as Echinacea have even shown promise in working with the dreaded, antibiotic resistant MRSA infection.
Maybe it is time to rediscover some of the old tried and true methods and the immune enhancing, antibiotic nature in foods, plants, flowers, and herbs.
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