Navigation Services Home Learning Articles Products News Breeders Contact Navigation Services

The Rise (And Fall) Of Antibiotics

Let’s be very, very clear about just what an antibiotic is supposed to do. It is used to kill BACTERIA.

Let’s be equally clear about what it does not do. It is useless for viral, fungal or other nonbacterial diseases!!

Widely hailed as a "magic bullet" it would be more appropriate to think of an antibiotic as a hand grenade. The subliminal connotation of a ‘bullet’ is that it is aimed at a specific target and nowhere else. The true function of an antibiotic is to destroy all bacteria--the beneficial as well as the harmful. The consequences are often serious, particularly those stemming from the impact of the drug on the immune system!

Let me give you a few examples of the "good guys" that are being destroyed along with the intended "bad guys". Some friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus protect the body from infection by yeast and unfriendly bacteria. Some of the good guys manufacture B vitamins, others lactase, still others their own form of antibiotics against flora. The good bacteria fight tumors, work to lower high cholesterol levels and improve digestion.

When these organisms are wiped out by antibiotics, we are obviously creating an ideal condition for the "soil of disease" to take over and the body becomes susceptible to other types of pathogens, particularly yeast!

Candida albicans is a normal inhabitant of the body, but when antibiotics knock out its competitors, it spreads! This frequently leads to infections, producing antigens and toxins that can cause immunological, neurologic, or endocrinologic problems. This overgrowth of yeast (called Candidiasis) has been linked to food allergies, autoimmune disorders, chemical sensitivities, etc.

To make matters worse, antibiotics can inhibit the availability of several of the B vitamins, vitamin A, folic acid, zinc, and magnesium. When antibiotics cause diarrhea, this problem may become serious.

Considering the foregoing, how can anyone even think of using an antibiotic for prevention of a disease? To anyone choosing to ‘think for themselves’, it should be obvious that this particular application of an antibiotic will produce exactly the opposite results—that is they will probably do more harm than good!! If you’re going to wipe out the good guys "just in case" a bad guy might come along, are you not inviting the very thing you are trying to avoid??

Again, I want to urge you to ‘think’ before you react. Don’t start demanding an antibiotic from your obliging vet for simple diarrhea or some other nonbacterial problem.

There is another aspect of indiscriminate use of antibiotics that you should be aware of. In the "Battle of the Bugs" the bugs are winning! Shortly after Word War 11, a small dose of penicillin used to be a sure thing against pneumoccal pneumonia. Now, despite dosages up to 600 times the strength of those originally successful dosages, patients sometimes die.

It seems that Mother Nature in designing the survival instinct in all living creatures, provided the microbe with the ability to mutate rapidly when the species is threatened. Thus, the more antibiotics are used, the more chance there is of a particular bacteria to change its basic structure to produce a new generation of resistant strains, immune to the ‘magic bullet’ of yesterday.

The drug companies scrambled to produce more and more powerful variations in the unrealistic belief that ‘man’, with all his modern science, could beat nature at its own game. The medical use of antibiotics has skyrocketed to become a multibillion dollar industry in the 90’s. Pharmaceutical companies advertise aggressively, patients (and doctors) often think that they are not doing everything possible if they do not use antibiotics, preferably the newest and most powerful available. For example, studies show that doctors prescribe antibiotics for 7 of 10 Americans with colds—even though colds are viral, not bacterial!! Doctors, Dentists and Veterinarians prescribe the drugs as a preventative, although they are rarely necessary and only effective in very specific circumstances. In total, studies have shown that at least 50% of all outpatient prescriptions are probably not needed.

Highly resistant organisms are being created and spreading with astonishing rapidity. Would it surprise you to learn that the death rate from infectious diseases has risen by 50% since 1980? Or how about this little gem: "Penicillin can control only 10 percent of staphylococci it used to kill".

Is the medical community aware of what’s going on?

In January 1996, in an unprecedented move, 35 medical journals around the world released issues devoted to the same topic: the current crisis in antibiotic resistance! Article after article repeated the same message, that excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics is to blame!

If ‘human’ excessive usage is finally being recognized, what about the antibiotics used in the livestock industry? With animals and poultry, even more antibiotics are fed each year than are consumed by humans! We are all aware (or at least should be) that the meat and poultry producers in this country rely on antibiotics to promote weight gain and with the crowded industrial conditions that dominate this industry, neither animals or poultry would survive without the heavy intervention of drugs!

Lest we forget, the unfortunate animals that are not able to survive this onslaught of ‘drug abuse’ are the ideal raw material for commercial pet food!!

For years the agribusiness interests disputed that bacteria from animals could spread to humans or contribute to the mutation of resistant strains. Since then researchers have shown that the swift increase in the use of antibiotics in animals, closely paralleled the rise in Salmonella outbreaks in this country. Currently it is estimated that 6.5 million people in the United States fall sick annually from the microbes in meat and poultry. (This is from ‘human grade’ meat. I shudder to think of what actually exists in ‘pet’ grade meat—i.e. "unfit for human consumption").

In addition, animal manure is used as fertilizer, carrying antibiotic resistant organisms into the soil. Fruit, vegetables and grains become contaminated, so that even those who do not eat meat or dairy products may be affected.

The worst of these grain scraps are, of course, commonly used to make commercial pet food.

Does this mean you should never use an antibiotic? Of course not. What it does mean is that they should only be used as a last resort rather than the first option to be tried. Holistic practitioners are more likely to search for underlying causes of diseases and other factors such as allergies, nutrition, emotional state, environmental factors, etc. The host of alternative treatments for infections (i.e. homeopathy, herbal remedies, etc. ) are much more likely to be the first choice of an holistic vet, rather than reaching for the latest antibiotic.

Before using any antibiotic you should make sure that an accurate diagnosis has determined that the problem is definitely due to a bacterial infection. If the problem permits, you should also determine what alternatives are likely to help solve the problem without the use of an antibiotic. Don’t administer an antibiotic without knowing what the possible side effects are! Save the "big gun" treatment for emergencies and you will have a better chance of it being effective.

Over the last fifty years, the medical community has become dependent on the use of antibiotics as the principal means of controlling bacterial infections. With the typical abuse and overuse of these drugs, the new resistant strains of bacteria are rapidly creating a scenario of a disaster of epidemic proportions just waiting to occur.

In several previous issues we have listed many remedies to combat bacterial infection. One of the benefits of natural rearing is that it does develop a healthy immune system capable of resisting infection to a large degree. Thus, when needed, most holistic treatments are only required for that extra little nudge to help the body cure itself. Rarely is there ever any need to call on the drug world to solve the problem.