Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic Resistance: Deadly Prediction Come True

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

There is perhaps nothing more representative of the ignorant reliance on prescription medication for good health than the egregious and excessive use of antibiotics by uninformed physicians and their unfortunate patients. I can remember my medicinal chemistry professor in pharmacy school over two decades ago warning we eager and innocent fledgling pharmacists, that if we continued down the road we were on, within 20 years, we would be confronting the “superbug” (he really called it that), the bacteria that had evolved the abilities to resist and even thrive, despite being bombarded with our strongest antibiotic weaponry.

Alas, his prediction has come true. Just last week, disease-causing anti-bacterial resistant microbes were found in public water supplies in India. In the United States, MRSA, one of the most notorious bacterial resistant superbugs is estimated to kill 19,000 people a year. The World Health Organization has called antibiotic resistance one of the world’s greatest threats to human health and has dedicated World Health Day to this important issue. The WHO is calling for urgent action on the part of governments, health professionals as well as the layperson. And last year in Sweden, 190 delegates from 45 countries met a three day meeting called specifically in response to the worldwide bacterial resistance crisis.

Now make no mistake here. I am not some kind of Pollyanna-ish herby-derby, unaware of the important role anti-biotics can play in health care. Thank God for antibiotics! They are modern medicine’s most significant discovery. When you have a serious infection, its probably a good idea to have access to a prescription anti-microbial. Used correctly, antibiotics are a shining example of modern man’s ability to create powerful, truly life-saving medications. However, as is becoming abundantly clear, their inordinate, and inappropriate use threatens what is the most important advancement in the history of pharmaceuticals.

As with all pharmaceuticals, it must be the severity of the symptoms that determines their use. Certainly the common cold does not call for drugs. And many times patients are prescribed anti- bacterials for non-bacterial (viral) infections for which they are ineffective. We even use antibiotic-like substances in our skin care products. And the worst example of mindless, automatic dispensing of the antibiotics is the dermatological strategy of their long-term use for treating acne-prone teenagers and adults. Antibiotics 101: antibiotics should only be used for a short period of time to prevent the very resistance that seems to be occurring today. The net result of not following this rule is a full-blown crisis in health care.

Antibacterial resistance cost Americans 20 billion dollars a year, causes increased hospital stays, kills people, and it’s largely a problem caused by a medical paradigm that has abused and misused what should be the most important and heroic class of class of prescription drugs and tools of modern medicine. The take home message is prescription drugs need to be used judiciously and with great respect. They are not benign, and if used inelegantly there will be a price to pay – as the anti-bacterial crisis clearly demonstrates.

Oh and by the way, there is a built in anti-microbial system that is divinely designed to spot and kill many types of bacterial invaders. It’s the spectacular, intelligent and infinitely flexible human immune system. As with most health issues, the most important tool for protection from microbial attack is part of our biological operating system and best supported by wise lifestyle choices and good nutrition.

Antibiotic Resistance Chicken SoupChicken soup: there’s a reason your grandmother (in nearly every culture) cooked this for you when you were sick.

For example, did you know that according to Dr. William Sears, sugar ingestion can cause a 50 percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria? And the immune suppressant effect can last hours. Likewise, nutrients that improve sugar metabolism, like chromium and vanadium, can help restore immune health. White Blood cell count can dramatically increase in response to optimal doses of Vitamin C. And, Vitamin A is perhaps the most important vitamin of all for building a strong immune system. Think of Zinc, Selenium, N-acetyl Cysteine and factors in whey protein as some other important nutrients that are inexpensive, accessible and most importantly healthy and non-toxic tools for protection from our bacterial neighbors. And don’t forget about “Jewish penicillin”, better known as chicken soup, as a wonderful source of immune boosting nutrition.

The bottom line is, yes, anti-biotics have an important role to play in modern health care. But like all drugs, only as a last resort. On the other hand, using supplements and foods we can strive to keep antibiotics on the shelf and reserve prescription medication for what are definitive emergency situations.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health