Alternatives to antibiotics

Antibiotics: a generic term for substances capable of inhibiting or killing bacteria. They are produced by fungi, bacteria, or certain plants but can also be produced synthetically. In this article, the term antibiotics = conventional prescription drugs.

Before the development of antibiotics, bacterial infections could be quite serious. Severe infections commonly lead to sepsis, pneumonia, and tuberculosis and had fatal results. Other bacterial infections could result in permanent damage. The success of antibiotics has been a massive one - it has become one of the greatest medical triumphs of the 20th century.

Resistance
Now, only just half a century later, we are experiencing the downside of the success in the form of antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is a matter of so-called acquired resistance in which the bacteria that used to be killed now live on despite antibiotic treatment. The problem is worst in countries where the consumption of antibiotics is high because bacteria are relatively quick at developing enzymes that inhibit the antibiotic in question. In this way, the medicine becomes ineffective and the need for other or stronger antibiotics arises. When these antibiotics also stop working we find ourselves in the situation we fear the most: Multi resistant killer bacteria.

Side effects
At present, antibiotics are suspected of being able to contribute to the development of breast cancer. Whether or not the future will confirm or deny this suspicion is unknown. However, we do know that antibiotic treatments weaken the natural immune defence because the penicillin deprives the mucous membranes of the pharynx and intestines of their normal, beneficial micro flora and the risk of acquiring new infections and inflammations arises.

Cause and effect
The problem with bacterial infections can be perceived from two sides:
A: We are being infected with bacteria that make us weak and susceptible to disease - or
B: Our resistance is being weakened making way for bacteria that cause diseases.
In many cases, we will be best off by using option B when bacterial infections are to be prevented.

The problem with antibiotic resistance is minimized through:
  • Limiting the use of antibiotics as much as possible.
  • Maintaining a strong immune defence making it more difficult for bacteria to establish themselves.
  • Having a correct diagnose in order to target the antibiotic treatment more precisely.
  • Not using too many broad spectrum antibiotics.
  • Controlling that the present guidelines are respected.
    Natural alternatives
    In many cases, natural and effective alternatives to antibiotics do exist when there is a need for them. Contrary to conventional antibiotics which only have an effect on bacteria, a number of these alternatives are also effective against other types of micro-organisms such as certain vira, fungi, and parasites.
    In extreme cases where conventional antibiotics have failed, a knowledge of other preparations than antibiotics can mean the difference between life and death - however, self-treatment without the necessary knowledge of the infection in question cannot be recommended!!

    Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
    A fantastic remedy against all bacterial infections. The only reason why some individuals have not had good results from taking vitamin C is be that they have taken too little. The white blood cells designed to remove bacteria from any undesirable place in the entire body are dependent on vitamin C. Therefore the level of activity of the blood cells increases with increased amounts of this vitamin.

    Adult dosage:
    In acute bacterial infections, you (adults) should normally take 2 - 3 g. vitamin C as a shock dose. After this, take 1½ - 2 g. every hour - in severe cases even more. In very serious cases it might be necessary to take vitamin C in larger intravenous injections - a doctor will administer this.
    The sooner the treatment is initiated, the sooner you will overcome the infection. In order to increase the absorption of vitamin C, it might be a good idea to supplement with some bioflavonoids; e.g. fresh fruit- or vegetable juice. Once your body has reached its saturation point for vitamin C, your stools will get thin. Then slowly step down the dose to normal dose.

    Colloidal silver (CS)
    Silver has been known for centuries for its bacteriostatic effect and the use of silver preparations in therapy was widespread up until the introduction of antibiotics.
    Colloidal silver is the designation of microscopic silver particles, partly in the form of silver ions suspended in demineralised water. The strength of the preparation is measured in PPM (Parts Per Million). Colloidal silver is believed to work by disturbing the bacterial enzymatic system. If CS comes into contact with intestinal bacteria, it will weaken or kill these bacteria just as conventional antibiotics. For this reason, it is advisable to combine CS with a supplement of lactic acid bacteria. However, the majority of the consumed CS is supposed to be absorbed by the oral mucosa and therefore only a limited amount of CS reaches the intestines.
    Bacteria are able to develop resistance to silver. Therefore we should, like antibiotics, avoid unnecessary use of silver particles against bacteria.

    Adult dosage:
    Acute adult dosage: 1 tbsp. (40 PPM) at the first signs of infection. Then, take 1 - 2 tsp. 3 - 4 times a day between meals until the infection has disappeared and the treatment is finished. The dosage can vary somewhat from one preparation to the next.

    Useful herbs

    Cone flower (Echinacea purpurea, - angustifolia)
    This North American plant was originally used by Indians for the healing of wounds, snake bites, and infections. It inhibits the ability of the bacteria to penetrate cells and it particularly stimulates a certain type of white blood cells called macrophages that consume the bacteria present in our body. It is beneficial as a single remedy but can profitably be taken together with Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis. Liquid Cone flower extracts are usually preferable as they have the most rapid effect.

    Adult dosage:
    • 1:2 liquid extract: 10 - 20 ml. a day in acute infections.
    Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
    A North American plant - just like Cone flower - used as a medicinal herb by the Indians. The active substances of this plant include various alkaloids, e.g. berberine. It has cleansing, disinfectant, and bacteriostatic effects.

    Adult dosage:
    • Dried root (10% alkaloid): 250 mg. 3 times a day.
    St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
    From ancient times, this herb has been used as an ingredient in wound ointments. In addition to its mood-lifting effect, St. John's wort is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects that can kill off resistant staphylococci. Among other things, St. John's wort contains the substance hyperforin which has antibiotic effects. The plant can also be used externally. It can profitably be used together with Cone flower.

    St. John's wort is non-toxic in the recommended dosages and detoxifies the body to such a degree that conventional medicine taken together with St. John's wort might lose its effect. You should therefore consult your doctor if you consider taking St. John's wort whilst taking conventional medicine. If you are using St. John's wort, you should avoid strong sunlight as the herb can make you hypersensitive to light.

    Adult dosage:
    • 1:2 liquid extract: 5 ml. a day in case of acute infection.
    • Dried root: 4 g. 3 times a day in case of acute infection.

      Garlic (Allium sativum)
      Garlic has a long tradition of being a natural antibiotic. Hippokrates, the founder of the art of healing, recommended this herb among other things as a disinfectant. Today, we known that when garlic is crushed, its ingredients come into contact with each other and make antibacterial connections, e.g. the sulphur compound allicin. Garlic juice has been proved to either inhibit or kill more than 20 bacterial species. However, garlic has the best effect on intestinal or respiratory infections.

      Adult dosage:
      • Fresh garlic: A minimum of 3 large cloves of garlic a day. Acutally, there is no upper limit in case of acute infections.
      • Dried powder: 300 mg. 3 times a day before meals in case of acute infections.

        Olive leaf extract (Olea folium)
        Olive leaf extract has been used against infections for thousands of years and its effect has been confirmed by recent scientific studies. The fruit, bark, and roots - and particularly the leaves - of the olive trea contain the bitter substance oleuropein which both stimulates the white blood cells and prevents the propagation of microorganisms, including bacteria, by disturbing their production of amino acids.

        Adult dosage:
        • The dosage in acute bacterial infections is 1 capsule (500 mg., at least 15% oleuropein) to be taken for 1 week 3 times a day between meals. In severe infections, the dose can be doubled.
        Wild oregano extract (Origanum vulgare)
        Oregano is probably mostly known as a pizza spice. However, wild oregano is an old medicinal herb. It contains terpenes such as thymol and carvacrol which inhibit coli bacteria, salmonella bacteria, and staphylococci. Moreover, researchers have discovered that wild oregano has stronger antioxidant effects than other herbs.

        Adult dosage:
        • Dosage of capsules with wild oregano: 2 capsules 1 - 3 times a day according to the severity of the infection.
        Do not take an oregano cure during pregnancy.

        Benefits
        If you have been under the impression that your body is defenceless against bacteria, then you have been far away from the truth. To a great extent, your body is capable of dealing with many bacterial infections on its own. It does so by raising the body temperature producing fever and by producing antibodies. If supplemented with natural alternatives, the majority of infections will be overcome. The benefit will be a reduced development of resistance among bacteria in the society and an improved immune defence in the individual.