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Alternatives to Antibiotics

Updated on March 3, 2010
Antibiotics: Are we over-medicating?
Antibiotics: Are we over-medicating?

The Antibiotic Delima

We have heard over and over that many of us are over-using antibiotics and as a result, many infections have become antibiotic resistant. MRSA or "super bugs" are on the rise among the North American population. The FreeLibrary.com reports that drug-resistant bacterial infections affect nearly two million Americans. This site further states that US doctors prescribe around twice as many antibiotics as English doctors and four times as many as those in Germany, often for ailments such as the common cold or a sore throat. Even if you did not take antibiotics, you can still be impacted by the effects of antibiotics in your drinking water. It is reported that some scientists are concerned that the presence of low levels of antibiotics in drinking water will increase the trend of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. This has caused many of us to think about alternatives to antibiotics. How can we get the benefits of antibiotics without the use of drugs? What herbs will provide the medicinal benefits of antibiotics?

What are antibiotics?

According to Medicalnewstoday.com, the word antibiotic comes from the Greek anti meaning 'against' and biosmeaning 'life' (a bacterium is a life form).' Antibiotics are also known as antibacterials, and they are drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria are tiny organisms that can sometimes cause illness to humans and animals. The first antibiotic was penicillin. Antibiotics either kill bacteria in the system or keep them from reproducing, allowing the infected body to heal by producing its own defenses and overcome the infection.

Antibiotics will not make your cold get better faster because the common cold is caused by viruses and not bacteria. Therefore, a course of antibiotics will do nothing but perhaps kill off the body's own population of beneficial bacteria, leaving the cold to run its natural course. Nevertheless, patients often pressure their doctors into prescribing antibiotics when they come down with a cold or the flu.

According to wisegeek.com, the use of antibiotics for non-medicinal purposes, such as in cattle feed and in antibacterial hand soaps, is causing concern in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, since it is responsible for the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Medicalnewstoday.com sights the following as side effects of antibiotics:

Formation of kidney stones (when taking sulphonamides) Abnormal blood clotting (when taking some cephalosporins) Sensitivity to sun (when taking tetracyclines) Blood disorders (when taking trimethoprim) Deafness (when taking erythromycin and the aminoglycosides Allergies, as manifested in such ways as a rash, swelling of the tongue and face, and difficulty breathing.

What are the Alternative to Antibiotics?

Herbal treatment for bacterial infections: Some herbal alternatives are garlic, ginger, myrrh, golden seal,Lignum Vitae, oregano, turmeric, thyme, echinacea and many other herbs can be used as alternatives to antibiotics. According to freelibrary.com, the difference between an antibiotic drug and an antibiotic herb is that the drug is an isolated constituent limited to the power of that one chemical, whereas the herb contains several constituents with a variety of healing properties, producing a synergistic effect. It is argued that herbs only kill the bad bacteria and not the good bacteria.

Herbal Treatment for Viral Infections: Some herbalists argue that herbs are preventative measures as they boost the immune system. They suggest that garlic, ginger, and honey can stop a cold, flu or other respiratory ailments before they become infectious. calendula tea can be used to treat eczema, allergies, chronic respiratory infection, colds, flus, fevers, or coughs.

When the antibiotic, penicillin was invented by Alexandra Flemming in 1928, the world celebrated the miracle drug that was going to save lives and it did and continues to save the lives of millions of patients who would have otherwise died. Since such time, we have become solely dependent on antibiotics and have over-used the various forms of the drugs to the extent that it has lost its effectiveness. We have heard of the many cases of antibiotic resistant bugs and how ineffective medication is against fighting these bugs. As we seek to reduce our reliance on antibiotics, we seek other ways of healing ourselves, such as herbal treatments which have been around for centuries. The more things change the more they remain the same.

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    • DynamicS profile image
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      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thanks JannyC. This is a topic that we should all be looking into because if we don't do something, we will not have the benefits of antibiotics when we really need them. My doctor is very responsible and does not over-prescribe antibiotics, but I'm not sure how true that is of many other doctors. In the end, we are all affected, even if we ourselves do not over-use antibiotics because trace amounts get into our drinking water. Now that should make all of us concerned.

      JannyC I wil go check out your post on the Jagged Pill.

      Thanks for visiting and for your great comment.

    • JannyC profile image

      JannyC 8 years ago

      Bravo! This has been going on for some time too and now they are starting to worry more cause once again the bateria is evolving and adapting. Only when things get out of hand is it brought to light. I wrote an article about this topic too called Jagged Pill: Over Medication of America. It got published on two site. Thank you for bring this to light.

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