November 2018 Edition
Between your nose and brain, you can smell and “remember” at least 50,000 different scents.
Take A Holistic Approach to Antibiotic Resistance
When it comes to our health, there are two schools of thought: the Germ Theory and the Terrain Theory. Understanding the differences is critical, particularly because it involves the use of antibiotics, which should be used sparingly and for the right reasons. So let’s examine this often confusing topic.
The Germ Theory asserts that, regardless of the state of our health, germs that can cause disease will, indeed, cause disease. That’s because the germ is responsible for our illness and not the overall state of our health. Traditional medical practice calls for identifying and destroying invading germs, including bacteria (but not by viruses including cold and flu) through the use of antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics are often over-prescribed and germs are mutating to survive them.
On the other hand, the Terrain Theory, embraced by holistic practitioners from a wide range of medical fields, asserts that germs that can cause disease will do so when the body is more susceptible and that the more healthy we are (the terrain) the less likely we will become ill; if we do, we will become less ill. In other words, when the body’s internal environment is at its best, then immunity, metabolism, and detoxification are at their strongest. Consequently, the body is less susceptible to illness and has the best defense against “disease causing” germs. Antibiotics are used sparingly and primarily in life-threatening situations.
It’s important to understand that taking antibiotics does not contribute to building immunity; they are prescribed for treatment, not prevention, and there is the real threat of resistance.
Antibiotic Risks and Drug Resistant Disease
When prescribed judiciously by doctors and used properly by patients, antibiotics can save lives by destroying bacteria or stopping it from reproducing. Despite the wonders of this medicine, there are significant problems:
- 20% of people experience side effects including gastrointestinal, kidney, menstrual, and joint abnormalities after taking antibiotics. Risk for side effects increase with each additional ten days of use.
- About 10% of people are allergic to antibiotics.
- In the U.S. more than two million illnesses per year are caused by resistance to antibiotics, resulting in 23,000 deaths when these drugs fail to work.
Antibiotic resistance (AR) means that the germ targeted by the medication has mounted defenses that render the drug ineffective even when taken properly. Situations and conditions that present the greatest risk for AR include:
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Not taking the medicine as prescribed
- Long hospital stays
- Working in parts of the world that lack proper hygiene
- Not having the ability to meet essential nutritional needs
- Improperly handling raw meat, consuming contaminated meat, crops, or water
- Contact with infected individuals
Protect Your Internal Terrain from AR
Healthcare is faced with a dangerous rise in antibiotic resistance, making the more holistic “terrain approach” to battling germs vital to preserving health. Here’s what you can do:
- Take a probiotic supplement, a quality multivitamin, follow a quarterly detox regimen, get adequate sleep, and eat a variety of whole foods
- Choose organic foods (antibiotic-free meats, non-GMO grains)
- Filter your water (drugs disposed of at landfills can get into groundwater supply)
- Limit your intake of sugar and processed foods (these lower immune function)
The unfortunate truth is the “kill the germ” perspective is failing. We will reach a point where we do not have effective antibiotics. By bolstering the internal terrain, a healthy and vibrant person can mount the immune defenses necessary to protect their health.
Food for Thought. . .
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
Apple Cider Vinegar: A News-Worthy Remedy
Over the years, the media has paid lots of attention to apple cider vinegar (ACV) and for good reason. An ancient health remedy, it’s known as a panacea for what ails us, aiding in weight loss, managing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, lowering cancer risk, supporting digestion, and facilitating natural detoxification. It was used by Hippocrates as an antibacterial cleanser for wounds and has a long history of use by holistic physicians, particularly for its natural antibacterial properties, stemming from its fermenting process.
ACV is produced by fermenting the natural fruit sugar in crushed apples (or cider) into alcohol. Specific strains of bacteria are added to the alcohol, creating enzymes and acetic acid – the active compound in any vinegar. Acetic acid can destroy bacteria or prevent it from multiplying and spoiling foods. Probiotics and other plant compounds in ACV may help support immunity. For those who like to keep things natural and chemical-free around the home, ACV has many other uses, including conditioning the hair, cleansing the skin, gargling to soothe sore throat, and as a household cleanser.
Whether you are making ACV at home or buying from a store, the dilution ratios vary depending on whether you’re adding it to water or tea, using it to wash food, or for cleaning around the house. Because ACV contains a pungent acid, these ratios should be discussed with a holistic health practitioner. Improper mixing can result in stomach upset, reflux, or aggravation of preexisting digestive or skin condition. Most importantly, do not drink undiluted ACV.
At the first sign of a cold or flu, reach for Garlic Oxymel, an age-old immunity boosting remedy. Oxymel means “acid and honey” and is indicative of its two main ingredients (honey and apple cider vinegar). Traditionally used to help make certain herbs, such as garlic or onion, more palatable, drinking just 1/2 to 1 cup per day of this tonic will help the medicinal properties of garlic go down easily.
- 1 fresh garlic bulb (do not use pre-peeled or minced garlic)
- 4 c. water
- 1/4 c. raw honey (locally sourced or regional is best)
- 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
- Optional: 1 T. finely minced, fresh ginger root
- Peel and finely chop garlic cloves. Let the chopped cloves sit for about 10 minutes, then add to the water in a large pot with cover, heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer until garlic is very soft – about 20 minutes. Leave cover on pot, remove from heat and set aside to cool at least 1 hour.
- Once cool, add honey and vinegar; mix well. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- When ready to drink, gently reheat on the stove. If desired, add minced ginger root.
Note: This remedy is not for use in respiratory illnesses where heat, such as fever, predominates.
Taking an Antibiotic? How Probiotics can Help
It’s fairly common knowledge that antibiotics kill some of the health-promoting bacteria that live within your gut’s complex ecosystem. Taking a probiotic supplement can support the way gut flora work together to keep that ecosystem – and you – at the healthiest.
Antibiotics are used to kill both the pathogenic bacteria that should not be present in the body and the pathogenic bacteria that normally reside in the body in very small numbers but which have “overgrown” for some reason. Unfortunately, while antibiotics are targeting the unwanted pathogenic bacteria, they often disrupt (or destroy) the balance of “good” gut flora. The result: gastrointestinal upset. Up to 20% of people using antibiotics experience antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The longer you use an antibiotic, the more damage that is likely to occur in the gut ecosystem. Some people can experience severe symptoms that progress to inflammation of the colon, which can become life-threatening.
This is where probiotics come in. With an estimated 80% of your immune system located in your gut, taking a probiotic on a regular basis is a good idea for most people, and especially important while taking antibiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, thus strengthening immunity. And they can help prevent that antibiotic induced diarrhea.
Which probiotic is right for you while taking antibiotics? That depends on your age, general health, current symptoms of illness, and the length of time you have been using any antibiotic medication. Probiotics come in different strains of bacteria, as well as different forms (e.g., liquid, capsule) and are usually refrigerated to preserve the integrity of the microorganisms. The selection of the strain of probiotic you should take – especially while taking an antibiotic-is very important. Just as important is making sure that you take the probiotic at a different time of day than when you take antibiotics and to continue taking the probiotic even after you have finished the antibiotic. Your health practitioner can determine which probiotic formula and dosing strategy is best for your needs.
The Antimicrobial Power of Desert Parsley
Desert Parsley (Lomatium dissectum), also known as Toza Root, is a traditional Native American herbal remedy for colds, flu, pneumonia, viral infections, asthma, tuberculosis and many other conditions. Used in the Southeastern states during the influenza pandemic of 1917, positive results have been documented, particularly among Native people, who recovered more quickly because of their use of the herb.
Among naturopathic physicians, Lomatium is one of the most useful natural antimicrobial herbs for eliminating bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can cause infection. It’s also shown to be effective against a variety of pathogens including several types of Staph, candida, and E.coli. It acts as an expectorant, helping loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory tract and relaxing the mucosa to decrease spasmodic cough.
Lomatium is typically offered in a tincture that is dosed differently based on an individual’s needs and the condition being treated. When using desert parsley for medicinal purposes, such as to fight a cold or flu, it can be taken in pill form, tincture, tea, or finely ground root powder added to a steam bath. Supplements should be taken under the care of a holistic physician because improper use of Lomatium can cause nausea, blood thinning and may interact with prescription medicine.
Exploring Natural Antibiotics
Protecting yourself against infection can be done naturally. But where do you begin?
Foremost, if you suspect you have an infection (you’re coughing, expelling mucus, are feverish, etc.), now is not the time to experiment: You absolutely should be working with a holistic doctor to treat the infection. If your current aim is to boost your body’s natural protection against infection, a variety of herbs and essential oils, as well as good old soap and water, can do wonders. Use this brief overview as a starting point for an in-depth discussion with your natural health practitioner.
Food Extracts. Certain food extracts contain antibiotic properties. For example, cranberry extract is a useful remedy for urinary tract infection. Honey is one of the oldest known food-based antibiotics, dating back to ancient Egypt and Israel.
Herbal Extracts. A variety of herbal extracts have antibiotic properties and are often used in tincture, capsule, powder (e.g., tea) form, depending on the herb and the intended use. Among the herbs are goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape root, Echinacea, and Lomatium.
Essential Oils. Thyme, basil, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils have a variety of bug and germ fighting properties. Additionally, citrus fruit oils (lemon, lime, orange, bergamot) have health-protective benefits. Essential oils should never be consumed and should always be used in a diffuser or diluted with a base oil, such as almond oil.
Soap and Water. The FDA has ruled that companies can no longer market “antibacterial soaps.” The risks of adding chemicals, including triclosan, to washing products are greater than any protection when compared to regular soap and water. How does soap help protect against bacteria? When you vigorously rub your hands and lather the soap, it loosens bacteria from the skin. Simple, effective, and all natural.
There are many natural remedies in addition to those listed and most don’t have a wide body of clinical research behind them. It may take time before medical science catches up with the long history of use documented in traditional medicine. There is potential for drug-herb interaction, so it’s important to work with a health practitioner who is well trained in the pharmaceutical properties of botanical products.