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Breaking the antibiotic cycle

BY DR. RONDA BEHNKE ND, CHomP, RN

A Natural Look at Halting the Need for Repeated Antibiotic Use

Is this you: You have a health concern, such as a sinus infection or bladder infection; you seek medical care and are prescribed an antibiotic; after the 10 days, your symptoms return, causing you to see the medical doctor again for more antibiotics? Before you know it, your symptoms do not go away and you are taking more and different antibiotics for longer and longer periods of time.

Or perhaps you are taking an antibiotic daily in an attempt to keep symptoms of an infection at bay?

Unfortunately, you are not alone. Antibiotics are the leading prescribed class of drugs in the United States, with an estimated 84 million prescriptions being written annually during office visits, and another 40 million prescriptions after discharge from hospitals (CDC, AIA). It is also estimated by the Centers for Disease Control, that only 10% of these antibiotic prescriptions are warranted.

The Three Major Causes of Infections…

Not all infections are alike, even though they seem to cause the same general symptoms: pain, swelling, redness, discharge, fever, aching, and general fatigue. However, the agents that cause the infection are different:

1. Viruses. Viruses are small pieces of genetic code that enter a susceptible cell and take over its functions, telling that cell to make more of the virus. Viruses are easily detected by a healthy immune system, which destroys viruses quickly once the immune system is aware of the presence of the virus. Viruses “run their course”, meaning each virus has a usual time limit where it causes signs of an illness before the immune system destroys it. Viruses account for nearly 75% of all ear, sinus and upper respiratory infections!

2. Fungus. Fungi are a type of mold. Inside everyone’s body (in their ears, nose, vagina, bladder, bowel and intestines) a special type of fungus exists. It is Candida albicans. This fungus needs to be present to protect the body and to help the intestines break down food. When there is too much Candida, it can produce the signs of an infection. The Mayo Clinic estimates that Candida infections account for 98% of all recurrent infections, and about 15% of new infections.

3. Bacteria. Bacteria are cells in themselves. When they enter a susceptible body area, they multiply and make more bacteria cells. A healthy immune system can destroy bacteria; if the immune system is not strong enough, a bacterial infection can continue. Bacterial infections account for approximately 10% of all infections!

4. Parasites. These are listed because parasitical infections can occur. Most of the time, these type of infections occur from uncooked pork products. Some scientists estimate that everyone on the planet has a parasitical infection and has contributed many health concerns to parasites. However, many people do not have signs of an infection from parasites. Less than 1% of infections are the result of parasites.

How Antibiotics Work…

There are 17 different classes of antibiotics; however, each class works in a similar manner. Every antibiotic is either a general (“broad-spectrum”) or specific (“focused”) antibiotic. A broad-spectrum antibiotic is designed to eliminate a variety of similar bacteria. A focused antibiotic targets only specific bacteria (one or two).

Notice that antibiotics target BACTERIA. Bacteria are cells in themselves. Our body is made up of many cells. Cells are individual units within the body that are separated from other cells by a shell, as it were. The shells of bacteria are different from the shells of the cells in our body. Therefore, your immune system can seek out and identify what is not part of the body.

An antibiotic can do the same thing. When a person takes an antibiotic, it looks for the shells that have a certain identifier; it then destroys those cells by, in essence, cutting a hole in the bacteria’s shell. The cell dies, hence the bacteria dies.

Unfortunately, antibiotics do not know the difference between good bacteria and those causing an infection. Our bodies contain bacteria that are necessary for food digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, and mucous membrane nourishing. When an antibiotic is working, it will destroy these bacteria as well.

(It should be noted that special “antibiotics” are for parasitical infections, viral infections and fungal infections. These are not the ones discussed in this article, as these are rarely prescribed and are not the ones prescribed in abundance.)

What about the Other Causes of Infections?

As antibiotics only work on bacteria, they will not work on viruses, fungal infections or parasites. If you take an antibiotic for an infection that is caused by a virus, parasite or fungus, the infection will not get better.

But I Feel Better When I Take an Antibiotic…

The signs of an infection are actually the immune system trying to heal the infection. When an antibiotic is taken, it shuts down the immune system so that the immune system does not attack the drug because it is a foreign substance. Even if the infection is being caused by a virus, the symptoms of that infection will diminish or disappear because the immune system is inactive. Remember: the signs of an infection are the immune system fighting the infection. Without the immune system fighting the infection, the symptoms will diminish or disappear.

Is Repeated (Chronic) Use of Antibiotics Safe?

Not counting allergic reactions to antibiotics, there are many documented cases of adverse reactions, the most common being diarrhea. In the intestines are good bacteria that help with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. When these are killed by the antibiotic, digestion is disrupted and the good yeast that exists in the intestines has more space to grow, so it does. Remember, yeast is not killed by antibiotics. Not only is there yeast over-growth, but there can be decreased nutrient absorption and a difficulty breaking down foods that are eaten, resulting in diarrhea and a risk of nutrient deficiencies.

Another not-often-discussed effect is immune suppression. As mentioned earlier, antibiotics suppress the immune system. If a person has a virus, the virus will continue to make more of itself, unhindered by an immune system. Once the antibiotic is stopped, the virus will show itself again, but it will be stronger because it has had the opportunity to take a stronger hold. Also, the fungal infection discussed in the previous paragraph will get worse over the course of the antibiotic; it too was not hindered by an immune system. With yeast being everywhere in the body, it is possible that the signs of a recurrent infection in the sinuses or bladder, for example, are being caused by yeast. As mentioned earlier, the Mayo Clinic believes that 98% of recurrent infections are the result of YEAST, not bacteria, so recurrent antibiotics in these cases would not help the situation.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has been associated with chronic viral infections, a result of the immune suppression from chronic antibiotic usage.

A new concern that has arisen concerns auto-immune disorders. It has been suggested and is now being studied that taking immune-boosting supplements while taking antibiotics increases the risk of a person developing an auto-immune disorder, as the immune system becomes confused when it is being both suppressed and boosted at the same time.

Another problem with chronic antibiotic usage (it won’t be discussed here) however, is the development of “super-bugs,” bacteria that are cannot be destroyed by any antibiotic.

How Can the Cycle Be Broken?

The immune system is designed to seek out and neutralize any invaders, whether they are bacterial, viral, parasitical, fungal or other. The stronger the immune system, the quicker the response will be to these foreign invaders.

There are many herbal supplements available that taut being “immune enhancing” or “immune strengthening”. Some of the most common herbal immune supporting herbs are: echinacea, elderberry and goldenseal. The most common vitamin is Vitamin C.

HOWEVER!!! If you are taking an antibiotic, DO NOT take any supplement that may boost the immune system! Remember, an antibiotic is suppressing the immune system; taking a supplement to boost the immune system will confuse the immune system and could lead to an auto-immune response.

One of the best ways to break the antibiotic cycle is to support the body through homeopathy. Homeopathic medicines can be used safely with antibiotics, as homeopathy works to restore the balance to the body’s healing ability; they don’t work directly with the immune system, but work to make it more effective when it is ready to be more active.

Homeopathy also works with your body to eliminate the reasons that infection strikes and takes hold. As homeopathic medicines are not an “antibiotics”, they don’t care what is causing the infection, only that an infection or foreign entity is present and needs to be removed. They work quickly to restore balance, but they are gentle in action.

What Else Can I Do?

Remember that diseases don’t occur in a vacuum, meaning that there is no one reason why a disease strikes and why it may stay around. Always consider the emotions that are stirred up by the disease, or the emotions that may’ve started the troubles. Each area in the body holds some emotions more strongly than others; for example, the bladder holds fear, the nose, sadness and despair.

Also look at your living and work environments. If you have a chronic sinus infection, do you live in a home that has mold? Do you work in an area that has been freshly painted? Look at your personal habits. Do you frequently hold your bladder so you go to the bathroom only twice daily? Do you smoke?

It is also a good idea to supplement your diet with Probiotics, such as acidophilus. With antibiotics destroying the good bacteria in the body, these good bacteria need to be replaced. There are many acidophilus or probiotic formulas on the market; or eat a yogurt daily, one that has “live yogurt cultures.”

Know This…

If you want to break the antibiotic cycle and stop suffering, know that it can be done! You have the symptoms of an infection because your body is fighting to get rid of it, meaning that all you have to do is give it a little help and the body will do the rest. You don’t have to suffer the remainder of your days; you don’t have to put your life, creativity and joy on hold because of a chronic infection. Know that there are options. Know that you can be free of your suffering.

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