Antibiotic overuse is a major threat to public health. Diseases that were deadly prior to the invention of modern-day antibiotics are now coming back with a vengeance having developed resistance to these once foolproof treatments. It seems that antibiotic overuse is rampant all over the world especially in India where antibiotics are available for low cost and without a prescription. It’s estimated that more than half of bacterial infections in Indian hospitals are resistant to commonly used antibiotics and many are also resistant to the more powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Why Is This Happening?

Bacteria are hard-wired to adapt to threats such as antibiotics. As they adapt to our current antibiotics, infections that were once easily treated will return with renewed force. Drug companies have little financial incentive to produce new antibiotics, as most patients take them only for a week or two. The companies are not making profits equal to medications taken for a lifetime, such as cholesterol-lowering medications. Therefore, new drugs that can replace the old antibiotics are just not being developed. We’re now moving back to the pre-antibiotic age and if this occurs significant casualties can be expected. 

The Problem Of Agricultural Antibiotic Overuse

Livestock antibiotic use accounts for 80 percent of the total antibiotics sold in the US and the vast majority of those are not given to treat infections but to stimulate growth. CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), in particular, are hotbeds for breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria because of the continuous feeding of low doses of antibiotics to the animals, which allows pathogens to survive, adapt, and eventually, thrive. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) ruled that antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health, worldwide, and the primary cause for this man-made epidemic is the widespread misuse of antibiotics. 

Hospital Visiting Protocol

In many cases, hospitalization, surgery or the use of medical devices such as ventilators or catheters are implicated in the spread of drug-resistant superbugs. The infection is spread by contaminated medical equipment and by physical contact between patients and healthcare personnel. Many superbugs are growing increasingly resistant to the standard sterilization procedures used on medical equipment. If you are in a hospital setting wash you hands often, including:

  • After using the restroom
  • Before preparing or eating food
  • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, and after coughing or sneezing or blowing your nose
  • Before and after touching wound dressings or bandages
  • After touching hospital surfaces such as bed rails, bedside tables, doorknobs, remote controls or your phone

Natural Approaches To Avoid Infections

Before the advent of tuberculosis (TB) antibiotics, TB was successfully treated by gradually exposing patients to progressively increasing doses of sunshine in sanatoriums. This increased their vitamin D production, which we now know has potent antibiotic qualities. So rather than relying on some new potent magic bullet to kill these bugs, maximizing your immune response through sun exposure and optimizing your diet is a powerful strategy. In addition:

  • Purchasing antibiotic-free meats and other foods
  • Using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary
  • Avoid sugar as that will tend to imbalance your gut flora, which is one of your primary defenses against infections
  • Avoid other foods that tax your immune system such as synthetic trans fats, fried foods and grains 
  • Most of your diet should be fresh, whole foods, like organic vegetables and grass-pastured meats and dairy, and beneficial fats, such as butter and fermented dairy from grass-pastured animals, cheese, eggs, and avocados
  • Incorporating naturally fermented foods into your diet, working up to 4-6 ounces per day. One large serving of several ounces of fermented foods can supply you with around 10 trillion beneficial bacteria which is about 10 percent of the population of your gut
  • Exercise regularly as it improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and eliminating pathogens in your body. Make sure your fitness plan incorporates weight training, high-intensity exercises, stretching and core work
  • Get plenty of restorative sleep. Recent research shows sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or disease, which is why you may feel ill after a sleepless night
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels. Studies have shown that inadequate vitamin D can increase your risk for superbugs and other infections
  • Vitamin C’s role in preventing and treating infectious disease is well established
  • Garlic is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It can stimulate your immune system, help wounds heal, and kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For highest potency, the garlic should be eaten fresh and raw (chopped or smashed)
  • Manuka honey, made from the flowers and pollen of the Manuka bush, has been shown to be more effective than antibiotics in the treatment of serious, hard-to-heal skin infections. Clinical trials have found Manuka honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria
  • Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic proven to kill many bacterial strains 
  • Colloidal silver has been regarded as an effective natural antibiotic for centuries and recent research shows it can even help eradicate antibiotic-resistant pathogens. If you are interested in this treatment, make sure you read the latest guidelines for safe usage of colloidal silver as there are risks with using it improperly
  • Replacing fixtures with certain copper alloys can help kill bacteria, even superbugs. Installing copper faucets, light switches, toilet seats and push plates in germ-infested areas such as hospitals and nursing homes could potentially save thousands of lives each year

All that said, your lifestyle choices are the most critical factors in determining the health of your immune system which, in turn, determines your ability to resist infections. The stronger your immune defenses, the less chance a microbe will have of gaining a foothold in some part of your body.