As a young boy, I vividly remember watching “War of the Worlds,” the movie based on H.G. Wells’ famous tale of martians invading the earth. As some of you may recall, humans were helpless against the martians and their fearsome machines of destruction. Just as all appeared lost, the huge machines suddenly came toppling to the ground, their octopus-like occupants dead – killed by the faithful allies, Earth’s germs. Common bacteria and viruses, for which the martian invaders had no immunity, had saved the day for humankind.
Our peaceful co-existence with our “allies” in the microbe world ended during the 1950s when antibiotic use became widespread. These new and powerful drugs had the ability to kill bacteria, both pathogenic and friendly. Humankind now had a powerful weapon to cure infectious diseases. In our short-sighted excitement, we declared “war” on bacteria.
Unfortunately, the bacteria responded by essentially declaring war on us. We became the enemies. We somehow forgot there is a reason for virtually everything in our environment. We failed to consider fully that bacteria are life forms, and like all life forms, they have the drive to survive and reproduce. And, like all life forms, they can adapt to threats to their survival.
The period once referred to as “The Age of Miracle Drug” is fading. Today, we are witnessing the return of infectious diseases for which there are no effective treatments. Americans are getting sick and some are dying from previously treatable bacterial infections.
“We are rapidly approaching the time when 80 to 90% of infections will be resistant to all known antibiotics,: states Dr. Jeffrey Fisher, a noted immunologist and author of “The Plague Makers.” He adds: “Overuse and misuse of antibiotics have allowed many kinds of bacteria to mutate and become immune.”
According to scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we are on the brink of a health catastrophe due to the overuse and abuse of synthetic antibiotics.
Numerous articles in the mass media have alerted the public to the failure of antibiotic medications to cure people of bacterial and viral diseases. People are becoming rightfully alarmed and searching for alternatives, especially from alternative health practitioners.
Herbal-based natural “antibiotics” and antiviral medicines are proving to be an effective substitute to synthetic drugs. Herbal therapy leads the list of the most frequently used alternative therapies, according to a 1998 study conducted by Landmark Healthcare. The survey indicated 17% of respondents used herbal therapy, and 16% used chiropractic care.
An estimated 83 million adults visited an alternative medicine practitioner in 1997 alone, and spent $32.7 billion on complementary care, according to a Harvard University study that appeared in the November 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association.
What does all this mean to you? As a chiropractic physician, you have been given a window of opportunity to easily and profitably expand your practice and your influence through natural antibiotic therapy.
Chiropractors should logically be the providers of natural antibiotic therapy and other natural alternative forms of medicine, since chiropractic emphasizes the body’s inherent ability to heal itself with the proper resources and treatment procedures as opposed to invasive synthetic drug procedures.
The use of botanical medicine as an alternative to synthetic drug use is rising swiftly. The increasing failure rate of pharmaceutical antibiotics to cure disease is fueling this growth. Case in point: The sale of drug replacement supplements from MDs’ offices has reached $150 million a year despite American Medical Association disapproval, according to the publication Alternative Medicine Business Report.
In order to go forward, you sometimes need to go back. It makes sense to address the problem of antibiotic resistance through the use of plant medicines. Plants have a much more complex chemistry than antibiotics. Garlic, which exhibits numerous antibiotic properties, contains at least 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids, and a dozen other synergistic compounds.
Pharmaceuticals, on the other hand, are usually made from one chemical constituent. Because of this, bacteria can quickly counter the effects of pharmaceutical antibiotics and develop an immunity to them.
Many modern antibiotics, such as penicillin, tetracycline, and erythro-mycin, actually occur in nature. Had drug companies not tried to modify them for economical purposes, we might not be in the fix we now find ourselves.
The phyto-chemical synergistic mix found in medicinal plants is perhaps the best hope for confronting drug-resistant bacteria. In fact, many herbs have historically been used to treat infections caused by bacteria that are now resistant to synthetic antibiotics. Though it is not commonly known, our ancestors used both penicillin and tetracycline in raw form, as bread mold or as soil fungi, directly on wounds. Thousand-year-old Nubian mummies have been found to have significant amounts of tetracycline in their systems.
Natural antibiotics overcome the problems inherent with synthetic antibiotics. When used properly, natural antibiotics can boost the body’s ability to produce antibodies for which bacteria, as well as viruses and fungi, cannot develop an immunity.
“Using natural medicines from nature to control bacteria, viruses, and fungi is a reasonable approach,” states Michael Traub, ND. “Natural antibiotics are safer and less toxic than most synthetic analogs that have not been subjected to the kind of evolutionary scrutiny that the natural substances have had.”
As a chiropractor, you have the opportunity to educate your patients about natural antibiotics. This process can help prevent the misuse and abuse of synthetic antibiotics, which, if left unchecked, could potentially lead to a growing bacteria resistance of plague proportions.
The key to securing your share of the alternative drug replacement market is patient education. Be sure to provide information about natural antibiotics throughout your clinic, beginning with the waiting room. Most product manufacturers will be pleased to provide research reports, brochures, flyers, and other complimentary literature upon request. Many of your patients are desperately searching for effective alternatives to drugs. Let them know you have them available.
The DC enjoys an important edge over the MD in introducing natural antibiotics to patients. It’s called credibility. Each year, MDs write 12 million antibiotic prescriptions for upper respiratory, congestion, bronchitis, cold and flu infections caused by viruses, yet antibiotics are worthless against viral infections.
Part of the problem may lie with the fine line that often delineates a viral and a bacterial infection. An earache is viral, while an ear infection is bacterial. A cough, sore throat or the flu is caused by a virus, while pneumonia is a bacterial infection. Bronchitis is viral; sinusitis is bacterial.
When prescribing natural antibiotics, you don’t have to distinguish between bacterial and viral disease in your patients, since natural antibiotics combat both. Viruses are impervious to synthetic antibiotics because they are the ultimate parasites. Unlike bacteria, they have no life of their own. Viruses are simply shreds of genetic information, encoded as DNA or RNA, that can integrate themselves into a living cell and use its machinery to run off “copies” of themselves.
Natural antibiotics assist the body’s immune system by destroying viruses and clearing the infection. Synergistic herbal compounds such as berberis alkaloid (from goldenseal, barberry, and Oregon grape), camellia sinensis polyphenols (from green tea), usnea (a tree moss), garlic, and echinacea are natural antibiotics that enhance the body’s immune response and its ability to encapsulate and digest viruses before they can integrate themselves into living cells and replicate.
Natural antibiotics can also fight fungal infections. Most prescription antibiotics are ineffective against fungal infections and can even exacerbate fungal growth by drastically altering the balance of intestinal organisms. (The synthetic azole derivative antibiotics such as clotrimazole, miconazole, fluconazole, and ketoconazole, are fungistatic drugs; however, they frequently exhibit numerous side effects.)
Berberis alkaloid extracts have been shown to be potent activators of macrophages responsible for destroying bacteria, yeast and fungus cells. Usnea kills fungi by disrupting its cellular metabolism. However, unlike antibiotics that disrupt “friendly” bacteria, usnea does not adversely affect the natural ecology of the body.
People can also contract antibiotic-resistant from animals used for food, a study panel from the National Academy of Sciences found. According to the study: “Almost 25 million pounds of antibiotics are used in animals each year – 80% to help them grow faster, not treat disease.”
Estimates for total pathogenic food bacteria are 9,000 deaths and 33 million illnesses each year from food products infected with additional pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, listeria, and campylobacter.
To help avoid the possibility of food poisoning, you should educate your patients about the safe handling of food, including frequent hand-washing. Research shows most infectious bacteria are transmitted on the hands. You should also advise patients to eat organic foods as much as possible.
As every chiropractor knows, the immune system is the body’s first line of defense. Some people manage to remain healthy despite exposure to virulent pathogens. These people have something their sick neighbors do not: a strong immune system. Antioxidant supplementation has been shown to strengthen the immune system.
If a patient catches colds easily or frequently, if he or she suffers from chronic infections, gets cold sores or herpes attacks with regularity, or if the lymph glands are frequently sore or swollen, it is a clear sign of a weak or debilitated immune system. Following a prescribed course of natural antibiotics, the patient should be placed on an ongoing regime of antioxidant supplementation.
Do not confuse antioxidants with natural antibiotics. Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and herbals that tone, restore or enhance a weak immune system. Natural antibiotics have the unique ability to destroy pathogens.
The use of natural antibiotics is a logical extension of the chiropractic modality. You can play a vital role in protecting your patients against the rising tide of bacterial and viral diseases. The choice is yours; the future of natural antibiotics is now.