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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Antibiotic Resistance and the Immune System

Apr 29, 2009 07:41PM
When penicillin became widely used during the 1940’s, it was considered a medical miracle, crippling many disease-causing bacteria. But four years after drug companies began mass-producing it, microbes began appearing that could resist it. Today, antibiotic resistance has become one of the world’s most significant health problems.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), virtually all significant bacterial infections in the world are becoming resistant to antibiotic treatment of choice. The FDA states that some organisms are resistant to all approved antibiotics and must be treated with experimental and potentially toxic drugs. How could something so beneficial have go so bad?

The increased occurrence of antibiotic resistance is an outcome of evolution. Any population of organisms, including bacteria, naturally includes variants that have the ability to withstand an antibiotic's attack on a microbe. When someone takes an antibiotic, the drug kills the defenseless bacteria, leaving behind--or in biological terms “selecting”--those that can resist it. These renegade bacteria then multiply a millionfold a day, becoming the predominant microorganism.

Technically the antibiotic does not cause the resistance, but allows it to happen by creating a situation where an existing variant can flourish. With antibiotic use there is selective pressure for resistance to occur. So how do we avoid having to rely on antibiotics?

We must first only use antibiotics when they are beneficial. The CDC states that colds, flu, most sore throats, and bronchitis are caused by viruses, but antibiotics do not help fight viruses. In fact, taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do more harm than good because they increase your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment. Ask your healthcare provider if antibiotics are really the best treatment for your illness.

An increasing number of physicians are focusing on optimizing immune function because antibiotics replace the immune system rather than strengthen it. Your only real defense against a germ is a strong immune system. Functioning optimally, the immune system can usually handle most bacterial infections easily. But if the immune system is weakened due to illness, age, toxins, poor nutrition or other factors, bacteria, including superbugs, can far easier overwhelm the body's defenses. At best, antibiotics function only as adjuncts to the body's innate immune defenses, which are always the last bastion against a bacterial onslaught.

Take an assessment of your immune system and determine ways it can be enhanced through stress reduction, diet, lifestyle and proper supplementation. Take care of your immune system so it can take care of you. In the war on germs, the best offense is a good defense.

Steve Fazia of Integrative Health Resources works with clients to raise their Immune IQ. To learn more visit Steve can be reached at 704-763-5569.

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