The antibiotic group of medication has undoubtedly been responsible for relieving suffering and saving more lives than any other collective of drugs. How ironic, then, that these drugs now have the capability of potentially creating an apocalyptic plague due to bacteria becoming resistant to even the most powerful antimicrobials.
Exposure of bacteria to antibiotics leads to resistance – bugs that are not affected by the drugs. Bacteria multiply at a fast rate and in doing so alterations, called mutations, occur in their DNA. Occasionally changes infer upon them a resistance to the effects of a specific antibiotic. Those few bacteria that survive will not be killed by that antibiotic and they can then multiply rapidly as there is more food for them to eat due to the loss of other bacteria. We are left with a tougher, resistant strain.
Those few bacteria that survive will not be killed by that antibiotic and they can then multiply rapidly as there is more food for them to eat due to the loss of other bacteria. We are left with a tougher, resistant strain.
Resistance is mainly due to the use of antibiotics in farming and mass animal husbandry which has allowed widespread distribution of these drugs in both our food chain and water supply, where we ingest this medication unwittingly.
Antibiotics have become increasingly available to the public, over the last 40 years or so. Legislation has been lax and in many parts of the world individuals can walk into a pharmacy and simply ask for these drugs. No credence is paid to many infections being caused by viruses – which antibiotics do not kill.
Another huge and underestimated cause of bacterial resistance is due to the antibiotics now added to our soaps, shampoos, cosmetics and household surface cleaners. Kitchen antibiotic cleansers have had little research done into their developing resistant strains in our kitchens.
The popular press tells us doctors and pharmacists are over prescribing and this needs to change. But this is not the biggest of cause of the problem, although it contributes.
The Department of Health and NICE are unlikely to be effective in forcing Big Pharma to fund the development of new antibiotics as they have no way of guaranteeing a financial return for the investment of tens of millions of dollars, which is what it costs to get a drug to market.
Government can use the money more wisely than giving it to the pharmaceutical company.
The focus has to change: We need to reduce the use of antibiotics in mass animal farming and return where possible to small holdings producing organic, non-antibiotic-filled meat. The more of us who source our meat this way will help the prices to fall and put pressure on supermarkets to acknowledge their social responsibility.
We need to stop promoting household cleansing compounds containing antibiotics.
We need to educate individuals, and particularly our children, on basic hygiene and nutrition to boost the immune system. This could be a compulsory section of our educational plans.
Our medical educators must emphasise and recognise the importance of inexpensive supplementation to boost different levels of immunity.
A year’s supply of Vitamins A, C & D with minerals such as zinc would cost a fraction of just one visit to a GP. All of these nutrients play a vital role in different immune pathways and, added to a non-antibiotic ridden diet, should make an appreciable difference.
All the antibiotics we are exposed to in our food and water supply, let alone those we may take for infection, are devastating our own bowel bacteria. Our gut bacteria are a vital aspect of our immunity without which we cannot defend ourselves. A small amount of probiotic each day can have a profound effect on immunity. Avoid the food industry’s popularised forms with added sugar and artificial sweeteners, and use multi-strain, natural forms.
Time spent with trained nutritionist and following basic health guidelines could reduce the requirements of medical intervention. We have to move from the current thought process of treating illness when it arrives to preventing disease affecting us in the first place.
Training doctors in nutritional and natural therapies would not simply leave our GPs better equipped to offer non-antibiotic treatment but reduce the abuse many receive when the request for antibiotics is refused.
It may not be too late to remove what many consider the inevitable arrival of an untreatable and dangerous bacterial secular apocalypse.