Infections (Alternatives to Antibiotics)
It would be a shock to many Americans if they were told that that third leading cause of death in their country is caused by infections. Modern medicine’s dependence on antibiotic drugs to ward off infections has created a dilemma among medical institutions throughout the world: many pathogens are developing resistance to antibiotics at an alarming rate. For example, a common bacteria called Staphylcoccus aureus is frequently responsible for system infections, however, it is often resistant to all antibiotics except vancomycin (a very expensive drug that is called the antibiotic of last choice). It is becoming obvious to a growing number of medical researchers that the increase in antibiotic resistance by microorganisms is definitely due to overuse of antibiotics among the general population. In many cases antibiotics do not need to be prescribed by physicians. Perhaps 80-90 percent of sore throats may be due to viral infections, not bacterial, and cannot be cured by antibiotics, but they are frequently prescribed anyway. The common cold is too often treated with antibiotics by uninformed medical doctors, yet there is evidence that they have little or no effectiveness.
There are certainly times when antibiotic treatment is definitely indicated. But there is growing evidence to show that if the prescribed antibiotic has not successfully treated the diagnosed infection to a satisfactory degree in 3-5 days, a concurrent therapy with natural medicines may be helpful.
While many physicians are aware that antibiotics are overused, especially in America, they are often ignorant of the benefits that may be provided by botanical and natural medicines. Botanical medicines often work by stimulating the immune system, and providing antiviral, antibiotic, and anti-infective results- often without causing side effects associated with drug therapy (i.e. gastrointestinal problems, overgrowth of yeast, skin rashes, and allergic reactions). Some natural medicines may enhance the healing properties of antibiotics. The best example of this is supplementing probiotics (acidophilus and bifidobacterium) to replace the friendly flora which is frequently destroyed by antibiotic use.
In practically every case, food allergies play a huge role in the incidence and reoccurrence of ear infections. The most common food allergens include: dairy products, wheat and gluten, nuts, corn, eggs, oranges, and fruit juices (refined sugar). However, in my practice I see food allergies more than any problem, and about 80 percent of all food allergies are from dairy products and wheat, and about 80 percent of those two are from dairy (cow’s milk).
It may be wise to avoid mucous-forming foods when trying to fight off infections from bacteria, since mucous and phlegm are ideal environments for bacteria to grow and fester. Mucous-forming foods include all animal products (dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs), refined carbohydrates, chocolate, white flour, alcohol, fried foods, and certain sweet fruits. Simple sugar and carbohydrates inhibit neutrophil phagocytosis (and component of the immune system that destroys foreign bacteria and toxins introduced to the body. Drinking plenty of water, eating a more vegetarian diet (full of vegetables, fibrous fruits, legumes and whole grains), soups, herbal teas, and certain nuts, can help to assure maximum antioxidant effect, minimize mucous, and enable antibiotic drugs or herbals work more effectively when they are needed.
The Elimination Diet is a helpful tool in identifying certain food allergens that may be a concomitant cause of certain bacterial infections.
Remember that diet, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and environment play an important role in any type of infection. In addition to eating a healthier diet of natural, whole foods, and supplementing with appropriate vitamins and minerals, a personal air purifier may be an invisible shield against microorganisms and micro-particles in the air.
FOR ACUTE INFECTIONS (Short-term treatment of 5-10 days)
- VITAMIN C with BIOFLAVONOIDS (QUERCETIN)
These potent antioxidant vitamins increase the activity of white blood cells and enhance the immune function by reducing histamine levels. Vitamin C also shows antibiotic and antiviral activity and has been found to be effective therapy in many infections, especially of the viral nature. Dosage: 500-1,000 mg taken every few hours for 5-10 days, or until bowel tolerance (excessive diarrhea). Lower dosages for children.
- VITAMIN A
Vitamin A is a valuable fat-soluble vitamin that boosts the immunity with antioxidant activity and is needed for healing and protecting the tissues (from infections). Vitamin A (Beta carotene) also will strengthen mucous membranes. Dosage: 10,000-50,000 IU daily for 5-7 days. Lower dosage for children. Do not take if you are pregnant or have liver disease.
This herb is one of the most studied and effective herbs for fighting infections. Most research validate the short-term use of Echinacea in high doses in battling flu symptoms, bacterial or viral infections. Echinacea fights viruses in two ways. The root extract has been known to act like interferon, the body’s own antiviral compound. Secondly, Echinacea is an immune stimulant that helps the body defend itself against viral infection more effectively. Dosage: See a qualified practitioner. Safe for use in children at lower doses.
- COLLOIDAL SILVER
A natural antibiotic that destroys bacteria, viruses and fungi. Colloidal silver also promotes healing and some regeneration of tissues. Dosage: Usual dose is one teaspoon initially, followed by one teaspoon 4 times a day for adults. Use as directed on individual package. Do not use for extended periods.
- ZINC LOZENGES
Zinc will quicken immune response, repair tissues, and aid in reducing infection. Supplementation with zinc at the first sign of a cold will help to prevent the virus from spreading. In one study a treatment of 20 mg of zinc per day accelerated recovery from severe pneumonia in children. The zinc supplementation also helped reduce antimicrobial resistance by decreasing multiple antibiotic exposure, and lessens complications. Dosage: 15-25 mg in lozenge form 4-6 times a day for 5-7 days. Children would take half dosage.
Although it is not widely used in the United States, homeopathy is popular in many other countries and gives a viable alternative to antibiotics. Three of the common homeopathic remedies used are Belladonna, Capsicum and Kalium bichromicum. Dosage: As directed on package.
Probiotics are collections of “good” bacteria that help to balance the flora of the intestines, thus reducing the risk of infection. Probiotics are especially needed with and after use the use of an antibiotic since in addition to killing harmful bacteria, they also kill the beneficial bacteria. The most common and safe probiotics used in children and infants are Lactobacillus acidophlilus and Lactobacillus bifudis. Use live probiotics when possible, keep in the refrigerator. Dosage: As directed on package.
This is an immune-boosting herb from China. Astragalus increases the body’s natural killer cell activity, increases gamma and alpha interferon, the body’s own antiviral compounds. Dosage: As directed on package or by a qualified practitioner.
- ANDROGRAPHIS and ELEUTHERO GINSENG
The immunomodulating effects of the Chinese herb andrograhis in combination with Eleutherococcus (formerly known in the West as ‘Siberian ginseng’), has anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating effects and has been shown to have a positive effect in the treatment of upper-respiratory tract infections. Dosage: See a qualified practitioner.
- DRAGON’S BLOOD
This Amazonian herb also known as Sangre de grago has anti-viral and wound healing properties. It is especially useful against viral sores caused by herpes. Also Dragon’s blood is used to heal infections that may arise from cuts and abrasions. Dosage: Only under the supervision of a practitioner familiar with this herb.
- GOLDENSEAL (BERBERINE)
Goldenseal has a superior antibiotic action (due to its high content of the alkaloid berberine), rivaling prescription antibiotics in activity. Goldenseal has been successfully used against a wide variety of pathogens. Dosage: Use only as directed on the bottle, and nor for extended periods.
- TEA TREE OIL
Contains camphor-like Terpenes that penetrate the skin layers. Tea tree oil is an effective topical treatment for strep throat infections (as a gargle), pneumonia, thrush/vaginal candida, fungi, callouses, bunions, and infected wounds. Dosage: As directed.
FOR CHRONIC, RECURRENT INFECTIONS
- VITAMIN C (with QUERCETIN)
Long-term therapy with vitamin C with additional bioflavonoids (Quercetin) enhances the immune function with its mild antibiotic and anti-viral activity. Vitamin C is extremely safe and non-toxic, even in high doses, with diarrhea being the main side effect. Prophylactic use of vitamin C is an effective “insurance policy” against recurrent infections due to bacteria or viruses. Dosage: 1,000-10,000 mg daily.
- MULTI-VITAMIN/MINERAL FORMULA
A combination of vitamins and mineral is necessary to keep the immune system stimulated to fight off recurrent bacteria, viruses or fungi that attack the human body in ever increasing frequency due to infectious problems worldwide. Dosage: As directed on package.
An antioxidant mineral that helps to repair tissues damaged by infections of any type. Zinc helps in improve wound healing, stimulates the immune system, and is responsible the function of over 40 enzymes in the body. Dosage: 30-60 mg daily. In some cases, zinc may need to be balance with copper supplementation 2-3 mg daily.
Echinacea is also an effective herb to use long-term to improve immune function and decrease infections from recurring. In some studies Echinacea has been reported to over-stimulate the immune system, and as a pre-caution, it may advisable to take a holiday when dosing with echinacea (three weeks on, one week off therapy). In children (two weeks on, one week off). Dosage: See directions on each particular product.
- VITAMIN A (BETA-CAROTENE)
Long-term use of beta-carotene and/or retinol can be maintained in doses not exceeding 10,000 IU daily. If higher doses are used, see a qualified practitioner. Do not use higher doses in pregnancy, liver and kidney disease, and smokers.
- GREEN FOODS
Many super green foods such as spirulina, blue-green algae, chlorophyl, barley, and others, improve circulation, keep tissues free of toxins, and help the body fight infections by strengthening the immune system. Greens help fight bacteria-resistant bacteria and can be safely used in combination with drug therapy. In addition, organic greens are reported to treat cancer tumors, lower cholesterol, and keep the body in an alkaline pH. Dosage: See package label.
This versatile herb and food has a natural antibiotic effect that can detoxify the body and reduce recurrent infections. Dosage: 1-3 capsules (tablets daily), or 2-3 cloves daily.
A super antioxidant that helps boost the immune system and removes dangerous substances from the body by natural detoxification. Pycnogenol also is known to reduce inflammation and improve circulation. It is highly recommended to supplement with pycnogenol when visiting places with high pollution levels. Dosage: 1 mg per 2-3 pounds of body weight.
- MEDICAL MUSHROOMS (SHITAKE, REISHI)
Many tasty Asian mushrooms contain a compound called lentian that has anti-viral, immune e0stimulating and anti-tumor properties. Dosage: Eat the whole mushroom, or take supplements that are available in capsules or as directed.
- COENZYME Q10
A potent antioxidant that helps to boost the immune system, provided energy to every cell, and helps to detoxify dangerous toxins from the body. Dosage: 60-360 mg daily.
The pre-milk liquid produced by cows during the first 24-48 hours after birth. This potent immune-boosting substance may help to prevent recurrent infections, especially in immune-deficient adults and children. Dosage: See package for directions.
- N-ACETYLCYSTEINE (NAC)
NAC is known to have a direct antioxidant properties and appears to be an attractive therapy of inflammatory disorders of the lung. When combined with vitamin C, NAC may help the patient ease the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Dosage: 1-3 grams daily.
- B-COMPLEX VITAMINS
These water-soluble vitamins help to regenerate cells that may be compromised by infections of any type. B vitamins also activate enzymes needed for healing. Deficiencies of B complex vitamins has been known to cause an interruption in T-cell and immune globulin production. Dosage: 50-100 mg daily.
Among its many other medicinal uses, licorice is active against many types of viral infections. Licorice has eight active anti-viral compounds that penetrate the body’s cells and inhibit the replication of viral genetic material. Dosage: As directed on package.
- PLANT STEROLS
Plant sterols are not vitamins or herbs, but are the ‘fats’ produced by plants. They act as potent immunomodulators in the human body and stimulate defenses against virus and bacteria while reducing inflammation. Dosage: As directed on package.
- OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS (FISH and FLAX SEED OIL)
Omega-3 fatty acids help to build long-term immunity and promote natural compounds in the body that help to fight off infections. Dosage: 1-2 grams daily.
- LARCH ARABINOGALACTAN
Supplemental larch comes from the inner bark of the Western larch tree that contains arabinogalactans (which are dense sugars) and soluble fiber. Larch can stimulate the immune system by activating monocytes, a group of white blood cells. Dosage: As directed on package.
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