Antibiotics: Worth a Second Thought

AntibioticsIn 1943, a miraculous drug known as penicillin made its way into our world.  WWII soldiers’ lives were saved. Simple infections no longer risked death. It changed everything.  The development of new antibiotics continued, becoming more widespread and saving millions of lives. Now, antibiotics are essential to all modern medical technology, especially for enabling recovery from surgeries.

While antibiotics have saved many lives, they’re not without risk.  As each new antibiotic has been created, the bacteria have developed resistance.  The creator of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming, warned:

“The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism”

Every time your body is exposed to an antibiotic, the most sensitive bacteria are killed and the remaining get the opportunity to learn how to mutate. Since antibiotics do not discriminate, they kill both good and bad bacteria, ultimately weakening your immune system and leaving the stronger ones to flourish and multiply without good bacteria to balance them.

Not only are we giving ample opportunity for antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs” to flourish, but antibiotics also cause permanent damage to your own gut flora. Recent studies are suggesting that the boost in antibiotic use could be what’s behind the increase in issues like autism, ADD, Alzheimer’s and other brain dysfunction.  This is why a daily probiotic (helps promote good bacteria) and healthy, non-inflammatory diet are crucial.

Having had pneumonia and chronic respiratory infections as a kid, I took a lot of antibiotics.  While they may have helped in those cases, I was also prescribed many antibiotics when I didn’t need them- the most crazy being for acne for eight years… yikes!  My immune system was essentially destroyed and I was sick all the time; medication & additional antibiotics couldn’t help me.  Thankfully, the Lord healed me and I’ve since discovered how I can keep my immune system functioning properly through nutrition, supplements and essential oils.  Now, my body is equipped to do it’s job and fight infections naturally; that’s a really good thing since I’m now allergic to nearly all antibiotics and can’t take them when I get sick.

Resistance is an inevitable process that was fully expected, but it is occurring much quicker than anticipated.  Why?

  • Many 3rd world countries have these drugs available over-the-counter, allowing overexposure
  • In the US, 45-50% of the antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary, meaning they are given for conditions for which antibiotics cannot help at all (for example: viral infections)
  • Animals are pumped full of antibiotics to protect them from factory farming conditions and to make them fatter – 80% of all the antibiotics sold in the US go to farms and thus into the meat & dairy we eat.

Antibiotic resistance is currently causing 700,000 deaths per year, and it’s getting worse.  New antibiotics cannot be developed and tested in the time it takes for resistance to develop. We are drawing near to a future that looks a lot like the pre-antibiotic world. While that’s a little overwhelming, you and I can take some small steps towards change that, together, can make a real difference:

  1. Avoid eating conventional meat, dairy and seafood from factory farms and choose antibiotic-free, organic options instead.  Read more about why it matters here.
  2. If prescribed an antibiotic, ask your doctor if it is actually necessary (is a bacteria or virus causing the infection?) or to test if the kind prescribed will actually be effective against that particular bacteria.

The source of this information is a fascinating TEDHealth Talk: What do we do when antibiotics don’t work anymore?  I highly recommend you take a few minutes and watch it now:

For additional info…

If you have HBO GO/NOW, you should also check out VICE Season 3: Episode 6 for a real look at what antibiotic resistance looks like (preview here).

Listen to the famous neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter speak on the Bulletproof Radio podcast for a fascinating discussion of why what’s going on in our gut actually affects the brain.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and the above statements are not intended to recommend nor discourage any form of treatment. This post is simply meant to provide information so that you can make informed choices on your health.

Advertisements

“You’re Not Sick; You’re Thirsty”

Is it possible that the majority of illness originate from something as simple as dehydration?  Could we be treating ourselves with medicine when we should just be drinking more water?  I recently read Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by F. Batmanghelidj, MD, which explores this possibility.

Water

Our body is made up of 75% water, and in particular, our brain tissue is 85% water. Adequate hydration is essential to our bodies and brains functioning properly to stay healthy.  But many of us are suffering from chronic dehydration because we live in a society where coffee, tea, alcohol and manufactured beverages like soda have become acceptable thirst-quenchers.  While many of these contain water, they also contain dehydrating agents that only make our body’s more thirsty.  And, sodas, in particular, are addictive (both the caffeine and sugar), taking away our natural thirst for water, even when it’s plentiful and available.

We tend to think that we are “thirsty” when our mouths become dry and we crave a drink.  But this is actually the last outward sign of dehydration – if you are feeling this, your body is screaming for water.  And as you age, your body begins to ignore “dry mouth” more and more, making dehydration easier. Our vital organs receive the water, nutrients and hormones they need to work only by enough water existing in the body to deliver those elements, so it’s obviously essential to our basic functioning.  Just in case you need a few more reasons to drink more water, here are some that really stood out to me:

  • Morning sickness during pregnancy is the main indicator of a baby and mother’s dehydration.  Water is essential to cell expansion during a baby’s first stage of life.
  • Chronic pain is a huge indicator of thirst.  For a while, painkillers may work for pain monitored by the central nervous system, but eventually the brain will become so dehydrated that it will register all pain until it gets enough water.  And, until it does, the pain will increase and the body will limit the mobility of those areas in order to “prevent the production of additional toxic waste” that water, if available, would wash out. If you are experiencing consistent back pain, leg pain or headaches, take note.
  • Dyspeptic (gastritis, heartburn, constipation) pain is an emergency thirst signal.  “Digestion of solid foods depends on the presence of copious amounts of water” and “water provides the only natural protection against the acid in the stomach.”  Antacids contain a lot of aluminum (so does your deodorant, by the way), which combined with brain cell dehydration are proven causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Stop popping those antacids and drink a couple glasses of water instead.
  • “Fully 75 percent of the weight of the upper part of the body is supported by the water volume that is stored in the disc core.”  While proper posture is helpful, adequate water is essential if you are experiencing back pain.  Exercises that stretch the back and help “vacuum” water back into the disc space will help both neck and back pain.  I personally find that laying on the bed with my head off the edge for a minute or so helps a great deal.  Of course, my chiropractor adjustments help tremendously as well.
  • Dehydration affects the regulation of body temperature.  Many migraines and headaches are caused by “heat stress” because of dehydration that may occur due to lack of drinking water, drinking alcohol, or an allergic reaction that releases histamines (blocking hydration).
  • Dehydration leads to stress in the body and causes hormones to go into crisis mode.  As a result, dehydration contributes to chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.
  • Using caffeine to override your body’s available energy will lower levels of stored energy, meaning that your hormones will not be able to react appropriately later and the brain has less energy to work from, leading to less focus and attention span.  This dehydration effect is exacerbated when elderly people with memory problems or children with learning disorders drink anything other than water, especially soda.
  • Adequate water and salt intake are essential to maintaining blood volume that prevents hypertension.  The body will do all it can to retain water and sodium (helps balance water in and out of cells), yet the current “treatments” for hypertension prescribe diuretics.  Water is the best diuretic – if you are drinking enough water, your body will respond and eventually flush out the toxic edema fluid rather than the water your body desperately needs.
  • Cholesterol is essential to the function of our cells because it helps our cells retain water.  In the state of dehydration, you will develop high cholesterol as its working in overdrive to prevent cell dehydration.
  • “The sensation of thirst and hunger are generated simultaneously to indicate the brain’s needs.” We cannot tell the difference, and thus often overeat when our body’s are really just crying out for water.  Then, dehydration causes our brain to crave more energy, thus causing us to crave sugar.  So, we overeat, eat unhealthy foods and gain weight simply by being dehydrated.
  • Asthma and allergies are indicators that the body has resorted to an increase in production of the neurotransmitter histamine, the sensor regulator of water metabolism and its distribution in the body.”
  • In some cases of chronic dehydration, our brain begins to inhibit insulin so the pancreas can provide water for food digestion – a crucial function to provide energy to the body.  Ultimately, this can cause insulin-independent diabetes, and instead of drinking more water & eating a balanced diet to get the body to behave normally again, people take chemical override medications to force the body to produce more insulin.
  • Salt is crucial to ensuring we have an “ocean” of water outside our cells, but the table salt we eat in most foods is a chemical and not mineral-rich.  Remove sodium preservatives and table salt from your diet and replace with unrefined sea salt to keep your body’s hydration in balance.

The simple way to prevent the damage from chronic dehydration is to drink enough water.  Your body needs a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day, more, especially, if you are drinking alcohol or caffeine.  If your urine is not colorless, you are not hydrated enough.  Drink water slowly, throughout the day.  I typically drink a glass of water before and after each meal, and then at least one in-between each meal as a rule of thumb.  If I am feeling sick, my allergies are flaring or my back pain returns, I immediately drink lots of water, and only water, until the symptoms pass. I have truly noticed a difference.

Are you drinking enough water?  If any of the above dehydration-related illnesses stuck out to you personally, you must read this book. It has very detailed chapters on each of the effects of dehydration and testimonials for how water has healed people.  Go read it (or borrow from me!) – it’s fascinating!

Doctored – Healthcare or Sick Care?

I used to be sick… really sick, all the time. I’ve seen dozens of doctors throughout my life and popped too many prescription pills to remember, trying to get better. But y’all, for the first time ever, I feel great.  And I haven’t seen a doctor in years now, or taken medication.  Coincidence?  It certainly doesn’t seem that way to me…

Before I begin my summary/commentary of the documentary Doctored, I want to be clear that it (and this blog) is meant to inform and raise awareness, not offend.  This documentary is an exposé on the business of medicine and the harm it’s caused to many people, including me; it’s not an attack on the healthcare professionals who work with the best of intentions to heal and save people’s lives.  I sincerely hope you’ve had a very different experience from mine, but I know that many of you have not.  This documentary really helped me understand they why behind it all and I feel compelled to share it with those of you who are/have been as frustrated as me with the lack of answers.

Modern western medicine came about to get rid of “quacks” who were scamming people into dangerous treatments.  It was created to give regulation and science to the methods of healing people. Morris Fishbein, the American Medical Association’s Executive Director from 1924 to 1949 felt that only doctors should treat people, but he was also clear that “Medicine is a profession; it must never become a business or a trade, never the subservient tool of a governmental bureaucracy.”  Unfortunately, the healthcare industry is now a far cry from that.  

Medicine is sick care, not health care. 8 out of 10 people will die of a chronic illness.  These illnesses are treated with medication that may fix the symptoms but ultimately sustains the problem, rather than healing it. Let’s be honest: if drugs cured us, then we would stop spending money. According to the World Health Organization, the United States spends more on health care per capita ($8,608), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (17.2%), than any other nation (according to 2011 figures, the most recent I could find).  Approximately 98% of the advertising revenue for medical journals in the United States is provided by pharmaceutical companies.  This seems like a slight conflict of interest to me.

“Medical school doesn’t teach doctors to address the root of the problem.  It teaches doctors to treat the problem.  It’s a practical science with practical aims… medicine is different from other sciences because more than being a science, it is first and foremost a business.”

– Dr. Cate Shanahan on her disillusionment with the industry of medicine and her desire & reason to become a doctor in Deep Nutrition

In my experience, the physicians that I have seen couldn’t figure out my problems.  Unfortunately, rather than trying to figure out why I was sick, they came up with ideas and prescribed medication to see if it worked.  But I got worse, not better.  And often, I was diagnosing myself.  Isn’t a doctor supposed to tell you what medication you need rather than you seeing a commercial, then going to the doctor to say you have the symptoms and need that pill?  When we are sick, we want the shortest route to the quickest fix.  And too often, so do our busy doctors.  The easy answer? Medicine.

Over the past year, I have seen dramatic healing by visiting my new chiropractor regularly.  I used to suffer from back and shoulder/neck/hip/foot/leg pain daily, (honestly, almost constantly).  Through regular adjustments and sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet, I have seen 95% improvement in my pain frequency and intensity.  It is simply remarkable and life changing.  What I have found incredible about fixing my spine is how much it also affects your overall nervous system and your brain, and thus the health of my body as a whole. Could the problem be that doctors just aren’t taking a hands-on (literally) approach with their patients anymore?  

Now, you’re considered a quack if you don’t prescribe drugs.  Doctors who try to help someone naturally, like chiropractors, are often considered quacks because they are trying to help their patients while avoiding the dangerous and potentially fatal side effects of medication.  Every year, 125,000 people die of properly prescribed drugs.  I am surprised that number isn’t higher, since I’ve personally known 3 people in the past 5 years fall victim to it. But pharmaceutical companies are never charged with murder.  Rather, the (vicious for us) profitable cycle continues.  I talk to people all the time who are on one medication for one issue and then on 3 more to combat the side effects of that medication. How many of you can relate?

Now time for the real controversy: the epidemic of cancer as the ultimate example of medicine as a business.  This documentary tells a couple of compelling stories about the governments efforts to fight possible cures for cancer (FDA vs Dr. Burzynski’s antineoplaston therapy) and promote chemotherapy/radiation (Utah prosecuted the parents of Parker Jensen for refusing to treat their young son with chemo after his tumor was surgically removed).  Think about it: if there was a cure for cancer, there would be lots of people without jobs.  That’s all I’ll say about that topic… please, watch it for yourself.

The documentary ends with a commentary on how the health of a nation is in direct correlation to health of it’s soil.  Our minerals and nutrients come from the soil where are food is grown and animals graze; we need active and alive food to stay active and alive.  As I’ve mentioned before, GMOs and pesticide-ridden food are now pervasive in our grocery stores. In fact, since GMOs  were introduced, the instances of autoimmune diseases have increased 400%!  It’s more important than ever to pay extra special attention to your diet and where your food comes from as a cure for your health.

To close, Doctored emphasizes the hope that with more patients pushing for real answers, healthcare is, in many cases, becoming more patient-centered and doctors are now collaborating with holistic practitioners for alternative healing methods.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

– Thomas Edison