Antibiotics, Overuse and Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a phrase that you hear circulating along with super bugs.  Does this worry you? Do you take regular antibiotics and wonder if they will stop being effective? Well don’t worry as there are many things you can do for yourself to help fight infection before you get to the need for antibiotics. But you should be prepared to do this rather than go to the GP at the first sign of a sore throat and expecting a prescription for antibiotics -shockingly this is what 70% of those who go to the GP with a sore throat get.

This is completely unnecessary, costs the NHS money which could be spent elsewhere and weakens your immune system against further infection. Do you know why? Antibiotics kill off the good gut flora/bacteria (and the bad that can be contributing/causing the infection) that lives very happily in our intestines. We need this gut flora to help digest food and to keep the digestive tract working properly and most importantly to support both our immune system and also our brain health. There is a huge link between poor digestion/a sub functioning gastrointestinal tract and depression. Every time you take antibiotics and don’t replace the good gut flora you make it harder for the body to digest food and fight off infection the next time. You are creating a nice environment for infection to develop and breed. You are also teaching the virus/bacteria/infection about antibiotics so it can develop and mutate so the antibiotics are not effective. You have to admit, annoying though they are, these bacteria and viruses are so very clever!

But on the positive side, my naturopathic tool box has a large variety of therapies and remedies that can mean that at the first cough/sneeze/sniffle you can in fact help support your immune system by both strengthening it, supporting the good gut flora and use foods and essential oils to help kill of the bad bacteria. This is exciting. It means that you can be more in control of your health and don’t have to wait 2 weeks to see the doctor. Within that 2 week wait you could in fact have overcome whatever was trying to invade you and end up with an even stronger immune system that will remember that bacteria/virus, have made its own antibodies to fight it which means that if it strikes again, you will be able to fight it off within a day or two. The body is simply amazing if you give it a helping hand with some nice (organic if possible) antibacterial/antiviral foods, some delicious probiotic foods and a couple of essential oils. Oh, And a skin brush.

A nice way to gently support your immune system daily which will make it more robust throughout the year is to skin brush before you shower. You can get one from boots or my favourite shop- Amazon. They are not very expensive. Start at the feet and work your way up the body brushing up towards the heart.

Probiotics. If you have had a course of antibiotics and can afford it, buy a couple of bottles of Symprove probiotics. They have be shown to survive the stomach acid and have a beneficial impact in the intestine. If you have taken a lot of antibiotics I would highly recommend the 6 week programme. You can also buy it from Amazon or direct from their website.

Probiotic foods- full fat (organic) plain yoghurt. If you are lucky enough to get an Abel & Cole order get Brown Cow or see if there is a local farmers market/farm shop that sells it. If not, get Yeo Valley. Miso, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi also contain pre and probiotics which create the right environment for the good gut bacteria to grow and nourish it. You can make all these yourself. I would be happy to email you the information if you get in touch.

Essential oils. They are brilliant and so effective and versatile. Good ones to use for coughs/colds are eucalyptus, peppermint and tea tree. They are very antibacterial so good at killing off the unwanted bacteria. You can put some drops on a tissue or in an oil burner to inhale during the day or at night. In the bath or a foot bath (a washing up bowl is perfect) if you don’t have a bath. Or in a bowl of very hot water and put a towel over your head for a steam inhalation.

And of course food. Nature provides an array of helpful antibacterial/antiviral foods to keep us healthy. Garlic, ginger, turmeric, onions – the perfect excuse to make a curry. And of course vitamin C to boost the immune system. Green leafy veg is an excellent source of it.

So maybe the next time you start sneezing or have a scratch at the back of your throat, instead of going to the GP to get antibiotics, you could have an curry packed full of onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric and full fat yoghurt followed by a bath with eucalyptus, tea tree and peppermint oils and an early night. Sleep is the most important part of getting better and staying well.


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