Antibiotics: Once hailed as a panacea, now realized as a problem
by Darryl Roundy, DC
Since the discovery of penicillin in the early 1940s, the public has regarded antibiotics as the panacea (cure-all) for all that ails them. Antibiotics are used so frequently that most people fail to have any reservations for their use. In the last 15 years, antibiotic prescriptions to young children have risen 51%!
The idea behind antibiotics, which literally means “against life,” is to kill off the invading “bad” bacteria which is purportedly responsible for the dis-ease or illness the patient is suffering from. While this sounds good on paper, there are many problems and adverse reactions associated with this approach.
Antibiotics to the body are like a “terrorist” with a machine-gun in a crowd of people. To some this may sound harsh, but even the most specific antibiotic kills more than the intended bacteria. This effect is further enhanced by the use of “broad spectrum” antibiotics; These are likened to a blind “terrorist” with an itchy trigger finger.
Our bodies are home to billions of bacteria, some of them are good and some are bad. When the delicate balance is disrupted through poor habits (high sugar intake, antibiotics, low fiber intake and/or poor diet, etc.) and more bad than good exist, illness ensues. If the balance of bacteria on our skin is disrupted, a yeast infection is a common outcome. If it is altered in the gut, malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhea and other such symptoms result. In fact, many food allergies are the result of such an imbalance.
The gut and intestinal tract are of great importance. Did you know that microbes (bacteria) in the intestinal tract outnumber the total amount of cells in the body by a factor of 10!? The use of antibiotics, particularly for an extended period, can drastically impair your overall health by altering and killing off the friendly “bugs” in your gut. When the “good guys” are killed off, it’s like putting up a neon “vacancy” sign for yeast, fungi and other harmful parasites to set up a permanent residence.
What may alarm you even more is the fact that in many cases, antibiotics are wrongly prescribed. How many times have you heard of someone taking antibiotics for the “cold” or the “flu?” Both of these are linked to viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics can ONLY kill bacteria and their use in viral situations is not only worthless, but detrimental! In 1983, more than 3 million people sought medical care for the common cold or flu. Of these, 51% (1.53 million) were needlessly given antibiotics.
Another illness that is very commonly treated with antibiotics is tonsillitis or sore throat. Research has shown that 80% of these cases are viral in nature and the use of antibiotics is not only an unnecessary cost to the patient, but injurious as well. In a study of 222 people with sore throat, doctors believed that 112 had strep infections. However throat cultures revealed that only 13.5% were positive for strep. Most of these patients would have been given antibiotics needlessly.
In most cases of sore throat, the doctor will look in the mouth and prescribe the drug prophylactically (preventively). In some instances, the doctor will perform a throat culture to determine which bug is the culprit. Many times the lab results come back showing “strep” (streptococcus) to be the responsible party. But studies have shown that up to 30% of children are “carriers” of strep without manifesting the illness. A prescription in this case would also be considered useless.
Chiropractors have touted the benefits of spinal adjustment in cases of tonsillitis for 100 years. Recently, medical doctors are finally starting to agree that spinal misalignment can result in lowered immune function which can then lead to tonsillitis. German physician K. Lewit, stated in his textbook of manual medicine that 92% of young patients with chronic tonsillitis had spinal misalignment (subluxation) at the atlas (1st vertebrae in the neck). He further stated that, “After removal of the blockage (misalignment), recurrence is absent.” ,
A factor rarely considered when talking of prescriptions is the doctors side of the story. Medical doctors are under a tremendous amount of stress. When an anxious patient presents to a medical office, they are usually “expecting” a prescription of some sort. If their expectations are not met, or if they’re told it will resolve in 7-10 days on its own, they may express anger towards the doctor and seek services at another office.
According to a 1989 report in the Wall Street Journal, researchers at Harvard Medical School investigated the attitudes of “moderate” to “heavy” prescribers of 3 major drugs and discovered a shocking insight. “Almost half of the doctors said they were merely satisfying their patients demands for these drugs and indicated fears that failure to meet such demands would risk losing patients to more obliging physicians. Many conceded that the prescribing couldn’t be justified on scientific grounds.”
The gross over-prescription and over-utilization of antibiotics has led to an abundance of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Currently, bacteria have evolved to a point where some can now eat and live off of penicillin! In her book, “The Coming Plague,” researcher Laura Garrett makes reference to bacteria that can now survive in Clorox™ bleach! Hospitals, once thought of as clean and sterile institutions are now labeled as bacterial breeding grounds. Statistically, upon entering a hospital, your chances of acquiring a nosocomial (hospital acquired) infection are 1 in 20.
From 1975 to 1977 the number of antibiotic-resistant strains of H. Influenzae (a type of bacteria found in some cases of ear infection and meningitis) rose by almost 35%. Furthermore, in the process of bacteria becoming resistant to specific antibiotics, we now are forced to use larger quantities of the drugs. According to Harold C. Neu, professor of medicine and pharmacology at Columbia University, in 1941, only 40,000 units of penicillin per day for four days were required to “cure” pneumococcal pneumonia. “Today, a patient could receive 24 million units of penicillin a day and die of pneumococcal meningitis.”
Antibiotic resistance is not unlike the resistance of pesky insects to pesticides. They are both idealistically designed to kill the pest and leave the “friends” or “good guys.” In 1938, scientists knew of just 7 insect and mite species that had acquired resistance to pesticides. By 1984 that figure had climbed to 447 and included most of the world’s major pests. According to Harvard professor and Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert, “there may be a time down the road when 80% to 90% of infections will be resistant to all known antibiotics.” I’m sure the same can be said about insects and pesticides!
In 1857, Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and discoverer of penicillin, wrote a paper that set the foundation for the “germ theory of disease.” Essentially, this theory stated that microorganisms are the cause of disease. Science now realizes that this is incorrect, for germs are around us at all times. On his death bed, Louis Pasteur stated, “The terrain is everything, the bacteria is nothing.” What was meant by this profound statement was that bacteria and viruses DO NOT cause disease, it is the lowered or impaired immune system of the individual that allows the “bugs” to duplicate and prosper which results in disease or illness. Chiropractors have been saying this for 100 years! The immune system is the key to health and wellness. Spinal misalignment lowers the immune system’s ability to fight disease.
There’s nothing that makes my skin crawl more than to hear someone whine about someone else “giving” them a cold or illness. It’s time people own-up to their health. When you’re sick, you deserve it. If you hadn’t let your immune system get below optimal level, you wouldn’t have been sick!
Some may argue that a cold started with one child and then circulated through the entire family. This can happen because the family is eating the same food, is exposed to the same relative amount of stress and has the same genetic predisposing factors; it wasn’t due to the mere presence of a germ. If just the presence of a “germ” were enough to cause sickness, we would all be sick all of the time. Furthermore, I would be the “sickest” because I see sick people all day long!
“Germs” and the human body have been around for thousands of years, obviously much longer than the relatively short existence of antibiotics. Through the many years, our forefathers are proof (without the use of “miracle drugs”) that the body is capable of healing itself anytime, anywhere, no matter the disease or germ. Granted, this is not the case for every individual – some live, some die. It boils down to survival of the fittest immune system.
Are you guilty of “auto-immune-impairment?” Do you smoke, drink coffee-milk-cokes or alcohol, take drugs (legal/illegal) or eat excessive amounts of sugar? Is your spine misaligned? All of these acts impair the immune system. If you would like to have a long and fruitful life, but are guilty of “auto-immune-impairment,” I suggest you soon change your ways.
Of interest, a study was performed a few years ago and the investigators discovered that the consumption of 100 mg of sugar (sucrose) decreased the immune systems response by 50%! Another study was performed by a cancer specialist and he discovered that “chiropractic patients have a 200% greater immune-competence than people who have not received chiropractic, and 400% greater immune-competence than people with cancer or other serious diseases!”