Ever since Flemming attracted us Penicillin, we in the west appear to have a love affair with antibiotics. In a manner antibiotics have become part of our culture and lie at the core of the significance of what “modern” medicine means. However history informs us that it’s usually when we learn to take knowledge for granted that the incontrovertible “facts” can often be blown wide open with fresh signs.
For instance, it wasn’t that many years ago that scientists believed strongly that no bacteria could live in the intense environment of the human stomach. However, we now know differently and call these germs extremophiles. History is littered with similar examples. Is there anybody out there who seriously believes the earth to be flat? Could the same be true of antibiotics. Please, do not get me wrong, antibiotics are unquestionably useful and necessary in many conditions.
Penicillins have revolutionized the treatment of ailments like pneumonia, and it’s undoubtedly that antibiotics have saved many lives. However, they might not be the cure all, or tonic that many think. There are a variety of related “injuries” with taking antibiotics. What a lot of people don’t realise is that when antibiotics take effect, not only do they remove bacteria exactly where you need them to (such as in the lungs, in somebody who’s suffering a chest infection), but during the whole body.
Human beings have developed a symbiotic relationship with bacteria over many millennia. Some of the bacteria that colonize our gut are of little use, but others really carry out a rather practical function. Taking antibiotics wipes the slate clean and destroys all but the most hardy bacteria, leaving what remains to re-colonise the gut. Generally this re-colonisation is rapid and quite like pre-antibiotic consumption levels.
However, sometimes curable bacteria can take hold, which may cause stomach cramps and persistent diarrhoea which requires further medical intervention. This relates to some of the injuries of taking antibiotics which I mentioned previously. Along with this, our obsession with clean living and removing”germs”in our houses by using cleaning fluids and bleach signifies we are even farther removed from the symbiotic bacteria we’ve evolved to live along with over the period of our development.
Good to know
Recent research indicates that this clean living and antibiotic carrying might have some quite unintended consequences. For instance, Did you know that probiotics can actively reduce histamine levels thereby reducing the effects of allergy? Or that probiotics have an active part to play in “programming” the immune system? Moreover our lack of exposure to these germs might have consequences for medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (which in it’s heart is an immune mediated inflammation of the joints), fibromyalgia, and asthma.
More than this, there’s now a proven neuroendocrine link between bowel health and mental wellbeing. Some probiotics have been shown to affect how the body reacts to stress hormones thereby reducing levels of stress and stress. To sum up, actively taking germs, as opposed to obsessively killing “germs” can confer a specific significant health benefits.