Antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise. The World Health Organization released a list of the 12 different bacteria strains that could pose the highest level of risk to human health. The list, divided into three sections based on how critical the threat is, represents health problems the WHO feels we should be solving. Conventional medicine is not likely to have those answers. WHO, publishers of the “priority pathogens” list, reports that there are not enough new antibiotics in development to adequately combat these microbes, and the rate that bacteria develops resistance at will outpace new drug development soon.
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Are and Will Be a Big Problem
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is scary. The leading cause of death worldwide, ischaemic heart disease, claims 8 million people. If we continue at the current rate of prescribing antibiotics for people, animals, and livestock, 10 million people will die of antibiotic-resistant infections by the year 2050. WHO’s top three “priority pathogens” are Acinetobacter baumannii, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and enterobacteriaceae (E.coli). All three of these infections have already demonstrated significant resistance to antibiotic treatments.
What’s Going On With the New Drugs?
So let’s talk about the new antibiotics. Of the 51 antibiotics and biologicals currently in development to treat these “priority pathogens,” the WHO only classifies 8 of them as innovative. The other 25 are modifications of existing treatments and will only function as stop-gap measures.
Why aren’t more antibiotics in the pipeline when numerous health organizations have explicitly stated the worldwide need for them? There isn’t a good answer to that questions, although profit margins are the most likely answer. Antibiotics aren’t meant for long-term use, and the decade long research and development period affects pharmaceutical companies’ return on investment. Drug companies are also reluctant to manufacture orally administered antibiotics, their most accessible form.
Fourteen percent of the drugs currently in development make it to market, and medical professionals argue that needs to change. But fewer drug hurdles are not the answer. More antibiotics aren’t the answer either.
Doctors did not regularly prescribe colistin. Although powerful, it’s an older drug and causes severe kidney damage. That changed when resistance to modern, more highly-regarded antibiotics became more commonplace, and colistin became the antibiotics of last resort. Now that has changed. Chinese pig farmers used colistin when doctors stopped prescribing it, and the first colistin resistant gene was recorded in November 2015. The gene has spread worldwide, and scientists and healthcare professionals don’t have an answer yet.
Should antibiotics be part of the answer though? Drug-resistant strains of bacteria generally occur in people who are already sick and those with weak immune systems. Sick people are given antibiotics. Antibiotics eliminate beneficial bacteria, and damage the immune system. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria has developed in response to an overuse of antibiotics. It’s naive to imagine a world where we go cold-turkey on antibiotics, but every antibiotic usage is giving like the strongest bacteria another opportunity to figure out to survive treatment.
A Few Tips to Not Need Antibiotics
The first step to getting rid of antibiotic use is build up your immune system naturally. If you don’t get sick, there is no need for antibiotics. To do that, you need an immune system ready to take on anything. It’s easier to make and stick to a series of small changes, and there are plenty ways you can start building your immune system today with items found at the average grocery store.
Certain herbs, especially garlic, are your new best friends.
Oregano, calendula, echinacea, and goldenseal are some relatively accessible herbs that boost the immune system. Even easier to find? Garlic. Raw garlic can be added to salads, in snacks, and on dinners. Infections want an easy target, and the allicin found in garlic is a powerful deterrent to those harmful pathogens. If you have a mouth infection, chewing on raw garlic can be beneficial.
Tighten up your diet, and learn to love salads.
Eat as many whole, homemade foods as possible. Your meal prep should become a vegetable version of the will it float game from the Letterman version of the Late Show – Will. It. Salad! The answer is usually yes. The more fresh vegetables, the better. My favorite way to break up that monotony is with homemade hummus, quinoa, fresh tomatoes, and lemon juice. Refined sugar in its many forms damages the body, feeding fungus, bacteria, viruses, and other parasites while lowering the body’s immune system.
Prioritize your sleep.
Sleep deprivation causes an estimated 100,000 car accidents every year. Businesses in U.S. lose 411 million dollars a year due to a lack of sleep. It also makes you more susceptible to pathogens and infection. Lack of sleep suppresses the immune system. According to Diwakar Balachandran, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, “A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived…and inflammatory cytokines go up.” The ultimate in sleeping resets is electronic-free camping for a few days, but most people aren’t able to regularly do that. Popular herbal treatments include B vitamins, healthy fats like vitamin D, tryptophan, valerian root, and chamomile root.