There has been a lot of talk about antibiotic-resistant superbugs lately, and we’re understandably scared. After all, if the strongest prescription antibiotics can’t beat a raging infection, does this mean we’ll enter another dark age of plague-like sickness and death?
Not necessarily. Even though the first United States medical case of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was discovered recently, there’s no need for panic just yet. There are practical steps you can take to protect yourself against antibiotic-resistant superbugs naturally.
Here they are:
Keep Yourself Healthy
It goes without saying that your first line of defense against any type of bacterial or viral infection is a strong immune system. When your immune system is strong, it acts as a protective shield, giving you the upper hand when germs are lurking around.
- To keep your immune system strong, wean off the junk food and trade it in for organic food.
- Drink plenty of pure water.
- If you’re under a lot of stress, take up a relaxing hobby, meditate, get a massage, or put your thoughts and feelings down in a journal.
- Also, sleep. Sleep is incredibly underrated. No matter how busy you are, aim for 7 to 9 hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep each night.
Remember, you’re not being “weak” or “lazy” when you rest and relax, you are making an investment in your health and well-being. You absolutely cannot put a price on health, and it should always be your first priority.
Stay Safe in Doctor and Hospital Settings
If you do get sick, you may find yourself at a medical facility. While this might be absolutely necessary due to your illness, it could put you directly in the path of an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.7 million hospital patients developed an infection as a direct result of being in the hospital. This either caused or contributed to the deaths of nearly 100,000 people in 2007.
(I would imagine that number is higher now with new strains of bacteria developing and mutating all the time.)
Not to worry. Yes, there is a risk, but you can take steps to keep yourself protected from infection.
- Make them see you as a human being.
This may be a bit strange to read as advice on how to avoid infection, but according to Consumer Reports, humanizing yourself is an extremely effective way of avoiding medical mistakes and infection.
When you go to the doctor, it is always a good idea to bring someone with you as an advocate. Another advantage to bringing a close friend or family member is that they will be able to understand and remember things you may not due to your poor health.
Furthermore, ask questions and share personal details about yourself. With or without someone by your side, making a doctor see you as Jane Smith in room 423 instead of the ‘upper respiratory infection’ in room 423 could quite literally save your life.
- Investigate your medical facility.
An article in Scientific American mentions some more effective ways to protect yourself against superbugs.
One includes investigating your hospital before checking in for a procedure. Find out how well your hospital has done in controlling infections and what precautions they take to ensure the safety of their patients.
- Stay clean.
Whenever you use the bathroom, touch a surface in your room, or before eating, wash your hands with antibacterial soap and dry them thoroughly.
From Scientific American:
“Many hospitals routinely send patients home with antiseptic cleansers and instructions on how to bathe in preparation for an operation. If your hospital is not one of them, buy an antiseptic cleanser containing the bacteria-killing ingredient chlorhexidine gluconate (found in a product marketed as HIBICLENS) at your local pharmacy and use it to clean the surgical site as well as other body parts that tend to harbor bacteria, such as the underarms, groin, and pubic area the night before and the morning of your operation. (The surgical team should also wash the incision site just before beginning the operation.)”
Use Natural Antibiotics
The rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs has urged more and more people to consider natural alternatives to fight infection.
The following natural antibiotics can help prevent and treat infection even when prescription antibiotics fail:
Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is an incredible natural antibiotic. Studies have found that it is most effective against Campylobacter jejuni, Helicobacter pylori and Staphylococcus aureus, including meticillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA).
The active ingredient in olive leaf extract is called elenolic acid, which is a component of oleuropein and acts as a broad-spectrum natural antibiotic capable of safely inhibiting the growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Research has even shown that olive leaf extract can even be beneficial in the treatment of HIV. It appears to mitigate and even reduce the damaging effects this virus can have on DNA.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is another strong natural antibiotic that fights infection naturally. It has been shown to be quite effective in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
According to one study, drops of concentrated grapefruit seed extract showed antibacterial properties against a number of both gram-positive and gram-negative organisms (with a stronger effect on gram-positive).
Research has also concluded that GSE was just as effective as conventional topical antibacterial agents. Used undiluted, it can reduce warts. In diluted form, it can combat pathogenic organisms in your home.
A small spray bottle filled with pure water and 10 drops of organic grapefruit seed extract can be useful in cleaning doorknobs, remotes, and other oft-touched surfaces in your home to keep bacteria and viruses from spreading from one person to another.
The healing benefits of garlic have been known and utilized for centuries. However, modern scientific studies have confirmed what ancient healers already knew.
In a 1983 medical publication, this statement was put forth: “Recent publications indicate that garlic extract has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against many genera of bacteria and fungi.”
More recent studies have shown that allicin, the active compound in garlic, offers a variety of antimicrobial activities.
It is effective against multidrug-resistant enterotoxicogenic strains of Escherichia coli, Candida albicans, Entamoeba histolytica, and Giardia lamblia.
When you use garlic as a natural antibiotic, it is best to use organic, raw, chopped garlic. Most garlic supplements do not contain nearly enough allicin to make any difference in your health.
To dampen the taste and increase the effectiveness of the chopped garlic, mix it with a bit of raw honey and take it straight from the spoon.
Oil of oregano contains carvacrol and thymol, two powerful compounds that exhibit strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.
The Journal of Medicinal Food published a study that showed oregano oil to be effective against five different species of harmful bacteria. Its highest activity seems to be against E. Coli, which may make it useful in promoting digestive health and preventing food poisoning.
You know all those food recalls we’ve been having lately due to bacterial contamination? The Journal of Food Protection showed that oregano oil may be effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food meant for human consumption, as well as animal feeds.
Oregano oil can be taken in capsule form. It can also be taken as an essential oil. However, if you decide to use the latter, put only one or two drops in a small glass of pure water and drink the mixture through a straw. (Otherwise, it will burn your lips. It’s that strong!)
Manuka honey is considered a “functional food” because it provides more than simple nutritional benefits.
Clinical trials have shown that this medicinal honey is effective against MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), MSSA (methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus), VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci), and Helicobacter pylori (which can cause stomach ulcers, GERD, and leaky gut syndrome).
Moreover, it has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of chronic wounds and may help reduce the cavity-causing bacteria responsible for dental plaque.
Peroxide was originally thought to be the main antibacterial agent in manuka honey. However, even after the hydrogen peroxide activity was destroyed, it still exhibited powerful antibacterial effects.
A second agent, called methylglyoxal (MGO), was discovered. MGO is a compound produced by the human body designed to ensure the health of every living cell. Any MGO of 400 and above is proven to destroy a great number of powerful bacteria and viruses that are immune to classic antibiotics.
Manuka honey is made even more effective by the fact that it is resistant to enzymatic activity in body fluids. This means it maintains its antibacterial effects when going through what should be a destructive trip through the digestive tract.
When purchasing manuka honey, be sure you’re getting the real thing. The UMF (unique manuka factor) number is critical as it shows the level of antibacterial activity. Ideal strength is between 10 and 18. The manuka honey that you choose should be UMF rated or you may be buying an inferior product.
Just the thought of being exposed to antibiotic-resistant superbugs can be terrifying. The good news is, you now have plenty of ways to keep you and your family safe today, tomorrow, and well into the future.
Now that you’re armed with this important information, share it with your friends!
Image of doctor and patient courtesy of Flickr/Vic