There is no doubt that the discovery of antibiotics has saved countless lives. When we have a life-threatening bacterial infection, antibiotics may certainly be the answer to winning the battle. But the question has arisen in recent years; are we overusing this miracle drug, jeopardizing our health and ability to fight minor pathogens, in the process?
The answer, according to both research and the health of the American people, is a resounding YES! We have fallen into the habit of requesting a prescription for antibiotics anytime we feel sick, whether that illness is related to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria or not. This puts our immune and digestive systems on very thin ice. The super-bugs that are being created through antibiotic overuse are getting more press in the last two years, with thousands of hospital deaths being associated with this growing problem.
Dozens of scientific studies have shown that the beneficial bacteria that colonize our intestines known as probiotics (although many refer to them simply as acidophilus, the most common of the species), are a very important component of the immune system (and the digestive tract), working for us in a variety of ways. They are well known to fight the harmful bacteria that commonly live in smaller numbers within our bodies, keeping them from ever becoming a problem. They also fight the bacteria that arrive through exposure to contaminated water and food, especially raw vegetables or improperly cooked foods. The recent spinach scare is a perfect example of this. Not everyone who has consumed the contaminated spinach has fallen ill, but those with few or no beneficial bacteria left in their gut to fight the pathogenic E. Coli have become ill or have even died.
Another way that probiotics support immune function is that they deliver important messages to the lymph nodes that line the intestinal tract, which are considered an integral part of the immune system. Probiotics also reduce inflammation, helping to prevent serious conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Probiotics seem to also fight other harmful pathogens including parasites, fungal infections (including candida) and viruses that can cause colds, the flu and even the HIV virus which can lead to AIDS.
We have only begun to discover the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of benefits that probiotics offer the human body when they are in sufficient numbers within the digestive system (and throughout the rest of the body). It is well known that we can effectively prevent or take care of a yeast infection with acidophilus, and if we can re-establish strong enough healthy colonies, help to prevent their recurrence. But are you aware that it is probiotics that are needed to bring the body back into balance for countless other illnesses and conditions as well?
Although many dermatologists treat severe acne with multiple rounds of antibiotics, it is, in reality, the beneficial microflora that are really what is needed for long-term benefits for good skin health. Too often, people with acne who are treated with antibiotics will find temporarily
relief, then experience years of auto-immune conditions following treatment. Had they been provided with high quality probiotics in sufficient numbers instead, the acne will usually clear up quickly and the immune system will then be strengthened, helping to prevent a future acne issue or many other immune concerns.
Probiotics help the body to convert the valuable nutrients from our healthy food into the form that our cells can use. Without them, we can eat all the most nutritious foods available, but we won’t be able to utilize them properly. Probiotics create several vitamins and other nutrients in the process, including the entire B complex to nourish skin, hair and the nervous system, and vitamin K for vein and capillary strength.
Probiotics create or increase the bioavailability of several antioxidants including lipoic acid, glutathione and superoxide dismutase (SOD). These powerful detoxifiers assist the liver in removing or rendering harmless thousands of toxic chemicals that we are exposed to every day through food, water, skin and even the very air we breathe.
Probiotics increase energy to the cells, organs and nervous system, helping to prevent fatigue, irritability and depression. They also have been shown to create important nutrients for the brain and nervous system, including phosphatidylserene (PS), phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylinositol (PI). Most people studied with severe depression, Parkinson’s disease, brain and memory problems are found to be seriously low in these vital nutrients. They must be present for serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine production and proper function. They are essential for the ability of the neurotransmitters to pass messages from one cell to another, in other words, essential for brain and nervous system health.
Stress, chlorinated water, excess sugar, junk food, antibacterial soaps, chemical exposure, pharmaceutical medications, overuse of antibiotics, as well as the antibiotics received through eating commercially produced eggs, dairy, meats, poultry and farm raised fish all deplete our probiotic colonies. Protecting and replenishing these vital beneficial bacteria is essential for good health. Eating organic, unsweetened yogurt and other cultured (unpasteurized) foods every day is helpful for maintaining healthy colonies; but once they are seriously damaged, we need the get out the ‘big tools’. Many of the commercial probiotic and acidophilus products, when independent lab tested, are found to lack the numbers of healthy microflora that the label claims they are to contain. Please read: Quality is Everything! posted to this site on August 28, 2006 and Herbal and Nutritional Products, the Good, Better and Best, posted to this site very soon.
If you digest poorly, need more energy, feel too stressed or get sick frequently, please visit your local herbal pharmacy or health food store to learn more about these indispensable health providers. With sufficient colonies of these wonderful intestinal residents, you can enjoy the health and vitality we all deserve.
There will be many more posts related to probiotics, gut health, immune health, and what’s not working with pharmaceuticals in the very near future. Stay tuned…Home | Back to top--^