Doctors recommend taking antibiotics in extreme cases. Traditional medicine recommends switching to natural analogs. But can those analogs replace Western medicine? What side effects do patients encounter most often? Do bacteria strengthen one’s immunity to natural medicines? When should one refuse to take antibiotics?
Here at Bright Side, we found the answers to questions people ask doctors most often; perhaps nature has a medically approved way of helping us.
Are antibiotics “chemistry”?
Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, one of the first antibiotics, by accident when he found mold in test-tubes. First antibiotics were formed from fungi, and later scientists started to use bacteria. Later, science managed to create synthetic drugs. They work better than antibiotics of natural origin — it’s more difficult for germ-causing agents to create a protection mechanism against them. Their correct name is antibacterial drugs.
All antibiotics consist of chemical compounds no matter if they were created in a laboratory or naturally. The danger lies in something different: if the germ-causing agent develops protection against strong antibiotics, we will no longer be able to destroy it with medicine. And that’s when a person can only rely on their own immune system to combat an illness.
It’s almost impossible to get antibiotics in home conditions without special knowledge and equipment.
That’s how the preparation of penicillin looked in 1943.
Typical mold like the kind you can occasionally see on bread doesn’t produce antibiotics. Fleming himself had to spend 10 years making the different kind of penicillin that was “long-lasting” and suitable for medicinal purposes.
Doctors realized that many people developed an allergy to antibiotics when using it repeatedly, especially to drugs from the same group of penicillins.
Turns out, that if an adult person cures themselves with antibiotics often, their kids can get an allergy and build a resistance to these drugs. The only way of treating such people with antibiotics is by desensitization or by taking the medicine gradually, increasing the dose of the drug.
Nowadays, doctors try to prevent their patients from such reactions by strengthening the immune system so that the body can fight the pathogens in the situations where it’s possible to do so without antibiotics. For example, if you have a regular cold, your body can fight it on its own.
When are antibiotics useless?
When having any viral diseases including:
- the flu
- a sore throat (except angina);
- a runny nose (if it isn’t caused by a bacterial infection)
When you shouldn’t refuse taking antibiotics:
Acute forms of bacterial infections causing a running temperature and other factors that can seriously threaten the health and life of a patient:
- lung inflammation (pneumonia)
- intestinal infections (abdominal typhus, dysentery, salmonellosis etc.)
- bacterial diseases of the nasopharynx (sinusitis, otitis, tonsillitis, rhinopharyngitis etc.)
- urinary tract infections (acute cystitis, pyelonephritis etc.)
- sexually transmitted diseases (gonorrhea, chlamydia etc.)
Is it dangerous to eat the meat of animals that were treated with antibiotics?
Yes, if it has not gone through heat treatment. Scientists are rightly feeling cautious with bacteria that have developed resistance due to contact with antibiotics. The fewer the contacts, the higher are the risks of mutations and the appearance of super bacteria that doctors can’t cope with. It’s dangerous to eat steak (unless they’re well-done), raw fish, raw eggs or drink unpasteurized milk.
Getting into the environment through excrement, the same bacteria penetrate into the soil and sources of water; which is why vegetables and fruit should be washed thoroughly. Farmers shouldn’t refuse antibiotics in animal husbandry but they should be used only as drugs, not for prophylaxis or stimulation of growth.
Onion, garlic, and ginger are called natural antibiotics. Do they really work?
There are plants and natural products that contain ingredients that can actively resist viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. People have been using them for thousands of years to strengthen their immune system or to fight a disease.
It’s wrong to call them natural antibiotics — they work differently and can’t replace antibiotics fully. When treated without the supervision of a doctor, they can cause serious damage to one’s health. In China, folk medicine consists of herbs; that’s why there are many people that get reanimated with poisoning.
It’s dangerous to supplement the course of treatment with herbal medicines. For example, if a woman drinks medicine containing St. John’s wort together with oral contraceptives, she can get pregnant (if no other methods of protection are used). You can learn how medicine treats natural drugs on this site.
Riddle: Does cheese with mold contain an antibiotic?
The answer: no. Other types of fungi are used for the production of cheese but eating cheese with mold in small doses from time to time is good for the gastrointestinal tract. The stories that we hear about workers who produce gorgonzola that never get sick are a myth.
What natural remedies do doctors recommend?
- Honey is applied to an injured area consisting of small burns and wounds.
- Activated charcoal is taken internally to prevent a hangover and to improve digestion.
It works as a sorbent, removes toxins, and has an antidiarrheal effect.
- Essential oregano oil helps the skin to get rid of fungi on the feet and nails.
It contains 70% of carvacrol — an organic compound with bactericidal and insecticidal properties. 1-2 drops of oregano essential oil should be dissolved in water and applied to the skin affected by fungi.
- Ginger is ingested through tea. It helps in treating morning nausea, drowsiness and for the stabilization of the gastrointestinal tract.
It has bactericidal properties. Remember to use a fresh root of ginger.
- Aloe vera speeds up the healing of wounds and burns. It also helps to cure a runny nose.
It has bactericidal properties. It’s better to use fresh aloe juice.
- Mustard can be used in the form of compresses for colds, a runny nose, pharyngitis, and bronchitis.
Compresses have the same effect as painkillers, and they help to stop inflammatory processes.
- Banana tea helps to fight insomnia.
Making tea with fresh banana will help greatly. Banana should be used together with the peel. Optionally, add some cinnamon.
- Turmeric helps to get rid of bloating.
Dissolve a spoon of turmeric and a pinch of salt in a small amount of lukewarm water and drink it after a meal.
Warning! There are several factors that will help convince you that it’s a bad idea to use plants as the main method of treatment for serious diseases without consulting a doctor.
- There are no clinical studies at the moment proving the absolute safety of using folk methods and plants in treatment.
- Plants grow in different environments and it’s impossible to dose the concentration of each substance precisely, which means that there is a risk of suffering from side effects even if the medicine was taken in small amounts.
- Many plants and methods of traditional medicine presume contact with toxic substances and this can worsen the prognosis for the patient and complicate the work for doctors.
- Most plants, the treating qualities of which have been proven and studied, are used in medicine as ready for use drugs, where all possible side effects have already been removed.
Bonus: Ants also grow antibiotics to protect their fungi farms.
Humans aren’t the only ones who have “tamed” antibiotics. For example, leaf ants build nests with composts for fungi under the ground. They need these fungi for food. However, sometimes the crops on these plantations get affected by a parasite fungus. In order to get rid of it, the ants grow an anti-bacteria within themselves, which produces antibiotics and kills the parasite.
If the parasite-fungus mutates to protect itself from the anti-bacteria, the ants have a new strain of bacteria ready to fight the parasite with. The ants’ bodies produce substances that provide a comfortable life for bacteria and the bacteria, in turn, take care of the insects’ life and mutate faster than the parasite-fungus.
Do you prefer treating yourself with antibiotics or natural medicine? Why? Please tell us about it in the comments!