It seems ironic that the very thing created to save us could be the death of us, but antibiotic misuse is a real problem.
As a rule, Sporty and I make a point of avoiding antibiotics.
Because, the thrush, OMW!
That’s not the only reason we’re against taking them, but it’s right up there.
But Then, India Happened
As karma would have it, we fell ill during our trip to India last year.
If there’s one place you don’t want to get sick, right?
We took ourselves off to the ashram’s clinic, thinking they’d ply us with turmeric and send us on our way. (This being the birthplace of Ayurveda.)
We were in pretty bad shape when we arrived: dehydrated, headachey, nauseous, you name it. It was all we could do to keep from throwing up in the waiting/consultation room.
“I’m going to give you a course of antibiotics,” announced the doctor.
We each raised a feeble hand in protest but our efforts were for nought.
“There is a time and place for allopathic medicine and this is it,” she said firmly, half nodding half shaking her head to emphasise the point.
We’d later learn that this Indian head bob is even trickier to decipher than the classic South African phrase: Just now.
In this instance, however, the meaning was clear: Don’t argue with me.
If the Ayurvedic doctor at the ashram says we must take antibiotics, who are we to argue? She’s clearly seen her share of sick Westerners.
We were right as rain three days later and we couldn’t have been more grateful. It turns out there is nothing quite like feeling deathly ill on another continent to make you appreciate Western medicine.
How do you feel about antibiotics?
Are you happy to take them when the need arises, but, like us, would much rather not take them at all?
Or, do you view antibiotics in the same light as bar peanuts, tossing them back at the merest hint of a sniffle?
If that’s you, read on and I’ll explain why herbal remedies should always be your first line of defence.
Unless you fall ill in India, then, by all means, toss back those antibiotics.
Herbal remedies have been around forever, but in recent years they’ve experienced a surge in popularity. Between the rising cost of medications and exorbitant doctor’s fees, it’s easy to understand why.
But those aren’t the only reasons to opt for natural alternatives to remedy your ailments. Due to large-scale overuse, antibiotics are no longer the silver bullet they once were.
The Worrying Rise of Antibiotic Resistance
According to UK economist Jim O’Neill, more than a million lives have been lost to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) since 2014, with another 300 million premature deaths forecast by 2050.
Long-term antibiotic use (and abuse) has severe consequences. They play havoc with our gut’s ecosystem, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome. Taking too many antibiotics can also lead to a less than optimal immune system, higher stress levels, behaviour problems and even obesity.
What Happens When Antibiotics Stop Working?
When Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin in 1928, he had no clue that he was at the forefront of a $50 billion dollar industry. Nor, for that matter, could he possibly have imagined that $5 billion of that would be directed to keeping livestock healthy.
As Maryn McKenna highlights in her TED talk, Fleming did have an inkling as to the potential harm of his discovery.
In 1945, shortly after receiving the Nobel Prize, he said, “The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of a man who succumbs to infection with a penicillin-resistant organism.”
The Case for Natural Remedies
When you listen to a talk like McKenna’s, going all-natural seems like the only logical way forward. There will always be a need for Western medicine, but it should be reserved for the ‘big ticket’ stuff. The kind of disease or infection that warrants medical intervention.
Unfortunately, we 21st-century humans are wired for instant gratification. We want bigger, better, faster, and we want it now. We use this same approach when it comes to our health.
Rather than afford our body the time and space it needs to heal itself naturally, we’re impatient. We take antibiotics when they’re not needed, like when we’re dealing with a common cold, for example.
We want to hurry up the process of getting better so that we can return to our 70-hour workweeks. Back to being superhumanly productive. Back to the very habits that prevent us from being healthy.
We assume a trip to the doctor and a course of antibiotics is the only solution, when in fact, all we’re doing is compounding the problem. What we need to do instead, is embrace the art of slow living.
Health Isn’t a Quick Fix
Part of slowing down means accepting that health doesn’t come from a quick fix. It’s a lifelong project that needs to be approached with grace and gusto. Nature has provided us with so many ways to get and stay healthy, it’s up to us to take advantage of them.
According to Florence Williams, getting a regular nature fix will make us happier, healthier and more creative. Nature impacts our wellbeing in other ways, too. It reduces blood pressure, slows our heart rate, eases muscle tension and aids with the production of stress hormones.
There are natural remedies for pretty much every ailment you can think of, from Parkinson’s Disease and arthritis to indigestion and nausea. You can heal your lungs, ease constipation and treat swollen feet and ankles.
And that’s just the tip of the all-natural iceberg. Google ‘natural remedy for [insert problem]‘ and you’ll be met with a plethora of alternatives to try. Yes, some are hippie snake oil, but many of them not only work but work well.
I suffered a nasty tooth infection recently. The pain was so bad it reduced me to tears. (I’m from strong Afrikaan farming stock, we don’t cry easily.)
After the India debacle, I was determined to fix this naturally. I picked up some Pegasus Anti-Virabac and set about dosing myself every half hour.
It took longer to heal than it would have with a course of allopathic antibiotics, but I’m happy to say my tooth is hundred percent fine now.
Some Caveats to Consider
It bears mentioning that the vitamin and nutritional supplement industry is not well regulated. This means a lot of potentially harmful products can find their way onto the shelf and into the hands of an unsuspecting consumer.
Like with anything, you should use a healthy dose of common sense when opting for a natural alternative to treat something. Do your due diligence and research your proposed treatment thoroughly before taking it.
And, if your symptoms are getting worse rather than better with a natural remedy, you should see your doctor for guidance.
Now is not the time for blowing smoke rings with your Shaman.
Never assume that just because something is ‘natural’ you can’t overdose on it. Herbal medicines can have dangerous side-effects, just like their allopathic counterparts.
If you’re not sure, it’s always best to enlist the help of a licensed professional, such as a homoeopath, naturopath or open-minded GP.
Healthy isn’t a Goal for Someday
Today is World Health Day. This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) is celebrating the work of nurses and midwives. Reminding us that “nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response – providing high quality, respectful treatment and care.”
But, as much as we appreciate the work they do, we must remember that our health is first and foremost our responsibility. It is up to us to take care of ourselves by eating properly, exercising regularly and not working too hard.
They might not sound sexy, but over time, these daily habits will lay the foundation for longterm health and wellness.
Would you rather age gracefully or slide into decrepitude?
Remember, your daily choices add up.
What they add up to, is up to you.
You don’t have to fix everything right now. Focus on getting 1% better every day. Over the course of a month and a year, the changes will be significant.
Sporty and I aren’t the healthiest people in the world, but we’re doing okay. If you need some help or motivation or have a question, let us know.
We’ll do our best to get you what you need.
Unless it’s booze, we can’t help with that ‘cos lockdown prohibition. 🙂